Post by Catherine Madden

Today was a good day. After last nights’ group pow-wow about team dynamics, working together and not letting the community members shove rocks in the holes until the poles were set the day was looking good!

We woke up to the ever so lovely sound of Grace’s watch beeping (this time I spared the “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus to avoid a morning pillow fight by Grace). After breakfast Ariel, Grace and I went to the ferretería (hardware store) about 2 blocks from our house to buy 2 extra sheets of lamina for the roofs, the sealant and a few other bits and bobs that we needed like nails. We met the cats that were apparently kittens last time we were here (who knew, cats grow?!) and proved the real definition of YOLO by touching the cat even though it may have had fleas! #yolo! Rubén showed up and we clarified that we did in fact name his car “El Toro” and not him; although I guess you could say he is a Toro in some senses of the word!

News here travels fast; today this was discovered in multiple ways. One, Rubén knew that the road to the community had been repaired and so we could now go the shorter way. Number two will show up later in this post! This is where the “Duck tours: El Salvador” begins. We were on the lovely new highway to the community and came upon a river in which El Toro simply passed through, thus converting the car into a boat. Aka “Welcome to El Porvenir Duck Tour please fasten your seatbelt!” jk we don’t have those. Anyway on the way to the community we encountered the PIPA truck for the first time in the community! (Cue much excitement from everyone!) This was a good sign because it means a) It can enter the community b) the driver has the guts to climb up the sides of the road in the big truck to get out of our way and so is more likely to be willing to go up the scary hill to don Chepe’s house! YAY! After passing the PIPA truck and the big machine truck which according to Ryan “Looks like Wall-E with the headlights, wait no looks like that scary robot in that movie with the big red robot”… I have no idea what he is talking about, but it’s scary, we made it to the roofing which was still standing. This was an incredible feat considering the ridiculous winds that we experienced last night! Erynne and I then dropped everyone and the materials off and made our way to the big hardware store to buy sealant since we couldn’t find it before!

The hardware store was as exciting as ever but only took a few minutes. The real excitement came when, on the way back, Ruben decided to stop to get Erynne and me “cocos helados” from the side of the road. This was the most touristy (word just tried to correct that to touristiest) thing that we have done yet! We sat in the back of ‘El Toro’ sipping on coconut water straight from our whole coconuts while flying at 30+ mph down the roads of El Salvador. It was awesome. The next new experience was trying the coco meat. This was the insides of the coconut. Our new theory is that this is somewhat like celery in that it expends more energy to eat in that you gain from eating it. Healthy people I give you the next big thing! (She says as she eats lifesavers and is slowly running out and afraid of the end because no more sugar will be the death of me). Anyway, moving on from my sugar addiction, we returned to the community to find the scary machine robot in our way and so had to walk down the road carrying the paint and the coconuts. Needless to say Erynne seemed rather embarrassed to be holding the coconuts but that’s the freshman initiation that she deserves. I had my bag peed on, Ariel’s got pooped on and Erynne has to carry the coconuts. Somehow this seems unfair. Oh well, we still have 6 days!

We were taking bets on how much of the roof would be built in the hour in which we were away from the site in El Porvenir. Turns out they had fully put the roof up and were contemplating the gutter sizing to fit in the hole in the roof. Skipping a bunch of theories and other problems that we encountered the first site was finished! Woot woot! At this point the police showed up. No, it wasn’t because we did anything terribly wrong or that they were searching for the missing cat killer, it was that Mike had asked them to come and check on us and make sure that everything was going well. Needless to say they were extremely useful. They carried all of our materials from the first site up to the site by Don Chepe’s house an even gave bob his second or third ride in the back of a police car. Sounds a little sketchy to me but apparently he was just “chatting” with officers in the past. We can believe that for now.

The next site was built in a flash! It is so much better now that the community members have seen one of the roofs so that everyone knows what the end goal is instead of just us. We got some help from Louis Antonio as usual who insisted on always holding “La cinta” (tape measure) when no-one was using it! So far we don’t have names in his mind but I am “muchacha” and Grace is target practice (he may or may not have chucked a giant rock at her head…hence why I’m writing today). Thankfully this site didn’t require ten million re-digs of holes for the poles so that didn’t take too long and we made the gap between the two parts of the roof a little smaller so that we wouldn’t have to stretch the gutter as far and there wouldn’t be any gaps. Just before we left another group of police officers showed up which involved more running around and the instant disappearing of the two kids who were climbing a nearby tree and using spitball guns with small rocks in them to try and hit us while we worked, they had bad aim though which I guess is somewhat of a relief. So now one quick clarification of the title of this post, Pablo today was the day’s best “Clavador.” This means that he was hammering in nails left right and center. He even admitted today that if anyone wanted their own tank that he could come and help them nail the structure together. It seems that we have developed a new profession. Finally we were done with this roof for the day and Rubén was on his way to pick us up.

Eager to continue working and get the final roof up we explained to the community members how to check that the holes were at the proper distances apart so that when we arrived in the morning we could get to work on building the roof straight away instead of worrying about the hole sizes. I keep forgetting things and then remembering as we go along so another exciting part of today was the feeling of being famous as we put our handprints in the concrete that we set at the bottom of the posts. It was awesome and now we will be here forever! Can’t wait for it to dry.

Right now I am listening to the magnificent sound of the electric drill which we miraculously found in Mike and Susie’s house as Bob, Ryan, Grace and Erynne drill holes in the gutter so that it’s easier to nail for tomorrow. We didn’t find any rats in toilets today so that’s good news, and hopefully Grace doesn’t have shingles but then again anything is possible. I don’t think that sentence should have had such a positive tone to it, to clarify, Grace has mysterious bug bites but they seem to be expanding each day and so hopefully its nothing and we are all just paranoid!

That’s all from me folks! Stay tuned for the last roof and hopefully some gutter action tomorrow! We have taken to using cows as landmarks, that’s when you know you’re truly integrated in El Salvador!