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Published: August 25th 2011
While I had a great time with the group I have to admit that it was kind of exhausting. I am looking forward to being back in Coban and having a little bit of a routine in the office. Jorge and I worked together to create budgets and agendas for the next two groups who are arriving in September. I am picking things up pretty quickly and I am glad when I can be of some help somehow. My main goal especially in these first few weeks is to be less of a burden that I am help. I know that this is not always the case for a new employee and particularly for a new employee in a new culture. So far I think I’ve done pretty well on my burden to help ratio and I hope to continue that trend ☺
On Thursday Jorge and I retuned to the community of Chitixl, where we had been with the group the week before, to check on the progress of the latrines. When we arrived the president of the community was there to greet us. Jorge asked him to show us to where the albanils were working today. We started
up a hill with a gaggle of kids around us. We walked and walked along a narrow path with kids leapfrogging in front of us and then waiting for us to catch up. Luckily Jorge and I had each grabbed a pair of rubber boots because it had rained overnight and the path was very muddy.
We continued to walk along the path that followed the side of one of the mountains. After about half an hour of hiking Jorge asked the men where exactly we were going. In front of us there was a fairly good-sized hill just in front of the backdrop of the mountains. They answered back in rapid Q’eqchi’ while motioning up and over. Jorge explained that the house was just on the other side. So we hiked along the switchbacks up the hill and back down the hill and then we started up the MOUNTAIN!!! The house that we were going to was just on the other side of the mountain, not the hill like I had previously thought. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one getting winded, Jorge was right there with me. He is from a village very near the coast and neither
of us is completely used to the air at this altitude. What amazed me even more were these kids who were hiking with us, with their little backpacks on, walking home from school. Every day they make this trek to and from school up and down a mountain. Jorge told me that they have to leave at about 6 in the morning to be able to make it to school on time.
As we were about half way up the side of the mountain we passed the workers coming down. They were all finished with those latrines and were off to the next house. We decided that we had made it this far we were going to make it all the way. We forged on making our way quite literally into the clouds. The misty air of the clouds surrounded us as we continued up the mountain. After about an hour and forty-five minutes of hiking we broke out of the woods on the other side of the mountain to a pristine and majestic view. It was the clearest air I think I have ever inhaled. Just a ways down the slope was a small wood house with smoke
rising from the chimney. On the side of a hill close to the house was the newly laid latrine. With the same construction as all of the others but this one had an incredible view!
We visited for a short time with the family and then headed back to the other side of the mountain to catch up with the workers at their new location. Now we couldn’t simply hike slowly back down the upper side of the mountain, noooo! These guys were flying down. And I thought that down hill was going to be easier! I had to just let go and let myself fall down the mountain to try and keep up with them. Somehow I got the hang of it and was actually able to stay upright. Over the next few hours we visited a few more latrines in the hills on the other side of the mountain and then started to head back to the main road.
At a quick pit stop on the way back the president of the community and Jorge were talking in Q’eqchi’, pointing to the top of a very steep hill that we were walking on the side of.
I joked with Jorge “What they want us to go up and over it rather than around it?” He explained to me that the president of the community had some firewood at the top that he wanted to bring down with him, “but I don’t think you are going to make it. It is very steep and there is no trail,” he said. Out of my desire to improve my burden to help ratio and probably somewhat due to my stubbornness, competitiveness, and feminist spirit I said, “No let’s go! I can do it!”
We basically climbed on our hands and knees, the underbrush sliding out from under our feet. We griped on to the nearest twig, branch, or cornstalk we could find. Breaking our own trail we tried to stay close to the ground in an attempt to escape the branches that were clawing at us as we climbed higher. We emerged out of the thick underbrush into the woods at the top of the hill. There we rested while the president bundled up his firewood. Jorge and I sat on a log catching our breath, twigs sticking out of our hair in every direction. After a few
seconds he says to me with a smile on his face, “You know it is really good that you can do everything with me. You can eat anything, you can climb anything, I was expecting a lot worse.” Oh yes! Definitely a rise in my burden to help ratio ☺
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