The Project - Day by Day
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Sat 6th: day of reckoning. 5.30am rise to say goodbye to other alpha teams. Loaded coach and left at 8am. Lunch in Chinese restuarant in Kota Marudu - last decent meal for weeks! Jumped in 4x4s for 90 minute journey to our village (Bambangan Sook - or "the Banger" as we now call it). Arrive, find two empty wooden huts in village for sleeping (split male and female upon request of village head, the JKK).
Sun 7th: awake to several chickens next to me - had jumped up ladder into boys room! day spent setting up camp - army tent for food storage, big tarp for living area and kitchen, long drops, shower. Celebrated Tori's 18th birthday. She was born in 1993. 1993!!! Crazy.
Mon 8th: shat myself this morning after finding a chicken hiding in my rucksack in our room
Tue 9th: day of planning and surveying for the project. Josh manages to break an existing water pipe to a house in an ajadacent village. Villager not happy! Check out the dam and visit houses to be supplied, walking along potential piping routes. Use GPS and local info to map the area. Started 1-2-1s with Venturers as part of their personal development.
Weds 10th: work starts in earnest with identification of potential dam site at stream, one mile from village up a hill. Hard graft clearing rocks and mud from site. Digging, sweating, more digging...early to bed (9pm) exhausted...another early morning / big day planned tomorrow...
Fri 12th: group splits into two, with one working at the dam and the other laying piping. Another big day of graft. in eve, my first attempt at cooking for group - noodles and chop suey. overload it with salt and spoil perfectly good meal.
Sat 13th: 6am rise and up to dam early doors with Palomie, Louise, Chris & I
Sun 14th: day off! well deserved by all. Awesome lie in (til 7.30am). Wake up, pancakes for breakfast (managed to get some eggs - real treat). Chilled morning. Head to Manduran Laut, one mile South, in the afternoon to visit Alpha 8 (who are doing the other water system project). Beat them at Tacroe!! Go swimming in their river.
Mon 15th: epic day today. 10 hours of concreting the dam involving the whole team. Carried more sacks of sand and gravel uphill than I ever thought myself capable of. Sweated the whole day. Hit by torrential rain at 5pm as we were still concreting. Covered the drying dam with tarps but unsure whether it will survive the night. Superb effort by team today; Pete, Rupert, Theo and Amy in particular worked socks off.
Tues 16th: went to dam site early. Luckily, the main foundations survived the rain, which continued the whole night. Unfortunately a small rock clogged the drainage pipe, causing the dam pool to fill and overflow, washing away 20% of the dam.
Thu 18th: morning spent under camp tarp planning water system opening party next Mon. In arvo, we did a mock emergency evacuation with the venturers should worse happen. I feigned leg injury with machete and loads of tomato ketchup. Sarah pretended to be unconcious. Game of kings and mafia before bed (8.45pm!)
Fri 19th: Up early at 5.40am and walked up a hill to catch a spectacular sunrise (see pic)
Sat 20th: Up again at 5.40am with eight of the team to catch sunrise. Played hearts with Chris, Theo and Josh and shot the moon in pen-ultimate game to clinch gold. Porridge and Milo. Walked up to dam. Pete hurt big toe and returned to camp. Checked piping, replaced where necessary & repaired leaks. Now 14 houses connected to water! Built shelter for plaque to commerate opening of water system in village centre. Other finishing touches on opening ceremony. Practiced our skit for changeover on Tuesday (adaptation of Grease megamix)
Sun 21st: Headed to church in the morning and team sang 'Jeresalem' to the congregation. Said a prayer for Granny, who passed away at the grand old age of 96 (RIP). Invited Alpha 8 to lunch and got beaten on home turf at Tacroe. Meanwhile enacted Operation Sneaky Beaver against Alpha 8's base camp (taking all labels off their food tins and arranging cans as a giant A7 on their floor).
Mon 22nd: all up by 6.30am, including Pete - miracle! Opening ceremony at our camp, involving entire village, Raleigh, AFC, sponsors, government officials. All in all, 100+ people and big soundsystem. Danced with locals. Ate great food prepared by them. Did 121s / final reviews with Venturers. Evening brought rain and dinner round the girls "the last supper" followed by final review.
Tues 23rd: Awakened to last morning in the Banger. Reflective mood. Packed, said goodbyes to villagers, some of whom were in tears. Unbelievable last few weeks, sad to go. At the same time looking forward to the adventure challenge starting tomorrow.