The rainy season has finally arrived in Estero De Plátano. Normally it starts in late December. This year it didn’t start until mid January. The people here call the rainy season winter. Unlike the northern winter, winter in Estero is actually hotter and more humid than summertime. Comparing seasons is difficult. After all, Estero, being really close to the equator, only has two seasons per year.
The rains are torrential and tend to come at night and in the mornings, no thunder and lightning, just heavy rain. The afternoons are really muggy and hot. I have surprisingly grown accustomed to the climate and it does not bother me. The problem that the rainy season brings is rain water management. About three years ago the road in Estero was paved. During this project, pipes were placed under the road in strategic places to move the rain water to the sea.
I imagine this system worked well in the past. Currently, erosion has taken a toll and the pipes sit much higher than the ground they are supposed to be draining. The result is large puddles that collect after the rains. This becomes a breeding ground for mosquitos, which carry all sorts of fun parasites.
To combat this problem and to beautify the village, we are working on a small reforestation campaign. We have a small garden where we are growing orange, lemon, almond, papaya, grapefruit, clementine and palm trees. The goal is to plant these trees around the village to help soak up the water from the rains more quickly. The fruit, shade and beauty of the trees will be nice for villagers and tourists.
Planting trees in Estero is not an easy proposition. I bought little plant bags to fill with dirt in the nearest market town (45 minutes on a bus) and recruited some of my friends and other town members to help acquire soil for the bags. We walked about a half an hour to a spot where we could collect good soil from a finca. In Spanish, Finca translates to farm. In Estero, the term finca refers to a plot of uncleared land in the jungle where people grow crops. The soil was under a few very large guayaba (Ecuadorian fruit) trees. In fact, the soil was partly made up of decomposed leaves and fruit from these trees. We used the blades of our machetes to sweep the leaves off the surface so that the soil beneath was accessible. We used our hands to fill the empty rice sacks we brought with soil. When we had filled the sacks, we put them on our shoulders and carried them to the location of our garden. They were heavy.
In the little bags, we put seeds that I had collected and saplings that people had donated. The plants are now hanging out in the garden. When they are a bit larger, we will gather dirt again and plant them around the village.