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And the construction of the cafeteria goes on!!

For four years already, Visioneers has been supporting the project in Limon 2000. The work of some volunteers started with the construction of a (professional) school in one of the poorest regions of Costa Rica. This project set the foundation for the creation of new perspectives for the local people.

Since this year, the construction of the cafeteria for the school has been up and running. I am Philipp, 23 years old, originally from the Allgäu and this year I finished my bachelor in energy-efficient planning and building in Augsburg. In order to gain as many international experiences in the construction industry as possible, it was very important to me to participate in a volunteer project in this area. By chance and after a very short time for preparations I have now arrived in Costa Rica, where I will help to advance the construction and lighten the workload, in order to complete the construction as soon as possible.

After a one week period for acclimatization together with the other volunteers in San Jose, off I went to Limon. To the coast. To the incredibly hot and humid Caribbean. During the first days, the only thing missing in order to feel like in a sauna was the smell of mountain pine citric-orange on a tea tree oil basis. After taking a shower, I frequently did not know if I was still wet from the shower or wet again from the sweat. At the bus station, I was welcomed warmly by Pastor Julio, the leader of the local project, and together we went to his home. There I was told that the family that was supposed to receive me could not take on any more chaos through a German volunteer than they already had with their three adolescent children. So meanwhile I stayed with Julio, and the next few days I was occupied with finding a new abode. I did find it with Pastora Aydita, and now I have been living six weeks in Limon 2000, three minutes walking time to the construction site.

There was a lack of money from Germany during the first two weeks, due to which the construction could not be continued. So there was nothing left for me than to test my patience for the first time during my stay.

After that, though, constructing finally started and we, as in the Maestro de Obra Felipe, Martin, another workman and me, began to toil. Since the foundation walls were already almost completely standing and the roof was almost closed, we took off with the adjustment of the soil and filling it up with earth and gravel, just to then dump more earth and gravel and after that even more earth and gravel inside the building. That was the preparation for the pouring of the bottom plate. Since in Germany this is mostly the first part of constructing a building, I sure was a little confused in the beginning.

After that, the concrete mixer was brought, four more workers were motivated and then, including Pastor Julio, we could happily start pouring the bottom plate. Three buckets of gravel, one and a half buckets of water. 50kg of cement. Three buckets of sand. Four buckets of gravel. Four buckets of sand. In between some water. Two full days in the blazing sun. Some confusion arose, when the first time there were four instead of three buckets of sand mixed. Wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow, the concrete was carted into the building and distributed evenly by hand. The new delivery of cement that had arrived in the meantime was of course not unloaded next to the concrete mixer. Rather carry it to the hut first and from there back to the concrete mixer. Why do things the easy way, if there is a complicated one! After 12 cubic metres of concrete (three tons of gravel, sand and cement each!!!) the pouring of the floor was finished and a big step towards the completion was done.

And on we went, with the installation of the drainpipes for the kitchen and the restrooms. Since the kitchen was to be built on the one side and the bathroom on the other, it was necessary to excavate two deep ditches instead of one. So first we dug through earth and then through hard, heavy clay soil. Shovel by shovel. Wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow, the snot was carried away. After lots of sweat and hard work, the pipes are installed, the overflow-siphons in the Tico style are integrated and the ditches are filled up again. The reason why the concrete for the siphons had to be mixed inside the building on the finished bottom plate still remains a mystery to me.

Meanwhile, the missing walls had received their first coat of plaster and were grinded down. The applying of the second coat is the task at hand at the moment and should be finished during the next few days.

The work is fun, but sometimes very exhausting and the emotions are changing rapidly. Joy comes up when something like the bottom plate, the roof or the drainpipes are completed. Amusement, when even after trying a hundred times, Felipe still calls me Feliz instead of Filip. But also desperation when the ditch that was closed and compressed the week before has to be opened up again because the concrete stripe for moisture proofing on the external wall is still missing and has to be applied. However, here it is necessary to mention a Tico-wisdom:

“If you had thought of it last week, you would not have work today!” - Felipe, Maestro de Obra

During the next weeks, the kitchen area and the tile laying should be completed. For this, some kitchen plates have to be newly poured. The bathroom is still lacking its sinks and toilet bowls. The water connection for the building has to be completed as well, and the electrics and the suspended ceiling have to be integrated. So, the project remains thrilling and there is still a lot of work to do! Greetings and until the next contribution! Pura Vida! Feliz Philipp

This project has only been possible thanks to the EZ-Kleinförderung by the Nord-Süd Brücken foundation and AES

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