It was a long, hard day in the hot sun. This particular day began when we discovered that the area of community in which we were working was almost underwater due to a phenomenon they call the spring tide. The streets were full of dark water and garbage, as were some of the local shacks. Waves were crashing on the shoreline and over the meager, community-made causeway, bringing in more water and garbage by the minute.
The situation required some creative workarounds and the need for many remote locations to bring gravel, sand and cement to mix. Cinder blocks were set into the water in the few places where it was only ankle deep, allowing us to have a stepping stone path to carry buckets of supplies back-and-forth into the houses. Community members helping on-site were pushing wheelbarrows through knee-deep water where the usual routes into the houses rested.
The dark, smelly water slowly receded as the day passed and by the afternoon, we were back to business as usual. Many of the community members were busy in the streets sweeping the garbage out their doors or off of their porches. One lady who had kindly offered her house as a place for us to deposit backpacks and belongings for safe-keeping was in tears – I suspect, not because there was water in her house, but because some of our belongings got a bit wet.
I found myself acclimatizing and the temperature didn’t bother me as much, so I made the mistake of not taking enough breaks and not drinking enough water. By the end of the day I was both exhausted and feeling ill. Rest, a little lemonade with extra salt and some food, and I’ll feel much better.
The walls are up. We are working on smooth coating them now. Wiring and plumbing is happening as we work. The roof will be the next big challenge, but for now, which way to bed?
Chris Van Vliet, First Officer