So excited about our meeting today! The last couple of days I was thinking to myself how I wished there was a mechanically skilled person on the island, someone who would want to be trained on maintaining solar panels and water catchment systems and maybe someone who understood how to prevent erosion on the island. Then today we met Gerald. Gerald, the maintenance guy for Paradise Lodge…who is also building his own island from trash! Yes, the mystery of what happens to the trash on the Tobacco Caye has been solved.
Yesterday, I spoke with Samuel, the maintenance guy at Tobacco Caye Lodge about trash on the island and he described how it’s sent out to build up an island not far from us. Today, we spoke to Gerald for a good hour. He described how he’s layering bottles, mud, cardboard, plastic bags, bagged trash and sand to build up an island. He’s installed piping to deal with methane gas release and has started planted coconut trees. He is running off a generator right now, but he’s repairing broken solar panels from the Blue Dolphin Lodge so that he can have solar on his island soon.
He also showed us how he’s started to build up a beach outside of Paradise Lodge. By strategically placing sandbags perpendicular to the edge of the coast, he’s managed to build up about 10 feet of beach. He also described how a conch and wire basket system could be used to do the same thing at different parts of the island. He’s a natural tinker. Since he was a child he’s enjoyed fixing things, taking them apart and figuring out how they work.
He tells us that the solar panels on Paradise Lodge are fully functional, but 10 of their 16 six-volt batteries don’t work anymore, so they’re not able store the energy they need and they need to use the generator part of the day. When we went over at 11:30am, the functioning batteries were all already fully charged. If they had new batteries, they could be running completely on solar. The problem is each battery costs about BZ$450 plus shipping. I’m digging around to see if there’s a possible grant.
Over the summer, during classes with DPMI, we talked quite a bit about how community development is often focused on what’s lacking or needed and how we need to recognize existing assets. We’ve been on the island for about 2 weeks now and we’re starting to seek out the quieter people, like Gerald, who we haven’t had a chance to meet yet. How many others will have surprising personal projects?