by Zachary Wander ’18
Today was another work day. We were going to a Habitat for Humanity site (Hábitat para la humanidad), called Los gutierrez, located in San rafael del sur.
We had to be at Rafaela’s house at 6:30 to be able to eat, leave and arrive on time, so we were all pretty tired. At 7:30, we all boarded the bus, and took a 1:40 drive to where we were going to be working. There, we learned exactly what we were going to be doing for the rest of the day: we were going to be digging. Specifically, we needed to dig out a hillside, in order to prevent the nearby house from flooding when it rains. The dirt we were to dig out was going to be used to redirect the water to the side of the house, while the extra space between the hill and house acted as extra protection.
Before we started, though, we had to put on a lot of safety gear. Because we were using pickaxes to loosen the dirt and clay, we all needed to wear hard hats to prevent injuries in case of a stray swing. It was also recommended that we wear back braces (which we all did), so that the constant motion of swinging an axe or moving a shovel wouldn’t cause any damage.
Once we started (around 9:30), it was already very hot, and there were no clouds in the sky at all, so it just kept getting hotter. But we all persevered and worked through the heat, pickaxing out dirt, chiseling the sides of the cutouts we made, and moving the loose dirt farther up the hill. We were told that the best way to dig out the area was to divide it up into sections, making 2-3-foot wide troughs to dig out and level (2 had already been started when we arrived). It was surprisingly slow work. Even after 2 hours, we hadn’t even finished 1 trough.
At 12:00, we took a break for lunch, starting again at 1:00. The plan was to leave at around 2:00, so it was pretty obvious we weren’t going to dig out the whole area. However, in that hour, we did manage to finish the 3 troughs, all of us tired and covered in dirt.
We got back to Rafaela’s at around 4:00, where a lot of people decided to make a trip back to their homes to take a quick shower. After that, we ate dinner, and then waited to go to another party at Kevin’s house. I wasn’t planning on going, so I left at 6:30, but the rest waited until 7:00 to leave.