Building in Trinidad: Day 3
What an adventurous weekend! We splashed around in a volcanic mud pool, watched elementary age kids bang on their steelpan drums at Queen’s Park and fought the waves along Maracas Beach. Now the work week is upon us and I have a few tips for the days ahead.
For those of you not familiar with the art of mixing concrete, please pay close attention: start with a deep bending of the knees, similar to the stance of a sumo wrestler. Keep the back straight and grip the shovel with both hands at the 5 and 7 clock positions. Scoop a mixture of sand, gravel, water and cement into the shovel and gingerly lift the ingredients into the air. Rotate the tool upside down so that the scoop’s contents returns to the center of the pile. Refrain from cussing and provide a smile for your fellow mixers. Repeat 200 to 300 times per batch.
The ditch digging process is very similar, however, you will need to summon all your strength not to cuss and the number of scoops lies somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000.
When wandering among various retail establishments or street vendors, you will come across some amazing deals. Jewelry, paintings, fabrics or that elusive key chain. If you pry, you can discover the origins of the hand crafted treasures, either from some local gallery or possibly from some far away place never seen, like China or Taiwan. Negotiating a lower price can be part of the fun. Start by cutting the price in half. Ignore the fact that the salesperson has just been insulted. Stay firm and look confident. Eventually, they will compromise. When you’ve exchanged money and you’ve pocketed that hard earned 10% discount, please know that you’ve still overpaid three times over.
Evenings on Habitat global village trips are filled with a variety of exciting activities, including sightseeing, food tasting and even dancing. One tradition that has stood the test of time is the game of euchre. Teams are formed and competition can be fierce. The first and only rule: once play has commenced, do not believe anything that Patti says.
Preparing for the dedication ceremony is one of the week’s highlights. Remember to wear the Thrivent t-shirt that day for a team photo. Be patient while you hang dozens of balloons on an active construction site and try to keep them from popping. Get in shape, or at least stretch profusely, as you’ll need your strength against scrappy kids competing in the musical chairs and limbo contests. As much as you’d like to take a swing at the pinata, this job is reserved for the children. Finally, bring sunglasses so no one sees you crying when the family shares their joy and appreciation.