Day 3 at El 20

Finland is so far away, and things that are normal here, such as waking up at 5.30 AM voluntarily, would never happen to me at home. This morning I experienced the most amazing sunrise ever, and sharing the moment with team members made it even more special.


As the day number three dawned, we got our ALM team completed as Alan and Brenda from Mexico joined us. Simultaneously, everything needed for the filter had arrived, when Brenda and Alan brought a bag of sand from Chetumal seashore. We collected the ash from Rosa’s and Ofelia’s fire places and gravel from Rosa’s backyard and from local construction site.

In the morning the council of El 20 had meeting in which our team presented the project plans and got premission to set up the filter lab into La Casita, a community house in the middle of the village. Four local young men joined us to set up the filter and conduct water hardness analyses.

Josué from El 20 setting up the filter

Even though we got the filter hydraulics set in Finland, the process started with trial and error, as it had in Finland. First, the gravel grain size was too large. Moreover, the cloth we had between the filter material layers didn’t support the sand properly so it fell in to the gravel layer and the material collapsed also elsewhere causing bypass flows and water didn’t infiltrate to the filter materials.

We decided to empty the pipe and refill it similarly as previously, but this time we used finer gravel. Also, we wanted to make sure that the materials won’t float so we watered the material from upside with low water pressure on the top of the filter.

Observing the collapse
Setup 2. Note practical engineering solution at the bottom of the filter; former air inlet which is blocked by a twig and bubble gum.

After running the filter for couple of hours something unexpeced happened. The filtrated water turned orange and smelly. We tried to figure out which of the filter materials was causing that, and our first guess were the rocks on the top of the material layers which prevent the material floating. As smart engineers (not) we decided to remove the rocks and see if the water turns back to normal. Instantly after the removal, the layers started to float but luckily we got it stopped before water outlet got stuck. By doubling the amount of rocks on the top we got it back to control. Note to self: if the hydraulicks works, don’t touch it. Eventually the water turned back to normal, and according to separate test with ash, the ash layer was the cause for the color.

And so was the filter ready for the 3-days-long run.

Sunday is a church day in El 20 and I got to participate a service in a tidy temple with windows open and jungle birds singing in the bacground. Eventhough I recognized some bible verses, I didn’t understand much but the feeling of being part of the church family was huge. Ofelia kindly showed which bible verses we were reading and which songs we were singing, and I even tried to sing along. Also, now when we have moved our lab to La Casita, life is much more social. Some curious villagers and especially kids have been interested in us and our projects. I’m very glad that I started studying Spanish in January because making new friends is way easier.

I have been here only a few days, but it starts to feel like homely. The community has become part of our project and we are feeling welcomed to participate to the community life. We all are one.


(Photos: Sara Saukkonen & Juho Kaljunen)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: