Monday we finished our first house. The family were presented with the keys and the dad said a few words in Spanish. It was quite emotional and as the dad said thank-you, you could see that he was quite close to tears. This family has been waiting 5 years for a 'brick' house. The grandfather said to us that it was a gift from God and he was so grateful. This house means so much to the family and you suddenly realise that you forget the differences when you are building the house as everyone is so happy, laughing & joking, and playing games. You don't really notice that the children are wearing shoes with half the front missing, or the same clothes everyday with lots of holes.
The next day was spent painting 7 houses and Wednesday the hard work began again. We are working in the same village for two other families. The ground is much flatter so we don't have to carry cement up hill thank goodness - however the ground is REALLY hard. We had to dig 35cm trench which was the hardest thing we have done so far (the first week we just re-shaped bricks whilst the other guys dug the trenches - and the ground was much softer)! This second family is a little better off (they have a TV and proper stove/cooking area) and provide us with lunch some days so we are not so hungry any more - although the toilet is the worst yet!!
Yesterday was Shana`s last day on the house building project. She bought shoes for 5 of the boys and a massive Piñata (car filled with sweets) for the children in the village. It was so sweet because when she gave the shoes to the little boys they all ran off, had a quick wash and returned wearing their smart school trousers, brushed hair and new shoes. It was such a touching moment! I am so glad that I am working on this project because you spend 6 days with the families and really get to know them and the kids. As we are working in the same village, we also saw the families from the previous house too. The piñata went down really well and everyone was laughing and having fun.
Our journey back to Antigua each evening is always fun... There are two pick up trucks, one for the volunteers and the other for the Guatemalan builders. Their truck is normally behind us and we get pelted with orange peel, mushy fruits, small stones (quite painful when they hit you!). Everyone is half hanging out the trucks - quite dangerous but they all seem to have no fear!!
Later this afternoon we are heading out to climb Volcan Pacaya. It is an active volcano with lava flowing out at the top. Apparently it takes two hours to climb and is supposed to be worth all the hard work at the top... I am looking forward to it although think I might struggle with the long climb as I am so tired from the week. Tomorrow (providing the volcano doesn`t erupt when I am half way up) I am just going to chill out. There is Bagel Bar here which shows films in the afternoon - so that is where I am heading!!
Adios for now.