it when the controller's light was red. This confusion originated from the previous experience of the locals running DC televisions off car batteries—they used the batteries until they were dead.

After some conversations concerning long-term battery health, I left the village with the confidence that the locals were up to the job of maintaining the system, and that solar electricity would thrive in the rugged hills of Las Pintadas.


Danny Fenyvesi, Sustainable Village/Sustainable Resources • Boulder, CO • [email protected]

Eric Fedus, 369 East Shore Dr., Colchester, CT 06415 • [email protected]

Then a group of young girls performed a barefoot dance, the local pastor gave a lengthy blessing, and there was some heartfelt solar poetry. We pitched in with juggling and a colorful story or two. Next, the ranchero band took over, playing a style of music that can only be described as soulful mountain music, perhaps a bit like an old Bill Monroe ballad.

With my guitar in tow, I was taught countless classic ranchero songs, including some new songs composed to celebrate solar electricity. In return, I tried feverishly to teach the band some American classics and was met with polite contempt. But unexpected enthusiasm greeted "Friend of the Devil," which I played over and over again until the band got it right. Fortunately, the party ended before daylight, and we did get some sleep that night.

Spreading the Light

A few weeks later, I returned to Las Pintadas to work on a second installation. I was excited to talk to the locals and find out how they were doing with the solar powered health clinic. They told me that the newly lighted porch of the health clinic had become a gathering place for reading and talking.

I heard news that some nearby villagers, who had earned good money selling organic coffee beans, were planning to invest in solar electricity for their own homes. I was impressed that there were now more sophisticated questions about the prices of panels and batteries, and the durability of these systems.

However, I did find some confusion concerning the warning lights of the charge controller. People were a bit disappointed that even though there was electricity left in the battery, they had to refrain from using

Grupo Fenix, William L. MacDowell, Grupo Fenix Chicago representative, c/o Skyheat Associates, 27W710 Windermere Rd. #3206, Winfield, IL 60190 • 630-876-3456 • [email protected]

Susan Kinne, Coordinadora, Grupo FENIX; Directora, Proyecto de Fuentes Alternas de Energia Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria, Managua, Nicaragua • 505-278-3133 • Fax: 505-270 5125 • [email protected]

Dr. Richard Komp, 17 Rockwell Rd. SE Jonesport, ME 04649 • 207-497-2204 • [email protected]

Baterias Medina, Ceaser Medinas, Cuerpo de Bomberos, 75M al sur, Masaya, Nicaragua • 505-522-2417 • Batteries

Solar Cookers International, 1919 21st St. #101, Sacramento, CA 95814 • 916-455-4499 • Fax: 916-455-4498 • [email protected] ¿^r

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