I’m excited to say that we’ve completed some very exciting milestones in the past few days. As Chloe mentioned, the rest of week two was filled with cable pulling (pictured below). Days and days of cable pulling . While our work days certainly grew longer–and hotter–the team fortunately fell into an efficient rhythm. We ran into various challenges along the way, such as releasing the tension and maneuvering the tensioning system around the ground rebar. Nevertheless, on Wednesday, we achieved a huge goal: we successfully pretensioned all ten ropes! I’m proud to say that we generated (literally) tons of tension without a single safety incident.
Due to a shift in our schedule, Thursday became our new Essaouira day for the way. As such, we attended to various other tasks throughout the day, and I must admit that it was a relief to do something other than cable-pulling for once. In preparation for the second travel team, we used the angle-grinder to cut rebar (action-shot below), determined what remaining wood needs to be purchased for the bridge and approach decks, and–with the help of Tahimi’s impressive metal-working skills–prepared the thimbles that will be used to permanently secure the ropes. To save time, we also decided to bring difficult pieces of wood for the Traveler in to Essa with us to be professionally cut.
With that, the 6 of us (+ the Traveler wood + suitcases) piled into the rental car and spent Thursday night and Friday in Essa. On Saturday, the rest of the first travel team bid Morocco adiu and flew out of Marrakech, and the second travel team (plus 3 of the 4 remaining mentors) has taken our place in Ait Bayoud. While this has certainly been a challenging and hot 2.5 weeks, it’s hard to believe that the 2013 Summer Implementation trip is halfway over. I, as well as the rest of the first travel team, had a truly amazing experience, and I can’t to see the project progress over the next few weeks. This is a wrap for me, but check in later this week for more updates!
This is Chloe checking in with Tiffany and Mitu as we get ready to leave Morocco
Things are going pretty well so far. From last time, we found out that our dyno had some problems. It was not able to read anything past 3000 Ibs (Or that’s what we think). After consulting our mentors, we attached the dyno to our block and tackle system to lower the tension reading and continued with the rope tensioning process. We successfully tensioned four cables since yesterday, and will be working on the rest of them this week. We were a little concerned about the comealong as a small part of the metal wire frayed, and the spring came off at one point, but all should be fine (fingers crossed!). We also finished most part of the traveller, mainly the top and bottom frames. It’s looking pretty good so far!
Good luck to the remaining team, we will be spiritually here with you all the time! Thanks for everything/ the amazing time! And get excited second travel team! You have no idea how much I will miss this place
Tagines, sweaty and smelling clothes, blue and orange cables, goats, cats, flies, bridge, Tahami, wood, ropes, rebar, comealong, dyno, ratchet, disgusting bathroom (or pop a squat), fries, tea, bread, eesh, eat meat, PEOPLE (you know who you are),,,,,,,,
You must be happy to hear that we have had a productive few days! With the help of our mentors, we were able to communicate with the locals and get all our wood planks and supplies out into the worksite. We inspected every wood piece to make sure that there were no deep cracks or knots that can potentially be problematic or damaging. After clearing them out, we assembled a track to place the wood deck out and began the painting. We decided to have a base white layer, then add the light gray color as the second coat. Taking the rollers and paint brushes, we spent two full days coating and covering the planks. The result? A consistent and beautiful light gray deck planks. Also, I must add, they look slightly light blue under the sun!
With that completed, we started making our Traveler system. In a nutshell, the Traveler is designed so that it would hang below the suspension ropes of the bridge and would allow two students to put the deck planks in place. The production of this Traveler is essential for the project and the safety is imperative. We began by measuring out the necessary blocks and pieces, and then used handsaws to cut it to the right size. Tomorrow, we will begin drilling the pieces together and hopefully finish it up!
Also, because I’m quite a foodie and love different cultures and traditions, I want to add a few lines about my experience with the locals. We have had the privilege to work with community workers on the bridge project. As their way of appreciation, they invite us over to their house for lunch. It starts off with a tagine; and it is usually made with spices, meat (chicken, beef, lamb, or goat), olives or prunes, and topped with french fries. It is sometimes followed by cous cous, then a round of watermelon or melons. And to finish it all up, with a cup of super sweet mint Moroccan tea. As you can see, we have lots of energy to power through the hard work and see this project to completion!
Salan Alaykum! (Not sure if this is right but I mean helloooo!!) So I’m supposed to talk abour our splicing experience. One of our before and after dinner activity this week involves measuring, cutting, and splicing blue ropes for the bridge. After a day of hardwork, we would go home and splice/chill on the roof while dinner is made. The sunset view is absolutely amazing from the house. Coupled with the cool breeze, it is definitely one of my favourite activities so far. Though the nights can be quite cold, we have the company of the super bright moon and stars, which are often disguised by the city lights in New York.
Our team, except Tamar, is quite inexperienced at first. It took us almost and hour to get the measurements right, and probably two hours to successfully splice our first rope because Rope Master Tamar was at a meeting with Tahimi. (Feeling a little stupid/ embarrassed here). But, practice makes perfect! After getting things wrong a couple times, crying and laughing when we lose the ends of a splice or didn’t do things right, we eventually became experts. Our hands all turned blue from the color of the rope, but we’re glad to say initial splicings are all done!
That’s it about splicing so far!
Hello, everyone! This is Jennifer checking in. After a busy first week in Morocco, we finally get to rest in Essa for a day. Yesterday (Wednesday), we began one of the most important tasks of this implementation trip: cable pulling. The purpose of cable pulling is to stretch the bridge’s ropes enough so that they maintain their tension and do not sag overtime. Cable pulling caused a lot of trouble for the last implementation trip, so I must admit that I was intimidated at the start. The process is incredibly technical, and because we’re creating tons (literally) of tension in the ropes, it’s potentially dangerous. Consequentially, all of the students and mentors participated in extensive technical and rope safety training to prepare ourselves for this task. Furthermore, the students were split into two groups so that multiple students are familiar with each task in the cable pulling process.
Nevertheless, in just the first day, we’ve faced a lot of challenges. We spent all of Wednesday morning just setting up the system. After lunch–a delicious lunch at Tahimi’s house, might I add–we finally got into a rhythm of alternating between operating the come-along, which tensions the rope, and the ratchet, which allows us to reset the come-along. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that the dynanometer, the instrument that measures the tension in the rope, was not working properly. Needless to say, Wednesday proved to be a stressful day of troubleshooting and brainstorming. Coming to Essaouira for the day has been a much-needed break and relieved a lot of tension (pun intended). I think we’ll all be ready to tackle the challenges that await us tomorrow!
Well, that’s all for now. We’ll try to upload some pictures and post updates again soon!
May 23, 2013
Hello all! This is Tiffany checking in from Essaouira. We did a whole lot of travelling yesterday and luckily all our luggages and bags have arrived safely. (…despite all of them being opened and checked by TSA (the security) and even retaped as a package). We have also met up with our mentors, Dean and Lee, who are both very excited for the project. We have some supplies to pick up and groceries to get before heading to Ait Bayoud. But after a good night rest and a nice shower, we are ready to head into the village and for some action and bridge building.
Hello everyone! We just got back to our living quarters here in Ait Bayoud after a long day hiking to and from Ilzgourn for the water distribution project. Before I get to the details of our excursion though, let me take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Brian Phelps and I am a current employee of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Louisville, Kentucky. I have been with USACE since January 2000 and have worked on projects all over the United States and have spent time in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I have been a professionally registered engineer since December 2010. I attended the University of Louisville and graduated with a Masters of Engineering in 2003 with a focus in water resources. I was asked to serve as a mentor for EWB in mid November after working with Tony’s wife in Iraq and now here I am.
Now on to the day. We actually started a little late today, arriving at Tahami’s house promptly at 0930 for our long hike to Ilzgourn. Upon arrival at his house, Tahami insisted that we come inside and have breakfast and tea. Knowing that we did not have time for this, we refused his offer multiple times. Eventually, Tahami got the point and we started on our trip.
The dwar of Ilzgourn was approximately 3.5 km away. Once we arrived at the village, we were immediately greeted by many of residents. The previous evening I had provided Lee with a list of questions so we got right to business. The questions were meant to determine the actual need for water (quantity), and find out how they currently operate and what they had. Lucky for us, one of the villagers, Hafsa, spoke fairly good language to make things a little easier. Conversation continued through first lunch and we were able to determine that Ilzgourn was actually divided into two villages. The area we were in had about 30 houses. Average water usage per household was approximately 60 liters/day or 1800 liters/day for the village. They currently collected water from the spring at the bottom of the mountain along the river; travel time to gather water was approximately 1 hours. Additionally, this area of Ilzgourn had power and each household was charged 45 derims per month. Currently, we are planning to develop a design to pump water from the spring up to a water storage tank where the locals could obtain water. It is not anticipated that water would be distributed to each living establishment.
After finishing up a healthy helping of goat, we started our trip to the other area of Ilzgourn. Once we arrived, we started to investigate their existing water well. Approximate depth of the well was 12 meters and according to the villagers, it was empty during the summer months (5-6 months). During the summer, they would travel down to the spring at the bottom of the mountain as well, which took about 2 hours. On the otherside of the village, they had dug a second well during the summer of 2012. That well had water in it at that time, but had since been filled back in; it was located in an area filled with vegetation suggesting that water was more than likely near. After looking at that well, we had second lunch then made the long trip back to our living quarters. We arrived back here around at 5:30. After the two large lunches, no one is hungry and we are skipping dinner tonight. Well, time to pack everything up for tomorrow!