By Caitlin Addison-Howard, Rotary Toilet Project Coordinator
Our group of Rotarians from Corozal Rotary Club #1794 was charged with bringing back information on a working composting toilet design. The toilet needed to meet a few requirements: low or no water use, a model that would improve the general health of students and an inexpensive and sustainable design.
Little did we know when we contacted Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) that we would soon be awakened from our environmental stasis and enter the Matrix.
Yes, we knew that a composting toilet had been designed and built at BFREE. We called ahead and had been assured that the units had been working efficiently for over a year. The idea of driving down the Hummingbird Highway to visit the site and experience the toilet gave us a feeling of adventure and expectation.
The adventure quickly became even more challenging. We found that BFREE was located in the Bladen Nature Reserve and we would be “hiking in” about six miles off the main road. Our group dwindled to five and we started packing our bags for the journey. At the last minute one of our Rotarians came up with a vehicle that he said would take us “all the way”. The drive was beautiful and the terrain went from the flat lands of the Corozal District sugar cane fields to the rolling hills of Stan Creek and Toledo.
At the entrance to Bladen Nature Reserve we parked the car and piled into the four-wheel drive for the last leg of the trip. A Safari could not have been any more fascinating. At the end of the road, we shouldered our packs and crossed the Bladen River. Crossing that river was tantamount to crossing the River Jordan. We came seeking a vision of a sustainable, effective composting toilet. Just one day later we crossed back over the Bladen as converts to the beauty of that toilet. It fulfilled our list of requirements and more.
Jacob Marlin and his courteous staff gave us all the support and information we needed to bring back to our home club. They fed us, led us through a night walk in the jungle and we left knowing that BFREE would be a sacred place in our minds for a long time to come.