Making rebar and continuing to shovel dirt and move rocks.. =)
Braga Travel Blog› entry 4 of 12 › view all entries
Today we arrived at the site, not really knowing what to expect. Whatever it was that we all imagined, I'm sure it wasn't this rock-fenced, uneven plot of land, half full of large boulders that we would eventually have to break up and carry away, and a high wall of dirt that we would have to shovel, wheelbarrow away, and then dump into the back of a truck - the same truck we would have to sit in on our way to lunch, oftentimes.. =)
We met the President of Habitat for Humanity, Portugal, as well as the construction foreman, Luis and his father Senor Ribeiro, as well as the family that we were building the house for. They were all very sweet, and the son was particularly photogenic and active, running around everywhere trying to help despite the child labor laws not allowing him to.
So my day started off transporting water in buckets from a local source to these oil barrels upstairs. We managed to dry up the supply with the few gallons we were able to remove. So then I began shoveling dirt in the pit. After about 20 minutes of this, I needed a break, so went upstairs to rest in the shade of our tin lean-to. When I went back down, I picked up my shovel, but was unable to adequately lift any dirt. So I tried a smaller shovel. My hands were shaking. And that was the beginning of the end.. Shoveling dirt was so hard on me physically that as the day grew hotter and shaded areas grew less accessible, I almost fainted after lunch.
This would unfortunately set the tone for the rest of the week, as people in their 50s, 60s and 70s put me to shame on so many levels.
I still have to take a moment to appreciate how much people pushed themselves physically on this build site. I think we all expected tedium, but this was really hard work! Some joked about being part of a chain gang, others would yell out "I need a ho-er!" or "I need a banger!" or "I need a pick-er!" as some of the dirt was formed around boulders that we would eventually have to pick around and roll away, to be cut up and carted off.
The dirt process went like this: We would shovel dirt into buckets about 4/5 full, then someone else would swing the full bucket up out of the pit to someone standing there with a wheelbarrow and they would repeat this until the wheelbarrow was full, and roll that over to the edge of the wall where they would have to lift the wheelbarrow up to deposit the dirt onto the back of a truck. Someone would often be standing in the bed of the truck using the hoe to spread the dirt around so that more dirt could be dumped in easier.
The rock process went like this: The large boulders would be sized up by one of the local construction workers and Mary would drill holes about 10 inches apart on the face of the boulder. Water would be poured in occassionally to cool off the drill bit and when enough holes were drilled, wedge pins would be hammered into the hole.
Copied from my hand written journal:
September 3, 2007
OH MY GOODNESS!! Construction is freaking INSANE and so manually intensive. It was too much for me today and I had to taxi it back in the afternoon I was feeling so awful - dizzy & kind of small breaks in consciousness.
But I have to say I learned a valuable lesson - manual labor is NOT my value-add. But at the same time we are out there doing something the locals simply couldn't find volunteers for - something that not everyone has the heart for, but that members of this group obviously do... however different they are in other ways...