Digging Deep in El Salvador
The first two days working at the site have been exhausting yet completely rewarding. Since we are teaching entrepreneurship as well as building, we split into two groups of 5 people – one group teaches in the morning while the other builds and vice versa after lunch. Luckily I’m with the group that works in the morning so the heat is actually somewhat bearable. The view from the top of the hill we must climb is absolutely breathtaking so it’s all worth the climb. Since there are maybe 3 of us in the group who know any sort of Spanish, we have two Habitat workers stick around all day to help us translate and communicate with the masons and the owners of the house. Oswaldo and Douglas have been EXTREMELY helpful in letting us know what to do as well as teaching us some useful Spanish phrases. I know my Spanish vocabulary has easily doubled from 4 words to 8!
Having been on two domestic Habitat trips previously was of absolutely no help to me in El Salvador. The type of work these houses require are much different as we use stones, mortar, and Chispas as opposed to wood, hammers, and nails. Also, I find this work here to be much more labor intensive and I have definitely acquired some new muscles I never knew existed even after only two days on the job. So far the work we have done is mainly hacking away the dirt to level the ground, moving the dirt to the roadway, and building up the walls of the house. I have really enjoyed the work we’ve done so far since we can see the progress and the hard work pay off right before our eyes. Another difference I have noticed about building homes in El Salvador is the tools the masons use. Of course they would be different since we are working with other materials, but these tools are all so simple yet extremely effective for their purposes. The masons are also so incredibly hard-working and work so efficiently – I don’t think I’ve seen any of them take any breaks. Their dedication is truly inspiring.
Coming into this alternative spring break trip, I did not know anyone else who was going or what to possibly expect. But after only spending 3 days with this group of people I can honestly say we have gotten to know each other so well and all get along so great. There’s no better way to bond than to put in some hard labor and sweat together! I cannot wait to return to the site tomorrow to continue working and learn mas espanol!
Michelle M. Chin