Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Work Begins

Because of our late night arrival, George had said we could sleep in the next morning. Daylight arrives in El Palmar by 5am and the roosters in the backyard greet the morning even before that, so any sleeping in got lost in translation. Curiosity also called us out of bed to explore our surroundings, discovering what the darkness had kept hidden from us the night before. The buildings were close together so we only had to cross through the short breezeway between the church and dining hall to get to our meals.

Church building on left; dining area to the right

Kevin and I were looking forward to that first cup of Costa Rican coffee.
We were in love from the first sip! It was always there waiting for us in the morning, even before breakfast.

Breakfast consisted of rice, beans, scrambled eggs and fruit. This was standard fare for most mornings; sometimes fried plantinos was added and different fruits were served.

It was then time to start our work project. The third structure, just to the right of the other two, had a block wall constructed waist high. Another team from Valparaiso, IN. had been there the week before and laid the blocks.  We would build the wooden frame on top of the blocks, roof it and pack the inside floor with dirt in preparation for pouring cement.

The rocks you can see in the right front corner of the enclosure needed to be removed.  That first morning the 6 ladies in the group made an assembly line and passed the rocks to the outside yard behind the buildings.

We had many warnings about not overexerting ourselves and to take breaks often because we were not accustomed to the intense heat and humidity. A Valpo woman, over 60 years old, was still in the hospital because of heat related illness. Our fabulous cooks kept us supplied with water (purchased in 5 gallon containers since we were also warned not to drink the local water) and fresh fruit. Later that evening we learned that one of the men from Grecia, brought to help at our work site,  had gotten ill and had been taken to the hospital. We had reason to be careful.

Behind the church was a sunken area that may have been a patio at one time. The women would be digging the soil off the raised area along the one edge to even the ground out and to provide soil to pack into the ground of the new building.

Look closely at the humps in the grass in the middle of the picture. They will slowly disappear shovelful by shovelful, by the sheer grunt work of 6 ladies. Ok, so we had some assistance from the guys and Sam pickaxed the grass off the top for us, but I don't think anyone would argue that we did most of the earth moving.

And the digging continues....

Jackie and Melissa preferred to carry the dirt by buckets over to the construction site.  They put in many miles and many  loads.  Look, Melissa's even smiling.

Yours truly...and no I wasn't posing.  Probably feeling like I needed to work while the others were breaking because I had spent some time talking to one of the Grecia women when the others had been laboring earlier.

We took plenty of breaks and work stopped between 10:30am and 2pm. Siesta time really does make sense in that climate.

Break time = rest, water, fruit and visiting.
The variety of fruit was refreshing--watermelon, mango, papaya, pineapple and one day apple.

After the first day of work, we all had to shower in the one facility. It was a quick in, quick out operation, not too hard to do under cold water. Several of us then walked about a half mile down the road to a small store in the front of one of the houses along the road. They sold pop, snacks and staples such as rice, canned food and bread. After our devotional most of us were ready for bed by 8:30 that evening. The next day we would wake up and do it again, or so we thought. It was probably good we didn't know what the next day had in store.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoying your story, Ruth! The shoveling dirt part sounds like our work, too. However, since I'm 67 and had taken a fall at the Borbons', I got to work in the kitchen, garden, and flower bed mostly.


Thanks for sharing your response!