A group of men from the town of San José Calderas came into the Plenty camp at San Andrés Itzapa that had been set up out in the cornfields. The guys from Calderas are Kaqchikel but dressed in regular gringo-type clothes, because their village didn’t have trajé like Sololá. Calderas is a beautiful village right at the base of the mountain by Volcán de Fuego-Volcán Acatenango. A double volcano.
These gentlemen from Calderas said they had no water. UNICEF or CARE had come into their village years before and put in a water system for them. They had a reservoir above the village and it ran down, gravity fed through the village to little faucets. One morning they woke up, turned on the faucets and there was no water. So, they dug up every pipe in the village, exposing the entire pipe from the six faucets to a reservoir a quarter of a mile away on the hill above the cornfields.
I looked everything over and it all looked good. I said, “Let’s go to the source of where these all come from and see what is really going on here.” The pipe was coming down from the reservoir to where it connects to a ‘T’ going in two directions to the faucets. I cut out a section of pipe with a pipe cutter and the inside was dry. I thought, “Oh this is not so good. It’s got to be further than this point.” I had a pipe threader with me, which was good because the old pipe had to be threaded, a galvanized union put in there, and the whole thing tightened up. When I was sure that was okay, we walked. There was a gang of ten guys who had spent days digging up the pipes. They were very interested. They wanted to get their water back.
We all went up the hill and were standing around the reservoir, and everything was looking good. I lifted the lid to the reservoir and saw the pipe going out of the reservoir had a big piece of plastic wedged over the top, stopping the flow of water. I pulled the plastic out and the water started rushing into the pipe running down to the village, filling the pipes to the faucets. The men were all yelling, “Yea! Yea!” Nobody was upset about the unnecessary work they had done. I was sad, seeing they had done so much work to figure it out — but that is how much heart they had. They were just grateful they got their water back.