Friday, January 14, 2011

Day Six: "Women Power!"

Today's video was made by Team Danje:

“Woman Power!”

Based on our standing Jan Term rule that “jobs have no gender,” we have no trouble recognizing the strength and skill that our female team members possess.  Some of the places that we travel don’t always share our perspective.  Today, though, our Dominican friends got to see just how gung-ho our women really are.  Actually, everyone on our team is really kicking it up into gears that they never knew existed.
When we got to the worksite after an excellent oatmeal breakfast, we decided to give our pulley system a try on the newly-arrived pile of ¾ inch gravel.  We strategized about who needed to be where and what safety strategies we needed to be sure that nothing would go wrong. 

One set of people went to the rockpile (just past the end of the fence by the breadfruit tree) and shoveled the rocks into wheelbarrows.  Some shoveled the whole pile, others ran the very heavy barrows through the muddy woods on a narrow path and others took the pile of rocks at the staging area and shoveled it into buckets. 

From there, different ones of us would push press the 50-ish pound buckets up to the carabiner attached to the pulley on the zipline.  With a signal to the folks at the bottom, they would give it a healthy push, then watch it float down the line while holding it back with a secondary “leash.”  Along with the leash, a strap hangs from the carabiner so that if the catchers can’t catch the bucket itself, they can catch it by the tail.  At the same time, someone at the far end of the rope would pull it down and back just a bit so that the bucket would land just at the right place for the catchers to catch it.  The system worked almost flawlessly most of the day and the times that it didn’t, we did not face the worst case scenarios that we had imagined.  

In fact, we managed to move the whole first batch of stone all the way from the trailhead to the spring before lunch.  We still have three more deliveries of gravel and sand to transport down the hill, so we will continue to improve our systems as we go. 

After lunch, we jumped back into mud transfer, with bucket brigades once again the order of the day.  We also had to move some HUGE stones, which usually involved having most of our strongest team members on one rock at once and rolling and pushing and grunting and straining until it went where it belonged.   When a few women tried to join onto the rock-rolling job, Charles at first turned them away, afraid that they would get hurt.  Hearing that, the women joined forces and started moving huge rocks on their own.  When Charles saw it happen, he let out our title line: “Women Power!” 

We walked back up the slope (which is still a bear but seems shorter than it felt at first) carrying all of our tools and equipment.  We happened upon cricket practice, which gave us a great reason to take a breather on the slope.  We learned that there will be a big cricket game on Sunday, so maybe we will stop by and try to get a sense of what that game is all about. 

We’ve talked to many of the locals along the roadway and all of them are excited to see us and are thanking us for the water work that we will leave behind.  The completion of this project still seems far away, but we are starting to get a better feel for its importance in this community.  And we are also starting to get to know our co-workers better, both from within our group and from the Carib Territory.  We’re happy (if tired) and laughing almost all day long.  Our water is also working again, so things have gotten pretty easy for us.

p.s. We forgot to tell you that one of our highlights from yesterday was finding a crab in the water that was actually in the process of birthing little crab babies.  We’ll post a picture today . . .

Bucket Brigade Bash

Can you scratch that itch for me?

Goose hiding from the rain

Hilary and Beutner filtering water from the spring

Iris doing a better job than Goose hiding from the rain

Pulling back the bucks on the zipline


  1. Hey all looks like you are having a great time and working supper hard!!! Dani and Shawny I see those big muscles being put to good use! Way to go ladies. You all are going to be ripped after this trip. I love that you all are breaking those gender sterotypes... its always a challenge but worth the work! I hope you are getting a chance to connect with the people and making some great relationships with each other. Dani & Shawny miss both you ladies and love you tons!!!!!!

  2. I love the pulley system you all figud out. You look great in mud!