A week in El 20 (by Philipp and Roy)

ALM 2016 just spend an amazing week in „El 20 de Noviembre“. The first evening we had the opportunity to present our plans to the villagers. The inhabitants of „El 20“ expressed great interest in us and our project. We were warmly welcomed into our host families houses and during the week we greatly enjoyed their hospitality.

My Team had planned to take water samples and analyze them, in order to better understand the water-quality in the village. Unfortunately our part of the project was plagued with setbacks. First we were not allowed to transport distilled water on the airplane, because the security considered it to dangerous to be transported in the luggage. When we finally managed to aquire distilled water it turned out, that the standard solutions for calibrating the sensors were contaminated, so most of our analyses could not be done.

Despite our frustration we decided to do the best with the situation. We plan to create a manual for water sampling for future labbers, in which we warn them of the potential perils, that can compromise their plans. That way we hope to ensure, that they can take preparations for avoiding similar problems. With the part of our equipment that did work, we could do some sampling and analysis, which will mainly serve as groundwork for future generations of ALM. This experience taught us to see failure as an opportunity to learn for the future.


While our water team was tackling with problems and revising plans, our education team was learning the ways to engage the kids of the village with activities. We found that the kids were super exited about us and we had big energy boost from them! Our activities included for example hygiene related memory card game and Dengue tag, where the kids learned ways to protect from mosquitos. As a result we now have a good diagnosis of kids’ knowledge and best practices for education in El 20 and a vision to closely include education in future ALM plans.


Apart from the serious work we also had a lot of time for some fun with our fellow labbers. Our evenings were spent with partygames, chatting and joking. On sunday the 13th of march we also visited the impressive pyramids of Calakmul. From the top we had a spectacular view over the jungle of Calakmul. A guide told us about the history of the site and the Mayan civilization.


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