By: Stan & Geoff
Woke up to the sound of rain on the roof of the tarps covering our tents and decided to get ready for what was surely going to be a difficult work day. As our crew settled into a breakfast of crepes (thank you Doreen from France) we began our daily safety talk to steadily increasing rain. I think I speak for everyone when I say that the rain put a wet, cold blanket over the group as I watched the lowest energy level yet in our group. I felt very frustrated as this was going to be our last day to work our hardest and leave our legacy at the farm. Instead, it appeared that we would be spending the day shivering in our cook tent. Geoff and I took to lighting a campfire for the group to use to stay warm in case we could not work.
Much to our surprise, the rain subsided just as our work day was to start and for the first time in 2 weeks, our complete group of 16 all went to work on the Auditorium. Roughly one third of the building remained to be completed and for the first half of our day, I watched our group struggle with the cold wind, lagging energy, injuries, and periodic cold rain. I for one could barely lift a wheel-barrow by the 11:00 snack. At 11:00, we were treated to a delicious Orange & Passion Fruit cake, coffee and tea. Soon after we returned to work on the Auditorium.
As we worked to our 3:00 lunch, I was so impressed to see a collective change in the energy of the group. Although unspoken, I believe that most of us actually felt that we could finish our phase of the project and the productivity increased with each passing minute. What was so impressive today was that every one of the Interact, Ecuadorian, Argentinian, Venezuelan, and French workers were all working in sync with one another. Every task mattered and was executed by the workers with no prodding from anyone. We all talked about how much we were looking forward to soaking in the hot springs of Papallacta on Sunday. Our adopted Ecuadorian Interactor, Tomas, told us that his father sent him photos from Papallacta and it had snowed today at the hot springs! We hardy Canadians will not be deterred by such unseasonable conditions.
At 2:30, our work group was called for lunch. Instead of leaving their posts, everyone decided to keep working and try to complete the job. We sent Emily to change the music that always plays during the work hours and much to our surprise, Emily turned on ‘We are the Champions’ by Queen. What a fantastic anthem for us to work through the hunger and fatigue we were feeling and we powered through the final phases of our work! The masons were so happy as were all of us. I don’t think that any one of us would have been happy to leave even 5% of our work unfinished! We were all so happy, taking photos, shaking hands, high-fiving, etc.
We finally went to lunch and were served a very tasty stew of potatoes and ground beef. The meal was so tasty that many of us want Juby and Lourdes to pass along the recipe before we leave. To top off the end of the meal, the President of La Esperanza arrived on site and presented all of us with intricate, hand made paper bowls made by the seniors of the community over the past two weeks. What a heartfelt gesture on the part of the community.
The rest of the evening had the majority of the group running helter skelter – showering, washing clothes, repacking bags, and enjoying the last of the daylight. We even got to see a sunset, considering the terrible day we had earlier. Svet and Phil both commented how the Ecuadorian sunsets remind them of Africa as the red sky filters through the variety of trees on the horizon. Nonetheless, I am quite cold as the temperature has dropped to 11 degrees shortly after sunset. Such an odd climate – stinking hot days and frigid, damp nights.
As I write the remainder of the blog, I have our new pet puppy Maple cuddled and sleeping inside of my jacket. She is such a large part of this experience for all of us. It will be difficult to say goodbye to her as well as the rest of our new friends in La Esperanza. Off to the campfire now to close off the night. Luis and Juby are making us pizza in the Dutch oven. We will also spend some time as we do every night searching the sky for the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere.
Happy Friday All! Have a great weekend