Friday, August 19, 2011

Days 9-10

Day 9, Friday August 12, 2011
Woke up early to start our last day in the village. We had the pipes in, so we just needed to finish the back fill and compacting. We got to the site early because we were anticipating the loader. As soon as we got there Santos started finishing the head wall. The loader we were anticipating never showed, so Santos decided to go get it. So, we got another load of rocks and the loader came, but things were not happening fast enough. Although we had finished a good amount of the back filling we were not going to finish by the end of the day. So, after lunch we decided it was best to start training the villagers so they could finish the project after we left. Santos and a few other villagers finished the head wall and wrote 'Engineros Sin Fronteras' (Engineers without Borders), the name of the neighborhood and Santos' name on the top of it. Then we went ahead and explained to the villagers what they had to do to finish and left them to it. It was exciting for the team to see how much had gotten done and how excited the villagers were to help. We all went back to our houses to spend the evening with our families and pack since we were leaving early the next morning.

Day 10, Saturday August 13, 2011
We woke up early to say goodbye to our families and depart for La Ceiba. Since there were not enough seats in the truck three students took the bus into town. It was about a three hour trip and we all met up at the Jungle River Lodge. We all enjoyed our final evening together. Some of us were departing the next day to go home, while others were staying six more days. It was a fun, relaxing evening and good end to a successful trip.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Days 7-8

Day 7, Wednesday August 10
Still no pipes! Since there was nothing that we could do without the pipes the group decided to spend the day in Trujillo. We headed off to Trujillo right after breakfast, since we only had one car we had to travel in two trips. Once the entire group arrived in the city we walked around trying to figure out what to do. There were not very many shops and sights to look at. After we finished in the city center we then visited the Artisan shop that was started with the help of Diane Karper, our NGO, and sells many crafts of forty women within Trujillo and even some of the women from Guadalupe Carney. The women have learned how to run the shop and they each have a specialty craft, some make jewelry, some make bags. Everything within the store was very well made.
After everyone was finished at the store we all decided to head down to the beach. We spent the afternoon on the beach and playing in the Caribbean, hoping that the pipes would come soon.

Day 8, Thursday August 8, 2011
Our second to last day in the village and the pipes have not yet arrived. We were expecting the pipes to arrive that morning, so after breakfast we all gathered at Maria's house to await the pipes only to find a surprise awaiting us on the main road. There was a blockade on the main highway outside of the village. According to some villagers, a member of the community's son has been in jail for three years and has not yet had a trial. The village had decided to protest and in the process setting up a blockade on the street, using rocks and brush. This posed a problem for the expected arrival of our pipes. Fortunately, the pipes were delivered at 11 am with no problems. Since half the team was at lunch and the other half had decided to go for a swim in a nearby swimming hole the team decided to resume after lunch. The team returned to the site to find the last two culverts already in place and the back fill already started to be put in. The goal was to get at least 6 inches of compacted fill on the pipes because a front loader was expected in the morning to push the remaining piles of dirt onto the roadway. And the remaining portion of the headwall was being completed by Santos. Once all of this was completed the team split up for dinner and to get ready the fiesta that night. Everyone met up at the fiesta around seven to watch a few skits and we got to see traditional Honduran dancing and some Garafunda dances.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 4-6

Day 4, Sunday August 7
We met the mason, Faustino early and he started laying the concrete block headwall. For the grout and morter, a large screen sieve was brought to seperate the gravel. Like the concrete, it was hand mixed on the ground with cement and water and then taken in buckets to the desired location. At the same time, our ewb team and several other volunteers dug the outlet and pipe beds. Our next task was to fill the very large outlet trench with rock. We had an assembly line of college students aided by willing and excited village children that hauled the big rocks from the staging area to the outlet. We were amazed at the motiviation and strength of the little kids. After a break for lunch, we laid the two pipes. The other 2 pipes still had not arrived...

Day 5, Monday August 8
Still missing two culverts, there wasn't much for the crew to do. Our EWB team split into two groups, the graduates stayed on the construction site while the current students followed Santos through the village to investigate future projects. On the site, we excavated around the inlet and headwall, shoveled and compacted dirt slopes for inlet ptrotection laid rock, and

finished the outlet trench. The heat was very difficult to work in, and those of us on the construction site were exhausted by lunchtime of the shoveling and compacting routine. On the other hand, the students looking for future work found lots to do for other crossings in Guadalupe Carney and were able to narrow down the village's priorities.

Day 6, Tuesday August 9
Despite being promised the missing pipes, we were still without on Day 6. Having completed most of the work that could be done in the previous days, we spent a couople hours finishing the inlet protection and then decided to follow Santos to see one of the two sources of water for the village. This was much more of an encdedavor than we had imagined. We hiked 4 km in the jungle covered mountains. 4 km doesn't sound like a lot, but the heat and the climb really took it out of us. We did see monkeys and enjoyed fresh mangoes. When we got to the top, we saw a dam that water piped all the way to the villlage. One of the most amazing things is that in order to build the concrete structure, they had to haul all the materials by horse and by man. Here we learned a lot about the water in the village. They first had water two years ago when this project started, and everyone must pay 50 limperia (about $2.50) per month in order to receive the un-filtered water. Santos himself, at 56 years old, makes the difficult trek every two weeks to maintain the water lines.

Famished, dirty, sweaty, and sticky we made it back down to the truck only to discover we had a flat tire. Luckily the rental was equipped with a spare and Randell and Scott were able to get it changed quickly. In the evening all the students gathered at one of the houses to enjoy the Fast and the Furious in Spanish (no english subtitiles).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Randell's blog

Due to the limited internet access and lack of time, we can't write much. But check out our mentor's blog who has been able to post some pictures.

More later!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Days 1-4

Day 1, Thursday, August 4
Day one was spent on traveling from Portland to La Ceiba, and it actually began at 10:00pm on Wednesday. Our team, from Portland, Seattle, Washington DC, and San Fransisco all came together in the Houston airport. This is where we met Randell, our fearless leader, for the first time. It was also where our team was almost shortened by three members when their hunger led them to nearly miss the flight. From the Texas airport we flew to Roatan, Honduras, we had only a brief time there before taking another (very small) airplane to La Ceiba. We encountered a few problems immediately with securing the rental car and our credit cards not working. But after a few hours and some phone calls to the US we headed to our hotel 30 minutes away, where we had no reservations, contrary to prior beliefs. Luckily they had space for us, the ladies took over one of the hotel's dorm rooms, and the gentlemen shared a much nicer private room that had sheets on the beds and a mirror in the bathroom. Although very rustic, the Jungle River Lodge is set in a beautiful valley with a river running behind the property and after all the stress of traveling, the whole team jumped in the water to relax and cool off. It was refreshing, despite the ENORMOUS spiders we encountered (see picture). We ate, played cards, and ended the evening by laying out side and enjoying the bright starry sky.

Day 2, Friday, August
The team awoke early and enjoyed breakfast with the company of Jungle River Lodge's owners, children, and pets. Our partner NGO, Scott & Diane, met us shortly after and we began the trip to Guadalupe Carney. About three hours later, around 2:00pm, we arrived in the village and drove immediately to the project site. After about five minutes in the intense sun, we were already tired, thirsty, and ready for the beach. Unfortunately the beach was not a possibility, and we went to meet Santos, the village council president. We gave him a set of our plans and explained the project in more detail. Santos seemed excited with the drawings and he called others to a central meeting place where we went over the plans with six or seven men of the village. It is here that we learned of the first obstacle of the project: Only 2 of the 4 pipes that we needed had arrived on the site, and it was unknown when the other two would be fabricated and delivered. It has yet to be resolved...

We dispersed in pairs from the meeting place to our host families. Hannah & Colton with Evangelio, Amanda & Stephanie with Maria, and Chelsea & Olivia with Santos. After dropping off luggage we immediately returned to prepare the site for the excavator that was scheduled for 8am the following morning. We laid string lines and measured for the layout, and we were ready to paint the lines, only to discover that Hannah had purchased clear marking paint instead of orange, or any other color. We quit for dinner around 6, the students to their host families and Randell & Louisa to their hotel.

Host family life was a bit difficult to adjust to at first. Things are a lot simpler here. Concrete and dirt floors, wood-fire ovens, and bathrooms/showers outside. Most sleep on simple beds under a mosquito net and with the bugs that are smaller than the net holes. The language barrier being the biggest issue, most of the team working from 2 years of high school Spanish. All of the students went to bed early, exhausted from the sun and communication issues.

Day 3, Saturday August
Another early morning for the team. With the excavator scheduled for 8, we met at 7. We arrived at the site to meet lots of excited volunteers and promptly started on the project. The excavator took only five hours to excavate the site and it amounted to more than six cubic yards of earth. We broke for a quick lunch and siesta. We cut and tied rebar and by hand we mixed about three cubic yards of concrete. We completed the entire footing in a half of a day. We quit around six, at this point we were ahead of schedule and excited about our progress. Although still waiting on two pipes.....

Day 4, Sunday August 7
Today we met at 7:30 am and went to the site to meet our mason who was arriving at 8. And promptly started constructing our masonry wall. We also filled the footing with river rock. We brought the two culverts that had already arrived to the site and prepared to put them in place. We modified the bedding in order to make a shaped bedding instead of gravel bedding. The culverts we then placed in the shaped bedding and we started compacting fill around the pipes. Although we ran into a complication with the grade of the pipes, they were at too much of a grade. So we needed to raise one end of the pipes to arrive at the correct level. At that point, we decided that we were going to quit for the day because there was not much we could do without all of the culverts. We cleaned up and called it a day. Since we were hot, sweaty and dirty we traveled to Scott and Diane's house, which was right on the Carribean, and swam for a couple of hours.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Finalizing Plans

Our day of departure draws near, and while we are all excited, there is still a lot we need to do.  Last night we met via conference call to review trip details, discuss our packing list, and most importantly, determine what still needs to get done before take off next Thursday.  

Looking at the recent forecast of Trujillo, we may encounter some heavy rains.  The occasional down pour should not hinder our plans. Diversion culverts would keep our construction site mostly dry and workable.  However, continuous rain would make our construction unfeasible. In this case our “Plan B” would be to identify other high priority culvert sites, and investigate the material and equipment suppliers in the area.
Rain or shine, we are all eager to visit Guadalupe and see our designs take shape!

We Have a Go!

It is official! On Thursday, August 4 a group of six University of Portland students, our translator, and our professional adviser will make the long trip to Guadalupe Carney, Honduras. Once there, the villagers will open their homes to us, providing our food and housing, while also helping us build our first culvert.  

The design, approved by Engineers Without Borders National and shown below, consists of four PVC culverts supported by a masonry retaining wall. 
While guiding them through the culvert’s construction, we hope to teach the villagers a few vitals steps such as compacting the fill material around the culverts. We will also work with the village to implement a regular maintenance program, so the culverts do not become clogged with debris.   

Between the purchasing of equipment, building the culvert, and planning a long term O&M system, our short ten day trip will be packed full!