Thursday, June 30, 2011

Venezuela Days 3, 4, and 5

First, let me appologize forw the lapse posting. The internet connection at the hotel has gotten overwhelmed a few times in the last few days.

Secondly, rest assured I am taking a plethora of pictures but due to the slowness of the internet connection, I will not be able to post them until I get back home.

Monday morning we made a trip to the Venezuelan version of our blue or orange big box home building supply, In Venezuela it is called EPA and the logo is a giant creepy looking scorpion. We purchased so many supplies that we filled a Ford Ranger past the roofline.

Much like the big boxes in the states, they did not have everything we needed, so after lunch with the boys at Project Jonas' farm, we drove into downtown to the electrical supply store. Despite having a translator along to assist, I had a difficult time getting anyone to understand what a inch and a half male adaptor was. I resorted to pointing to pieces on display. I finally spotted a listing on the end of a shelf a determined in Venezuela they are called "macho adaptor".

By the time we got back to the farm it was around 3pm, so I focused on some small projects. I replaced a light fixture in the kitchen, replaced numerous burned out light bulbs, managed to get a couple ceiling fans back to working, installed blank plates over some open electrical boxes with live wires, installed two new lights in a couple bathrooms, and a GFI outlet in one bathroom.

After returning to the hotel, we grabbed showers, headed to dinner, had a brief team meeting, and collapsed into bed.

Tueday morning the alarm seemed to go off to early. We drug ourselves out of bed, brushed our teeth with bottled water and headed down to breakfast. The hotel served eggs, plantains, black beans and cut up hot dogs. It was very delicious.

We had a list of additional items needed so we made another trip to Epa and to the electrical supply house then onto the farm. Others on our team were working on digging a ditch for installing a drain field, while others were renovating two bathrooms, and still others were rebuilding closets in the boys rooms.

We began running 200ft of PVC conduit with pullboxes and pulling wiring for a pump or in spanish El Bombo. The pump is pretty important as the city water supply to the farm is only on two hours a day. So the fill huge tanks constructed under a huge rear terrace and then rely on the pump to supply water pressure to fill toilets and run showers. This had been down due to electrical issues for quite sometime.

We reached a stopping point on this work around 4pm, so we went to check on another one of our groups working on constructing an 8 by 10 concrete block enclosure for garbage. They had dug the footers and constructed forms for pouring the concrete slab. When we walked up, they were in the process of mixing concrete on the ground. I had mixed concrete in wheel barrows numerous times working with my Dad growing up, but this was amazing. I grabbed a shovel and began helping mix.
Before long I could not lift a shovel of concrete. More of our team walked up and relieved those of us tiring. After a few hours the whole 8 by 10 slab was poured and looked pretty darn good for hand mixed concrete.
I was very impressed how the boys joined us in all the work we were doing and worked really hard.

We piled into the vans for the hotel where we scrubbed dirt and concrete off our bodies in the showers before dinner. Then another brief meeting and once again we collapsed into our beds totally exhausted.

Wednesday started with a brief trip for souvenir shopping. The market area reminded me of a flea market in the states. We spent an hour or so wondering thru the shops picking up a few items for the folks at home and then made another trip to Epa for supplies.

We arrived at the farm just in time for lunch with was once again amazing local cuisine. I got an interpreter to help me communicate with a couple local volunteers who had been working with me on running the new wiring for the pump. They had just finished connecting it and it worked. Prior to this, the boys had to fill toilet tanks with buckets of water. But now, they once again had water pressure to properly operate toilets.

I checked in on the group redoing the bathrooms and installed a couple blank plates over some wall boxes and packed away my electrical pouch.

We then went down to assist the group working on the trenching job. They had completed the trench and had gravel laid in, so I grabbed the drainage pipe, a saw, and some PVC glue and began assembling the drainage pipe. As we completed a section, some of the group followed behind us and filled with gravel. By the time we were finished we were covered in mud to our knees and completely exhausted.

We hosed off best we could and loaded up for the hotel. After consuming all the hot water at the hotel taking showers, we dressed and headed to the lobby. We were divided into small groups and sent off to have dinner in homes of church members.

Fortunately for us, a spanish teacher in our group accompanied Allison and I. We went to the home of a local couple who were wonderful hosts. The wife had prepared a delicious traditional meal complete with salad and hand made dressing, Carne Asada and rice, and plantains. We all cleaned our plates. She then suprised us with passion fruit dessert and to top it all off she made Venezuelan coffee which was the best coffee I have ever tasted. We enjoyed several hours visiting with their family before heading back to the hotel.

2 comments:

Bill (cycleguy) said...

Sounds like a full schedule for your days Allen.

RichardM said...

It sounds like you are having a great trip and getting somewhat immersed into the local community. Running water and staying in a hotel sounds pretty cushy ;-)

Can't wait to see the pictures...

Richard