I forgot about the ROOSTERS!

Trip Start Nov 03, 2007
Trip End Nov 16, 2007

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Monday, November 5, 2007

Yesterday was Guatemala's Presidential election and they announced the winner about 10pm and in the streets, there was a huge party.  I guess they like the guy that won!  There were fireworks, of course and the party went on until about midnite!  But then around 4am, the roosters started.  I completely forgot that the roosters here have no concept of time.  And they woke up the dogs....

Still had a pretty good sleep.  Our hotel is pretty "rustic"... yeah, I guess one would say it was rustic.  I'm sure some might never stay at a place like this, but I'm happy here... It's cheap and they are very hospitable to us.  Nancy and I are on the 2nd floor and we didn't have hot water.  Here's a question for you guys.... would you rather have more water pressure but cold water, or would you opt for way less pressure but it's hot water... ?   I would go for the hot water any day!!!!

So we started with our 30 min boat ride and then a van ride to the first work site (not my group's), where the home recipients and the Habitat people from this area greeted us and we had a little celebration WITH CAKE! 

We are building 2 homes which means we will split into 2 groups of 7.  This first site is basically a slightly leveled off and measured out square.  There's nothing dug.... nothing else done... no materials standing by.  So they will start with digging!

The family getting this first house is a grandpa and grandma and their 2 grandchildren (I think).  It's a pretty spot with a nice view of the hills.  The grandpa told us that his current house is on a river and the floor is so bad that he thinks some days it will cave in and he will end up in the river.  They rent it.

It was pretty impressive how many of the 14 of us tried (successfully) to introduce ourselves in Spanish.  A few speak fluently, so they helped us a bit.  4 people in our group are also recipients of Habitat homes, so this is really cool that they are now helping others get their homes!

After the greetings, we split off and drove to our site.  It's about a 30 min ride from the boat docks.  At our site, the trenches were already dug where the foundation would be poured.  But there wasn't any other materials around except for some rebar which we worked on today.  But let me explain the challenges that face us at our work site. 

Our 'house' is about 100 to 150 metres off the road and until 4 months ago, there was a bridge across the river beside the road to access these properties!  The bridge gave way one day and now they've made a makeshift bridge but it's an angle downward (basically a few planks wedged into the dirt) and then a level platform for about 10 feet and then a steep angle up.   You'll see in the pictures what I'm talking about.  This is not safe at all and you'll hear more about that in the upcoming days.  (It's Wednesday as I type this and we've had a few incidents).  We didn't really realize how this was going to affect our week until a delivery truck came about 2pm and dropped cinder blocks off.... ON THE ROAD!!! 

So we have one hour to get all these blocks nearer to the work site.  All of a sudden, numerous kids came out of nowhere (you know how it is in a small town when a delivery truck comes in... everyone wants to know what's going on!) and they started helping us... one block at a time!  It was so unbelievable.  These kids are so strong and of course, they are so eager to help!  Within an hour, we had all those blocks moved and stacked close to the work site and our van arrived to pick us us... Actually, even the driver helped carry a few loads.  We would carry by hand, 2 at a time if you could or on whatever wheelbarrows we have.  TEAMWORK is how we moved them so quickly before we had to leave to catch our boat on the docks - if we leave later, it's dangerous on the water; it's too rough, so we have to be done and leaving the work site at 3pm to catch our 3:30pm boat.  I thought my fingers would be permanently bent from carrying a block in each hand, across the river and up the path and stacked up on the other side.... but that's why we're here. 

Oh, I forgot to talk about our family.  Sandra is the mom and she has 3 beautiful kids:  Ruth and Carla are 8 years (Ruth is not her biological daughter but somewhat adopted) and then little Lester who's 6.  He is so adorable.  The girls work as hard as any of us!  Sandra is helping as well and she's very happy that we're there.  To get all the materials from the road to the site is going to require many strong hands. 

Ruth (8) said to Rosalinda today that "she is so happy that we are here to help because now they will be able to move into their home by Christmas".  That alone is why we are working this hard, taking another load across the river and up the inclines and dealing with sore muscles and blisters..... it's all worth it.   An 8 year old should not have to worry about such things....
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