La Compuerta is an old community about 40 km from our shop near Poptun in Northeast Guatemala. The last 25 km is a bone-jarring ride up and down steep hills over a road that is places is more like a dry riverbed than anything else. It goes over beautiful terrain, but it is not a pleasant ride. It seems to be a better ride in the smaller trucks, probably because there is less distance to be thrown. The only water they have is from a sink hole. I have seen cattle drinking on one side or the sink hole while the women get water for homes on the other. The villagers were very happy that we were there to help them.
Because the trip to La Compuerta took so long, Bucky and Speedy determined that they would spend as many nights there as they could. The villagers made them comfortable in a room at the school where they were given a bed and chairs and the villagers made sure they had plenty to eat.
The villagers were nice and drilling went well at first. They got down to about50 feet and placed a steel casing and then went on down. As they got deeper down at about 100 they came into some very poor soft shale-like material. Caving became a problem. Each night 20 or thirty feet of the hole would cave in and they would spend half the next day to get back to where they were the night before. Finally they had a cave-in when they were coming out to bail. They figured the bit was about 12 feet above the bottom of the hole. The tool string was stuck fast. They had a set of Jars on the string but it did not do any good. No matter what they tried they could produce no movement of the string. The earth had captured the tools.
They worked for about two days and finally were forced to accept there was nothing else to do. They cut the cable and abandoned the hole with the set of tools still deep in the ground. We have other tools but the loss of one string is a serious problem.
They moved the drill over about 100 yards and back started down. For about 80 feet they seemed to be in competent rock and the drilling was going well. Then they ran into the same soft grey stuff that had caused the trouble before. They went down to about 140 feet and began to have the same caving problems. Reluctantly they abandoned this hole before the hungry earth had a chance to capture another set of tools.
The people of La Compuerta do not have good water. This has how it has always been and this is the way it remains today. The people drink contaminated water or do not drink water. The children have always gotten sick and they will continue to get sick.