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Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles. — Alex Karras

Jama Ecuador – Taking a timeout from the earthquake-recovery zone.  I watched my friends harvest a shrimp pond about a kilometer from town.   It seemed surreal to be surrounded by stunning landscapes under the influence of a pristine sunny morning while the nearby town provided little aesthetic beauty.

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8 am Harvest Underway…

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This Snowy Egret swallowed this entire fish in a few gulps!

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The landscape frames haunting beauty in one view and a devastated community in another.

After harvest, my friends and I enjoyed a hearty brunch, said our “Goodbyes,” and I stopped to check the progress on the ‘kit’ house.

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More supplies were being unloaded, so I was surprised when I looked toward the site and saw — a HOUSE!

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Eureka! Look at that cute little house!

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Plenty of space beneath for cool breezes and hammocks!

We went up the ladder and into the house.  My creative mind was in overdrive!

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A window’s view toward Rio Jama and the northwest….

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This window looks toward the front yard…

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The petite balcony overlooks the rest of the family casitas…

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The next day my friend Nieve and I returned to see the finished house.

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The welcome party!

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There’s that precious child from yesterday’s post!

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A quiet moment before intruding on the new homeowner’s privacy…

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Yes! Come up the steps!

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The nieces politely waited while I took more photos..

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They escorted me up the stairs and inside the house!

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They must have improvised with a simple extention cord for basic electricity…

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Note that this house was marked ‘Jama’ before it was sent from Guayaquil.

Nieve paused before leaving and gazed from the balcony…

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Looking in front and slightly to the left, one sees reminders of the earthquake.

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Rio Jama’s old channel serves as the final resting place for demolished buildings. In the foreground are two broken pillars from the central park.

What I’ve learned: The recipients applied for help through a christian organization which I have yet to locate.  One person said, “The Sisters.”  Another said “The Catholic Church.”   The people in the Catholic Relief Fund office said that they provide help, but someone else deserved credit for this project.

The kits are made in Guayaquil and are shipped to various people who formally applied.  One requirement is that they have to own the lot/land where the house is built.   About two months after putting their name on the list, this family received the house.  The entire house cost them nothing, including a maestro who knew where every block of wood and every nail should be placed.

“The handrail?”  I asked.

It came with the house.

“The roof?”

It was provided….

“The nails?”

Yes the nails – even the steps came with the house.

All they had to pay for was the transport from the lot to their building site.  Fifteen dollars.    The basic house does not include plumbing or electricity, but it certainly trumps living in a tent!  Little by little the new owners can make improvements – a sink at ground level, an indoor bathroom, a kitchen.

Nieve and I visited on a sunny afternoon, and the house was cool.  A concrete home is stifling under the same condistions.  My creative mind was bouncing with ideas.

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Several blocks away is a new house with artfully-aplied bamboo siding.

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How’s this for an artfully-painted bamboo design?

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This happy young man sits in front of a bamboo/concrete wall.

Many people use split bamboo as a base to apply the cement finishing ‘skin’ to the walls… The concrete-finished wall could be painted, the handrail another color, the windows another, the steps… window boxes, hammocks beneath….  My mind’s eye designed a little ‘circle’ community of those houses with an oasis of flowers in the middle, sitting areas and shade trees.

After all they’ve endured, the earthquake veterans are all worthy of aesthetic comforts.   It is my wish that little by little they’ll get there.

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The next post will introduce you to some of those veterans.

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