Yesterday was a great day in our Colonia. Three years ago, the people here undertook to get fresh potable water directly to the community. Yesterday, the water poured forth. The Colonia president opened the valve in a clearing high up behind the Capilla Azul (which, by the way is now roja -- rosa, más o menos, painted anew for the upcoming Fiesta de la Virgén de Guadalupe). There were speeches and of course a ribbon-cutting. People were amazed at what they had accomplished, and proud. And things that previously I had thought of as clichés no longer seemed that way: "water is life," for instance, and "we can do great things when we work together as a community." Before we can use the water, a holding tank has to be built, but after the first two stages, that seems a piece of cake.
The first stage of the water project was completed shortly after we got here. I think I wrote about the convivio celebrating the construction at the spring site itself. A convivio is loosely translated as potluck, but it's more than that: it's a celebratory coming together. The second phase involved constructing a pipe that winds its way up and down hills and around curves and along roads and across rivers for if I remember close to fifteen miles. Everyone was charged a series of faenas, or portions of the work. You either had to pay money or provide labor. Since our community is not rich, many, many people provided labor. Either the city or the state provides a copayment, but that copayment is absolutely contingent on the contribution of the community. We were very, very happy we had taken part.
I have been wanting for awhile to write a bit about a trip we took to see bats -- murcielagos in Spanish, really a lovely word, I think. I started to look out for really lovely words when I was a child, when we saw some version of Cinderella where Estelle Winwood played the fairy godmother. Somehow she found it fit to say that one of her favorite words was elbow. Murciélagos is a word like that for me. Much prettier than bat. Bats I never liked, but now murciélagos: a whole new ball game.
We are fairly mediocre birders, Jim and I, I more than Jim. A big part of the reason is that the trips generally start at six in the morning which means we have to leave our house at five thirty, something I am not highly motivated to do. But the murcielago expedition was in the evening. All of us mediocre birders turned out for it even though it wasn't primarily to see birds because, slothful as we are, we could stay in bed all day if we wanted and still make it on time. It may have, in fact, been a record turnout, with forty of us showing up to drive down towards the coast, to a farmer's field, to a fairly ordinary looking hole in the ground.
But nothing here for me is very ordinary. Certainly not the sky we walked under from the car to the bat hole.
As on all our outings, children are welcome. These girls brought what must now span the world: Barbie dolls. Here they were preparing a Barbie for the bats -- I think. Or maybe it was a Barbie funeral. Who knows?
The bats live in a cave under an innocuous, almost overgrown hole in a completely undistinguished place. THis photo of it looks strange because I have sharpened it to try to make the hole clearer. The effort was fairly unsuccessful, but I liked the effects of the sharpening process.
As dusk spreads across the countryside, hawks silently appear, one sitting on a wire, another on a branch...a lone bat slips out of the cave and disappears in a flash, then another, then another as the hawks fly off. Then it is safe for the rest. More bats flow out, and more and more. Their wings make a whirring sound, though it seems almost silent. There are hundreds, then thousands.
For some more pictures of this, you should follow this link to the COAX site where there are better pictures of the bats and a picture of the structure of a bat and if I remember a couple of pictures of all of us. It's a nice site, by the way, with all the trips documented, etc.
Below are a couple of photos I took of the bats coming out.