Friday, February 3, 2012

Rock Work: Taquile Community Project

The Taquile Community needed to make a major repair of a big hole in on of the docks at the Salacancha port. The Mayor had put out a call for workers to start work on Monday, March 23. Each worker would be paid out of funds available from tourist entry fees.
Picture above shows the hole, although in a later stage of repair. So many people showed up to work that the Taquile Island officers (authoridades) decided to add a lower level to the existing dock, useful for when Lake Titicaca water level is low, and a new trail so arriving tourists wouldn't have to walk in the mud during rainy season.
Men moved rocks with 3-4 ft. steel bars; Sam did a lot of this work, sending big rocks down to the wetsuited workers in the water.They placed the big rocks around the outside of the new dock and women carried backfill, all sizes of rocks.
I worked with the women. We walked out on the beach and filled our woven plastic sacos with as many rocks as we wanted to carry. Then brought them to where the men needed the backfill.
Idas y vueltas. I kept thinking of that T.S. Elliot line, "...and the women come and go...." and we did speak, though not of Michaelangelo, mainly while we were gathering our rocks. We would take breaks as needed, sharing coca. I wore my local traditional clothing after that first half day on Monday, so I fit right in.
Many of the men were splitting the sandstone with chisel and hammer.
The split rocks from across the water were ferried on rafts.
Of course we got a lunch break and one day Sam brought a watermelon to share.
Late in the day the men would share alcohol. Sam joined in the male bonding, though kept his indulgence to a minimum.Cement was mixed with sand and gravel to create a good mixto in a volcano-shaped lago, then shoveled into buckets. Sam ended up on the lower level hauling buckets of cement to seal the rocks for the new dock.
He and Elias worked together, noting a competition of who got the most messy with concrete. Elias worked really hard, as did Sam.
This picture shows the new trail, nearly finished.
High winds caused waves that washed away the final coat of concrete on the dock, so it was left incomplete for the time being. If I get a picture of the finished work I´ll post it later.
Sam and I met new people and both earned a lot of respect from the broader community for joining in the hard work. We worked on the project for a full three days and a half. Except for that final layer of concrete on the dock, it was finished in 5 days.

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