Tuesday, October 21, 2008

First Work Day in El Salvador

Hola amigos! On Monday, we had our first day on the build site. We first met with the families that will be working with us on their future homes. They were such sweet people. It was interesting because throughout the day, we met more people in the neighborhood and most were related in some way to the home owner families. I guess this isn't unusal for extended families to stay together in the same neighborhood. The children were delightful, they were shy and curious at first, but later couldn't get enough of us. Even though we couldn't speak the language as well as the locals, the universal language of gestures and facial expressions went a long way.
This is what the work looked like on our home site. The part of the group I was in started the morning by digging the exterior trenches that will serve as the foundation of the house. This was no easy work. The first foot of the soil was heavy and wet from all the rains recently. After the first foot we hit rock- a composite that looked a lot like a limestone/sandstone mix. We had to pick-axe our way through another foot of that to reach a depth of just over two feet. It was slow, really hard work. We had to learn to pace ourselves, but compared to the two local workers we looked like slugs. These two guys were in their 50's and stopped only twice that we saw to take about a 3 minute beverage break and that was it. Very impressive.
Another part of our group, cut, bent and tied rebar into the framework that will go into the trenches. We rotated duties in the afternoon so I got to try this for a couple of hours. Again, not easy, but satisfying to see the rebar go from long lengths to 1 foot sections to bent usable pieces that were wired together to create a form.
This was how far we got by the end of the day. All four exterior trenches were pretty much finished. The two local helpers at the site were there before we arrived and stayed after we left. It would surprise me if they finished the interior trenches while we were gone. They rock! Oh, I forgot to tell you about the house itself. The houses are 450 square feet with two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living/dining room and depending on the terrain, may or may not have a bathroom. So, yes, these trenches mark the entire foundation of the home.
When we got back to the hotel at 4:45 we set off on a quick walking tour of Santa Ana. This is the cathedral of Santa Ana. Very lovely. We also saw the opera house, then went for gelato at Helados Sin Rival. Tres Leches gelato. Yummy.

My favorite street sign in Santa Ana. I'm guessing it means Mujeres X-ing. Women, it appears that drivers are to pay attention for you crossing the street. Men, all bets are off. You're on your own.

1 comment:

Mnmom said...

Who is that tall handsome dude in the back row?
The foundation outline reminds me of how very spoiled we Americans are. With or without a bathroom? We'd scream bloody murder.
Did they realize they were getting a professional yard hacker-upper named MG?
That sign warns "Careful - well dressed lesbians on holiday crossing!"