I let my solar fruit drier sit for almost a year. We needed time apart to let things cool off. To come so close to successful assembly, only to fail once again, is an exhausting emotional ride. Then one day out of the blue, a farmer that I've worked with in the past expressed interest in using the drier in his orchard. He had a plethora of cashew apples and mangoes and a French tourist had convinced him that there was a large market for dried fruit. I jumped at the chance and we got the fruit drier working in just two days! It's amazing how much easier things are to do here when you have an invested local helping you out. We immediately stared drying things: cashew apples galore, tomatoes, and were excited to try mangoes. We held an appropriate technology open field day where we displayed the fruit drier and gave everyone dried cashew apples, which were gone by the end of the day (delicious). The local food transformation organization expressed interest, asking for pictures of the drier and for a sack of dried cashew apples that they could experiment with. Another Senegalese development agency asked for plans for the drier. I was excited and was beginning to count this as a success. It really seemed like people were interested.
Grafted mangoes were finally beginning to ripen, which are the only kind you can really dry here since the local varieties are too fibrous to cut appropriately. I saw the farmer I had given the drier to in my road town and told him I was going to buy a bunch of these grafted mangoes so we could test them out in the drier the next day. He was just as excited as I was. He wasn't going to be in his orchard then but told me his son would be willing to help me. The next day after lunch I cut up a whole bowl full of mangoes to bring to the garden. The whole time I daydreamed about dried mango treats being sold on the side of the road, exporting bags of Senegalese dried mango, and letting my friends try this fruit I had worked throughout two years to create! When I got to the garden with my full bowl, carefully protected from the flies, I saw the fruit drier, but in a peculiar state. Instead of how I had left it, it was in 4 different pieces, scattered on the ground where it had once stood. I left.
I talked to the farmer later, what happened? Why didn't you at least tell me when I saw you? He said that a wind tunnel had broken it and that he wasn't aware that it was broken when he saw me. Call me jaded but I don't actually believe him on either account. In reality the only thing I'm surprised about is how little I was actually upset at failing again.