Week 2: Progress in Peru

The weekend got off to an interesting start. We set out to Trujillo’s bustling black market, where stalls stretched for a square mile. Any kind of goods could be bought. It seemed incredibly easy to get lost, so I stuck closely to the group, which Jess led around – especially as I didn’t bring my phone due to warnings about not bringing anything I didn’t want lost. Despite this, it was a pleasant experience and I bought some wooden pan-flutes to build on my musical skills.


The next day we went walking. After grouping up with Espaanglisch - an organization dedicated to English language education in elementary schools, and a short taxi ride out to the desert, a large mountain of sand in a gloomy mist stood before us. I couldn’t see how good views were possible, instead I was thinking more about whether I needed a raincoat. We climbed up, spotting spiders in wet webs and droplets condensing on the prickles of cacti. After 600 meters of steep, slippery and muddy rocks, I noticed the mist to thin a little. I was in front with the guide and gradually I saw blue skies appear and then fade out into grey. I felt like I imagined it. It was only until the guide ran up ahead over a valley ridge, encouraged me to catch up and I went out of the fog into one of the most astonishing views. The clear blue sky was all around, the sun beamed down and reflected off the white blanket of clouds with rocky peaks pointing out in the distance. It reminded me of looking down from a plane through a small window at the clouds. We continued to climb up to 1,000 meters, enjoying the views, eating lunch and taking pictures. Then went back in the opposite direction, down into the dark mist.


Robert, the founder of Volunteer Aid, and his girlfriend Shelby visited us for the week. We welcomed them and I enjoyed showing them highlights of the workshop - including the levitating screwdriver! From Monday to Thursday, I continued to work on the turbines. The resin mould was opened out carefully to avoid fracture, then cut down with a grinder while the rest of the blades were prepared to be filled with resin. Finishing off the resin blades was a repetitive but satisfying process. The blades were sanded down all over, which took significant time. By Thursday afternoon, three elegant blades were completed. I hung the turbines on a wires connected to the ceiling and left them swaying about. Shelby and I then spray painted them white. She commented how it was sad they would eventually be destroyed in the testing and I agreed – but progress often comes with a price. 

Throughout this process, we also picked up on the Chocofan turbine’s maintenance. The structure had to be taken apart and replaced with new components. It was fun to use spinning disc saws to cut down the frame and weld the replacement components together. One morning I practiced welding together metal screws to create a random shape. With my masterpiece completed, I took on welding the structure. It was a surreal experience. My vision was blocked out while wearing the protective mask, leaving only sight through a small, transparent, green-tinted rectangle. As soon as the welding rod hit the target metal, an electric current formed and melted the rod under the extreme temperature. Huge, violent bursts of UV light were emitted and the green-tint I could once see through, suddenly turned black. The only thing I could see were small, mint colored dim flames surrounded by darkness as I worked on the weld. Although intimidating at first, I grew confident and got comfortable with molten metal flying about and a brightness that would permanently blind me if I took my mask off.


By the end of the week, progress was made with the turbines, new skills learnt and better communication in the workshop thanks to Sofia’s useful Spanish-English lessons after the end of each session. She has allowed me to use a couple of her pictures and she is writing about her experiences too on Not Just A Journey.  We also celebrated two birthdays with cake – Rosa, the house cook and Kevin, an engineer who helps us at the workshop. It was a special time with everyone gathered in the house!