Said the Jesse to the Ariel

When she picked up the table

And off its legs fell.


Ariel was bewildered

She stood there in the grass

Calmly put them back on

While we offered her sass.


That’s a poem. Engineers can write too. Well, some of us.


Speaking of poetic words, I realized last night that the phrase “up working until the first rooster crow” is really not that impressive, seeing as the roosters here begin crowing at midnight.  They crow in shifts – midnight, dawn, eight-ish, and noon. Whether the same roosters crow during each shift is unclear, but there are equal numbers of crowers at each shift, all equally confused about what time it is.

Anyway, we got up at a time that most college kids on spring break would consider criminally early. And in fact, someone probably should have handcuffed us to the truck on the way to Arada Vieja this morning to keep us from falling out. That said, riding on top of a moving vehicle up and down wild hills is pretty fun. I feel a lot less sympathy for Mitt Romney’s dog now.  I bet he liked it.

We arrived in Arada Vieja around eight a.m. and found the villagers already up and ready to fix the slow sand filters. As it turned out, only one of the three was even remotely dirty – it had a growth of some variety of algae. A man named Ricardo showed up and seemed to know all about slow sand filter maintenance, so we let him take charge and direct people. They cleaned the smaller tank that the filters lead to with chlorine – women and children helped carry the water over from the spigot, which was still directly connected to the big tank. I helped carry water too – on my head. I can’t tell you how much it was because they kept saying it was “treinta botellas” – thirty bottles – but it was unclear what, exactly, one bottle’s size is. Meanwhile, the men fetched long logs (I’m fairly certain they were just casually felling some trees) to use for the roof.

I met my first in-person scorpion today; it was loaded up with ten or so babies and prepared to sting one of the kids. Jesse kept him from climbing up on top the tank next to it as he had been planning. The kid climbed up farther away and after Jesse had taken a picture of it, proceeded to stomp on the entire clan with his Spiderman crocs. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but crocs are really big here. They’re the perfect El Salvador shoe – they empty of dust quickly, they’re light, dry fast, offer decent foot protection, and they’re cheap.  So if any of you Longshore people are reading this, just know – El Salvadorians would be well-equipped renters.

Around 11:30 Ricardo left for work. He told us that he was going to organize a meeting to make a schedule for cleaning the slow sand filters, which is the best we could ask for given our short time here. The villagers intend to construct the roof on Thursday, so unfortunately we will not be able to see it before we leave.

We came home to eat lunch and plan out the construction for the lid we want to build for the springbox in El Porvenir. After much debate, we decided on the materials we needed and went to the ferretería, where they lent us some tin snips to cut the sheet metal and where we bought some thin PVC for the frame. They didn’t have galvanized anything so we called our driver back to take us to La Puerta en La Libertad. There we found everything we needed to build the lid – machine screws, bolts, nuts, and hinges, all galvanizada.

On the way home, we banged on the roof of the pickup cab to stop for some coconuts. We drank them on the way home and got the most “GRINGO!!” catcalls since we’ve been here. As we were chopping them apart at Mike and Susie’s, Jesse and I taught Victor (Salvador) and his friend how to play Jenga. Victor lost the first game, but quickly bested Jesse in the second game.

Our most interesting data of the evening was the coliforms from the Arada Vieja water. Jesse had, for some mind-blowingly unobvious reason, insisted that we take water samples both at the spring source and at the spigot half a kilometer away. This bizarre request to test the same source twice turned an interesting result – the spigot water, which at the time was NOT going through any sort of filter, was much cleaner than the same water at the source. We wonder if the black piping, which bakes in the sun, gets so hot that it kills off the bacteria on the way to the spigot. Also, the boiled water sample came out with just one coliform. Finally, negative really means negative. Ish.

I am sunburnt, tired, and covered in dirt and sweat. I haven’t showered in a while (It’s not my fault – the water keeps cutting out! Why have the others showered, you ask? Because they didn’t have to write three blog posts in a row).

I think I want to do this job my whole life.