Thursday, May 10, 2012

Well Budget, Spicy Cabbage

April 19th

Got a nice budget for the well at Ecole C all drawn up this morning! The total cost came to about 370,000cfa, $700 or so for a 25m well in soil that's so rocky it doesn't even need any kind of reinforcement to prevent collapse. The terrain adds to the cost of digging, but lowers the cost of materials, so I guess it evens out in the end. The surprise big cost is the edging and cover, which adds up to close to $150 including supplies and labor, a big part going to a custom-built half-cover in metal that will be easier for the kids to use than trying to shift a cement lid without dropping it on their feet. I had a little niggle of worry when they talked about locking the cover. I agree that we don't want kids using it or falling in when there aren't adults around, but I can see it becoming a situation like the CSPS tap where I have to go track down some child to get the key every time I want water. I don't want the well to be only available to the teachers with keys, I want the kids to have access for drinking and washing and watering, although I'm a little suspicious of how they're going to haul up water from that depth even though I was assured it would be fine. At least it'll only be that deep for a couple of months of the year. The APE president and treasurer were very helpful in bolstering my view that you can't dig in rainy season, since the water can get as high as 10m below ground-level, meaning any well would then have to be extended as the water table drops, and it's better to just dig the whole thing at once. I'll write everything up in the grant form and leave it for the next PCV, who hopefully will see it as an opportunity and not an imposition, as well as talking to Pascal about the NGO he used to work with.

The APE treasurer was the neighbor who just dug the well, he's related to some big-wig who put up the money. We went to see it after our meeting, and were ushered into the courtyard of this beautiful 2 story house with glassed-in windows, nice metal doors that hang properly, cemented walls, and dozens of trees – palm, mango, raisin, moringa, and several I didn't know. Nearly the entire courtyard is shaded, the patio is tiled – it was stunning to say the least, a beautiful house in a jungle of a yard that seemed very out of place in my village.

I went to the marche, sat with Collette for a few minutes, and talked to a few ASCs and updated people on our sensibilization schedule. Belem has been asking about it since I explained the process several months ago, so I made a large batch of spicy fried cabbage for my staff, and much to my surprise they actually liked it! Here I was expecting to have a bunch for dinner but instead I made couscous since they ate all of it, 2 cabbages worth. Belem says they do something similar, soaking cabbage in vinegar with maggi (a bullion cube), then draining it and adding mayonnaise and tomatoes. Hmmm. If you'd like to make it yourself it's very easy, kind of a warm sauerkraut. You cut the cabbage into strips and put it in a very big bowl with some vinegar (½ cup), 2 or 3 crushed cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne. I use Cajun salt instead, with just a little fresh pepper and peimont (our version of hot pepper powder). You let it soak for 1-2 hours, turning it over from time to time, then you drain it, heat a little oil up in a skillet until it's very hot, and then fry the cabbage for a few minutes until it's warm and soft and delicious.

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