Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Day Seven: Some Sand, Some Rocks, Some Trenches and Some Bricks

Day Seven: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It rained and rained and rained in the night and kept raining as our breakfast team got up at 6:30am and it was still raining when the rest of the crew awoke at 7:15.  We kept moving as if there were no rain, as we had every reason to believe that it would stop.  Just as we were finishing breakfast, it did. 

We have had reports that it would thunderstorm every day here, but we haven’t faced that issue.  There was a lot of thunder in the night, but we were safely in our hammocks so we let it roll.  The people who had to get up and go to the bathroom in the night had to really run for it, but there wasn’t too much screaming or shrieking involved.  We think it has rained every night, which makes for some trying laundry issues, but we were ready for this possibility and put some clotheslines in a covered space by the pousada to keep things from stinking up our sleeping area.  And now we are pretty vigilant about knowing exactly when our things are dry, so that we claim them immediately instead of letting them get soaked again. 

We intended to get to work at 8:30 but didn’t make it out until closer to 9.  Knowing that some of us had gotten up at 6:30, that’s a lot of prep time.  We are going to have to do better, as sleep is precious to us.  It wasn’t a problem for our partners that we were late, as they expected the rain to slow us down. 

We had gotten so much done yesterday that the coop job is getting fast-tracked.  We couldn’t make our next move on that one until we trenched the perimeter so a few of us used the three dragas (posthole diggers) we have to set the foundation.  Because we couldn’t all be up at the coop, the rest of us ran some more loads of sand and rock to the fish food factory, where we will be working on another day.  We have gotten quite professional at moving huge heavy loads, from the struggles of getting the sand into the bucket without wasting effort to hoisting that heavy bucket high enough to dump it into the sack to tying off the sack (which is harder than you think – Rachel is our expert) to moving it from person to person without dropping it or hurting each other to getting it onto the oxcart to pulling the oxcart to getting it off the oxcart and out of the bags without spreading it too far to make use of it.  Every link in this chain has its challenges and all of us were up to all of them. 

We worked up to a late lunch and then had to wait for a delivery of 400 bricks from Santarém.  There were some tourists from São Paulo at the pousada for lunch, as they are on a tour of a lot of the communities around here.  They were totally fascinated by us and all we were doing; because they spoke English, all of us were capable of speaking with them.  They were particularly taken by our water filter and the fact that we were sterilizing our water bottles, as they just happened to witness those specific moments of our general maintenance rituals. 

The boat arrived all of a sudden, which meant we had to disrupt whatever we were doing and run for the beach.  Of course, even though we hurried, the locals had already unloaded about 350 of the 400 bricks from the boat.  Also of course, the fact that the bricks were out of the boat did not mean that they were where they belonged.  We needed to set up a big huge bucket line from the waterfront to the top of the hill where we could make use of the oxcart.  It took some trial and error to figure out how to pick up more than one brick at a time and pass them from person to person.  We finally found that four bricks constituted the perfect load that we could pass without threat of breakage.  And we are extremely proud to say that we didn’t break one single brick. 

We moved the bricks by oxcart and then set up another bucket line on the other end.  (We hope it’s clear by now that our “bucket lines” rarely involve buckets.)  Because we had to make really neat stacks on the other end, we passed them only two at a time and very carefully placed them.  We got so fast with the last 200 that even we were impressed. 

Everything is now set to get started on the rebuild of the chicken coop tomorrow.  We will start early so we can mix concrete and then set all of the bricks before lunch.  From there we hope to hang the new chicken wire and have the whole thing enclosed in the next day or two.  And even before the job is complete, we are likely to connect with the 48 new chickens who will soon call the coop home. We are already working on names for them all . . .

As for our night’s reflection, we thought long and hard about what was making things work so well for our group and what we would have to do to maintain our impressive cohesion.  We talked about our own individual work ethics and the best strategies for motivating each of us. 

And speaking of motivated people, our newest inductee into the Order of the Purple Bike is Marissa!  She, by the way, is now known as “Caba,” the Portuguese word for wasp.  Her last name starts with those same syllables but we also noticed that she bears some resemblance to a wasp, which is beautiful as it floats among us but is capable of a very strong sting.  She loves her new name.

As for the purple bike, we selected her because we have watched her go from a total novice to a total master of new tasks many times over the last several days.  In particular, she did a fantastic job on a stretch of the trench, even learning how to use a machete to get the tree roots out of her way.  She was a particularly bright light when we were working with the kids the other day (her Teachers for Tomorrow program should be proud!) and she is also especially adorable getting along with Gui.  Along with her warm heart with the kids and with all of us, she’s been giving the jobs her all every day, so today seemed like a good day to let her know we noticed.  Yay, Marissa!

Superman (Nate) digging trenches around the chicken coop. We are reinforcing the coop so that the Maracajá (wild cat) cannot eat the chickens.  It previously broke in and killed all the chickens in November.

The Mulheres (women) and Ze pushing an ox cart holding bags of sand up to the chicken coop to be used to make cement.

Kim not letting the heavy weight of the sand bag get her spirit down. Go Gaels!

The sun was super hot so the DIRTies had to make sure not to get sunburnt. Julius using his mosquito repellent bracelet as a temporary headband.

 400 bricks arrived today on the beach via boat. We had to move them using a bucket brigade and an ox cart roughly a mile away to the chicken coop. The bricks are going to be used to lay the foundation of the wall for the chicken coop.

We were awakened by thunder and heavy rainfall last night. When we woke up this morning all of our drying clothes were drenched. This is not the first night it has happened, we are struggling to get all of our clothes dried.

The beach where we gathered sand and rocks from for the chicken coop and fish food factory.

Julius aka “Galú” (which is a playful misspelling of the Portuguese word for rooster) taking a break in his natural habitat. 


Kevin working diligently with the draga (posthole digger)! 

Bucket brigades are our specialty.

Natalie showing off her wheelbarrow skillz. 

Natalie shows off her back muscles after a hard day of moving bricks and digging trenches.

This is one of the few tarantulas that we have encountered during our time here. This one was comparable to the size of a hand.

Alessandra makes good use of her machete, taking out any and all roots in her way.

Ivanete and Alessandra, who are making manioc donuts, are two of the amazing kitchen staff who we have been lucky enough to work with.

Mary Madalena sharpening machetes that our group is utilizing throughout our projects. She is keeping a sharp eye on us as we are working on the job site. 

Alessandra, Natalie, and Rachel figure out the best way to bucket brigade 400 bricks up a 150-yard stretch of beach.

No comments:

Post a Comment