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Pantanal May 25, 2011

Posted by pcerwatersystems in Community, Design-Build-Test.
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Hello from pocone!

We’ve come back from the wilderness of the Pantanal for a day to gather more materials and make contact with the outside world. It’s been a crazy few weeks since we (Cory, Greg, Julie, Ethan and I (Micaela)) arrived in Brazil. Once we (finally) made it to the work site we buckled down to get the wooden mold built for the BSF. On site we have settled into an easy routine, waking up around 7:30 am getting breakfast in the lodge kitchen, working until 1230 when we break for lunch, after lunch we usually go for a swim, jumping off the bridge that is just up the road, the we work again until 5ish, shower and head over for dinner. We’ve been going to bed between 9 and 10 most nights which I find half wonderful and half ridiculous at first we told ourselves it was just to make up for finals week or because of the long days of travel, but now I think we’ve all accepted the early bedtime along with the rhythm of the pantanal.

As for the work itself, we adapted a design by CAWST for a metal filter mold into wood after determining that a metal mold wouldn’t really be feasible here. In the interest of sustainability and cost effectiveness, we used left over wood from the construction of the school, which after sitting out in a field for the better part of a year was not in the greatest shape. We got the mold built without any major problems, and attached frames to the sieves to start the long sifting process. After about 4 days of preparation poured the cement, again without any real issues, and left it to start curing over night. The next day, however, when we tried to remove the interior mold we found it to be inextractable. Several hours and several broken chunks of BSF found us resorting to matches and a squirty bottle of diesel to get it out. As one of my professors in the art school likes to say, ‘you must learn to kill your babies’, though we had worked long and hard on that first mold, we had to recognize its failure, and accept it for what we learned from the process of making it. The next morning, we pieced together a second mold from the scraps of our first, creating a collapsable interior as opposed to the original which screwed into place. This mold too came along with some speed bumps, but here we are, the concrete is cured, the interior is cleaned, the sand and gravel are washed, sifted and ready. When we arrive back at the lodge, we will fill it and begin the testing process.

We’ve also been helping Ethan and Julie prepare the school to open in July, painting the walls and laying bricks to partition the space into a: classroom, library, clinic, and lab space. We have our highs and lows for productivity, but overall we’ve been working pretty steadily. Hard to believe there’s only one week left!

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