Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10: Week One Complete

Week one completed of our work here in San Miguel Duenas. We have learned many interesting things while working with our assistants (the guys who know what they are doing and actually we assist them…) Nariz and Eddie. They teach us and put up with our learning, and definitely let us know if we are doing something wrong! The family is also getting used to having us around. The two grandchildren are finally warming up to all of the strangers in their home and are loving having us around to play with (during short work breaks of course). It’s so nice to actually get to know the people whose lives you are touching and having this hands on experience with them is great.

In Guatemala May 10th is Mothers Day - Dia de las madres. It is taken very seriously and we saw many flowers everywhere we went as well as a few cars that had been covered with an entire pad of sticky notes each one with a message of love! It is also an important day to remember any mothers who have passed away. Not too far from our work site is the mausoleum of San Miguel . We walked through it with Teresa and saw everyone paying tribute to their loved ones. Definitely can’t forget to call home for Canadian mothers day in two days!

Friday afternoon we decided on having a bike tour around smaller places outside of Antigua including a macadamia nut farm and a famous textile and weaving village. Riding through the streets of Antigua was very interesting… and very bumpy! The cobblestone roads made for a lot more work and the many speed bumps kept us alert. We rode out almost as far as our 20 minute drive to Duenas and stopped in at the macadamia nut farm… but not before we had already had one broken chain, one gear malfunction and one very impressive and painful looking flip over the handlebars. Everyone was alright though so after our new knowledge of macadamias (and a few macadamia oil facials!) we continued our bike ride to the village of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. (But not before a run in with poison ivy and an arm…also turned out alright after the initial painful reaction, luckily we're all taking turns with our mishaps so not one person is having all the bad luck.)This city is known for its weavers, local Mayan women weave traditional patterns using a backstrap loom. Essentially it was a two story market with demonstrations of weaving. It was filled with amazing crafts though. These women spend so much time on each item they make and they are truly beautiful – the women and their creations!

Our bike ride had a few ups and downs and we ended up being out in San Antonio Aguas Calientes at a later hour than planned. That combined with the fact that there was a large uphill portion of the bike ride back to Antigua had us questioning our guide for alternatives. So we decided on adding another typical Guatemalan event to our day and we got on the Chicken Bus! These are school buses here used as public transportation between towns but they are more than just school buses… they are each individually named and with extra chrome and paint and anything you can imagine they are each pieces of art in their own rite. We had the driver add our bikes to the load onto of the bus and all climbed aboard to end our bike ride… with a bus ride uphill!

Next to see what adventures await us on our trip to Lago Atitlan this weekend!

Danielle Anderson
Student Team Leader
Guatemala, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 7: Learning Through Open Windows

We arrived in Guatemala Saturday night and found our ride waiting at the airport for us. It was a pretty exciting sight to see the DWC sign our driver held up and realize that our adventure was finally about to begin ! We checked into our hotel and managed to get a few hours of sleep before our early morning departure to climb Volcano Acetenango. It was a bit more of an undertaking than we had anticipated… in total we spent 11 hours on the volcano and definitely had a very good team building experience.

Monday morning we put on our new DWC shirts and headed out to San Miguel Dueñas to meet Teresa and see her amazing work with Open Windows. We toured Open Windows and had a chance to walk around the town with Teresa and see where we would be working for the next two weeks. In the afternoon we returned to Open Windows and went to the library where the children read to us. It was a really great way to interact with them although we didn’t necessarily understand everything –many hand gestures were used!

Tuesday morning the shuttle picked us up right on time after another incredible breakfast (complete with yummy Guatemalan coffee of course!) at Fernando’s Café. We arrived at Open Windows and got ready for our 10 minute walk to the work site. Our job is to build a room in a family’s home out of cinder blocks. None of the eight of us have any sort of experience with building but we all learned everything from our Guatemalan locals to get the project underway.

Cutting wire, putting holes in the cinder blocks, mixing cement, and twisting metal and creating re bar supports were some of the many new things we are learning. Each of us has our own expertise after day one and actually had a lot of fun!

Danielle Anderson
DWC Student Team Leader
May 2013, Guatemala