Friday, 25 February 2011

Alpha 5 running up that hill

Here´s an update from Alpha 5 on their gravity water system project to deliver fresh water to people's houses in the remote community of San Marqueña, Achuapa, in Nicaragua.

To give you an idea of how remote it is, the Bravo 1 landy was told to meet a woman and her son by a big tree stump along a dusty dried-up river bed. About 5 km into it we finally found them. Her son then jumped in the car to direct us another few kilometres up steep, winding rocky tracks which we thought were impassable at times. Luckily we made it. Achuapa has no electricity or running water but that doesn't stop the people of this community being friendly, welcoming and very interested in our culture.

Words: Caroline Murray, Alpha 5
Pictures: Mike Buie, Alpha 5

At the crack of dawn you are woken by the cockerels of every house in the village. Bleary eyed you brush your teeth as pigs and dogs run past your feet. Tiny chicks peck at your toes. It´s then that you say to yourself ´where on earth am I?!´
Life in the Nicaraguan mountains is very different. It´s hard to understand how a community with so little can be so happy. The food and water that can make us unwell keeps the families fit and healthy. When you pause for a breath from digging trenches you see a child half your age and size doing twice as much work!
We are Alpha 5 and we are living and working alongside the villagers of San Marqueña to build a water supply. It´s hard work! I never thought I´d use a pick-axe in my life!

After a long day of digging trenches amongst snakes, tarantulas and scorpions we then walk far up steep hills for fresh water to wash in.

To be able to give these families water on their doorstep makes every cut, bite and aching muscle worthwhile!


  1. For Alette Jansen Alpha 5

    He Kanjer, we hebben er zo naar uitgezien om je aan het werk te kunnen zien in Nicaragua, elke dag, bijna elk uur hebben Mamma en ik wel even op de blog gekeken. We hadden al een idee dat Alpha 5 niet de eerste op de blog zou zijn. Als we lezen hoe ver je van de electriciteit af zit, zijn we nog blijer dat we nu al wat van je horen. Wat een geweldige ervaring zal het voor jou en heel Alpha 5 zijn. Niet alleen letterlijk met de handen uit de mouwen, maar ook nog met een schop in je handen op de foto, we zijn zo trots op je. Wat een dankbaarheid zal er bij jullie door de lucht zweven.
    Gilles komt vandaag weer terug uit Thyon en heeft het heerlijk gehad. Ik mag weer mee naar het bos van Beike en verder gaat alles hier z'n gangetje.
    Zet hem op, maak iedereen blij en geniet er van, dat doen mamma en ik ook van jou.

    Dikke hug van je vader

  2. For Hannah Leach - Alpha 5

    Wow - it looks like you have all been working really hard. You should be really proud of yourselves. Don't know how you are coping with all the creepy crawlies!

    I've been having a fun time here - watching Federer, Djokovich etc, showing Mandy the sights. Having afternoon tea at the Burj today - a million miles from Nicaragua in every sense.

    Love and miss you.
    Hugs and kisses

  3. For Caroline Murray (Alpha 5).

    Hi Caro,

    Very well written and entertaining report on your activities so far, sounds like you're having a great time. The thought of you with a pickaxe terrifies me!

    Coming into the last few weeks of term at Durham, loads of work to do which is no fun at all. Good news is that I've found someone to give me a job next year - Johnson & Johnson - which means that I'm going to be living in or at least close to London from late June or early July.

    I expect you'll get this when you're back from your project and enjoying a well earned break at field base. If you're able to get hold of a phone give me a call as it'd be great to hear from you.

    Lots of love,

    Will xx

  4. For Alette Jansen, Alpha 5

    Lieve Aletje,
    Eindelijk bericht van Alpha 5 en wij waren zo blij je gezond en wel op de foto's te zien!!
    Jullie zitten echt in de middle of nowhere; mooie beschrijving van Caroline Murray.
    Ook in primitieve toestanden kunnen mensen gelukkig zijn. Goed om te ervaren; maar blijf alert.
    Zet 'm op! Heel veel liefs en xxx van T.en D.

  5. Familia Fernandez Herrera26 February 2011 at 11:23

    carol fernandez herrera alfa 5. le enviamos saludes y fuerzas positivas para terminar esta primera mision que de primera entrada por la imagenes enviadas se ve lo duro que es. -esta prueba le enseñara realmente de que esta echo uno como persona y le mostrara mas el camino a seguir en esta vida. pronto creo nos estaremos comunicando en el regreso. adelante. saludes de papa,mama y hermano muy buena vibras le emviamos a todos los compañeros

  6. To Caroline Murray Alpha 5

    At last we hear from Alpha 5. How wonderful! It sounds like very hard work but rewarding. Hope your Spanish is helping and that you have had a chance to play with the children. Rather you than me with the tarantulas!!! Eeek! Look forward to hearing from you next week on your return to fieldbase. All well here, Oscar stays near me all the time! Lots of love Mum and Dad and all the animals xxxxxxx

  7. For Mike Buie on Alpha 5.
    Hey Son, Well your pictures tell a good story! You look really very hot and tired tho!

    We think about you every day and are proud that you can make a difference to the people of San Marqueña.
    Well done! BIG HUGS! xxxxx

  8. for Mae Chester-Jones Alpha 5

    My last message hasnt appeared so not sure if it worked. Very proud of you, helping-others-LAD!! Just got back from seeing Caitlin, we both miss you so much it's unreal!! but you'll be home so soon, can't wait to see you!! Hope you're having an amazing time and you're not too tired from all the LAD antics/digging. thinking about you and missing you loads! LOVE YOU! XXXXX

  9. To Caroline Murray, Alpha 5.

    You go my last message quick then, you write this straight after me hounding you ha. thought I would leave you another nice message, its my day off, been good. Went out into Plymouth last night after work with tubes and meet up with daymo and everyone, got quite drunk so slightly struggling today but was a good night. Been playing golf today aswell, so keeping busy. Cant wait 4 my phone call wednesday, well maybe im unsure when u actually come back to base, but hopefully soon. You'll have to call me around half 10ish my time im working that day, managed to get the weekend off next week, pot luck but good still, not sure il be doing anything mind. get paid saturday so will put some money away, think il change it into euro's to stop temptation. Your bit on alpha 5 is good, sounds tiring and hard mind. I just hope when u return your body clock will not change because your not getting me up at silly o'clock im afraid ha. Il speak to you this week i hope, seriously excited now, role on wednesday only 3 days, you can tell me what's been going on. Speak then. love you lots xxxxxxxx

  10. For Hannah Leach, Alpha 5 -

    Hi Hannah,

    Hope you're doing well, i've been watching the blog, and can't believe what you are up to! I'm off to amsterdam this week, finally get my holiday. Hope you are having an amazing time, though I imagine very tiring. Miss you lots, love from T and Bob Dean,

  11. For Michael Buie, Alpha 5
    So glad to hear that you're doing okay! The project looks really interesting, but really tiring too. Hope you're still managing to enjoy yourself (I'm sure you are). Missing you huge amounts back here, still not used to not having you around. I've been keeping pretty busy though, just had half term which was good fun, caught up on some sleep! Hopefully I'll be able to hear from you soon (if at all possible that would be LUSH). Thinking about you and missing you loads! Lots of love, Izzie XXXXX

  12. To Caroline Murray, Alpha 5

    Hi Caro,
    Fantastic blog! You paint a very vivid picture, so good, in fact, that Mum has penciled you in for a few weeks of Hash Mags when you get back! Actually, Running up that hill might be quite a good headline for that as well. Hopefully we can talk on Weds/Thurs when you get back to base.

    Lots of love,
    Mum & Dad and your furry friends

  13. Cazz! took me far too long to find your group or whatever it is...this travelling lark, i'll never understand! So, this week i have applied for a job at the laundrette - dot branning (eastenders) in the making i feel! Liz went back to uni as well but its been lovely seeing her! I'm going to try and find your blog now so i can have a little look over what you've been doing before i go and look after the little monsters! Hope all is well, take care babe xxxxxx
    oh ps. Judith, if you read this i have every intention to pop into the shop soon!

  14. Familia Chavarría On2 March 2011 at 20:55

    Para Carol Fernández.
    Te enviamos un caluroso saludo y esperamos que estés disfrutando mucho de esta experiencia.
    Felicidades por lo logrado, lo cual demuestra que de todo se puede si se quiere.
    Continúa con perseverancia y cosecha muchas nuevas amistades.
    Ari, Yaha y Luis.

  15. Para Veronica de Alpha 5

    Verito!! miss U, ahi estuve viendo fotillos de eso y se ve chivisima. Espero que estes disfrutando mucho y aprendiendo bastante. Te envidio un monton!! (de la buena obvio jaja)
    Suerte y cuidate mucho, Lov ya ;) besos.
    p.d. No se si mande bien esto :S Espero q si jajaja



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