April 15, by Tuulikki / Arrival at El 20

We met with sleepy eyes at the Juarez airport  for our flight to Chetumal already at 4:30 am. Finally also our mentors Anni Hapuoja and Elina Lehikoinen, and our documentors Antti Seppänen and Jan Ahlstedt from Finland joined our team. The airline staff was a bit suspicious about our intentions to take a distilled water canister to the plane. After all everything turned out fine and the journey to El 20 could finally begin.

photo © Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015
Streets of Chetumal / photo © Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015

When we stepped out of the plane in Chetumal the weather turned out to be extremely hot and humid. Vans drove us for two hours in to the forest of Calakmul towards the village. At the arrival in El 20 we met smiley faces and got warm hugs. Right away we got in to action by baking and frying tortillas from fermented corn dough at Mrs. Ofelia’s kitchen. The activity was a good ice breaker for the part of the team, with limited Spanish skills, to get in contact with the local family. Labber’s were shown their accommodation at Mrs. Rosa’s home. We hanged hammocks to the roof structures for sleeping. During our afternoon free time we got to know each other a bit better while joking, singing and playing with the hammocks. The team was surely excited to be on the site without any connection to the outer world.

Frying tortillas for lunch / photo © Ekaterina Ohotnikova
Beautiful hammocks made by local artisans / photo © Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015

Like in the Finnish countryside it was natural to greet all by-passers in El 20. By strolling around we got to know more about the village. We also visited the few local grocery stores, which would probably become very familiar to us during the week. Every street had its own charm with exotic plants, that I’ve never seen before for example cotton and heliconia. The forest was drier than I had expected and the small river didn’t have much water. Unfortunately corrugated iron as roof material is popular here like elsewhere in the world. You could really tell the difference of the roof and wall materials when walking through buildings and sensing the ventilation. Luckily there was a guano palm leaf roof above our pink sleeping room. After a delicious dinner at Ofelia’s place, we wrapped our selves to the hammocks and fell asleep very early.

Heliconia blooming on the street / photo © Tuulikki Peltomäki
Waste burning / photo © Tuulikki Peltomäki


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