FROM NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TO INSTAGRAM PART II

Last April I completed a project which had taken me almost a year. For those who haven’t read the first article let me give you a recap: on the mostly uninhabited and remote Caribbean coast of Panama, a group of investors acquired a large piece of land, with several beaches on it the biggest stretching over 300 meters. However behind that postcard pretty beach is, or was, a massive swamp. And the first step for draining a swamp is contracting a Dutchman, yours truly.

Because of environmental concerns and logistic constrains the project relied exclusively on muscle power, my team averaged between 12 to 22 men and one woman for diversity purposes (just kidding, she was our cook). With the exception of chainsaws and boats no motorized equipment was used. Even the workers accommodation was entirely built out of wood, with chainsaw, hammer and nails.

Over the course of the project we dug two channels each close to one kilometer in length, and changed the course of a stream. A steady flow of water now debouches into the sea where there was none before we started. One thing I learned from the experience is that we as a society have a tendency to over-complicate (construction) projects. Here we are, no electricity, no cell phones, just a group of strong men with the most basic of tools. I drew out a simple plan with pen and paper, we map it out (ok I did use GPS there) and simply started working. Work hard consistently and eventually you get the job done.

By contrast: organizing the logistics for the use of heavy equipment not to mention permits would most likely have been more expensive and probably taken just as much time.
In addition to the canals and housing, several hectares were cleared and planted with coconut trees, and many ornamental plants were planted for future gardens.

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