We have been in Guatemala for two days now (Well about two days)! It's been quite an adventure already! But we can confidently say that the bridge is standing and looking awesome like we expected it to!! YAYYY!
Today, we were able to go to the bridge site and actually see the bridge. But before I go into detail about our day I am going to let Chelsea and Ben talk about their experiences these past two days and then I'll elaborate on what I thought! Hope you enjoy this blogpost!
Ben: So I'm always taken back by how different this country really is, it truly is it's own little world.... I don't think I'll ever get used to the way these people "drive" around here! I'm also one of the tallest people, which never happens! But seriously it was pretty awesome to finally arrive back in the village where we worked so hard last year; not only did we get to see the product of our labor still standing in all of its glory, but we also got to see so many of our friends. It was a little strange not strapping on my tool belt this morning; however, it was nice to shake some hands and share some smiles. I don't speak or even understand the things that my amigos were saying to me, but I could tell how much they truly appreciated what we have done there. We've been gone for almost a year now, but it's like we've never left and it feels like home!
Chelsea: I have never been more upset that I don't speak Spanish. Returning to this small village has already been so exciting and rewarding and it's only the first day. It was great to see many familiar faces and how excited they got when we presented the posters we made with all the pictures from the last trip. Not only did we get to rekindle our friendship with the community, we got to drive a pickup truck over the bridge, which is still standing and looking as beautiful as ever! We were happy to see that the community members had painted the railings on the wall posts and only minimal touch ups need to be finished tomorrow! As Ben already mentioned, it's amazing how comfortable and familiar we already are with the surroundings and the people we're interacting with. It's great to be back and feels like it's only been a couple weeks ago that we left not a year.
So now that you've heard about Bhelsea's and Ben's experience! I'll tell you more about what happened these past two days. Monday mostly consisted of traveling. We arrived in Guatemala around 12 and then made it to Malacatan by 7 pm. It was an definitely an easier ride than last year for everyone. Today we went to the community to see the bridge. When we arrived we were able to sit in on the "first day of school meeting". They introduced us, welcomed us back, and we got to thank them for their hospitality. Finally, after the meeting we were able to go see the bridge which we were dying to see. As we drove up to the bridge site, the whole team was elated and excited that the bridge was looking good. There is only one tiny spot where rebar is exposed and some places that need to be filled with rocks. But besides that, the bridge looks great and we even got to drive over it (twice)!! The community did a great job in finishing the tasks we asked them to finish since we couldn't be there. It was nice to see that they have taken ownership of the bridge.
After we explored the bridge, we came back to the village around 5 o'clock for a community meeting. This part was my favorite. We finally could hear all the excitement from the community members and see how much this bridge has impacted each individual as well as the community. We were able to conduct a survey while at the meeting as well as express our gratitude for letting us come into their community and build the bridge. Before we left, Chelsea had compiled two posters that we printed off so the community could have photo documentation of "la historia del puente" (the history of the bridge). Everyone really loved the posters. They were a big hit!
But all and all, I can say that the community is very grateful that we have completed this bridge for them and really appreciate all the time and effort we have put behind it. It definitely has been a great first two days and I wish all of our team members were here from last year to experience it. We miss you: Rod, Gary, Ted, Andrew, Kelly and Brittany. The community says Hi and Thank you! Especially Nacho, Alberto, Noe, Omar, Thomas, and Juan (who kept remembering Andres hehe, Andrew he misses you man!).
Since we've entered Malacatan, it has felt like home! We never knew that a month of working on the bridge would allow us to develop such a close connection to this town and community.
Over and out,