I should have known better than to expect to finish the project by mid morning. The plan was to install a political advocacy billboard promoting needs in the San Juan region, on the edge of town. By 6:10am I was waiting by my front door for the moto-taxi that came to pick me up. Starting this early, I thought, the billboard we had to cement into place would surely be set up by 8am, at the latest 9am. Surely, right? The moto-taxi was on time but that was the only thing to go right that day.
I was dropped off with the supplies and as you would have guessed nobody had arrived. Thus, I spent the morning sipping on coffee, watching the news, and trying to stay dry in a nearby restaurant while I waited for the others to arrive.
At 8:30am when we finally did get started, we realizednone of the welded on holes in the posts matched theholes on the billboard’s metal frame. This meant that there was no possible way to attach the frame to the posts without creating new holes.
Two hours later, thanks to a local welder, we had our poles matched up and the posts bolted into place. However, the weather did not want to cooperate with us. The clouds that had been threatening all morning finally gave way and the rain fell steadily for the next two hours while we again waited.
When the raindrops finally did slow, we discovered that the metal frame had been mounted upside down and the billboard could not be correctly attached. Once again, we had to search for help. It came this time in the form of a hammer and a hole-puncher. With new holes punched and the billboard mounted, all that was left to do was to actually dig the holes and mix up the cement, the part I originally thought would take the longest time. Surprisingly, even in the water logged earth the billboard went up and cemented into place without a hitch. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and we were done!
I’ve have grown to love Chocó and its predictable unpredictability. You can plan but often times the best made plans don’t pan out. The electricity can go out at times for days, rainstorms can dump feet of water at a time, the river can rise and flood Istmina, or an strike by the ever present armed groups can halt all travel.As a result, you learn flexibility, you learn patience, you learn to laugh, and you learn trust because you are rarely in control.