just wanted to share with you my daily adventures in El Progreso, Guatemala after going on a Humanitarion trip earlier this year. Hope you enjoy. Should you want to see any photos or video’s, please go to my personal wall on Facebook.
Just about done. Finished 2 hours of soccer. It’s been awhile. Canada verses Guatemala! Haha! The ride from the airport to where I’m staying in El Progreso was a 2 hour treat. Traffic was stopped and we saw a guy who was laying on the road, he just got hit. So 4 guys just picked him up and threw him in the back of a pick up truck. I’m not kidding! Had the local beer (known as chicken beer) called Gallo. Nite – it’s been a long day.
Woke up to fireworks at 5am, roosters at 6. Then no water at Club Doppenberg and only 12 people in the house, nice start to the day. Haha! Went to the Jalapa dump today where locals actually work. Mostly kids and moms. We heard some people actually live here. One lady has worked there for 30 years!! Words are very hard to describe but pictures when I get home tell a better story. Visited many villages today, team handed out candy, water and played with the kids. Overall a great day. Another soccer match tonight, CND’s kick ass! Day 2 just about over.
PS: Miss you bed.
PSS: actually have to work tomorrow, bummer.
Woke up to water – a very good start to the day! We worked today. Was throwing a pick axe around for better part of the afternoon up in the mountains in oh, I don’t know, 100 degree heat!! No complaints though, all for a good cause. Million dollar views from the mountain top, so beautiful. Needed every bit of the 4-wheel drive to get up the very steep gravel stone road, Pretty scary. Actually, scary enough the first time that I walked up in the heat just to avoid the truck experience the second time. Haha! Hospital work tomorrow, then a town tour. Nite all.
Another day with the pick axe. Damm! The team dug 2 gardens at the hospital today, not as hot but we worked pretty much all morning. Lite lunch and then a walk through the town to grab supplies, etc. Went to visit a local Guatemala family after dinner tonight. Up and out of the house again by tomorrow at 8am. Looking at other sites to see where the next 2 houses can be built. I miss realtor hours. Haha!! Until tomorrow…
So by 8 am this morning I’m in a van with 6 nuns!! Not much to talk about or things in common. Haha!! Today we had to visit local families and their houses to see if they needed any help or if we needed to build them another home. The third house we visited I could have kicked it over with my foot, 12 people in a house no bigger than 400 sq ft. with 10 kids! I’ve never seen a house like this – ever. I came on this trip not as a Canadian but as a human and simply to help other human beings and when leaving this house today I felt I didn’t accomplish this. I believe we will be building a home for this family before the end of the year. A busy Day 6 – Jalapa dump again and a Guatemala birthday party!!
Back to Jalapa dump today. Needed to find out if the locals actually lived there or just worked the dump. We found out that most just work there. We visited about 3-4 homes of the locals working the dump. Do you know that from their homes, it’s about a 2 hour walk just to get to the dump, downhill. Imagine the walk home. Crazy! Well Day 5 it was 6 nuns in the morning and last night the number was up to 18 at a birthday party. Anybody else been with 18 nuns in one night? Haha! We celebrated a Doppenberg birthday last night. The night was filled with gifts, family, pizza, cake and (well for Rita and I) beer. The nuns were awesome, they toasted the birthday boy with all of them doing a shot. They sang, danced, laughed and we were out of dodge by 8pm. Truly a unique experience for me. To truly experience what it’s like to be with a Guatemalan family for a night, I will be doing this at some point next week. Sunday is a day of rest and well deserved by all. We lost 3 today as they headed home. Bye to JD, Jessy and Rachel. Make it a great day everyone 🙂
Day of Rest – That’s it LOL!
On a scale of 1-10 on the fun metre, it wasn’t a 10 today but sometimes you just have to work, or in my case the grunt boy!! At the hospital we built a closet this morning for the nuns. After a short break and lunch, off to a local’s house to build more closets, 2 in fact and this will be a 2 day job. Highlight today was hanging out with super carpenter JL or “AKA” Big Country (basketball fans will know this name). Really just got to know him today, well actually he just bossed me around for most of it. Haha! From talking and signing documents in real estate everyday to drills, hammers, nails, screws, grinders, dust, drywall, handsaws etc. It is great to do something other than real estate. I guess it wasn’t a bad day after all 🙂
So, I pre-tan before my trip and haven’t got a sun burn in like 8 days. Can you guess what happens? LOL! Left the house around 8am this morning. had 15 sun block on but not that much. Back up the mountain (check Day 3 post) to see about building our 1st house. Walked it again, man it’s steep! Good walk though and what a view. We have decided to start Thursday morning. It will take all day just to get the 600 plus concrete blocks up the mountain, can’t wait 🙂 Came home for a quick lunch and construction Tim and Big Country hit the closet again from yesterday for a 4 hour stint. 95% done now. Back to my neck, sun burn city!! Bed early, day off tomorrow and off to Antigua, can’t wait.
Day off – ya right! Left at 8am and got back just before 10pm. Haha! Geoff, Rita, Matt and I visited a small town called Antigua which is about 45 minutes outside Guatemala City. Charming little place, if you have been to Europe you can get a sense of how it is, small gift shops, hotels, cafe shops, churches,of course and a really nice city centre. Had a fabulous lunch, started with tortilla soup – it was so good! Assortment of meats that we all shared, it was heaven!
The day made me miss PV, Mexico though. Usually at this time of year I would be walking beaches, reading on the balcony, taking in amazing sunsets, having drinks and dinner with great mexican friends I have met over the years. Walking through this village just has me thinking…just saying…
I made my Doppenberg video debut this week! It’s posted on Facebook.
I’m heading back up the mountain. Walking, last time though 🙂 Refer to Day 3 and 9 for mountain stories. The house we’re building is going to be larger so more trenches needed to be dug. I really thought it was the last of that dam pick axe. Also 600 concrete blocks had to be brought up the mountain and unloaded close to the building site. Geoff made this trip 26 times in the truck today. a very long day and I think I worked harder today than I did in Day 3, didn’t think it was possible.
The night was dinner at a local family’s house. A traditional meal consists of soup to start with, tortillas, then chicken and meat that was cooked on an open fire, awesome and you could taste it in the meat. Red wine that was opened with a hammer and a screwdriver (much longer story but a great visual! Haha!) We ate the meal with our hands, I luved that!! P.S. Not the soup for any of the smart asses out there.
Went for a walk with Fernando to an area where it was so dark we needed a flashlight to see our way. Living on the water is amazing but it’s been a very long time since I have seen the stars like this, breath taking actually. When we came back to the house, we just laid on the ground and stared at the sky. I didn’t want to leave since it will probably be awhile until I see them like that again. Sad but true.
Woke up at 7am to dogs barking and an angry rooster. Well, it sounded like he was angry. Haha! I slept over at the family’s house where I had dinner. I found out the Senior Chico (Fernando’s father) left for work at a neighbouring farm just shy of 5 am. Unlike the city it was SO quiet and peaceful, until the morning anyway.
I am having a Guatemalan coffee when I noticed Chico walking toward the house quickly, whispered something to his wife and son, then left for the farm again. I asked Fernando if everything was alright? He told me that his father just came over to say good morning… really? 34 years of marriage and 6 kids and he simply wanted to wish his family a good morning. As Rita would say “WOW” and that’s a good definition of beautiful in my books.
In summary this really describes what I feel towards the people of this country. Humble, poor people that value family and religion so high on the list of priorities even though living conditions would be below poverty back home.
Back home and to the hospital I went with Big Country, had to mix and pour concrete, Guatemalan style that is. Mixed it by hand and in a wheel barrow that was older than me carried the concrete in buckets without handles, etc. Anybody want to guess how heavy a Guatemalan concrete bag is? Answer – HEAVY! 110lbs!! I found out that my left shoulder is much stronger than my right. Haha! Big Country did most of the work again so props to him and his overkill way of working. David came over to shoot some video as well but after 5 hours plus, I was exhausted. 3 beers and a great dinner later, I was asleep before 7 pm. Yep, I’m a _ _ _ _ _ _ !
I so appreciate all of you out there who actually physically work for a living. Pro and con’s I guess for being either a blue or white collar worker, but after the last 2 days especially, I have regained my respect for what you do.
Not a very hard work day for my last day. Big Country and I got to Fernando’s to finish the closets and to say a final good bye for me. Was there about 4-5 hours, we had many Guatemalan breaks filled with coffee and at the end, a few beers, they were so cold!
Said my final goodbye to a family that will stay with me for quite awhile, from conversations, laughter, staying in their home for a nite, (which they say is ‘always my home’), dinner and watching those beautiful stars. Next to Doppenberg family, it has been for sure one of the highlights of the trip meeting senior Chico, Wilma and Fernando. I’m putting this in writing to hold my team mate and new bro accountable. Next week, Big Country, the knife is yours, do me proud!
The day that always comes…the day that you have to leave and say good-bye. The last 5 months or so have been the most challenging for me. Without some of the changes in my life, I would probably have missed out on this incredible adventure.
Club Doppenberg – I will miss you. How can I not miss a house filled with vision, luv, purpose and friendship? To all of you, not much is needed to be said, you know how I feel, so simply thank you ”-) !
Geoff and I leave for Guatemala this morning with the boys. Both of them bought wrist bands which will stay on my wrists until they fall off or start to smell. Very thoughtful, thank you boys.
I’m going in a day early to ‘recover’ and Geoff is picking up his parents who will be staying for 2 weeks. It will be a nice break for me before I fly out Monday just after lunch.
Well, the hotel is very nice, don’t want to go into great detail because my family back at Club Doppenberg will get jealous, so let’s just say I’m enjoying my stay here!
Slept on a real bed but my back was still sore when I woke up. Stupid clock in the room is screwed up, said 9 am when it was just past 6:30. Had a very long hot shower! Drain still reminds me of Club Doppenberg though, took forever. At the buffet place writing this before I head off to the airport in a few hours.
In summary like I said on my most recent post, how we can get so close to people so fast is incredible. As humans, it’s so amazing how quickly we can adapt as well. I could never have seen myself, prior to this trip, staying in a house with no hot water, a twin mattress on the floor as my bed, no closets for my clothes, just a hand rail and living out of my suitcase for 2 weeks. No central air, sharing a house with 12 people with 5 under the age of 20, 2 dogs, 4 smokers, food was okay but cereal (aka -sugar) every morning and tons of white bread!!
But at the end of the day… I’m proud of myself. I made it the whole 2 weeks when many didn’t think I could. I endured conditions that were very foreign to me. I worked very hard and tried not to complain, which I thought went unnoticed, but both Geoff and Rita commented on my work ethic. This trip also confirms my leadership qualities as I have impacted people’s lives in the last 2 weeks, not just the Mayans, but the people at Club Doppenberg as well.
Were my expectations met? Of course, in many ways they were but I don’t know really. So many great things happened, but I thought emotionally I would have connected better, either with myself or the Guatemalans. Feel this part wasn’t met. I was pretty emotional before I left, and I guess if I’m not feeling that way now, then in some way this trip has healed me. Or maybe I was too busy to think about my situation back home?
I come back to this…the faith and commitment to family is so obvious here in Guatemala. Time and time again you would see it. The conditions that these people live in, yet they still smile and are happy for the most part. It is truly amazing and inspiring. Fernando said it best, we have a choice to make it a great day or a lousy one. You’ll never get it back so LIVE it!
Rita has said many times, what happened here won’t impact me until sometime later, maybe even months after this trip. Interesting to think that may actually happen.
Thanks for reading