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HfH Guatemala: Day Three

April 19, 2010

Opened early with a 6:55 meeting for breakfast. Still sick, but better than last evening – seems I start out marginal and decline as the day progresses <sigh>. Short walk through Antigua to a delicious egg & bread breakfast. During breakfast, several of us felt a rhythmic bouncing in the floor, as if someone large were jumping up and down nearby and we wondered (jokingly) if it was an earthquake. Turns out that there actually was an earthquake in the a.m., so we could very well have felt it or aftershocks following. Breakfast complete, we head back to the hotel to gather luggage and hit the road.

Lots of sarcastic banter and photos taken out of windows while we journey from Antigua to Panajachel. Lunch in Panajachel consists of a chili with three types of beans (“chili con tres frijoles”) and a “Jugo Imunobouster” smoothie (immuno-booster juice) consisting of pineapple, ginger, and garlic. Sounded a bit weird but as I like all three ingredients I gave it a shot – turned out to actually be quite good, save for the fact that the garlic got quite strong at the end. I have yet to determine if if helped the immune system at all, but it must have kept the vampires away as I didn’t see any…

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Following lunch, we walk down to the docks and take a boat from Pana to two towns along the lakeside of Atitlan including San Antonio Palopo, and then on to our ultimate destination San Lucas Tolimon. The skies open and we have some light rain as we walk from the shore up to our hotel a few hundred meters away. We stop just long enough for a potty break and to drop bags in rooms, and then it’s off to the welcome ceremony with our Habitat for Humanity recipient families.

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I is married to Fernando and has a beautiful 4 month old baby, Sophia. Fernando couldn’t make the ceremony because he recently fell and hurt his leg at work. Mother I and father Miguel are also present. They have a house being built about 30 minutes drive away.

Mother Magdalena and father Ricardo are present with their children, Wendy, Ricardo, Christian, and Jaime. Their house is being constructed a few minutes walk away in San Lucas.

Everyone introduces themselves and Rocio translates where necessary. There’s lots of thanks and applause as we get to know each other and a little more about HfH and the specific builds we’ll be working on. Following the formalities, there is small snack of a chicken tostada and some white cake with candied fruits and frosting. Next, we spend some time talking more one-on-one, taking pictures of the group and introducing which folks will be working on each project, and then some play time with the kids, running the young boys around popping balloons and general horseplay, and everyone fawning over tiny Sophia. Finally, we say our “hasta mananas” and walk back to the hotel for a brief rest.

After a few minutes of relaxation, we head out for dinner of roasted chicken, vegetables and mashed potatoes, finished with a fried pastry consisting of a vanilla creme surrounded by a fried cake soaked in a fruit juice.

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Sated, we wander back to the hotel to share a few beers and then hit the hay – to be up again at 6:00 for our first full work day. We haven’t even done any real labor yet, and I’m already tired! Anyway, to bed and dreams, and then back to the cause. Night!

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