Friday, January 15, 2010

We have had two very busy, very successful days. Yesterday, we sat down in the morning to work out exactly what we were putting in the Memorandum of Understanding. Afterwards, we went to Malacatan for lunch and to obtain some rebar samples. Unfortunatley, there were no 60K steel available in Malacatan, just 40K. We were informed that they do carry 60K, but only by request. I guess we'll grab some 60K in Guatemala City on our way out of town...

After lunch we headed to the community to meet with the Comitte. We were supposed to be there at 1 but due to numerous delays (the rebar, lunch, our ride, etc), we didn't arrive until 3. It's amazing how no one was even surprised. People were even just showing up for the meeting themselves when we were getting there. I guess the difference between "Guatemala time"and "American time'" is not just the one hour time zone difference...

Sooo yeah, we didn't blog last night... probably because we got back from Mexico so late! Yeah, we went to Mexico for dinner. (It's not really a big deal it's only a five minute drive away). We went to Tapachula. There was a really beautiful square with a statue of Benito Juarez. A lot of us really liked this statue because of his famous quote, which translates to "Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace."

Today (Friday) was extremely busy. We woke up early to go grab some water quality samples throughout the community. On our last trip in August, we had mentioned that we could do other projects besides a bridge project in a meeting with the whole community. On this trip, we were informed that people who lived in higher areas were having problems with their well water. I can't believe how deep these wells are--and they are all hand dug. We even got to see a well that was currently being excavated. (The family had realized that their well water was being affected by their sewage because it was turning brown). Personally, I would have claustrophobia issues if I was in a 20m deep well.

We also asked for a hole to be excavated for us at the bridge site to see if we would have resistance before hitting water level, but no luck. Like last year, we found that there is clay until the water level. Once again, I was thouroughly impressed with the way the people of San Jose Petacalapa can dig. The hole they excavated was 1m X 1m and about 3m deep; it was dug before lunch.

Finally, we had our Memorandum of Understanding signed today! It's nice to have an official agreement with the community, and I think it's reassuring to them to know that we have strong intentions to come back and finish what we started.

We went to Mexico again for dinner tonight. That seems to be the cycle; Malacatan for lunch, Mexico for dinner. Caitlin, Kelley and I noticed that Guatemala and Mexico both have a distinct smell; a mix of tar, diesel, and heat. It's hard to believe it's January at all, because today, it was 80 degrees F, and I know from experience that it was just as hot in August. January also seems so far away because despite the fact that it is the dry season, Guatemala is as green as it was the last time we were here...



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