Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day Eight: Of Falling Water and Slipping Students

We weren’t quick to hit the worksite today, but we were quick to finish today’s job nonetheless.  We got to the site to find a new pile of gravel awaiting our wheelbarrows and buckets and we were happy to start scooting it from place to place as soon as we could.  We finally had both pulleys operational, along with the new platform that can service both destinations at the same time. 

People just cranked into jobs and we managed to reduce the numbers at each point of the process so we could spread ourselves across two pulleys at the same time.  We’ve gotten somewhat artistic about the various positions, enough that we can actually compare notes on strategies that help us “stick the landing” of the buckets at the bottom.  We have really developed a feel for the ropes, ideas for how to make the buckets roll at the right speed, a sense of the proper weight of the contents for each bucket, and signals and codes to keep each other on top of what is going on (“fire in the hole!” and “incoming!” are our two favorite ways to give each other the heads up). 

We’ve created our own language of pulley-ness, as we have the main rope, the “leash,” and the “tail” on our short line.  The long rope has all of that plus “pigtails” that are part of its stabilizing mechanism.  We have different descriptions for the loads we favor and the ways to pack them onto the carabiner.  All in all, we function like a little ant farm up and down the hill, but we are pretty sure that we laugh harder than ants tend to laugh. 

After all of our ingenuity and practice on the pulley systems, we managed to move a whole pile of stone that equaled 6 cubic yards (otherwise known as roughly 18,000 pounds) in about two hours.  In case you missed that stat, we moved 9 TONS of stone in two hours with 16 of us and about four or five Dominican friends.  Now add on the two same-sized loads that we had already moved and we are at 27 tons of sand and stone, with one more 18,000 pound pile in our near future.  Our total on sand and stone will be about 72,000 pounds (36 tons).  We also have to move 75 bags of cement that weigh 94 pounds each (totaling over 7000 pounds).  With other miscellaneous items (not even including our own tools) we will be hovering just under 100,000 pounds of materials that we will have transported down the slope from the trailhead between the fence and the breadfruit tree.  Wow.  And ouch. 

This afternoon, then, we took a break from hauling and bucket brigading and visited a local falls that Charles calls Massage Falls (which he pronounces as MASS-ahj Falls).  We had to slip and slide over boulders full of algae to gain access to the entry to the falls, and we all did it with pretty good attitudes and general success.  As today’s theme implies, though, every one of us was much wetter than we intended to be when we reached the falls itself.  Most of us had dowsed our backpacks or the clothes we were wearing long before we got to the point of actually swimming on purpose. 
Our destination, though, definitely lived up to its name, as most of us backed ourselves up into a space where whitewater was gushing fast over the rocks (in a pretty controlled way) and providing a lovely massage for anyone who could get his or her body to properly align with the current.  We used spotters and guards (mostly Jared) to keep our footing as we did the falls thing and everyone that entered the “massage” part of the riverbed had a blast. 

We hauled our soggy butts home for dinner and spent the evening catching up on pictures and videos (at least on our hard drives, not on our blog yet – sorry!).  We’ll spend part of Sunday setting those things into place here so that you can catch up with our adventures too.

Ashton checking out Scotchy's camera

Ashton tapping a newly-uncovered spring with a leave

The group braves the slips and slides of the Massage Falls

Team Sisserou got a kick out of seeing this sign

The way to the falls

Pushing against the current to get to the massage

We got to go on an excursion today!

We told you it was pretty

Ashton keeps things going while Luke and Matt H. invent something new

High five


Matt H. gets his massage

A long shot of the falls

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