It feels incredible to be back here, but I keep expecting someone to wake me up and tell me that it’s time to go home. Although this is my third trip to Belize, the longest I’ve ever stayed was one week- and now I have another 6 months. Really, this is all fine, because I’m definitely not ready to leave.
Lots of things are different from when I was last here in March 2016. There are different fruits in season, the damp weather from the rainy season is still lingering, and progress at Barzakh Falah has moved along. The biggest difference is not having my usual team of 12 Northeastern alternative spring breakers around. There are two other independent volunteers here at the moment- Hannah (from England) and Max (from New Zealand). Hannah flew in on the same day as me, and we’re roommates. It’s been nice to have a buddy to go exploring with while we both adjust.
After having a day and half to relax at the house, we headed out to Barzakh Falah to check up on the progress and put in a couple days of work. Although, it is pretty difficult to get work done when there are 4 five week old kittens stumbling around. We basically spent every spare second snuggling the kittens.
The most recent project has been to get some more durable floors down in the kitchen, lounge dome, and the indoor shower dome. This involves mosaic tiling with recycled ceramic tile scraps. Doing physical work at the farm is not going to be my primary role while I’m here in Belize, but it felt really good to spend some time working hard and being in the sun after escaping the frigid weather in Boston.
Our first task was to put the finishing shine on the kitchen floors. These floors were previously packed clay and would easily develop dips and bumps whenever furniture scraped across them. Volunteers over the holidays had put down the tiles, and it was our job to scrape off any remaining grout that clouded the tiles and shine things up. I don’t think we did half bad.
On our second day at the farm, we got to work setting up the lounge dome to be tiled. This involved some tricky engineering to figure out how much cement to apply in order to make the final floor an even surface that also tilts towards the entrance. This is to ensure that water and dust can easily be swept out. Designing the floor turned out to be a pretty difficult job. With the limited resources at the farm, we had to be a little more inventive. Without a construction level and extendable measuring tape we resorted to using a string, some nails, and a thin piece of tubing as a “level” to lay out the design. It’s a good thing we have Jaime as our fearless leader, because Hannah, Max, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to figure this out on our own.
While Max and Hannah chugged away on the tiles, I stayed back from the farm to focus on my main purpose- to completely remodel the social media presence for Barzakh Falah. Since we are in the final stages of construction before we can host at-risk young women and children, there is an increased need for volunteers. More on this next week after we roll out a brand new Instagram, blog, and more!