I arrived last night into Rancho Margot after a weekend in Tamarindo and today was my first day of work, it was a good day. I had trouble sleeping last night, I’m not sure if I was anxious or what, but I couldn’t fall asleep so easily. I wasn’t so tired in the morning when I woke up though because I had rested well in Tamarindo.
I had a little talk with Ivannia in the morning after breakfast about expectations, what I’ll be doing, routine, cleaning, etc. Then, I found some rubber boots that had been left behind by former volunteers and got to work.
I spent the morning with Beto. He showed me how to shovel the cow manure, where to put it when the wheelbarrow gets full and how to hose down the ground after I’ve picked up all the shit. Sounds pretty self explanatory right? However, there are different ways of doing this with varying efficiency. A fellow volunteer from South Africa offered a method he had been using that worked really well. He suggested that instead of trying to clean each stall individually, that it’s more efficient to collect the poop together into bigger piles and shovel it all in at once, kind of like batch processing I suppose. I started doing this and it really works well. It makes it easier to shovel since the piles are bigger you can get a fuller shovel each time, meaning less times you have to scoop into the wheelbarrow.
I had lunch with all of the farm workers and then returned to work aerating and moving already decomposed compost that was basically fertile dirt now ready to be used in the farm. My compadre would break up the compost, I’d shovel it into the wheelbarrow, wheel it around to the other side and then dump it. Another guy was coming by and sprinkling something over it to help the acidity level. It was amazing how hot the compost still was. Even though it had already been composting for months, it was still so hot that there was steam coming out every time we broke up a little mound.
After doing this for a while, I went with Francisco up to follow the flow of the river that powers the hydroelectric plant. I helped him clean the grates placed to collect leaves. Being in the rainforest, there are many trees and this means many many leaves. Rancho Margot is completely off the energy grid, all their energy is produced from the hydroelectric power plant they have on site. If leaves enter into the stream, they damage the machines producing the energy from the power of the water. So they put grates to collect the leaves and have covered much of the river diversion path with a tarp-like material to block it from collecting debris. If there’s too many leaves that get caught in the grate, however, then this disrupts the flow of the water and makes it more difficult to produce enough energy. So, the grates must be cleaned each day. It’s miraculous how delicate the system is, but even more miraculous is how they’ve figured out ways around all of the obstacles and made it happen.