Here I am at my second home. I arrived 2 days ago, 5 days ahead of my planned arrival. Hurricane Tomas is due to hit us indirectly tomorrow and Thursday. On Friday they say Tomas will turn and go directly over Haiti. It should be over us Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday. I am scheduled to leave on Sunday; I have a feeling this will end up changing until further in the week.
The last two days we have worked almost exclusively on the “rest room.” They had planned on having this completed by my arrival, my change of plans has allowed me to be part of the building process.
The amount of sweat that has gone into this structure is amazing! The men’s shirts get soaked with sweat and then dry, only to become soaked again.Yesterday Edens, Joseph, Lenard and John worked almost non stop. Today the work has continued without Joseph. Before I arrived in Haiti, John and Lenard dug the 20 foot deep hole, it is about 3 feet square. This digging took them only 3 days! Yesterday we widened the outer edge of the hole, forming a “lip”. We then used all sorts of wood to cover the hole, except for a circle which is the hole for the toilet. We laid rebar and tied the rebar together.
I have been around a lot of concrete work in my life, but this was as back to basics as you can get. The water we needed to make the concrete came from a stream that we had to direct down irrigation channels to a pool area we made. Then we took a bucket at a time out and filled a 50 gallon barrel. The cement was mixed with two types of sand. Sand that was brought by the wheelbarrow load, from the other side of the property. All the cement mixing was done on the ground. There are no power tools for cutting rebar or wood, just a single hack saw. No perfectly cut lumber was used for the frame-work.
Today the toilet seat was made. We had to once again “bring in the water” and mix cement into concrete. Using a mold the concrete was poured into and allowed to harden for 4 hours. The mold was then removed and John started the process of smoothing the seat. Meanwhile Edens and Lenard started the process of hand making cinder blocks. They borrowed a cinder block mold and began the process of packing the mold with very coarse sand. The first bag of cement mix made 33 block and the second made 44.
Today I have been the cook. I started the day by preparing plantains for cooking. I have only witnessed this process once, but had retained enough information to get things going on my own. Mytha (pronounced Mita) stepped in toward the end and helped me finish the process. I also made a side dish of beef jerky, onion, and carrot cooked in water and oil with a little hot sauce. All of this took several hours. Shortly after washing the lunch dishes, a long process since all the water is in buckets and it is used judiciously. I moved into sorting black beans for tonight’s meal of rice and beans. After putting the beans to soak I had the chance to go out on the moto (motorcycle) for the first time since my arrival. It was great to get out for a few minutes…