Nov 6, 2009

Connecting With the Community

The locals chip in on the sandbox while Rome explains her theories on clean worksites.
Category:Peru 2009/10 
Posted by: Rome

You're gonna love working with this group of people! Until December 15th, all the kids are in school, so currently there are about 12 - 15 adults that show up every day to work. Some are moms who bring their pre-school kids along and we have a blast. They are big grinners and huggers and try very hard to anticipate the next thing you may need for them to do. So far, I show them what I'm trying to get done. Add some broken Italian and gestures and then they all talk at once, explaining to each other what I just said. They discuss this animatedly, and we start again.

The little kids are adorable. There is Carmen who has eyelashes for days, Miguel, Miguel, Miguel, Jose, Jose and Alfredo.... Just kidding, but you get the idea. Mr. Fluker runs a takeout type place a block away where he serves rice and beans, and some soup too. The other day, he offered us workers special grilled chicken and soup. I passed on the soup and graciously accepted the chicken.

So, after 3 days of trying, we finally got the 2 empty containers dragged up the hill and moved into place....sheeeesh! We have been cutting rebar and building form sections for the concrete footings. It’s fun to watch people learn to use drills for the first time.

I like a clean construction site, so I'm always sweeping and picking stuff up. I think I understood one of them to say that we sweep here more than at her which everyone laughed. That prompted my attempt at explaining that next week we would pick up all the garbage within a block of this new community center (there is trash everywhere), and that a clean site shows respect. They got it and said that this Sunday they would gather everyone and get it all picked up. Very cool and proud response. Tidy Friday begins again.

Today the grader finally arrived and after 2 passes across the site to cut it to a level grade, the local folks realized just how much sand was going to need to be moved and within 30 minutes they had asked the Mayor and Nelida if they could move the building site about 100 feet to the west, where there was already a much more level area. They both said yes, 'If it's ok with Inginir Rome'. It's a much better spot in every aspect...feng shui and all.
So, we pushed the original loads back into place and starting cutting at the new spot. Of course after about an hour, the grader stopped. It was explained to me that he only works one hour, then waits one hour for the machine to cool down, then repeats that all day. Given the amount of smoke coming off the grader, it seemed like a good plan.

Our full container has now been cleared from the port, but another document still needs to be signed by someone somewhere and then it can come to the site. Looks like Monday now.

A few bits of advice to volunteers:

  1. The sand is very fine here and doesn't want to shake out of anything.  You will never want to see your socks again at the end of the day, so bring lots of pairs and plan on leaving them and your working shoes.
  2. There are very nice breezes every afternoon, but sometimes that blows the fine sand into the air and gives your hair that Albert Einstein look.  Hats are a good idea.
  3. Have TP with you at all times.  Those of you who are experienced travelers know that, but this is the first place I've been to where the TP dispensers have been on the wall OUTSIDE the stalls.
  4. If you can bring extra pairs of those Home Depot rubber coated gloves in Small that would be great.  They have only Large ones here right now.  Oh yeah, and all jeans are sold in 32" inseams....period.
  5. Bring a mirror if you need one.  A towel should already be on your packing list, but you may want to bring an extra smaller towel for your sandy feet!

Have an awesome week!