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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Construction starts!

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC | Tuesday, 19 June 2012 | Views [922]

Yesterday we were counselors at the summer camp. Today would be the start of construction for our half of the group. Jace woke me early and we all ate a big hearty breakfast before packing lunches for the day. It's quite a drive from the lodge to the construction site; about 30 to 45 minutes each way. Felo showed up shortly before 8:00 and we were off to Caraballo for the third time in four days. After the usual stop for ice, we were on our way. Ice is "hielo" (sounds like "yellow") in Spanish, but you won't want to eat yellow ice. Caraballo is seriously out there! And every time we drive down the gravel road I feel like I'm on a country road deep in the middle of Africa. We carried the coolers to the school and then we were set. Most of the cinder blocks were carried in yesterday so we didn't have to do that, so today was spent tearing down the metal frame. Jace and I were taking care of the frame whilst the rest of the group were mixing cement and doing other tasks.

We had to pick-axe part of the concrete foundation to get to the rebar underneath. We had no eye protection, so I borrowed a pair of sunglasses to avoid getting cement chips in my eye. Those, along with a lot of water helped out a great deal. Sweat was dripping off me like grease off a fried chicken. After exposing the rebar we had to use hacksaws to cut the frame. Sweat dripped profusely from my forehead but I didn't care; I was called to perform a duty and I'll sweat as much as I have to!

I was cutting very fast and Jace was having trouble although he was giving it his best effort. Jace is impossible to miss with his flaming orange hat. He kept asking how I'm faster with the hacksaw. I don't know: maybe I'm stronger or maybe it's some divine force. After more than an hour of difficult, sweat-inducing sawing one half the frame fell one way and the other fell the other way. As I was ripping apart the frame I (literally) nearly knocked out one of the local workers. He had to dive out of the way, and if that were me I probably wouldn't have jumped out of the way fast enough. Damn it was hot, sweaty, steamy, and tough! Today I had the strength of Superman with no kryptonite to be found! Lunch sure tastes great after working as hard as we did today! And as I bit into my ham and tomato sandwich my mouth was watery! Jullia quoted "your lunch box looks like a toolbox"; I have room for two sandwiches, carrots, cookies, and a bottle of apple juice. Amy and Courtney both understand the importance of breaks, especially in this kind of climate. It's very easy to be fatigued or dehydrated, so frequent rest is crucial. And unlike a regular job you're not unconditionally viewed as being lazy. When lunch was over we went back to work! Rebar was being bent to fit the corners and we were mixing cement to form the bases, and although we had an assembly line going it was very tough with the fallen frame in the way. Two types of concrete were mixed: one with rocks (for the corners) and one without (for in between the blocks).

Shortly after we filled in all four corners the first cinder blocks were laid! Even though safety standards aren't the best the locals seem to be very knowledgable at building, especially with what tools they have. What a success! We got so much done in only a few hours! For anyone who is thinking of volunteering on a project like this, please do it. Regardless of how much it costs you'll never regret it! This was my first day of construction and I can already say I'm enjoying every minute of it. It doesn't matter how sweaty or dirty I get, I have a beaming smile from ear to ear, and I can wash my dirty, stinky self at the lodge. At 4:00 it was time to pack up and head back to the lodge. In short: we kicked ass today!

With all our backpacks, water bottles, equipment, coolers, and our sweaty selves, Felo met us shortly thereafter. The children were happy to see all of us as we boarded the bus and headed back toward Tubagua. Honestly I can't remember a day that I've perspired as much as today. In the words of Thomas Edison "genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." We stopped at the colmado on the way back, and let me tell you: a bag of Doritos and a chocolate milk never tasted so great! I feel sticky, sweaty, dirty, and disgusting, yet I feel rewarded, excited, happy, and beaming, all in one sentence. The air-conditioning felt amazing as I had my usual front seat heading up toward the million-dollar view. We've all picked our favourite seats and Larie sits right behind me because she easily suffers from motion sickness. What felt great when we got back was a dip in the pool. My neck is all burnt and Teo wanted a photo of all of us with our sunburn. Coffee is always on tap so I had a few cups before a fabulous feast. Jackie is Tubagua's legendary cook; previous ISV participants usually note the best part of Tubagua besides the view is the food. It sure is a welcome break from the rice/beans/chicken/pork cycle (unless of course that's what's served that day). Whilst I talk about that I must tell you a bit about Tim, the owner and founder of Tubagua. He's a Canadian who's far more Dominican than Canadian, and he's an interesting fella. Very philosophical when it comes to money and life, and he sure loves his cigars. Tonight I commented he's like "Fidel Castro without the beard" because he always seems to have a cigar. Earlier I mentioned the regular food cycle, tonight there was a break from it as we had a deliciously hearty beef stew for dinner. The salad is very good and is a perfect complement, and Jackie and her staff know to serve the dressing separately. Dessert was just as delectable: corn pudding with raisins. Full I was and all cleaned up I was after this long day, and I'm pretty beat! Construction has started, but we still have a lot more to do!

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