Building in Guatemala: Day 4

 In Global Impact

Hola, mi nombre es Tony. It’s my first time here in Guatemala and I couldn’t be more excited. This morning the group was moving a little slower than day 1 of building. After a full days’ work and lots of sun yesterday, our bodies were feeling the side affects of getting things done American style. But no fear, these Midwesterners have a reputation to uphold and were at the breakfast table by 7:00 sharp. Carlos pulled some strings with the waiters at breakfast and was able to get them to serve us some gallopinto just like they do in Nicaragua. With a little, ok a lot, of coaching, we enjoyed the meal that many in the group have grown to love going to Nicaragua so many times.

Unfortunately, we were one man down today, well woman actually. Our friend Shea was feeling a little under the weather so she couldn’t join us. We all know she just didn’t want to bend another dang rebar today. Once we got to the project site, we all knew what our first task was. APPLY SUNSCREEN! Then we got right to work. Our goal was to get 11 more rebar columns built, and since we were done digging trenches, we thought this was obtainable goal. Randy, Sami, and Taylor cut all the wires we needed to tie everything together. Deb, Beatriz, and Patti continued to bend the bar ties, Cathy, Nate, and Josie and myself worked on putting everything together, while Carlos played the music and went on a coffee run. Just when we got things going, me and Nate were pulled to a different job, a man’s job. We were instructed to start mixing mortar, not really know what we were going to do with it. Once we finally got a mix ready, which involved sand, concrete mix, water, and a lot of back breaking mixing with a shovel, one of the masons gave us a little section from some PVC pipe to start forming small blocks, in masonry terms, a taco. The easiest way to describe what we were doing is…we made sand castles. 203 and a half to be exact. The rest of the crew worked diligently to meet our 11-rebar column goal. They almost had a fatality, Sami slipped into a little cement trench that caught everybody’s attention, well with the help of Cathy’s loud concerned voice, yes Cathy can be loud at times. Luckily, she escaped with no injuries, and later we found that she wasn’t even working. Her and Carlos were goofing around boxing. Carlos. Not working. Can you believe that?? On a serious note, Carlos is the really the Jack of all trades and we would be lost without him, we just can’t let him know that.

Later Nate and I were pulled to an even manlier man’s job…tamping the trenches. But no worries, we had a state-of-the-art handmade tamper carved to perfection. AKA, a stump with two boards nailed to it. While Nate and I were tamping away, we heard the encouraging words of the masons “mas fuerte” which means “stronger”. Apparently, our efforts did not meet the expectations of the masons as they drank their Pepsi and stared into their phones.

We left our site a little early today because Carlos had a treat for us. He took us to a park way up in the mountain that had a great view. But the view wasn’t the highlight, it was slide races! We came across this giant 4-laned metal slide that Nate and Cathy were brave enough to try first. Nate zoomed down with no problem, Cathy on the other hand, could have given a turtle a run for its money. Even Patti and Beatriz worked up enough courage to try this vicious slide and did quite well actually, Patti of course won but we were just happy Beatriz didn’t break a fake nail. Carlos and myself raced and despite his home field advantage, I was able to beat him by a split second. We finished the night with dinner at Tacorazon, which was owned by an American who chose to make a life there in Guatemala to work with their education system. They had a challenge where if you finish a 3.5-pound burrito in 30 minutes you get the meal half price. So, with some encouraging cheers from the rest of the team, I was stupid enough to try this challenge. After 25 minutes of cheers from team and putting more food in my mouth than I ever have, I could not finish the remaining 9 ounces of that burrito. So, just like in euchre, I had to face defeat. The team insisted that I was still a winner in their hearts for finishing 3 pounds of burrito, but I was raised knowing the difference between a winner and a loser. I was a loser. On the bright side, we gave this restaurant business which helps local farmers and staff.

As we finish the night up more games of euchre, we anxiously await another hard day’s work ahead. Our hope is start pouring the footings, and the way this group works, I am confident we can reach our goal!