Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day Eighteen: Farewell to the Site

Strangely, our last day of work at the site was a somewhat slow one.  We got to work as quickly as we could, prepared to make our last big push, but the main work to be done was the construction of a very complicated set of forms to cast the three main walls of the tank.  Thus, our Dominican worker friends had to do most of the labor of the day, while the rest of us either transported more cement down via zipline or transported extra rocks and sand to the site via wheelbarrow (from a new location in a different direction from our current ziplines).

We also focused on our interviews and other video work for the projects that we will complete for our final work in this course.  We are doing a public presentation of some of our final work on campus during the first week of the spring semester, but we are waiting for confirmation on the time and location of that event.

Near the end of the workday, the slowness stopped and we cranked into high gear to pour the concrete for the first four feet of the walls around the tank.  Mr. Sparkle came back to help us think through the revised plan and it seemed clear that we should pour only four feet at a time to prevent the wooden forms from spreading and throwing off the shape of the new walls.

We bucketed, bucketed, and bucketed some more to get the concrete mixture into the three walls.  Our task went well past the end of daylight, so much of it was done by flashlight and headlamp.  We finally brought our participation in the project to an end and climbed up the hill to the opening between the fence and the breadfruit tree for the last time.

Charles and the workers were all in cahoots to throw a big party for us tonight and they did a great job of pulling things together.  They had food and music (a DJ!) and lots of gratitude and we had our general happiness and Luke's brilliant contribution to the plan: a portable photo printer that allowed us to take and print pictures on the spot.  We had a blast.

Charles gave a big speech to commemorate us.  Claude gave a big speech to talk about all that we have done together.  Shawny gave a big speech about the greatness of Charles.  And Julius gave a big speech about the beauty of Dominica and the fact that Dominica "loves its friends in California."

Of course, we wish that we had finished a functioning tank and that we could watch the locals walk up and turn the tap to get fresh water in the containers that they carry back over the hills to their homes.  Sadly, we did not get that far.  Still, all of our friends at the party talked about the level at which they and others are inspired to see this project to its end.  We really think they will continue to plug away and that they will expand the system as time goes by.  Eventual pumps and piping might make it even more convenient than what we have worked on so far.

Charles told us that our presence had awakened a will in the locals to work together for their collective benefit.  He said that the long-standing spirit of unity that the Kalinago (Carib) people had long enjoyed has grown weaker in recent years.  He hopes and believes that this project will be one of many that will help that spirit to reawaken.  He and all the rest of our friends expressed a strong desire for us to return and work in the Territory again.  We haven't made plans for next January Term yet, so we shall see . . .

We had to knock off from our fabulous party a bit early to get as far as we could in packing, as we have to get up at 6:00 a.m. to make our boat in the morning.  We will once again travel through St. Lucia to make our way back to San Francisco.  We will write briefly from there and we will try to catch up on photos and videos.  And also, we will see you SOON!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a great ending to your trip!
    You may have wanted to see a completed tank but you left them with so much more. It sounds like the local people have always had the ability to complete this project and now your efforts have given them the confidence that they really can do it, and that they are not alone.
    Can't wait to see your presentation.
    Auntie Net