First day digging trenches. First day riding in the back of a pickup. It was bloody hard work and I’ve got two blisters already, but I enjoyed it. Not sure how I’ll feel after four weeks but it’s good at the moment! There’s a guy who we’ve affectionately nicknamed “The Old Bastard”. He’s (Oscar) the foreman’s dad, and he’s a real busybody. Has to get involved with the work, even though we’re all certain he has nothing to do with it.
It’s shocking how much they’ve dug and all by hand. As you go up the mountain, there’s trenches along the roadside and every now and then some guys digging more or filling them back in. And there I was, armed with my pickaxe and shovel, and spent two hours with my arse sticking out of the hedge (I had to dig out the bank near the road). Luckily the pipes are pretty small (about the size of a hosepipe) so we don’t have to dig too deep. We did have to remove two small trees to reach the house though, cuz we hit the building foundations.
So we’re in a village called Sesesmil Dos. Apparently the valley is called Sesesmil and the villages have just been named Uno, Dos and Tres as go up the mountain. It’s really beautiful up in the mountains: it’s very fertile and there’s fruit trees and coffee plants everywhere. All the locals bring us fruit all the time: definitely getting my five a day! The houses are very basic. Bigger than I was expecting, but they have dirt floors and wooden “windows”, and the families are probably still quite cramped. All the people up here seem to be farmers of one sort or another. Not many people have transportation. Some have horses and some have bicycles, but the vast majority catch lifts in pickups owned by the more prosperous farmers.
We got a pickup ride back and cleaned up. Kike then took me and Robin to Macaw Mountain, the bird sanctuary. The green macaw was my favourite. Got to hold a scarlet macaw and a little parrot (I think) called Paco. Kike and our guide showed us a tree called “The Naked Gringo”, and pointed out my sunburn to show us why it was called that. It’s a reddish colour and the bark peels off.