Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Cambodia.

July 3: Day 4 – Still Not Done

Posted in Cambodia on July 3, 2014

Dylan joined me on my morning walk and we made it about 4 km down the road before the van caught up to us. We saw a lot of things along the road including many old, abandoned houses (some pretty big) and some new construction.

When we got to the work site, Team 1 got right to it with more stuccoing. We'd done three walls yesterday and needed to get another one done on the back side first. The fun part about this was that any step backward would put us right into the septic pit that was now full again. I tried to step on what looks like a bag of sand to get some leverage but then was comforted to realize that it was just a big bag of pig manure. Lovely. All over my shoes. Jay laughed. I laughed--the rinse them off in the dirty water that was next to the pig manure, too. I love my Gore-Tex lined Merrell hiking shoes.

Annie and I worked on the back wall while Dan and Winston were in charge of the mortar mixing and distribution. The other team was a little ahead of us and by lunch they'd stacked their second concrete cylinder and were starting to stucco inside as well as laying the brick on the inside for the flush water tank frame that would sit in the back left.

Annie and I made pretty quick work of the back wall and Jay started work on the finishing as well as working the corners of the building and laying the first rows of bricks inside for the toilet seat and the water tank frame. I felt pretty good because when he started to do the finish work on our wall, he asked for me to finish the bricks on the inside for him. Winston joined me and we got a few rows done before lunch inside the walls of the latrine with the sun beating down on us. I was just dripping sweat--enough to keep the mortar moist.

The time just flew this morning. We started by 0830 and I didn't even look up or take more than one sip of water for the next three hours before we left for lunch.

Lunch was again very good--we had a chicken green pepper stir-fry and a salad that we can only describe as Cambodian cole slaw. It's a wonderful mix of shredded young tamarind, carrots, green mango, peanuts, and a nice vinaigrette-like dressing. This was probably the fourth time we've had it at a restaurant and I think Hansena and I are particular fans of this. Lunch was shorter today, but a few of the cadets managed to get a short nap in before we returned.

While we were gone, Jay fixed a few of my bricks--I'd gone up too high on one side and he took the bricks down. He was working on those when we returned, so he asked Annie and me to begin stuccoing the interior. THAT was hot work, but we got a light, brief rain shower, so that helped cool it down a little. We finished two walls through the course of the afternoon and I finished the brick work, again with excellent support from Dan (who also did some stucco work) and Winston, whom we name "Sir Mix-a-Lot" for his skills in the mortar pit. The other team, with their flat open ground lacking booby-trapped bags of pig poop , banana breaks and other details that I'm not at all bitter about, were now well ahead of us. They didn't have as much brick work inside their latrine--presumably theirs is going to be a "squatter," while ours will be a high quality seat. Still, their pit was finished at the end of the day and they were close to finishing their stuccoing, too.

I'd wondered throughout the process why we didn't lay down PVC pipe to connect the inside of the latrine to the outside pits--building around the piping and having it in place. I still don't know why we didn't do that because near the end of the day,with a beautifully stuccoed wall on the back side, Mr Sing pulled out a hammer and a chisel and smashed about a 4" hole in the side of the wall at its base, below the interior's sand and rock floor that had already been layed. After smashing through the stucco and brick, they went inside and dug up their sand and moved rocks to make channel from the hole. We left at about that time, but I'd bet that they're going to wedge PVC though the hole and run the line to the squatter, then patch it all back up. Mine is not to wonder why, mine is just to keep laying brick, stuccoing, and trying not to step into any more pig shit. Tomorrow, we SHOULD finish. If we do, we're planing to buy refreshment for all those from the village that helped with the work--and their families--then go out for a nice 4th of July dinner in town.
Have a look at some of the photos from today.

All the Best,

Marty France
USAFA Faculty Chaperone & DWC Volunteer
Kep, Cambodia: July 2014

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