Marcos’s new latrine
category: Jims Guatemala

We just finished Marcos’s new latrine, and it’s fantastic. As you may recall, we started it at the beginning of the month. It takes 4 to 5 days of work to build a composting latrine, and those days have a week break in the middle to let the upper concrete dry. But, as life works in Guatemala, people get busy with church meetings and funerals (Marcos), or training seminars and goodby parties (me), and that causes setbacks. But that doesn’t really bother anyone; if you’ve had a crappy latrine for 20 years (ha! a pun!), what’s a few extra weeks?

Here’s a little play-by-play of what we did for the second half of the construction (click here to see the first half). I’m trying to line up some more latrine projects, so if you are interested in sponsoring a project, please email me. 🙂

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This is the their old latrine. It’s kindof unsanitary; basically a cesspit with a wood slab to sit on. Emily had to use it once. Marcos was hesitant to let me photograph it. His nephew Elvin, however, would do ANYTHING to get into a photo. Only hand tools here, baby. We had to borrow this brace & bit from the carpenter next door.

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I love it when the kids help, and Marcos is a good dad and encourages this sort of thing. The taza, or seat, is special in a composting latrine. It separates solids from liqiuids. The liquids pass through a tube to a separate catchment system for direct application to the garden. This photo is from inside the composting chamber.
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Most of the last day was spent constructing the casita, or “little house”. Marcos kept costs down by recycling materials. The metal roof is from the old schoolhouse they replaced in the 90s. Once the door’s on, we’re good to go. Marcos is going to fill in the dirt between the hill and the door on his own time, so they can just walk straight across to the latrine.


All that’s left now is teaching the family how to maintain it. What a strange transition- in my last job, I was building buildings of 20,000+ square feet costing upwards of $9,000,000. Now I build 24 square foot buildings that cost about $250. This is going to sound INCREDIBLY cheezy, but I’d have to say that I am every bit as proud of this one as all the others.

Posted by: jfanjoy