Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Guatemala Update 3

The Sites: Though my favorite part of the trip was working with the locals in the rural villages, I also got to experience Guatemala as a tourist. I spent the last few days visiting Lake Atitlan and Antigua and Volcan Pacaya. There is some beautiful countryside, festive religious processions (the sawdust carpet was laid out for them to walk over), action packed road trips in chicken buses, cool people traveling from all over, and scary active volcanoes!
This is at the ruins in the historical town of Antigua. It used to be the capital of Central America, but they got sick of rebuilding everything after all the earthquakes.
This lava was HOT!!! It was practically burning the rubber off of my shoes.
Lake Atitlan was very beautiful, and I didn't even notice the algae that came from a bubble that just burst in the middle of the lake.
The Need: We definitely saw plenty of people crossing carefully through the rivers with no infrastructure in place; we saw people crossing some creatively engineered bridges (such as the picture below); we saw some creative solutions to help cross where there was nothing such as rocks or planks. And note that this is the dry season.
While looking for a site in Honduras we came across a few shady bridges, such as the one Ariel is crossing here, built with barbed wire wrapped around a tree and some rotten wooden planks.
This is the current crossing at the Palqui bridge site- it worked for us to cross- but I can't imagine what it is like during the rainy season.
This is the site at La Tana, where a father is helping his son get home from school. They pretty much all took off their pants to cross while we were there. Again, this is dry season.
The Progress: When I arrived, these bridges were in the beginning stages, meaning they had just started some of the excavation for the towers on each end. The Palqui bridge site (first two pictures) made a lot of progress in excavating some tough rocks and building the foundation and tiers on one side. The San Lucas bridge site (pictures 3-7) worked hard and fast, and by the time I left my trip they had both sides towers built- a great indication to the community that a bridge is coming soon.
Laura and Santiago starting the rock wall for the foundation in Palqui. They carried these rocks down from the hill or up from the river, then had to fill in the walls with more rocks.
When I left, they were almost done with filling in the first tier.
The San Lucas site went up fast, here is the foundation with the rocks all filled in. You can see the current plank used to cross the river in the background.
Don Cristobal and I working hard on the towers here. Thanks Milosz for the photo.
The dudes on the left here just got done carrying down 3 bricks each from the top of the hill while Don Cristobal is doing the masonry work and his son, Jose, is mixing the concrete.
They make this look easy. Apparently the neck is a very strong muscle. I carried one down with my arms, and I was pretty beat.
This was close to the end at San Lucas. The towers were up and it was starting to look like a bridge. It isn't done, but I felt accomplished.
The People: There are many ways to describe the people of Guatemala including hard working, thankful, cultured, and colorful. Here are a few pictures to show the beauty of the people I met along the way- young and old alike.

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