Cancun Eco Summit Student Blog Day I – Josh Villa

1560617_10201563292065590_55061557_nBy Josh Villa, University of Saint Thomas

We had a great start in sunny Cancun today.  Well maybe rainy Cancun, but if there was a day for rain today was the perfect day.  We have four projects that we are working on at Project Hombre, a rehabilitation center that currently houses people who are fighting alcohol and drug addictions.  The first project is painting their main building (inside and outside) as well as the concrete wall that faces the road, building a chicken coop, building a garden, and finally building a cistern to collect water from a rooftop that can be used to water the garden.

I’m mainly working on the cistern.  Today was mostly a planning day, which is why it was the perfect day to rain.  It’s easy to plan a project in the rain, it is much harder to execute in the rain especially when the project involves climbing ladders and using electric power equipment.  Today we toured the facility and it’s really phenomenal.  Coming from Minnesota, where everything is covered in ice and walking outside is limited to the shortest time possible, it was refreshing to see the grounds of Project Hombre.  After getting in the gate there is a patio with the rooftop that extends from the house on the right and on the left is a lush garden with an outdoor chapel.  Beyond that, there is a path of patio pavers that curves along the grounds.  First you walk to the reflecting pool and take a right and pass another covered patio that looks similar to what we might see in a city park and take left to get to the recreation building, which is where they do laundry and indoor activities.  The recreation building is where we are building the cistern.  The winding path ends there and you can look out and see a gorgeous field where the garden will go and in the far back corner – maybe 50-75 yards or so – where the chicken coop will go.  The peace and quiet of the grounds, the winding path, the garden, and the 2 buildings all surrounded by the concrete wallss gave the feel of a monastery.

Before coming to Cancun, we had an idea of what the projects that we would be doing, but seeing them up close gave a clearer picture of just how much work is needed to complete the jobs.  We spent a good hour doing the high level planning of the job: how much of a rain gutter do we need, where the cistern should go, and depending on where the cistern goes do we need to level the ground, and many other planning questions.  I can virtually guarantee that the project will not go exactly according to plan, but we were able to figure out the materials needed, get them, and tomorrow start working and see where the project leads and what adjustments will need to be made.

Tomorrow will be sunny and 83, perfect conditions for starting the project and I can’t wait to get started!