Day 4: Vuelta Grande

Written by: Jack Fogelquist

There I was, hanging out in the bike shop with my father. The next song came on on the shop stereo; it was catchy and upbeat – I’d never heard it before. We enjoyed it in the background, and after some time went by, realized it was still going. Time went on and it wouldn’t stop, so annoyed, I walked over to the stereo and turned it off. The song didn’t stop though. Puzzeled, we stepped outside, and looking around, noticed others doing the same. We all began to start walking towards the music, with the crowd growing as the music continued. We ended up at a large parking lot to find a tall red cylindrical machine with a large amplifier on top. The song had been going on for some time now, and frustrated, we hurried toward the machine to find some way to turn it off. As we got close, we found Karl dancing next to it. We asked him to turn it off, but he showed us his iPod screen, and there were only 15 seconds left. We understandably let Karl enjoy the rest of the song, anticipating it’s ending. It faded out, and as everyone celebrated, it started right back up again. We were furious, and all of a sudden I woke up to see that this song had been on repeat as David’s alarm clock on his iPod. We had slept through who knows how long of that song playing over and over and over, and David was still asleep, despite the iPod being three inches from his head. “Dang…those must be some good earplugs,” I thought to myself. As funny as this coming to consciousness was, I was still annoyed by the song and wanted to stop it. “Tap, tap, tap, tap,” before I knew it, Jose was knocking on our door, so I got up to let him in. “Breakfast is ready guys,” so I threw my stuff together and David pulled his earplugs out, realizing the alarm had been going off for a while. We went downstairs to meet Thomas, and had a good laugh about my dream over a tasty desayuno of watermelon, pineapple, bread, cream cheese, and homemade jam. Stoked, we headed around the corner to La Union, where we met with everyone and hopped aboard the bus. Our first stop was the hardware store. I’ve been on the digging crew, so we didn’t need anything in particular. Erbin entertained us by telling us the names of a bunch of powertools en espanol, and we had fun exploring the upstairs area. I’d never seen a hardware store with such nice display cases – all glass and well lit. Shae, Mel, Kalika, Jose, and I all had to use the bathroom, and when we looked for it, only found one. Unsure of whether it was for guys or girls, we found that it was for both! I’d never seen that before. After a quick bus ride to drop some food off at La Union, we picked everyone back up at the hardware store, and embarked up the windy road to Vuelta Grande. Eager to get started, Janaye, Thomas, Nick, Jose, Kelli, Erbin, and I got to digging and surveying, realizing how close we were to finishing leveling the area for the tanks. Thomas and I working on digging steps that went into the pit, while everyone else worked quickly to finish the leveling. Erbin had some great techniques for smoothing and packing the finished product, and we cut up some water bottles to sprinkle water on the top-soil so that it could soak in evenly. Two of the girls from our homestay arrived on a scooter to drop off our lunch, which was super nice of them, considering we were so far away. It was even still warm, and we all shared almuerzo together under the shade of the centro del salud. With the digging on track, I decided to see what everyone else was working on, and take some pictures. I was blown away with how much had gotten done! Everyone has worked so well together, it was really amazing seeing the difference between today and yesterday morning. The springbox no longer had random pipes, pumps, and wiring in and around it (not to mention all the landscaping and machete tree chopping that had been done), and looked really good. Nathan and David took one for the team and delved into the enigmatic main chamber of the spring box to get the remaining mud and water out. It was greasy down there, and being as careful as I could, I climbed down and still got a big mudspot on my back. It was sweet seeing Evan and Josh’s gutter reinforcement project; they somehow got around needing to weld with some crafty cutting and bending with the angle grinder and vice. When I went back over to the tank site, there was a mass of locals, all stoked to help, digging a trench where the piping was to be layed. Things are going smoooth, plus there was a bonfire going to get rid of the excess shrubbery. Everyone was cranking; there weren’t even any excess tools lying around, so I couldn’t help dig. I went down to visit Kalika, Eric, and Pablo, who unfortunately haven’t been feeling very well. They were hanging out with Christian and Marvin, two of the local kids, who were absolutely captivated by the games on Kalika and Thomas’ smartphones. That was fun to see, and definitely raised the group energy. As dusk neared and clean-up went on, Christian walked up and took my camera off from around my neck, setting it on a nearby slab of concrete. He grabbed my wrist and started running toward the steep grassy hill, pulling me along, and yelled “rollando!” as we jumped off the edge and rolled down a ways. I hadn’t done anything like that since I was little, and we laughed the whole way down. We raced back to the top, and I let him use my camera, which he seemed to enjoy. He even took some pretty cool shots, which impressed me. We got a big soccer ball juggling session going, and gave some high fives and “hasta mananas” to the kids before getting on the bus and cruising back into town. Janaye, Nathan, Nick, Thomas, David, Jose, and I went on a little shopping adventure to the market, which was crazy! It was like a full city in there, with tons of little alleys and nooks and crannies between stores. There was definitely some cool stuff for sale; we’ll have to make another trip when we have more time. On the walk over there, there was an amazing sight; one of the distant volcanoes was smoking, which was backlit by the setting sun, giving orange and purple tones. As if that weren’t enough, the nearby 400 year old church filled the foreground; incredible. When we got back to our homestay, Mama Cony welcomed us with a delicious dinner of rellano, ensalada, aroz, chips, y pan dulce. So good. Jose, David, Thomas, and I had a great time talking about around the dinner table, and continued the conversation at la cantina next door over a couple cold Gallos. What a day! Everyday has been an entirely new adventure, and I feel so blessed to get to have this experience. To top it off, there was just an earth-shaking rumble of one of the distant volcanoes – I’d never heard anything like it! Who knows what tomorrow will bring!

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