This blog was written by Greg Heindel, one of the 2019 EIC School the World team members.
We woke to the sound of roosters crowing just slightly later than our usual dawn patrol – today we are in for a treat. While we waited for the night crew’s mud to cure, the team loaded up in their buses and headed off down the winding road to the market Chichicastenango.
Guatemala is known for its brilliantly colored textiles, woven into scarves, satchels, clothing and other beautifully hand-crafted items. Among other products were fresh tamales, traditional wood Aztec masks, and novelty souvenirs galore. There is something to know about shopping in the market of Chichicastenango – they have a bartering system and if you’re not aware you will pay the price in Quetzal (approx. 8Q to 1USD). The rule of thumb is if you are speaking English then your quoted price will be at three times the actual market value and the vendors love to drive a hard bargain! But, after a few practice runs and with a little help from the veterans, we made it out with shirts on our backs, some change in our pockets, and loads of lovely gifts and souvenirs.
The change of pace ended after only an hour and we headed back to Chuchun to finish what we started the prior evening – pouring the floors of the remaining two classrooms. With our deadline closing in on us during our last full day on-site, we began to hand mix the first of two of our largest batch of (approximately 3 tons) concrete mix right on the ground. The team has grown very familiar with the recipe:
Elapsed time: 45 minutes
15 Wheelbarrow loads of sediment/dirt
12 Wheelbarrow loads of gravel
12 80lb bags of concrete
Mix sediment and concrete thoroughly. Knead your new mixture into a large circle like a hand-tossed pizza. Add rocks evenly across your mix. Next, saturate your fresh concrete mix thoroughly with water and let sit for five to ten minutes. Stir well and serve.
With plenty of extra hard-working hands on deck the concrete was mixed and poured into the remaining two classroom throughout the day. Meanwhile, other members of the team alternated between spreading gravel around the large playground, planting flowers
With the sun setting, we cleaned the rubbage from the work area while the local senoritas swept the front play area in preparation for the closing ceremony the next day. Even though the team still has a small amount of work to finish, we all left feeling incredibly fulfilled and headed off to have our last supper together as a complete group.