17 January 2017

Flat Head

Written by Jay Castro and Yinghan Hua

We'd become complacent. We'd heard rumors about one of our own spending the day at the Mayors domicile, feverish and taking only fluids, but that felt still somehow distant, like it couldn't possibly happen to us, not nine days in. We told ourselves, "We have iron stomachs! Give us your frijoles, your foreign microbiomes! They'll find Liberty on the golden shores of our stomachs."

Of course this couldn't last. It's the morning of the 16th and a third of the team is out of commission.

Felix after frijoles and a long night of oral hydration salts

Despite being six ingenieros down, we made a lot of progress at Jesus de Otoro. Everyone knew what needed to be done and got straight to doing it. There was only one item on the todo list, technically - assemble the new filter manifolds. The plant here has been experiencing problems with sand leakage and clogging in its filters during the backwash process, so we set about fabricating the new filter manifold design which would prevent sand from entering the inlets. The new design features a half-pipe "wing" attached along the length of each module, with 37 holes drilled evenly along the middle line. From theory and testing, we found this design creates a sand-water barrier which prevents fluidized sand from entering the pipe.

La Planta Jesus de Otoro

Three of us began sanding down the modules of the manifold to help them fit nicely into the molds without deforming. The sanded PVC got tossed into a pile from which the Chefs selected pieces for heating in oil until pliable enough to be artfully shoved into the metal molds which shape the pieces for proper assembly. Two Chefs, two kilos of manteca, one hotplate, and a generator.

Chefs doing chef things

PVC after molding

From there the pieces landed in the ruined-beyond-hope pile or the Okay barrel. One brave washer applies soap to the greasy ends of deep-fried PVC and ignores the pain as best they can - PVC, when rotated quickly and under pressure, can and will inflict wounds very similar to paper cuts. Two or three more washers rinse the soapy PVC, and a few driers wipe them down.

Our bravest of washers

This whole process is lovingly summed up as Cooking PVC.

"Be chiller, Peter."

We spent about five hours cooking PVC and just barely finished in time to meet the president of the Jesus de Otoro Waterboard for a few house visits -

Visiting with the president of the Jesus de Otoro Waterboard

And dinner with the rest of the Waterboard members at a beautiful water park next to a bridge over one of Honduras's largest rivers, Rio Zazagua.

Four down, four to go


Special thanks to Juanita Weber-Shirk for her medical skills and incredible generosity. Thank you! 


Charlie Jane Clark said...

Hey guys! My name is Charlie and I'm the teacher you met in the park in Gracias today!
I didn't have a chance to exchange emails, but I'd be happy to help in any way you need. Let me know! :)


Hammad Ansari said...

Wow! Flat Head Title.
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