Since everyone is so busy, I have had to think of other ways to get out to MZ village to monitor the work. On Monday I took the watchman from our yard, and the handyman who I have written about before, and drove one of our organization's oldest vehicles. It's only a '92, but this Toyota Landcruiser has been through the works. Nearly every part in the thing has been replaced one or two or five times and still it shimmies and shakes down the road. The most infamous story about this truck is that two days after insurgents stole it (in 2010) they gave it back because it was worthless! Yep, we're still driving it. Since it hadn't been out to the village for a long time (it usually just makes runs to the airport or school), I decided we would take the smooth road, park it by the river, and cross the river by raft. 4 men plus a generator seemed like a pretty good load for that small raft, but we made it.
In Monday's monitoring trip I noticed several ways in which the plan had changed once construction started. I was very glad I came out to remind some people of the plan. Some changes were already beyond reversal, however, so I am learning some great lessons about how thorough and disciplined the planning process needs to be. Example: The community men swore up and down that they would have no problem digging the rocky soil, but a few days into the work they were saying they could no longer do it without dynamite. I wish that in the planning process I would have required them to bring shovels and picks to sample the soil in different parts of the pipeline, and see and understand how much work it was going to be, prior to contract signing. We compromised and much to their delight, I permitted the use of dynamite on the deepest foundation hole. I only wish I could have been there too, at a distance, with a hardhat, and goggles.
Yesterday during Thanksgiving celebrations I got a call from my main engineer saying that he was running short on cement and would need more by Friday noon. I thought about sending it on local transport, but decided instead to use the opportunity to monitor the progress again. Again I invited our house watchman to come along (big smiles from him, he loves seeing projects), and we went to pick up cement. We also decided to attempt to bring some pipe to the village. It was not one of my wisest moments when I willing let ambitious local men load four 4" steel pipes, each 20 feet in length, on the 5-foot-long roof rack of the ancient Landcruiser. But you know, once they were up there, wound up in a ridiculous amount of rope, it was a situation that summons the inner-asian in me, "come on, try it, if God wills it will work great!" I added a rope from the front bumper to the pipes hanging overhead, and tied one of my wife's red Christmas cloth napkins to the overhang on the rear, and off we went. The trip was slow, and we had to stop and retighten ropes once, but there was no other difficulty with the pipes. We reached the riverbank again, and the raft operator grinned from ear to ear while he said, "you're back, did you bring me a music cassette like I asked?" He had asked on Monday, and I had forgotten, but lucky for him my watchman had not! Cassette in pocket, he then eagerly loaded pipes and cement bags on his raft, until the villagers on the other riverbank convinced him with waving hands to not attempt it all in 1 trip, but rather split it into two. I went on the first trip, along with 1 of the pipes and 2 bags of cement. My engineer returned, loaded the other 3 pipes and 2 bags of cement, and the raft sat low and teetered. This was the point where I took off my jacket, vest, and bag. The thought of getting in that rushing river in December was insane, but if it toppled I would have to go after our watchman who did not know how to swim. Fortunately the raft did just fine, and I wish I could upload the video I captured.
In monitoring the work today I saw a lot of progress on the hardest parts of the project, but also some additional unexpected changes. The location, angle, and height of the dam has turned out different than I suggested. This is tricky, because I don't want to discredit anyone's judgement or hard work, but I am responsible for sharing the best insights I have gathered from several senior engineers on this project. So I asked a lot of questions to make sure I understood their thinking, then built on what they were looking for with some alternate ideas and concerns that I saw. I do not know exactly the result of this will be... hope for the best?
On my way down the valley and back to the river raft I took some great photos for you. Before today's photos, here's a before shot of the dam and tank location... The water comes down the valley from the upper-left.
And here is the current...
The dam catches the water, directing it to the left-side of the valley which is out of the floodway. Then a canal routes the water to a small settling tank (bottom center), where the 2" pipe begins.
Here's a couple shots of the men of the village hard at work digging the ditch and installing the pipe.
In the above shot you see the foundation for the suspension bridge that is yet to be built.