Agatha Clean-up

It was 4:00 a.m. on Saturday morning when I woke up to the relentless rain pounding on the corrugated metal roof.  A quick chat with other Quetzaltrekkers guides concluded with a unanimous decision to cancel all trips for the weekend.  The wrath of tropical storm Agatha had dropped Guatemala into an uninvited mud bath.

On Tuesday we finally spotted our near-forgotten shadows and soaked up some overdue Vitamin D.  All of the Quetzaltrekkers colunteers put our promotions duties on hold to visit Las Rosas, the neighborhood of Escuela de la Calle (EDELAC).  We met up at the school and with EDELAC teachers, volunteers, students, parents, and the kids from Hogar Abierto.  Everybody grabbed tools, split up, and headed out to fix the worst of the damage in Rosas.

We followed EDELAC founder/director Guadelupe up a narrow canyon, passing by an abandoned house.  ¨That´s a tiny house,¨ I mused at first glance, only to realize that our dirt ´trail´ was actually a river of mud that had solidified and thereby raised the ground level up four feet. Unfortunately, that river had also filled the house, leaving only the top few feet visible.

QT guide Russell standing on the river of mud.

We continued up to the house of one of EDELAC´s third graders.  Armando nervously greeted our group, but soon revealed his excitement to grab a shovel and work alongside.  Our first priority was a new location for the family´s water tank as it was in danger of sliding down the steep canyon walls.  After stabling the tank and installing a retaining wall, everyone lent a hand to dig out the stairs.

An assembly line quickly formed as teachers attacked the ground with shovels, Guadelupe filled barrels of dirt, volunteers emptied the muck across the canyon.  I realize we merely put a band-aid on a much broader problem, yet, it was truly inspiring to see the immediate cooperation of everyone involved.


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