18 students and two faculty members from Saint Mary's College are returning to our SMC home away from home in the Brazilian Amazon for Jan Term 2017. This page helps us to tell our story and -- even more importantly -- helps us to tell the stories of our friends and hosts in the Amazon . . .
Monday, January 26, 2015
Day Fifteen, Wednesday, January 21: Laundry Crisis, Day 3
Someone please contact the White House and let them know
that we need an underwear drone to hit the banks of the Arapiuns!We are getting desperate here over the
general smell of our world and the fact that no clean, dry clothes are coming
our way any time soon.We are trying
lots of new clothesline placements but so far we are not succeeding at getting
any of our formerly clean laundry to convert to dry clothes.At this point we are inadvertently doing
research on biodegradation of textiles.Surely, surely, surely we will turn this around soon . . .(And, really, we are taking all of this with
a very happy spirit; don’t worry!)
Our morning began with a scramble to get Jesse on a boat to
make a run for Santarém with the grocery procurement person from the
pousada.We need some parts to install a
water purification system in the kitchen here to help tourists and visitors
from passing boats have the same kind of water luxury that we have when we are
here.Saude e Alegría has a filter system that we left here last year and
we know how to combine the parts of it to maximize it for this location.Still, there are a few specialized things
that Jesse will have to go find for us, as we cannot properly describe and
order them over a sketchy cellphone connection or by email.We sent all of the pictures and videos that
had not already been posted (we think) with him to the city so hopefully his
trip will pay off for our readers as well.
Once Jesse was gone we started hustling on the day’s
jobs.It had rained in the night, even
though the guy who knows EVERYTHING here – our friend Tonico – had said that it
wouldn’t.It was still a little drippy
this morning but we went ahead and set things in motion so that a small crew
would do coats of paint on the hammock hut (now painted such a harsh bubblegum
pink that we are calling it the Strawberry Shortcake Hammock Palace) and the
bathroom building (now a very tasteful salmon color).The rest of us headed out for the most
painful job of the day: moving loads of rock and sand.
We started by doing four oxcart loads of rocks from the
massive piles that our team claimed on their excursions yesterday.We then converted to transporting sand bags,
all of which were former rice bags (maybe 50-pound size?) that we would stuff
FULL before putting on the cart.Even
though this might not sound like a big job when we have so many people, it is a
BIG job.We have to master huge loads
and maneuver them over the deep sand on the beach.Then when we get them to the top of the hill from
the beach, we load them onto the wooden cart that one of us pulls through one
family’s property, across the road, through the school yard, past the water
tower, and down a newly-cut trail and to the factory site.At least four others of us are all around the
cart, steering it and helping to bear the load.It’s hard work.
It’s a great lesson for us in the privilege of our daily
lives.At every turn we are trying to
think of something we could buy or someone we could pay to solve the problems
that we encounter.But those options
aren’t available to us here the way they might be back home.We just have to lift things, load things and
make do with what we have.Not only do
we appreciate our daily lives back home but also we have gained enormous
respect for our local hosts when we acknowledge the huge challenges they have
overcome to build the beautiful community we see here.
Some of the people who have gained our respect are our colleagues
at the construction site.Our
construction supervisors got to the jobsite before us and continued to deal
with the trench for the foundation.We
were still moving sand and rocks but a few of us stayed with them to help them
make the next leap on the foundation.Right
when we got to the point of mixing the cement with the sand to make concrete,
the rains returned.This is a terrible
time for the rains to return.
Once again, the drops were coming down so that they were
filling the entire atmosphere and soaking everything in sight.We rushed to cover the cement mixture with
palm fronds and ran for cover.We
decided to take a break and come home until the rain stopped.We spent some of the time trying new
clotheslines and some of it catching up on photo and video work.And, of course, some of it sleeping.
Okay, call off the drone.Our laundry crisis has not ended, but a few rays of sunshine broke
through the clouds this afternoon and made it possible for at least a couple of
pieces of each person’s clothing to return to Planet Dry.But before the sun came, it seemed it was
still going to elude us.So, we got a
rain plan together, whereby we would divide up the current stages of the
painting job among all of us.
We got things going but found that we didn’t have quite
enough rollers, brushes, etc., for all of us.So, in true DIRT fashion, whoever did not have a clear job to do on the
paint task found a different job that needed to be done.Steve started working on some of the janky
door latches that have been annoying us around the pousada.Jorden joined with Diorlando to fix all of
the showerheads that have had serious pressure problems.(That is, ALL of the showerheads.)
And then came the sun.Just a peek at first and then we got to see our first hint of blue
sky.We decided to go see if anyone was
at the construction site and learned that they were.So, half of us continued the painting
progress that was well underway and the other half went back to move sand.We had left some bags mostly full when the
rains came so we finished that load, did another oversized one and then learned
that the first row of bricks was going down this afternoon.
We knew better than to try to set those foundational bricks
so we knocked off and went back to see the progress on the paint job.That group had done amazing work and has the
entire process so well in hand that we might actually finish painting the whole
compound by tomorrow.We even did a
fancy color wash thing at the request of the staff here at the pousada.
We all decided to take advantage of the sunlight and go
enjoy the river.Some swam, some bathed
and some took on our Brazilian friends in a very competitive (but friendly)
game of beach volleyball.
We worked hard today. And we had fun today.And we took time to notice that we are happy
we are here.We really, really are . . . Daily Photos
Resting on the foundation of the fish factory is the blueprint that the local organization MUISA has voted forward.
Masonry, or brick laying, is a very delicate task. One by one the wall of the fish food factory grows closer to being finished.
Perched upon this pile of thatch, or palm leaves, is a kitten. Similar to American culture, many of the locals here claim ownership on pets.
One of our diligent workers strives to show support for our school and service program. Though this time she writes “SMC”, you can often find her writing ‘smile’ in the sand. This student is painting the outside of the kitchen of the community’s hostel.
Making progress over at the fish farm factory today as Tonico and his crew lay the first layer of bricks.
Working hard, but stopped by the Amazonian downpour.
Sometimes painting can get a little messy! We were working hard to make sure the pousada was finished when Dona Odila gets back.
Our path to the work site rained out. Our everyday struggle of rain has made our trip to the future fish food factory more difficult.
After a long day of moving rocks and sand, we take time to enjoy the afternoons playing volleyball.
Michael serving the ball during a fun game of beach volleyball!