by Lee Mook

I finished my work on the solar ovens. I was able to fix five ovens in five days, but only because I had such a great team!

My team

Each part of the team had a task to complete for each oven.  I was responsible for building new doors for the ovens we worked on, which I enjoyed tremendously!

I had to cut the wood to the proper length and width, using sandpaper to clean the wood.

There is not enough power to sustain all power tools

Luckily sanding does not take too much power

Next I had to chisel the spots on the bottom of the door to put door hinges.

blog at work

To finish the outside part of the door, the crew screws a piece of zinc to the wood.

Screwing the zinc to the wood.

For the inside of the door I screwed three pegs of equal length into the wooden door, placed insulation in between the pegs, and finally nailed metal laminate over the entire thing.

While repairing the solar ovens I experienced the struggles of leading ateam. At first my team’s work pace was very slow and there were problems with not bringing the correct tools.  However I learned that by setting goals at the beginning of the workday, communicating effectively, and keeping a happy and enjoyable work atmosphere, we eliminated these issues, work more efficiently, and truly enjoy our work.

My second project is to repair the solar water distiller prototype that another volunteer built before I arrived. The water distiller genius is the simplicity of the idea. It uses heat from the sun to evaporate water, which collects on a pane of glass, runs into a ridge at the bottom, and flows out into a bottle.  After I fix the system they can sell the cleaned water; they estimate that for every dollar they invest in the water distiller system they can make five dollars selling the water.

The distiller had water leaking from the bottom, and the evaporated water was not making it to the collection ridge.1

The water distiller

First I replaced all the silicon between the tiles where the water could be escaping.

Scraping and replacing silicon

The water droplets were falling before making it to the collection ridge so I made larger ridges out of PVC pipe, and made the inclination of the glass panes steeper.

cutting the PVC pipe

safety first

Lastly I figured out how to make each of the pieces coincide with each other so that water could flow out of the sides.

working at the angles

the finished product (without glass)

Working on the solar water distiller, my eyes were opened to the meaning of responsibility and independence. I was told that there was a problem with water leaking from the bottom, and that most of the evaporated water droplets were not making it to the collection ridge. From that point on it was my job to figure out what was causing the issues and how to fix them. There was nobody looking over my shoulder, telling me what I should do, and no distinctly correct answer. I was simply told ‘’finish it before the week ends.’’ It was one of the most liberating feelings I have experienced.

I have had the chance to travel to a number of famous places on the weekends.

My first excursion was to Leon to go volcano boarding, yes volcano boarding, see the biggest church in Central America, and swim in the Pacific Ocean.

To volcano board we went to Cerro Negro, one of the most active volcanos in Nicaragua.

blog volcano boarding sign

Do not pass, volcanic eruption danger zone

The views of the landscape and one of the craters were breathtaking and the perfect backdrop to represent UNC.

Next to the biggest crater

The plains surrounding the mountains were gorgeous

Going to check out the slope

The crew

Other views were breathtaking in a different, more terrifying way, such as this one where I couldn’t see the bottom.

I could not see the bottom

But that didn’t keep me from shredding.

Volcano boarding

I was able to take a rooftop tour of the largest church in Nicaragua, which allowed fantastic views of the volcanic chains surrounding Leon.

The largest church in central america

Smoking volcano in the background

Relaxing by the ocean and watching the sun set over the largest waves I have ever seen was the perfect ending to my trip to Leon.

My abode for the night

Perfect for body surfing

blog pensive beach

blog sunset photo

My second excursion was to a nature reserve called Miraflor in Esteli.

We spent the morning riding horses to one of the waterfalls in the reserve.

Miraflor landscape

blog miraflor horse

When we arrived at the waterfall I went up to get a closer look, slipped and fell into the pool underneath, luckily I wasn’t hurt, I didn’t have any electronics on me, and I had a change of clothes.

My tour guide made fun of me for the rest of the day.

We spent the afternoon riding to the highest point of the reserve.

The three amigos

In my last week and a half I will be constructing solar panels, and traveling to Isla de Ometepe and Masaya.