Putting “Sunset Suds” on hold, I joined three other Helpers on a short, urgent project called “Concrete Jungle.”
The objective of this project was to repair a large hole in the pavement floor of the storage area behind the restaurant. The hole had filled with rainwater and was now a festering cesspool of mosquito larvae and garbage.
We first filled the hole with sand. We loaded buckets of sand from the beach onto the sidecar of the motorbike, and drove the motorbike across the bumpy lawn up to the storage area. I lost track of how many buckets or trips we needed, but it was a lot.
Using random materials we found around the property, we built a few more things required before pouring concrete. Ben wanted a short paved walkway extending out from the patio, so we built a wood frame for that. Since we didn’t have paving tools to work with the concrete, we also made a couple of makeshift trowels and hand floats from wood.
Then the mixing began. We combined the cement powder, sand, gravel, and water in a large tub to magically create concrete. When we had the consistency just right, we shoveled it on top of the sand and smoothed it out. We got about halfway done before lunch was ready. Since our volunteer hours were 9am to 2pm (and lunch was served at 2pm), we would have to continue the work next week. That was fine with me as I was hot, drenched with sweat, and tired.
I ended up taking Monday off, because I spent the weekend on the island of Ko Phi Phi. I was late getting back Monday because the sea was too rough to make it safely in the long-tail boat. We tried initially, but turned around after 15 minutes of bashing through the waves. The rest of the passengers asked for refunds and took an indirect, 4-hour route on a ferry. I waited with the captain for an hour, and then we tried again – this time with a second boat accompanying us for safety. And we made the 1-hour journey safely. But I was late getting back to Uza; Ben was flexible and understanding.
So on Tuesday, with two of the other Helpers leaving that day, I reconvened work on “Concrete Jungle.” (The third Helper, an electrician, was working on a new project.) I wasn’t going to quit until I finished mixing and pouring the concrete. Needless to say, it was a long day but I got it done. The only thing remaining was to make a mini-manhole cover to place over a water valve where we had left an access hole in the concrete. I did that the next day, using an old cooking pot as a mold. No more mosquitos or foul-smelling water.
“Concrete Jungle” is done! And now I know how to mix, pour, and finish concrete!