Part Three. Water Of Life In A Sewer

We flew into Quito, the capital of Ecuador and walked off the plane into an altitude of over 9000 feet. It was my first time flying into a city built high in the Andean foothills. We had 27 people of all ages on the team and we all felt slightly light headed as we adjusted to the thin air. Breathe long and slow I was told and that certainly bode well for me on future trips to La Paz in Bolivia, the highest administrative capital in the world, resting on the Andes’ Altiplano plateau at more than 11,500 feet above sea level. To be honest, my first flight into La Paz was a shock to the system and I suffered from altitude sickness for a few hours as did most other people on that particular trip.

Anyway, back to Ecuador.

Quito, built on the foundations of an ancient Incan city, is known for its well-preserved colonial centre, rich with 16th- and 17th-century churches and other structures blending European, Moorish and indigenous styles. But we hadn’t flown 5,700 miles to go sightseeing. We were on a mission to support the work of Latin Link missionaries, John and Brenda Hart who had established an amazing centre for the training of pastors and to support indigenous people groups in Santo Domingo do Los Colorados.

John met us at the airport and we were ushered onto a waiting bus brightly coloured in reds, yellows and blues, like graffiti art, although a little worse for wear and with several hundred thousand miles on the clock! The 4 hour trip down the Andes followed a precarious roadway perched on the edge of the mountain with the rock face towering hundreds of feet to the left of the road and hundreds of feet down into the lush valley below on the left of us. John seemed unperturbed as the bus careered from one side of the road to the next around blind bends and just managing to avoid oncoming traffic that seemed to move together like a metallic choreography of machine, each driver seeming to anticipate the movement of oncoming traffic just in the nick of time, avoiding a catastrophe.

Then I saw it.

As we drove around a left hand bend, a magnificent waterfall stretching hundreds of feet down the side of the mountain, came cascading towards the road, then disappeared into a huge valley, cutting its way underneath the road and then out the other side, falling again into a fast flowing river towards our destination.

I asked the driver to pull over and we all disembarked and stood in awe at the power of the water looking so clean and fresh.

“This fresh water winds its way down the mountain valleys and ends up flowing through the barrio,” said John poignantly. “The people who live there use it for drinking water, they wash their clothes in it and the sewers drain into it too.”

We would later see first hand for ourselves.

About Steve Flashman

Steve Flashman is a singer/songwriter, published author and has appeared on TV many times over the years. He toured extensively as a professional musician and set-up a Short Term Service Charity which worked in some of the poorest areas of the world. He is currently living in Buckinghamshire UK with his wife Sarah and is Vicar of two rural parish churches.

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