Monday, February 22, 2010
Guate Update 2
So, I am on my final week in Guatemala, and there is so much to share. Unfortunately I can't get the pictures up yet, but those are way better than any words I can say. Here are some stories worth mentioning so far. First off, I lie here just getting over a serious stomach flu/ food poisoning episode that kept me in bed for a good 48 hrs. The good news is that I am cured- for the most part. The bad news is that this was only the beginning of a rough series of ailments- next was some sort of poison ivy looking rash, then awakening to a new family of bug bites all over my back, and then being forced to recognize my lack of strength when I jumped down a hill with a huge brick onto uneven ground thinking I was sly and rolling my ankle. So some bumps and bruises and swollen parts, but this is the beauty of traveling! Despite the challenges, there have been some awesome experiences too. We have had some family lunches and dinners with the locals- like we were at home just a few different spices. We have had some great pizza from Mario- as long as we are not in a time cruch- especially on double days, 2 for the price of 1- best deal in town! We have had some nice beer drinking porch chats solving the world's problems while laying in the hammock. The Peace Corps volunteers here have been awesome showing us their projects (lots of creative engineering) and teaching us about Uspantan and Guatemala. Laura, the girl I am staying with, has been so great to me. We have watched movies in bed and done puzzles and played checkers with her little neighbors and made dinner and brownies. She really reminds me of my travel buddies, which is a nice treat so far from home! I have had fun watching the calle street ball- aka soccer, sometimes it is hard to resist just jumping in. But I think the most impressive thing I have seen here is the community involvement and the work ethic of these people. I really can't do them justice, but hopefully the pictures will help later. These guys have been working 7 days a week, 8-9 hours a day. Some of them carrying several bricks with a rope tied around their head or huge bags of sand down to the site, taking maybe 10 trips up this steep quarter-mile hiking trail. They work non-stop, and they are making amazing progress. It is starting to look like an engineering marvel- well maybe only to me. Then you have the women bringing down a morning refreshment and the lunch for the men and the cutest kids ever just wanting to be a part of it all. It has been a whole different scene going from the computer at the office to doing the surveying and the laying out foundations and the design communication working directly with the people you are affecting. I have learned lots. Probably the coolest thing about traveling is getting know different people. Larry, my barba gris (grey bearded) travel buddy has been quite a heaven sent- calomine lotion, sicky pills, cold water bottles, measuring tapes and string- he has done this before! Milosz and Ariel are the two guys on the ground for these bridges, and they have taught me a lot a lot. Like for example, how to butcher through enough spanish and hand motions to get your point across, how to pick a good bridge site, how to balance politics and engineering, how to have fun in a small little indigenous town in the middle of Guatemala, etc. Laura, RJ, Aaron, and Kelly are the Peace Corps folks around here, and they are amazing translators and Spanish teachers and Guatemala tour guides. Also, with the very broken Spanish I have retained since high school it has been quite entertaining to talk to the kids and the workers and friends. My favorite is taking their picture and then the giggles I get when they look at their picture- priceless.