As you can see, my Spanish has vastly improved. Oh man apparently I have to write about the past three days because the rest of this lot needs to do “homework.” Bet you a pupusa Jesse is just on Facebook. I already won a pupusa bet today because Ariel thought lobsters have eight legs, but they have ten. Wikipedia says the claws count. Boom. I expect payment, Ariel. Learn your crustaceans.
Oh right, real information. Let’s start with Sunday. We returned to El Porvenir to finish what we’d started on Saturday. Los ingenieros (me, Jesse, and Bob) finished up surveying the riverbed and found that it would indeed be possible to run a pipeline up to the meeting tree solely powered by gravity. Meanwhile Paige and Ariel went to the houses they’d missed the day before for their own brand of surveying, which involves lots of health questions and interpreting thick, mumbly accents. After lunch, the villagers Miguel and Don Chepe emptied and cleaned the springbox. We began to measure the height of the water to figure out the flow rate, which was a two-hour process. While we waited, Domingo’s friend Benancio came down the hill and shirked his usual thick, mumbly accent to sing for us quite beautifully. Meanwhile other people came to ruin our data (read: collect water as they rightfully should) so we had to do a bit of compensation calculation.
In the evening we did some serious chemistry – look out, here comes the technical information! We popped the samples from Saturday out of the incubator and took a look at the coliforms (icky bacteria in poop). Most disturbingly, we found that our negative control – bottled Agua Cristal – had quite the number of red dots. I can’t tell you how many yet because we didn’t count them until Monday. This is called building suspense. I can tell you that it didn’t have any E. coli, which show up as blue dots, but it’s important to realize that just because water is in a bottle does not mean it’s clean. Then again, it hasn’t killed us so far.
By far the most potable looking sample was the Rio Muyapa one that had gone through a brand-new ceramic filter we have here. This makes it sound as though ceramic filters would make it possible to drink the river water, but unfortunately ceramic filters do not account for some things we aren’t capable of testing for, such as viruses. We also noted that Orbellina’s filtered water, which came from Tomas’s well and had been through a 3-year-old ceramic filter, did not have a significant decrease in red dots but it did seem to have banished all of the E. coli. So the conclusion is that ceramic filters make a decent difference in the water quality, though they deteriorate over time.
We also began the nitrate and phosphate testing on Sunday night. Once again, I found that the worst offender was our own bottled water – at least for phosphate, at 10 ppm. Concerned, I did the test four times. I even bought a new bottle for the fourth test, to no avail. The phosphate results seemed consistent for the rest of the tests so we have concluded that something else in the bottled water set off the indicator. In case you’re curious, the springbox and Orbellina’s filtered water won the contest at 0 phosphates. Jesse’s not saying what happened with the nitrates yet. I think he’s grumpy that he had to deal with the cadmium.
But really, we’ve all been getting along pretty well. Each of us brings a unique and useful set of skills wherever we go. And we all bring a fair amount of sass. My new favorite Spanish phrase (which I found in my handy dandy phrasebook) is “¿Puede empaquetarmelo como regalo, porfavor?” which we use frequently when being handed items. If you’re too lazy to look it up, it means “Can you giftwrap that for me, please?”
That’s all I gotta say about that. Go read Monday! You know you want to. And no, I’m not giftwrapping it. That’s a waste of paper.