El Bambu was the third community of the journey.

The ride was expected to be 8 hours. Yet instead of riding in a large truck, we rode in a cargo van referred to as the ambulancia.  A group of six, our group was challenged with tight space in the van. The seats were lined vertically on the sides leaving no leg room and there were no seatbelts. We also had to make space for our gear. It’s easy to imagine that a ride wouldn’t be comfortable with such conditions. And it wasn’t! During the ride, I had to adjust my legs often to get more comfortable.  I only could lay my head on my knees to nap.

We stopped at two places to eat on the way. For breakfast, we went to an eatery in the small town of San Benito. It was a buffet-style place where you told someone what you wanted on your plate then paid at the end. There I had Gallo pinto, maduro (baked plantains), and a hash brown. The food was ok, though. At around 10, we went back outside where vendors were trying to sell us hammocks and sunglasses. It was a very crowded street too.

After breakfast, we rode for another 3-4 hours. By around,1 we stopped for lunch in a town called El Ayote. There I had tostones (mashed plantains), salad, and rice and beans. At some point, it started to pour and thunderstorm.

We then continued the trip to Él Bambu, which was 1 hour and 45 minutes away. It was rainy out, making road conditions rough. We crossed a few rivers at least a few feet deep in water and traversed muddy and bumpy roads. While riding on the roads, the van was rocking ad nauseam that it started to make some of us feel motion sick. The van was impermeable like the Energizer bunny: It just kept going and nothing could stop it. But I think that if we rode in the large white truck, it might have gotten stuck or drowned in the water.

By 3, we arrived safe and sound to El Bambú. It looked similar to San Jose in some ways:  Most if not all homes are wooden with metal rooftops and wired fences separated the homes. One essential difference, however, was the home of the pastor. It is a two-story place located near some homes. Besides being a place to live, there was a porch where health promoters would meet and a clinic upstairs. This is also where we would stay for the week.

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After passing some homes, we pulled up in a horse stable near the pastor’s home. The family of seven (five females and two males) eagerly waited as we walked in. We did the name exchange, and met the health committee. They proceeded to show us a map, a chart showing patients at risk (chronically ill patients, pregnant women, and children under 2), as well as a poster of who was on the committee. I was happy to see that two women are leaders in El Bambu.

After the introductions, we then chose our rooms to unpack. There was a choice between three: One for the guys, one for the girls, and the porch. While AMOS staff members Lester and Donald settled on the porch, the ladies stayed in a bedroom, and the guys stayed at what I believe is the storage room. Unfortunately, the space in our room was the smallest, but somehow we managed to fit our cots, mosquito nets, and bags.

Afterward, Lester gave us the scoop on how the water filter surveys would go during home visits. He advised us to inform residents that filters should be strapped tight to a wall, to clean it twice daily and that the filters should be cleaned with only water and not chlorine (otherwise it would ruin the filter). People may also have a pre-filter and/or filter cover which could make the water flow slower. He would then suggest that people who knew Spanish well do the survey while those who didn’t do the observations. We did not determine our groups yet, but this will likely be tomorrow.

At 6, we ate a nice dinner cooked by the pastor’s wife: It was rice, beans, tortillas, avena (an oatmeal beverage) and vegetables. Everything was laid out on the table for us to dig in. Though the beans tasted really salty, everything was delicious!

After dinner, we played the dice game Farkle for a while. For those unfamiliar, a person has to score up to 1000 using six dice. One can only score if rolling two or three of the same number or numbers in sequence. If you roll over 1000 or are the last one to roll 1000, then you lose. It’s similar to Yahtzee with the risks increasing toward the end. What makes Farkle more exciting though is that the person who loses faces consequences.

There were some crazy punishments: The loser had to catch a chicken and eat a hot pepper. I hated spicy food so much, so I didn’t play.

Sadly, someone lost both rounds and had to face both consequences! However, it was too dark to catch a chicken and no hot peppers were available, both consequences were postponed to tomorrow.

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