Well, I have just finished my first week of house building in Antigua and can honestly say that I have never worked so hard in my life but am really loving it! I arrived late on Sunday evening and moved into a local Guatemalan family home. The accommodation is very basic and the host family place strict rations on light, water and food. I am just pleased that I have finally figured out how to get hot water from the shower at last!! It's quite cold in the evenings and the first couple of days showering in freezing cold water were a nightmare... The meals are interesting; the first evening we had one egg, grated carrots and a slice of cucumber. I did wonder at first if perhaps it was a starter but no it was our meal after a hard days labour...could be worse I as I found out the next night was potato, broccoli and green beans - oh joy!! Good news is that tonight to celebrate the end of our first week we have decided to head out for dinner so am really looking forward to feeling full again and not waking up at 5am starving hungry (which seems to be a common theme amongst most of the volunteers!!)
I am living with two other volunteers Suzy and Ian who both speak much better Spanish than me (not hard to do!) so its helps with the communication. However I have now signed up for Spanish lessons in the evening (only $5) straight after house building so am hoping to improve quickly! There are 6 housebuilding volunteers in total and we have been split into two groups with two Guatemalan house builders each. We meet all meet up at lunch and luckily the families we are building homes for provide us with warm tortillas and one day lovely rice soup which helps (lunch is provided by the host families and you can imagine what it is like!)
House building is really good fun although so difficult too. Most days involve carrying at least a couple of bags of cement 20 yards or so UPHILL. The bags are so heavy I can hardly lift them but because the groups are so small you have no choice. There is no such thing as health and safety either. All the kids are running around playing with machetes, fire and yesterday started a great game throwing stones at each other. Just what I need to add the bruises I already have from falling in the trench TWICE on the first day (luckily before the cement was added!). My back is aching and my fingers are very sore from all the cementing of bricks, however I am absolutely LOVING it and it is amazing seeing the house taking shape so quickly! The children on site are so adorable (when they are not throwing stones at each other) and try so hard to help during the day. One little girl was even carrying pots of cement up the hill in a bowl on her head - only it was a sieve and so she ended up with most of it sprinkled through her hair! Have taken some great photos so we are hoping to be able to print some out to give to the family on Monday when the house will be finished and painted!
This weekend am heading off to Lake Atitlan at 5am - no lie in for me, but it sounds amazing so will be worth the early start!
Hope all is well with everyone and that I haven't bored you! Off for a scrumptious meal now and some WINE - cannot wait!