While I was still living with my host family, I had the time and opportunity to renovate parts of my home-to-be. The first project was the shower! Initially, the shower was wood with a short zinc roof. When the black plastic bags were stripped from the walls, the wood was shown to be damaged by termites. From the wooden floor panels grew black lichen, and in the corners were termite nests. I went to town with my hammer, knocking off the roof then each wooden wall panel. It was a lot of fun!!! I stripped the floor and excavated the black growth. The floor boards were scrubbed and set in the sun to dry out. I replaced them on the new sandy floor and interspersed rocks along the cracks and edges. Bigger boulders were thoughtfully placed in the corners, hugged tightly by fist-sized rocks and pebbles. Once the floor was amended, the work on the walls began.
After WWOOFing in Belize at a Bamboo Reserve, I fell in love with the idea of an outdoor bamboo shower. I didn’t realize how much work goes into it though! For the first round of work, my counterpart Fernando helped cut and strip the bamboo. I connected them horizontally to four strong corner stalks, weaving recycled sand bags through the spaces. Looking back, it was pretty janky. Once Preston arrived, we were able to redo the walls one by one. We harvested more Bamboo and hauled it from Quebrada Pastor! Preston taught me how to cut them vertically in half to make them go farther. We implemented his brilliant idea of stacking them in a way that would minimize spaces. Just in case, we placed coconut palms in between the inner and outer walls. Little wooden shelves were hung with hemp, and the pluma was revamped to have an overhead shower effect. The door was made with wood, palm fronds and recycled PVC.
We went back and worth whether to put in a roof, but decided not to. This has had a positive and negative effect. Negative- the bamboo is rotting quicker (even after a painted layer of Barniz!). Positive- the bathroom dries out on sunny days, preventing mosquitos from breeding. Every volunteer has ups and downs with their bathroom. Some just use tarps, others concrete. Although I still haven’t quite reached my “dream ideal bamboo shower”, I am one step closer. The important thing is that I am trying something that I have never done before, and continually working towards my goal!