Saturday, March 3, 2012

Summary of yesterday....

The solar panels are installed and tested.  Our whole group went up to the CECAP school after breakfast.  We went up and reviewed the week’s work there.  John and Charlie talked about all of the planning that led up to the work.  Greg talked about the obstacles and how they were overcome.  To put it simply, we had to scrap the fancy aluminum frame that came with the panels and fabricate our own from the parts that were available.  Ben did a great welding job, and even rappelled 3 stories down the side of the school to run the conduit for the cable.  Carlos and Michael recapped the electrical work they’d done, Carlos in Spanish with Michael translating.  We took a group photo of all of us who had worked on the project (except Doug, Kat and Tess, who are still in Tikal.)

We left a skeleton crew of 4 at the school to complete the remaining tasks.  They were able to test the system and verify that it works.  There are a few things left to do, including replacing some 8 gauge wire that Andrew says needs to be heavier duty. 

Some of us went to Panajachel to shop at a market for used clothing.  I bought a handmade top (can’t remember the name), a purse and a few other things.  The clothing is previously worn, and likely was laundered by hand in a stream.  We visited a few other shops, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then took a boat to San Marcos.

Those who hadn’t shopped and stayed to work on the solar panel were putting the third coat on our bajareque wall.  This layer is made of half dirt, half horse poop, and a little bit of sugar.  Like the mud, it gets thrown at the wall, but this layer is smoothed with trowels.
We were able to complete this layer of the wall.  The last layer will be put on after we leave, but Charlie demonstrated how it is made.  Water is poured over lime, and mixed with dirt to make a plaster.  Prickly pear cactus is sliced and soaked for a week, and added to the mixture. 
The team also completed the roof in the other area of this school that we were working on.  We didn’t do the bajareque wall in that area – Charlie says another group of volunteers will be down in a few months, and he’ll have them do that.
Andrew finished repairing the other three swings, so there are now 4 swings with new seats.

After we wrapped up, we took a boat to San Pedro at D’noz.  It was fish night there, so I had salmon.  We also walked around the town, saw a church, a market, and went to a shop where all of the cloth and dyes are made with natural products.

We took a boat back to Santa Cruz la Laguna, dropping Charlie off in Tzununa and saying our goodbyes there.  Then we came back to celebrate.  We started with shots of lemon vodka – the lemons come from trees on the property here, and everyone got 2 shots on the house.  The dancing came next, and we got to see how talented Leena and James are from their swing dances.  Later, we moved outside by a fire.  Tim performed some original songs for us (my favorite is The Perfect Girl), then we passed the guitar around and several of us took a turn.  We were joined for a bit by another guitarist, who tended toward blues.   Everyone left when I started playing – but only because the bar offered another round of free shots.  JC modified a song to fit the trip.  And Greg improvised one – with lines about working for John Barrie on the roof, then throwing shit for John Barrie.   On a few of the songs, like Rocky Raccoon, you could tell which of us grew up in the 60s!  On others, like Hotel California and House in New Orleans, everyone sang along.  Tim even played a verse of Lola for me.  We finally called it a night around 12:30.

Saturday is our last day here.  We’ll take a boat to Panajachel, then a bus back to Antigua.  Ruben’s wife was in labor this morning, so he may not be our transportation.  We’ll have free time in the afternoon to shop, then go to a café to sit on the roof and watch the sunset, then meet for one last dinner.

More pictures to come later....

More than one person has said this is the best vacation they’ve ever been on.  It’s certainly among the top for me.

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