We felt a tiny bit deflated today as we felt we had been demoted somewhat from the mixers to the pourers but we still wanted to give it our best efforts. The day was still a very hot one but not quite as hot as the one previous and we thought we would actually get on a lot better with task this as the pace was just a bit gentler too. In the morning I got chatting to a lad from the North East called Nick and he thought it strange that we should pick one of the hardest jobs first to go at on our first day but as we explained the mixing was what was left on the boards so that was what we got stuck with.
For today’s work we were with Anton on his build but when we got there we started by sorting out the rebar – this is the reinforcement bar for the concrete – some needed untying and then tying again. I was paired with Lindsey from our room and Liz was shovelling with a Brazilian guy called Bert who seemed to be suffering with a bad leg as he was limping but still determined to carry on. The foundations needed to be made ready for the cement pouring and some of the bars had either not been set up correctly or had moved during the night and a couple of others had to be set up.
Once again the kids were a great laugh after one day of ‘Hello Mister’ some of them were already remembering our names – well ‘Mister Pat’ anyhow and we started to understand a bit more of what the project was all about. The particular Barangay we were working on had been hit quite badly during the typhoon but only a certain number of houses – those of deserving cases – applied and had been granted new premises. These people were living in makeshift hovels often right next to the building sites we were working on. One thing I started to realise as well is that although most of the people did not have two ha’pennies to rub together still some had karaoke machines. Every now and then you would have a surreal moment playing hide and seek with a little kid whilst moving bags of sand or cement all to the strains of ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ going on in the background sung by a man or woman for whom English was probably their second or third language – absolutely loved it though!
Then just as we were getting into position for being able to get the concreting done the clouds which had been hovering about menacingly actually started to pour down with rain. This also coincided with us going for dinner so we ate whilst the big chiefs discussed what was to be done next. It turned out there was to be a change of plan – no concrete was to be poured instead we would be going to the workshop.
The workshop was just that and here they prepared some of the rebar and stored the wood and materials. In the workshop we were working with a team leader called Mikey (an older ex-engineer from Canada) and a young lady who had only arrived that morning called Muriel. I did not take to Muriel very well as she was French (lol) and she could not understand me – as she said I spoke too quickly – and I could not understand her because she was French and insisted on waving her hands around whilst talking which is very off putting. I taught her some French phrases she possibly had not heard of before, such as ‘Sacre Bleu’ and ‘Mon Dieu’ and I also taught her how to say parapluei correctly. Muriel and Liz definitely hit it off though as my wife is a sucker for lost causes – no seriously, she was a great laugh even when confronted with a Francophobe like me!
At night there was to be a gathering for some of the workers who were due to be leaving the next day so me and Liz invited Edwin and Muriel to go for a bite beforehand – just to get some good food. Edwin said he knew a place so it was all set. We all managed to get into a small tuk tuk and once again the heavens opened and we all got soaked. At the restaurant we arrived like drowned rats but the meal was excellent and we did have a chance to get to know both Edwin and Muriel better – both being great fun.
To say Edwin liked his food was a slight understatement I have NEVER known anyone eat as much or even look at food with so much longing – the kind of look us men usually reserve for women!
After eating we hit the karaoke bar but the singing seemed to be monopolised by one or two ‘singers’ so as it was nearing curfew time we thought we had better get back to HQ – so a hurried departure was called for.