Sunday, September 29, 2013

Guatemala - pt. 3, Caquiton Chiacal - building a road

On Monday, August 5th we drove 30-40 minutes from Coban to a small village called Caquiton Chiacal. We spent the next 2 1/2 days working at a church in this village. We honestly weren't sure what we were going to be doing. Before we left the states we thought we would be working on a road. When we arrived, Rickie told us that the church instead was making a long side walk instead of a road and they wanted help with a second sidewalk on the other side of the hill. The sidewalks were to make it easier for the villagers to walk up the steep hill to the church.

We arrived in our van the Monte, Bub, and Bryan began unloading the shovels, wheel barrow, and other equipment that we'd be using the next few days. Since we were in a rather remote location we also brought enough food and water for the day as well. We actually took bottled water and large water coolers with us everywhere because we could not drink the tap water in Guatemala. 

(A side note, we also used the bottled water to brush our teeth with. I only let the girls use the tap water to wash their hands with and then I put hand sanitizer on them as well.)

We started our climb walk up the rather steep cement path the church men had already poured. While us Americans were huffing and puffing by the time we got to the top, the Kekchi people acted like it was no big deal. They are extremely used to walking every where (very few own their own cars) and they are used to the steep terrain.

Once we arrived at the top where the church was, we waited while the guys talked with the pastor to find out what we'd be helping on.

We discovered that we were no longer helping with a sidewalk. We were working on a road again. The men from the church had already begun the work so my dad, Bub, Monte, and Bryan headed down the road to help them continue the work.

Us ladies did not help with the road work. We stayed up at the church and played with the children and tried to talk with the women. I'll do another post on that next time.

The men worked hard. In order to build this new road that led up to the church, large rocks were carried in and placed where the tire tracks would be. The men then used sledge hammers to break the large rocks into small pieces. Once all the rocks are laid, then cement will be poured over them to make the tire tracks smooth enough to drive on. We were not there long enough to help with the cement pouring. So the guys in our group spent 2 1/2 days breaking rocks. They were quite worn out at the end of each day. In the picture below I got Monte and Bryan working hard.

My dad and Bub (a.k.a Tom) taking a bit of a break. They were working on digging the trenches to put the rocks into.

This is how rocks where carried. The Kekchi men (and even boys!) had sacks they laid across their necks and shoulders. Then another guy would help lift a large rock onto their back and they would walk up the steep hill and place the rock in one of the tire tracks where another guy would then start breaking it with a sledge hammer.

The Kekchi men also used what looked like a large wooden chair without legs to carry even more rocks. They used this to carry a large load of smaller rocks. While the rocks look small they are not light in weight at all. My dad unloaded rocks that were medium to large in size and said they were quite heavy. The large rocks he said he helped someone else lift. My dad was told that the men carried 300-400 pounds of rocks in these carriers. When they walked up the hill they took very small steps (teeny tiny steps in my dads words). You might notice in the picture that the guy has a strap going over his forehead to help keep the rock carrying chair on his back. These men are strong workers. The men in this church donated their time. They took off work without pay to help the church build a road.

The men also used wheel barrows to pull/push loads of rocks up the hill. I'm sure you can imagine how hard pushing and wheel barrow up a dirt road while loaded with heavy rocks is.

My dad and one of the men from the church breaking up the ground to get it ready for the rocks.

The last day we were there, there was a break in the work. They had run out of rocks and were waiting for the truck to come with the next load. I had kept the girls away from where the men were working because of the danger of flying bits of rock. But since they weren't working at the time, we walked down to see the progress and take some pictures.

When the truck arrived, the men jumped climbed up and began unloading the large rocks.

My dad found a couple of small rocks for the girls to carry up and place with the other rocks. So, yes, Sanaa and Layla did get to help build a road.

After lunch on the final day we were there, the pastor held a short service thanking us for our help. The service was mainly in Kekchi so I didn't understand any of what was being said. The pastor spoke first and then asked my dad to speak. My dad spoke in Kekchi as well and I know all the men gathered in that room appreciated hearing my dad in their own language.

My dad, Sanaa, Layla, and I with the pastor and his wife. I could write pages (and I probably will in the book I plan to make with all of my pictures) but I was really impressed with how hospitable and friendly the Kekchi people are (and all the people we met in Guatemala). The people at this church were very grateful that we came and helped them work on their road. Once again, I'm very glad that I made the decision to take Sanaa and Layla.

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