We arrived to the Ejido 20 de Noviembre late on Thursday evening. Claudia Garduño, the project coordinator, travelled with us from Mexico City. In Chetumal, we had delicious tacos in a street restaurant while waiting for Julia Renko, a previous year ALM labber, to join us. She is writing her Master’s thesis on tourism development from the locals point of view, and will conduct interviews in El 20 for that purpose. The taxi drive from Chetumal, which included two police check-ups and a bumpy road through a jungle, led us to Ofelia’s house for a warm welcome and a delicious supper. After this, our weary bones were delighted to sleep in the beautiful, handmade hammocks we bought from the local artisans after dinner. Half of the group stayed with Ofelia’s and rest of us went to stay with Rosa’s family. Both ladies are talented artisans and active members of the community. They are also a crucial part of ALM artisan project that donates a share of the sale of the products for the local health emergency fund.
In the community, there are a number of friendly dogs and chickens who ran loose, although staying close to their homes. They both greet the mornings with love and passion starting at 4 am and are soon accompanied by the many birds from the jungle. This invited us to wake up early for the first day in El 20, which was devoted for creating a schedule and getting to know the community. It is a dry season, so the nature is not at its fullest bloom, but it is still incredibly beautiful. The air is filled with songs by colourful birds, which is like having a relaxation tape playing constantly in the background.
Finding a proper sand for the water filter turned out difficult, because the ground is all limestone. We got some sand from the hospital construction site, although the tests we ran in our field lab indicated that it hardens the water and therefore it is not the most optimal option for a filter that aims for reducing hardness. To me, a designer, the most exciting part of the day was to be guided by the water engineers to run water tests for the river water, which we decided to use in the filter tests. Surprisingly, the water turned out to be twice as hard as it was according to the tests ran by the previous year labbers, being total 180-200 dH.
At the end of the day, we shared our progress and feelings with the whole group. Each of us gave a word that described their experience of the day, which were then combined into the title of this blog post. The journey has begun!
(Text & Photos: Heidi Konttinen)