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17 February 2009 Travel

Day 4

Part 5 of El Salvador Trip Journal

6:58 AM

Rise and shine! Day two of the build is here. My lower back is so sore today, I can feel it now. Alright, time to get going for breakfast and another day of hard labour.

Lunchtime

What a workout! As we’re eating lunch, I can see a pile of mixed concrete waiting to be put into the foundation. There’s some concrete already in the foundation, and the masons have already made a frame for the walls out of rebar. Cement mixing is… an ordeal to say the least. It makes me so thankful for cement mixing trucks in Canada. We had to shovel piles of gravel, sand, and cement, mix them together by hand – with shovels. Then spread out the pile into a volcano shape, and fill up the bowl of the volcano with water. Then we mixed it all together, scooping cement mix into the centre to be soaked up by the water. The hardest part was continually mixing the concrete with the shovel so it wouldn’t dry out. We had to get it into the wheelbarrow and into the foundation while the rest of us kept mixing. A truck came by to drop off concrete blocks and steel bars/sheets, but I have a feeling we’ll be mixing concrete all day. Only 2 of the outside walls are filled in so far.

On a positive note, the kids have definitely warmed up. Earlier today we had the soccer ball out and I was playing pass-the-ball with Brian. Nefri and Jennifer were playing with balloons and rubber balls with the girls. They cranked up the radio, so we’ve been working to the beat of Salvadoran remakes of American hip-hop chart-toppers. Also, we had mangos for our snack, and hey are absolutely awesome! Right off the tree, they’re green and a little sour but so unlike any other fruit. We had them plain, but the locals eat them with chili sauce and lemon juice.

3:00 PM

Snacktime again! As predicted, we’ve been shoveling concrete all day. We’ve got a lot of progress, though. All of us, the masons, and the helpers have filled in a little more than half of the foundation. We’re having a lot of fun, nonetheless, singing songs and taking shifts for mixing the concrete. This day has been going very quickly – I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the day!

5:01 PM

Woke up from a well-deserved nap. Contrary to what you might think, we’re not home yet. We’re in the bus, near the other build site, waiting for people to come back from picking coconuts. We actually finished early today and played soccer on the street – then we found out there was a soccer pitch beside the build site. This was at about 20 to 4:00, then the bus came to get us. We were confused when the other team wasn’t at their build site, but the driver spoke to the neighbour, who told us where they were. Now we’re just waiting; we’ve been in the bus for over an hour.

7:22 PM

Well, the hour-long wait was worth it. The second half of our team came back with four huge coconuts, which we got to drink the milk out of. They also got some cashew fruits for us. I learned something new today: cashews are grown on trees! There’s the cashew tree, that had cashew fruits growing on it. These look sort of like red peppers from the outside, but they’re mushy like a peach, I guess. The skin is smooth like a red pepper, though. Anyway, the actual cashew nut grows out of the bottom of the fruit, in a hard shell that you need to crack open. That was exciting!

We ate the coconuts when we got back to the Hotel Campo Real. They were really good; I’ve never had fresh coconut flesh before. We were too tired to swim. I think it’ll be an early night for everyone. All my clothes are full of dirt, and my nose is too. I’ve never sneezed out concrete before. I took the liberty of shampooing my hair when we got back; I feel like a new man.

Sam Nabi

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