Bahia. One eared dogs and feral children.

Wed 15 Jun 2016 15:26

Bahia. One eared dogs and feral children.

We saw the effect of the aftershock Henry had described as we walked up the road towards the big white cross on top of the hill behind Bahia. The same hill that took the full impact of the shockwave and where most of the mortality occurred.

Small concrete homes had collapsed onto their inhabitants, most of the mortality happened here. People still clung to what was left, sleeping close by or even within their ruined homes.

A menagerie of tents and aluminium sheds provided rooved shelters and the many dogs, mangy and mutilated from their fights, wandered out to us as we walked by. They appeared a threat only to each-other, but a few barked protectively from what was left of their territory.

Ironically the cross, symbol of the faith of those dispossessed around it, stood intact and Rob climbed to the top for a view over the town and estuary while I passed my time with a proud one eared black and white dog and a five inch long grasshopper with a rear leg missing.

A senior school was one of the victims. It had been closed for complete refurbishment, including landscaping of the grounds, and was nearly ready for re-opening when the quake hit. The other schools had functioned in shifts, an early one, afternoon and evening shifts so no education time was lost. Our Australian friend, Suzie, who has lived here for 16 years, said she couldn’t understand why children were going through town at eleven o’clock at night wearing their uniforms. Those were the older children learning on the late shift.

Now with four schools demolished the children are running free on their idle days and whether they return to school in July will depend upon whether removable classrooms can be erected on the cleared school sites in time.

Education is free but children must be in uniform, which is an expense too far for many families at present. So when Suzie suggested giving a few families $20 vouchers to buy uniforms and supplies, each voucher would kit out a child, we happily agreed to help with the finance.

Similarly bamboo has been proven to be a durable and flexible material. Lorry loads are arriving to be used in building and as scaffolding poles. A free workshop has been set up to teach locals how to build homes with it, even although it has not yet been approved as a building material by the authorities.

The Ecuadorian government is giving each affected family $4000 to start their rebuilding work. The fact there are so many young families with children means Bahia has a promising future and that is good.

Back on board we had our own little developing crisis. Every now and then a little bug would land on us. Wingless and about 4mm long we wondered where they were coming from. New Zealand is very sensitive about bugs on boats, understandably so, and I had read about a rhinoceros beetle, which they absolutely ban and I was worried that we had them on board.

When the intermittent WIFI at the club was once again working we Googled the dreaded beetle and fortunately ours don’t resemble the big bruisers with a rhino horn at their head end. So what were ours?

In our stowing of food for the crossing we were going through the pasta and spaghetti bags we have stored in a net in the aft cabin. Holding one bag I noticed holes in the pasta and a lot of fine dust, and then a mass of the bugs in the bag. Ripping it open while holding it overboard a cloud of dark brown bugs flew out into the river water. Another bag of the same make pasta had the same residents and went the same way. A close inspection of the rice showed no signs so I decided to call it the pasta bug.

We are still finding the odd ones on board, and this morning I was alarmed to see a couple migrating towards the food cupboard in the galley. At this rate we could be pleading with the New Zealand Authorities to fumigate us!