After explaining to people that I’m volunteering on an organic shrimp farm for the next month, the obvious first question is: What does one such as yourself do on a shrimp farm? In short, I help out with the “girl-friendly” tasks such as feeding the shrimp and testing the water quality in the lab. Obviously, and I’m not complaining one bit about this, I’m not physically capable of doing the more labor intensive tasks such as hauling 40 kg sacks of shrimp feed across the yard. Some days we (there are two other volunteers here now) have little lectures on how they monitor the growth of the shrimp and tend to the pools. That’s my what my morning looks like and after lunch I usually get to pass the rest of the day as a lady of leisure going for walks around the farm and catching up on my posts. I’ve been here for two weeks now and I’m still in awe of how beautifully simplistic life is here on the shrimp farm and quite frankly, I don’t want to leave anytime soon.
Set to Task
Day 1 it was early to rise for me at 7am for my first day of work, which for me is excruciatingly early but I’ve since seem to adjusted well. I was greeted by Tino, a jubilant old man who was one of the first shrimpmen to inquire on the whereabouts of my husband or boyfriend. He was then the first of a long succession of shrimpmen to express sheer confusion as to why I had neither. Again though, that’s a story for another time. Tino’s main purpose on this day was to accompany me out to one of the shrimp pools and explain that I would be helping Romeo with feeding the shrimp. He also explained that Romeo is mute, but very intelligent and could read lips so I would be able to communicate with him. This was an easy enough mental task where I would simply pull up the nets and pour a couple scoops of feed, but after a while, I discovered it served as a rather decent workout which pleased me because I’m grateful for any activity that decreases my need for going to a gym.
Day 2 was equally strenuous, but more interesting in terms of the task at hand. This day, which was a Sunday, I cruised around the shrimp pools with Eduardo pouring out good bacteria to balance out the bad bacteria that naturally flows in. I’m not too sure of the technical details since my grasp of Spanish doesn’t quite extend to shrimp farming technology, but that’s the gist of what he said. Aforementioned good bacteria actually looked and smelled more like tomato soup, and was stored in barrels next to the pools. Eduardo then explained to me that we would transfer this bacteria to the canoe by siphoning it through a hose. This made my day since I feel like the ability to siphon liquids could prove potentially useful somewhere down the road.
Life on the Farm
When I’m not busying earning my bread here on the farm, life is otherwise blissfully simple. Aside from the access to wifi during the day in the main dormitory there are very few other technological distractions and I mostly spend my days lazily strolling around the grounds and working on my photography skills. The opportunities to capture amazing sunsets and the shrimpmen tending to the various needs of the farm make it a worthwhile venture. And now that I don’t have my best friend and professional photographer as my traveling companion all the time, I have to rely on myself for creative photos to visually document my experiences.
I believe somewhere in a previous post I also mentioned my slight obsession with going “rustic”. I think this goes hand in hand with me wanting to develop survival skills and also not wanting to feel like I’m so sheltered. I viewed flushing toilets by manually pouring water down them as a backpacking badge of honor and I was happy to continue the tradition here. I also get to continue with my cold showers only now the ante has been upped and I often have to do so by candlelight (there’s no sense in showering in the morning as I’m heading to a stinky workplace to sweat and stink some more). Though I have to admit, in this heat, the cold shower no longer feels like torture and the candle adds an ambiance of romance to an otherwise lackluster evening. After my shower, it’s then just a tranquil evening of chatting with my roommates, two other volunteers who are studying marine biology, and doing a few chores before falling asleep to the sound of mosquitoes and random salsa songs that I can hear some of the shrimpmen playing in their dorms across the way. As far as I’m concerned, this is shaping up to be a very good life indeed!