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March 21, 2005

Beach cleaning + Painting

More beach cleaning this morning, another slow start b/c Stuart put me in charge again and I was a little unsure what to do.

We arrived to find a small memorial set up, facing the beach, with photos of a sunkissed, smiling vacation face of an Italian woman lost in the encroaching sea. Another photo was tacked to a small Thai wooden statue further along the beach. A wedding photo of an ecstatic bride and groom grinning broadly from the back of the limo, toasting the photographer with tall glasses of golden champagne. In the one light space of the car window between the two friendly faces someone had handwritten in pen: "Fabi Vermisst We Hope! Still!"

It kills you, the hope. So much hope in spite of so much loss.

A woman who has been at the center since the beginning was on this very beach the day the wave came. A friend with her was a surfer, and looked out to the dark line in the ocean, as the water drew back away from the beach. "This isn't right," he said, "We have to get the hell out of here." They pushed the scooter throttle to the limit and drove to a nearby waterfall on high ground. They waited there 36 hours before venturing back.

When you see what should be here, what the beach was like in the postcards and the dream brochures, then compare that imaginary picture to the sand-covered broken tile and cracked-up buildings...the horror is worse than you could think of.

The work is endless, there are maybe ten jillion million little tiny pieces of junk that need to be raked up and disappeared. The beaches are getting better, but the resort land is trashed, just trashed. Another team handles small resort cleanup, although that also includes stuff like planting trees and grass to get their business up to speed.

For more about the day, especially including How Stuart Got Duped and the ThaIkea furniture project, please click continue below.

***If anyone is looking for an environmental project to take on to Save the World, by the way, it's time to look at plastic drinking straws. I think I've personally pulled hundreds of them off about 100 metres of beach, and they won't degrade for what, like, a million years. All for something that you use for three minutes.

Today's refresher was a "shake" at a local thatch-hut restaurant. I chose orange flavor, Mandi chose watermelon-orange. All it was, was: fresh squeezed orange juice and ice. A fresh-squeezed Slurpee. After working three hours in the hot sun, it was THE BOMB. Also on the menu: "Fresh Sgueezdz Juices." The English here never is perfect, but usually it's perfectly understandable.

Miscommunication has created a bunch of funny situations, though. While walking back from lunch, I saw a bunch of people gathered on both sides of the highway, in an area that has nothing, it's all washed out. There were 4 people in a jeep driving up to the area, a white jeep with a "Red Cress" logo on it. People wearing spanking new t-shirts and spanking new bandages sporting red ink splots were lying around. Nearby, guys under golf umbrellas, holding out fuzzy microphones on a stick.

I'd come all the way from LA for the wild Asian experience and someone was filming in front of my hotel.

The funny part came later. I was telling Stuart about the beach cleaning, and we were talking about the 100 Days' teams project to make lamps out of small glass bottles, when three girls walked up to the hotel and started talking in Thai, looking for permission to use the restroom. Stuart replied in Thai, then noticed this one girl with a raging head wound! She needs help! No wonder she wants to use the bathroom, she's injured! He started freaking out and running to her with some tissue-thick napkins he grabbed off the table and he couldn't understand why they were stopping to take their shoes off, and being so casual about such a massive head wound! Mandi had come back by then, and we were laughing our heads off. We were yelling, Stuart! It's for a MOVIE!

It took him a minute or two to figure it out. Then he was laughing too.

I went back in the afternoon and ran into Moira from yesterday's Day of Adventure. She may be doing some work here at the center. We might bunk together to save some dough. Isn't that awesome? $12 is way too much in Thailand to spend on a hotel, even with A/C, so we hope to split for $6 each.

I got a very minimal amount of painting in at the ThaIkea project site, before black clouds rolled in and we had to cover everything up before the rain. Volunteers and local Thai take coffins made for the tsunami, dismantle them and take the nails out, then the wood is used to build bookcases, stools and benches for local schools. The coffins are unused. They were built in the standard size, however, the bloated, seawater soaked casualties would not fit inside the standard boxes. Click here and herefor little stories about the project.

Posted by sedda at March 21, 2005 05:19 PM