What can top concrete? Machetes.

October 19, 2012

Jennifer and me holding the machetes after a day’s work!

Thursday (for those of you keeping track) we worked with children in the morning and machetes in the afternoon.  First, let me tell you a bit about machetes.

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C: one would think that machetes would be few and far between, and yet, we were familiar with them. Ask any of my family members.  There was a day when we say one man chase another out of his home, and then down the street, waving a machete at the first man, screaming “I’m going to kill you.”   No big deal, right?

That was my machete-exposure.  All I knew was that scene, and that machetes looked cool and tough.  Right? Check back tomorrow to read about my actual machete experience while on the trip.

The area where we had worked on the roof was a walled-in complex: the partially completed building would be a classroom, and then the rest of the area would be a play area.  Only difficulty–it was covered with weeds, grass, bricks, trash, and other sundries.  The tasks for cleaning it were divided into several groups of the teenagers–some were to clear grass, some were to transport trash to the back corner (where the supervisor had started a fire), some were to move sand from Paso a Paso to our location.

Initially, I was counted out of the eligible young men who were allowed (by the supervisor) to truck the sand in the wheelbarrow; I walked over to Paso a Paso to track down some extra shovels for the kids who were moving rocks.  When Andres saw that I wanted to help, and the supervisor saw, I got the okay.  I figure I had earned it by working diligently moving sand and rocks, shovel by shovel from one pile to the next.  I kept saying in Spanish, “I rock climb. I lift my body. I can do this” (well, I hoped that was what I was saying!).  It felt as if I’d won a victory for women when he gave me permission to load the sand.

The interesting thing about me and any sort of labor on this trip was that I was happy to do it, and I loved doing  it, BUT, what I loved more, what fed me more, what stirred my spirit, was talking to the people and hearing their stories! So what did I do? On one trip back with an empty wheelbarrow, I stopped, and talked with Alta Gracia, who had been watching the alley–between our little space and Paso a Paso–from the doorway to the space we were in.  Alta Gracia and I spoke for 20 minutes and I lost my wheelbarrow when one of the guys passing through needed one and snagged it.    Want to know Alta Gracia’s story? Or maybe more about machetes? Check in tomorrow!

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