Feb 16

Walls coming up

by in Guatemala, North America

Yesterday, I took the morning launch from Livingston to Rio Dulce, passing through the beautiful Rio Dulce canyon. From Rio Dulce, I took a bus to Santa Elena where someone from Volunteer Peten was able to pick me and bring me to the family in San Andres I am staying with. After meeting them and dropping my backpack in my room, I headed to the library that Volunteer Peten finished in October 2007. It seemed to be getting plenty of traffic from mostly 7-15 year old kids and I tried to help them out with locating material and answers to questions for one and a half hours in the library.

The Family is headed by Oscar (who I still haven’t met) and Carmelina. Their children are Kendall, Iraisa, Ingrid, Oscar and Isaura and they have a dog whose name I don’t recall although I expect he likes me by now given how much food I passed down to him during lunch. Not that the food is bad. The food at the house of the Mayan family I’m staying with is quite good. Actually, I was surprised when they served chicken at lunch. This along with a few other indicators has led me to believe they are not that poor nor is San Andres that poor a town, although not affluent by any means either. For one, almost everyone has electricity and my family even has a TV and VCR. Water does go out from time to time and the dining room is outside under a tin roof but living area and kitchen are in a one level concrete structure. There is one bathroom attached to the structure but it’s also on the outside. My room is very basic but I’m happy with it. The roads around here are pretty decent even though one doesn’t run up to this family’s house or any of their neighbors. This is mainly because they live right above Lake Peten Itza and the slope going down to the lake is extrmely steep. The views to the lake from their house are superb. Most people and many kids have cell phones, again not selling me on the being very poor thing.

This morning, I got a hands on education in construction, mixing concrete, mixing cement, carrying and laying bricks, filling the spaces with cement and filling in concrete around the rebar. The school we are constructing has 8 classrooms and a bathroom in an L shape. The foundation was done when I arrived this morning and I worked 4-5 hours alongside 40 9-12th grade volunteers from Conneticut before lunch. Working alongside kids and listening to their humor and teasing of one another got me feeling pretty young myself and I started acting the same and that didn’t wierd them out so I was happy. When I was diving in Utila, I had some 4 18 year olds in my Open Water diving class and for whatever reason, they were wierd about hanging out with us older folks who were 27-32. Anyway, it felt like we got a decent amount of building done and learned a ton so tomorrow I expect we will be far more efficient and accomplish much more.

After grabbing lunch with Carmelina’s family who live a 30 minutes walk away from the site, I started my Spanish lessons with Rember who is a surprisingly good Spanish teacher given how little English he knows. I took 3 hours of lessons which I hope to continue everyday over the time I’m here and feel very optimistic I will learn a lot.

I will try to borrow a camera so I can take some pictures. I’m still pretty bummed about my camera getting stolen in Puerto Barrios but I’m getting over it. Still sucks given how many great pictures I had taken and the effort that went into some of them. Will update again soon! Bye!

Leave a Reply