Return from Guatemala, part 7

(Sid posting . . . .)

Fellowship

Couldn’t help but love the kids… even the little boys in the street who would say a few words we didn’t understand (we’re pretty sure their friends dared them to call us gringos).

Street soccer, every day, every night, rain or shine.  This match broke out after a thunderstorm rolled through.  This is in front of the hotel.  It was not unusual for the stray ball to go inside that house.  The players would just run in, say hi to the owners, and come back out with the ball.

Church at the old facility we were replacing.  Dirt floor, wooden tables, terribly hard seats.  At this moment we were actually waiting for a chicken soup meal.  They told us they were running a little late because it took a little longer than usual to catch the chickens.

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When we finally got that chicken soup, it was good.

 

Return from Guatemala, part 6

(Sid posting . . .)

The Construction Crew

This is the Presbyterian Church, and a few of us getting ready to work on it for the day.  It does look a little out of place in the village, but I guess you can always tell a church building from the houses around it.

We had to build one more course of blocks at the top of the walls on the inside.  The blocks were way down the hill at a different building.  It’s a good thing they had antique pickup trucks.

… and other methods of hauling freight.  They did have a source of lumber in the village.  They brought boards down from the mountain.  Occasionally we would see a couple of guys with long chainsaws going up or down the mountain, into the woods.  If you look at the cut patterns on the boards, you can tell they weren’t cut by a circular sawmill.  They looked like they were milled into boards with handheld chainsaws.

And by the way, all those blocks we carted up the hill.  They had to be cut to shape.  The local tool of choice was a machete.

In the church doorway, looking out into the street.  That’s the scaffolding we made to plaster the front face of the building.

Return from Guatemala, part 5

(Hi Ho, Sid, the frog, reporting here at Prairie Sings . . . .)

 

Life in the Village

I don’t think the Catholics got a permit from the local Architectural Review Committee before they built the mission here in Chajul.  It sticks out a bit.

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The inside is a bit different too.

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A common scene in the village, kids peeping out the windows of their houses to see the gringos walk by.  Even the shy ones eventually shouted “Hola.”

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A few ladies coming down the mountain with the day’s firewood.  Careful not to trip on the pig.  We were never sure who this pig belonged to, but it was always napping in the street out in front of the church.  You could talk to it and pet it… it didn’t care.

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Too young to swing a machete.

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A typical house stove.  It looks like they tried to set it up so the smoke would have a window nearby, but it was hard for us to stay in the houses when the fire was going.

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There were at least 2 houses in the village that had a grinder/smasher machine.  It was a small gasoline-powered motor (or diesel) turning a belt, which turned the grinder.  The motor’s muffler typically stuck out a window and blew smoke in the street.  Every day, the ladies of the village would line up to get their grains smashed.

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A tuk-tuk, basically a motorcycle with a shell built around it, and 2 wheels on the back.  This was the local taxi industry in Chajul.  They were everywhere.  The guy to the left, pushing the cart… he’s the ice cream truck.  Some of them sold pre-packaged snacks like Nutty Buddies.  Others had homemade frozen juices in plastic bags.  Someone in the village clearly has a freezer, but we never actually saw it.  Some of the ice cream carts had hand bells, while others actually had an electronic source of tacky music.

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You don’t need to catch a tuk-tuk if you know someone with a Toyota pickup.  Apparently a lot of people know this guy.

Return from Guatemala, part 4

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(posted by Sid)

Back to the electrical codes…  This is the hotel shower.  The only place you had to rest the soap was on top of the breaker box.  The breaker box fed the electric water heater in the showerhead.  This showerhead was rated at 50 amps.  This head and a few others were all on a single 40-amp breaker.  If you took a shower for more than 5 minutes, it would trip the breaker, and the water went cold.  If 2 showers were working at the same time, it would immediately trip the breaker.  Once during the week, there were enough showers going that the main line going into the hotel caught on fire and fell down into the street.  The local electrician came by, and twisted the wire back onto the main power line.

If you look closely, you can see a tiny green wire coming out of the top of the showerhead.  That’s the ground wire, which is supposed to be a safety feature to keep you from electrocution.  It has been cut off.  You couldn’t touch the showerhead without being tingled.  There’s a tube that connects to the showerhead.  More than once, the tube came disconnected during the shower.  The only way to reconnect… turn off the breaker, reconnect the tube, and then flip the breaker back on.  I’m not sure hot water was worth it.

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Sidney and another from our group on the hotel balcony.  The hotel really stood out as one of the nicest buildings in Chajul.

Return from Guatemala, part 3

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(posted by Sid)

Time to get to work plastering the walls of the church.  We had rough lumber and some log poles.  We did have hammers and some nails, and we used a lot of scrap wire, tied very tightly with pliers, to hold a lot of the homemade scaffold joints.  One of these scaffolds did collapse under a couple of villagers who were helping us, but they landed on their feet, laughing all the way down.

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Another smoky skyline, with the mountains in the distance.

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Back to work… Lincoln on the scaffold, plastering the wall.  Linc spent his mornings working with the village kids in the Bible School that we conducted.  Then, during the afternoons, he went to the church to help the construction project.

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Sidney didn’t get to do much work until Wednesday.  Sunday night, when we arrived at the hotel in Chajul, Sidney came down with the Guatemalan plague (our name for it).  It stayed with our group the whole week.  Going on the 3rd week later, some of us are still a bit turbulent in our stomachs.  It kept Sidney down in bed for 3 days.

Return from Guatemala, part 2

(posted by Sid)

The view from our hotel balcony in Chajul, across the street.  Chickens tied up on the rooftop.  Also, a good look at what happens when there are no electrical codes.

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Same picture as above, but zoomed in on the chicken . . .

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Locals in the street in front of the hotel.  In the mornings, it was always little girls and very young boys.  The older boys were either in school, or up on the mountain getting firewood, working the crops, or some other industry.  At night, the boys came home, and every street had a soccer game going, dodging between donkeys and motorcycles.  This was during the World Cup, so the village was a bit crazy about soccer at the time.

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The smoky Chajul skyline.  The bright white building is the original Spanish Catholic mission, somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 years old.  Every morning and evening, the fires started inside the houses, everyone cooking.  They had no chimneys… the smoke just permeated through the houses.  The dense smoke burned our eyes.  I can’t even wonder how bad it must have been inside the houses where the smoke had no place to go.

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The villagers made use of all the available land in town.  Some of these folks had to go through others’ houses to get to their own.  See the cornfield in the void space, and there are 2 horses in this picture also.  Each house shared a wall with up to 3 or even 4 other houses.