For the past three Saturdays, Water Filters for PR has set up shop at the Ramey Makeshift Market across from Lufthansa Technik. For the past two Saturdays, we have had tremendous success in this location! It’s been amazing!! I am going to write about each experience, so readers can get a sense of how Water Filters for PR is truly making a positive impact on the island.
Several weeks ago, on October 21, I wrote about our first venture at the Ramey Makeshift Market. Here is an excerpt from that blog post:
Early in the morning, our dear friend, artist Harry Santana, dropped by with a cup of coffee to throw out a crazy idea. His eccentricity is pretty electrifying, so we love to get tangled up in his creativity. He suggested that we go to the Ramey Makeshift Market- as we have named it. For anyone who reads this and knows of Lufthansa Technik and Levain Bakery, then you definitely know the area that I am referring to. It’s the area where Cofo’s pizza truck always stood and a lonely fruit seller.
Harry’s hairbrained idea was to set up shop in the Makeshift Market alongside the other vendors. He would sell his artisan wares, and we would promote our water filters. In a couple of hours, we got everything together and set up camp at the Ramey Makeshift Market. Harry made us look good with his kaleidoscope of colorful ceramics thoughtfully displayed over Caribbean colored tablecloths and a Puerto Rican flag as a backdrop that perfectly billowed in the trade winds. We had a lot of interest in our bucket filters, but not everyone had a bucket with them at that moment. We promised to come back the following Saturday, and people promised to return – with friends.
That promise was fulfilled! On Saturday, October 28, we pulled into the Ramey Makeshift Market and cozied up next to Caribbean Colors. As soon as we opened up the car doors, we heard Harry (artist and owner of Caribbean Colors) shout with great enthusiasm, “Where have you been? People are waiting for you! And they have buckets!” Before we could even set up the demo, people had congregated around our table, and they all had buckets. At that moment, I thought to myself; the word is spreading…people know about us…they know to bring buckets…people understand the importance of what we are doing. As these thoughts raced through my mind, I noticed that everyone who was carrying a bucket was also clutching an umbrella.
I quickly glanced up at the South sky looming behind Lufthansa Technik; the clouds were a thick, heavy gray. If at that moment I could compare the sky to the African savanna, the clouds looked like an agitated herd of elephants on the brink of a charge. It was ominous. It was quickly approaching. We were helpless and at the mercy of those thick, heavy gray clouds. There was no question in our mind that we would stand our ground. We weren’t going anywhere; we had promised people we would be there to give-out water filters. Clouds burst open – elephants charging – rain pouring down in torrents and still, the people came.
The parking lot of the Makeshift Market quickly turned into a tiny raging river, and I could feel the water weave in and out of my sandaled toes. I hopped from one umbrella to the next like a tiny frog jumping from lily pad to lily pad. I took shelter under each umbrella, cozying up next to perfect strangers, shouting over the rain in my imperfect Spanish to explain how to use the filters. I took notice of all the immediate surrounding sounds and how the whirring of the drill through the plastic buckets set a steady rhythm as the rain beat down. I could hear sopranos in the background too; the laughter and giggles of my sons as they stomped and splashed in parking lot puddles.
We drilled 40 buckets that afternoon. Not bad considering the weather. It turned out to be a perfect day to collect rainwater! Un dia perfecto para llenar un balde. But I couldn’t stop to wonder how many buckets we could’ve drilled if it had been a sunny day. Brad and Harry wondered the same, so we set a date to return to the Ramey Makeshift Market for Saturday, November 4.
Saturday, November 4, Ramey Makeshift Market. Weather report: SUNNY
As Brad and I turned onto the #110 and approached the Makeshift Market, we quickly scanned the scene and felt a nervous energy. It was packed! All the usual vendors (plus some guys price-gouging generators) were ready to pocket a peso. It was the perfect day to set up a roadside shop. On this day, the canopy of umbrellas was used to block the sun. Parking spaces were at a premium. We drove behind a food truck and camouflaged into the waist-high grass of the park at Area de Bosques. These days, municipal spaces are sadly neglected.
We opened the car doors and heard Harry shout, “Are you ready for this?” Ready for what? I wondered. And before Brad could even set the demo bucket on the table, a line appeared as if he had pulled a rabbit out of that bucket! Like magic! Within 10 minutes, a line of about 50 people formed; their umbrellas sprang open and colorful buckets jutted out from the right side of the line and the left side of the line. More and more people and more and more buckets started to appear as the line stretched onto the tarmac. My heart started to beat at an anxious, rapid rate. I thought for a moment that the crowd was too big for us to handle; I was nervous that we would run out of filters, or that I wouldn’t be able to educate everyone about using them. Thankfully, my friend (and fluent Spanish speaker) Melanie showed up to help me with the educational aspect. Between her and I, we conquered the task of water filter education.
On the assembly side, some friendly neighbors (Paul, Joey, and Eduardo) jumped in to help Brad and Harry. Together, these guys created a mad assembly line. Within minutes, dozens and dozens of bucket filters were created. As I realized that we had many helping hands, my nervous heart started to subside. Estaba tranquila.
Later that night, Brad recounted the day’s event. He told me that as he stood at the helm of that impressive line, drill in hand, he looked out over the sea of people, took out his camera to document the moment, snapped a quick photo and shouted, “Let’s Do This!” As he described the scene to me, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect Home Depot commercial. “Let’s Do This” is the slogan slapped on the side of orange Home Depot buckets. Those buckets have become our mascots. And…We Did It! We drilled nearly 100 buckets in an hour! SOLD OUT!! (at NO cost) By 2:10 pm, we were officially out of water filters. We had to pack up shop and call it a day. It was an amazing day… a day filled with lots of sunshine and beautiful orange buckets.