On Saturday Danny and I decided to go sand-boarding. We arrived at the grounds and picked up our sand-boards with a large bag of wax. It soon became clear that the wax would be essential. Tired from walking high up the sand dunes and getting sand all over ourselves, it was difficult to get going. After sitting down, applying wax to the underside of my board for 2 minutes, I got on and sand boarded - for about 5 seconds. Although overall not much distance was covered, it was still a fun experience.
The next day, we went to the workshop to prepare the turbine for Chocofan. The blades had to be balanced so that when it came to a stop, it didn’t spin backwards. This took careful adjustment and we successfully finished before noon so we could get back to the weekend break. We headed out to Trujillo where the annual ‘eternal spring’ parade was going on. Sitting on the side, we saw lots of people in costumes, marching bands and floats pass by. It was great to see so many people out and celebrating.
On Monday, we packed and packaged the parts of the turbine in the workshop. With a fully equipped toolbox and wrapped-up turbine, we put it all in the Beast and went on a 2-hour bus ride to Chocofan. Once we arrived, we went straight to play pick-up football. First, we played with kids from the school, and later played a wagered game against some older locals for. As a team we beat them 4-3, and got 2 soles each! Living without luxury, we stayed over as guests in a small house and slept in sleeping bags inside a large living room. There were also no nearby toilets or showers.
Throughout the hot Tuesday, we worked on installing the turbine. In the morning we replaced the support cables and renewed the components which secure them into the ground. The team also took time to present to the teachers. It was slightly disappointing as they put blame on WindAid for their issues and passed around responsibility for the turbine. WindAid is working over the next 6 months to improve this as they are most important for influencing the children. One kid named Gustavo, met the day before at football, was interested and hung around where we worked. Hopefully he was inspired to work with wind turbines and renewable energy in the future. Some of the students from the school later go on to find work at the nearby wind farm, allowing them to progress on and move out from Chocofan. After lunch, we worked to place the heavy structure onto the post and the Beast raised it. With the cables tightened, the structure was lowered again to put each blade on. Once completed, the Beast raised it again. It stood firmly above, better than before and it was a proud moment to say the least.
On the next day, we made our presentations to 5 classes of young kids in the school. I talked about the blades in Spanish, while other members explained different parts, such as the electronics. We also expanded on education about renewable energy. I took the opportunity to spend time talking with the kids and teaching them some English and brush up on my Spanish, which was a fun experience. On an amusingly uncomfortable tuk-tuk ride and bus trip back to Trujillo, we reflected on what we had achieved.
Saving the best event for the last and with one day left, we had to test the blades we made. After taking many pictures for our final time together, the test area was set up. The first blade was pulled down under a load and it withstood an impressive large bend. The blade could bend perpendicular to the floor and not snap. Only until the strap was put further up the blade did it snap near its centre. The second was spun around near 600 rpm. A metal bar was pulled which slowed the blades down instantly and dramatically snapped the ends of the blades off. The results were positive, the blades kept relatively intact without parts flying off, which would happen without the metal reinforcement. I left the workshop for the final time and was satisfied to leave it knowing that I had contributed to the improvement of the wind-turbines. In the afternoon, I went out to another ruin called Chan Chan. They were a complex of high-walled palaces built around 1400 CE. The palaces belonged to the Chimu civilisation that were descendants of Moche, before falling to the Incans. We had a tour around one palace and it had impressive wall carvings, the colours had been eroded away due to salt from the nearby sea. In the evening, we celebrated the time spent with WindAid with pizza and collected our certificates as engineers.
As I left the house, I made my goodbyes to everyone and before I was about to pass through security on my own I felt sad to go. However, Nick said in return – “if you never leave, you can’t come back!”