Day 1, Thursday, August 4
Day one was spent on traveling from Portland to La Ceiba, and it actually began at 10:00pm on Wednesday. Our team, from Portland, Seattle, Washington DC, and San Fransisco all came together in the Houston airport. This is where we met Randell, our fearless leader, for the first time. It was also where our team was almost shortened by three members when their hunger led them to nearly miss the flight. From the Texas airport we flew to Roatan, Honduras, we had only a brief time there before taking another (very small) airplane to La Ceiba. We encountered a few problems immediately with securing the rental car and our credit cards not working. But after a few hours and some phone calls to the US we headed to our hotel 30 minutes away, where we had no reservations, contrary to prior beliefs. Luckily they had space for us, the ladies took over one of the hotel's dorm rooms, and the gentlemen shared a much nicer private room that had sheets on the beds and a mirror in the bathroom. Although very rustic, the Jungle River Lodge is set in a beautiful valley with a river running behind the property and after all the stress of traveling, the whole team jumped in the water to relax and cool off. It was refreshing, despite the ENORMOUS spiders we encountered (see picture). We ate, played cards, and ended the evening by laying out side and enjoying the bright starry sky.
Day 2, Friday, August
The team awoke early and enjoyed breakfast with the company of Jungle River Lodge's owners, children, and pets. Our partner NGO, Scott & Diane, met us shortly after and we began the trip to Guadalupe Carney. About three hours later, around 2:00pm, we arrived in the village and drove immediately to the project site. After about five minutes in the intense sun, we were already tired, thirsty, and ready for the beach. Unfortunately the beach was not a possibility, and we went to meet Santos, the village council president. We gave him a set of our plans and explained the project in more detail. Santos seemed excited with the drawings and he called others to a central meeting place where we went over the plans with six or seven men of the village. It is here that we learned of the first obstacle of the project: Only 2 of the 4 pipes that we needed had arrived on the site, and it was unknown when the other two would be fabricated and delivered. It has yet to be resolved...
We dispersed in pairs from the meeting place to our host families. Hannah & Colton with Evangelio, Amanda & Stephanie with Maria, and Chelsea & Olivia with Santos. After dropping off luggage we immediately returned to prepare the site for the excavator that was scheduled for 8am the following morning. We laid string lines and measured for the layout, and we were ready to paint the lines, only to discover that Hannah had purchased clear marking paint instead of orange, or any other color. We quit for dinner around 6, the students to their host families and Randell & Louisa to their hotel.
Host family life was a bit difficult to adjust to at first. Things are a lot simpler here. Concrete and dirt floors, wood-fire ovens, and bathrooms/showers outside. Most sleep on simple beds under a mosquito net and with the bugs that are smaller than the net holes. The language barrier being the biggest issue, most of the team working from 2 years of high school Spanish. All of the students went to bed early, exhausted from the sun and communication issues.
Day 3, Saturday August
Another early morning for the team. With the excavator scheduled for 8, we met at 7. We arrived at the site to meet lots of excited volunteers and promptly started on the project. The excavator took only five hours to excavate the site and it amounted to more than six cubic yards of earth. We broke for a quick lunch and siesta. We cut and tied rebar and by hand we mixed about three cubic yards of concrete. We completed the entire footing in a half of a day. We quit around six, at this point we were ahead of schedule and excited about our progress. Although still waiting on two pipes.....
Day 4, Sunday August 7
Today we met at 7:30 am and went to the site to meet our mason who was arriving at 8. And promptly started constructing our masonry wall. We also filled the footing with river rock. We brought the two culverts that had already arrived to the site and prepared to put them in place. We modified the bedding in order to make a shaped bedding instead of gravel bedding. The culverts we then placed in the shaped bedding and we started compacting fill around the pipes. Although we ran into a complication with the grade of the pipes, they were at too much of a grade. So we needed to raise one end of the pipes to arrive at the correct level. At that point, we decided that we were going to quit for the day because there was not much we could do without all of the culverts. We cleaned up and called it a day. Since we were hot, sweaty and dirty we traveled to Scott and Diane's house, which was right on the Carribean, and swam for a couple of hours.