Feeling Thirsty…

The tyres span over the gravel as we tried to climb the steep slope ahead of us. Eventually after reversing and trying a second time we made it up the hill. We passed people leading their heavily laden donkeys along the road, elderly ladies carrying produce home from market, and men carrying firewood. As we reached the top of the slope the road levelled out and the valley dropped away either side of the road revealing spectacular views out across to the sea on either side.
After about twenty minutes along the bumpy track we stopped and got out, immediately buffeted by the wind at the top of the ridge. My colleague led the way down the rocky hillside and I scrambled down the rocks behind him, silently cursing myself for not having worn sensible shoes, as my flip-flops slipped on the rocks.
A twenty-minute hike along the ridge and down steep slopes through the lush green undergrowth led us to the spring. Halfway up the hillside, this natural spring has been ‘captured’, that is, put through a filter of sand and gravel and piped out onto a concrete slab, making it easily accessible to the communities who use it.
As we descended the last few steps, we met with an elderly lady and her two grand-daughters who were helping her carry water back up to their home at the top of the ridge. My colleague explained that they were probably some of the closest users of the spring, as many came from miles around to collect water. Since the earthquake, the ground shifting had dislodged other springs or made them unsafe to use and this was the one spring serving hundreds of households in this area.
We left the lady washing her buckets out and headed back up the hill, sweltering in the close heat of the trees and undergrowth surrounding the path, and even up on the ridge the breeze did little to relieve the heat. All I was carrying was my camera, and found myself out of breath and tired by the heat and the steep walk once we reached the top. I had a new-found admiration and respect for all who had to make the same journey twice each day, morning and evening, just to collect water for their daily needs.


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