Friday, February 22, 2019

Guatemala 2019: Monday and Tuesday

Apologies for the delay, the internet was not consistent enough to blog and the location was too beautiful to be bothered to stay in the room :)

On Monday and Tuesday I was on the team building stoves. We built 4 of the 6 stoves for the week in a community called Esperanza, which means hope.

Monday our stove teams were divided by a good walking distance and were only together for lunch and the beginning and end of the day. This meant that our translator had to go between sites leaving us to figure out our communication with pointing, gesturing, laughing, and "poquito espanol" for good chunks of the day.

Felipa and Luis
The family I worked with is a single mother, Felipa, with one son, Luis, who is in school. We worked alongside her and members of the community. She was even kind enough to sew up a bag of a team member while we worked.

The stoves this year were a little different than my first. The blocks were smaller (and lighter) but more difficult to cut with a machete. I was so bad at it that our very funny and smiley helper, Clemente, took away my machete and sent me inside to do the mortar. Another change to the stoves was an extension for wood storage right in front as well as a ramp that is built of cement that is right under the plancha/stovetop and allows for better usage of wood. These changes are a great help and cost savings to the families.

At the end of the day we gathered with our families and they cried tears of joy for the gift their family received that day. It may seem a small thing, but to them it is life changing! 

Felipa's home, a Habitat Guatemala home
That evening we soaked in the beauty of the lake when we returned to the hotel and ate dinner at Circus, a pizza place in town.

Tuesday we headed to another site to build stoves while the other half of the team continued work at the house site. This stove site was a shared lot. We built one stove for Florencia, Enma, and their son Gamamiel and another for their older son who would soon be married, Jose. This was a fun experience because both stove teams worked as one to complete the two stoves that were separated by a wall.

Florencia, Enma, and Gamamiel
Heather and I were able to trick Domingo, Habitat Guate staff, into telling us we were beautiful just in time for Valentine's day by teaching him English phrases and we had a great time speeding through the build with Gabriel, another Habitat Guate staff member.

For lunch that day we had pepian, a traditional Guatemalan food, and it was just as delicious as I remember!

Though we were distracted by the adorable puppy on this site, we finished our stoves in record time and had time to explore a little in Pana that afternoon. This meant paying an ice cream debt I had incurred months before at my favorite Guatemalan ice cream stop, Saritas. (If you are ever there I recommend the waffle galleta capuchino.)

That evening we had dinner at the hotel and prepared for our next day of learning about the culture of the lake region.

I love building the stoves, maybe more than the work we do on the houses. The stoves welcome us into the homes of hardworking families trying to make a better life. The joy on their faces and which they express makes a short day of work worth more than words can say. I am always amazed at how much can be done and communicated even with a communication barrier of language. Through smiles, laughter, broken English and Spanish, and a lot of pointing and gesturing we are able to accomplish life change. 

before and after

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