Contributed by Nick Archer
Global Village Team Member
With our first day complete here in beautiful Cartago, Costa Rica, I can report that we are tired and sore; a little more red than yesterday as we work to achieve the perfect "farmer's tan" to make our friends and family back in MN extremely jealous; and most importantly, we have broke ground on the house...a lot of ground.
As I’m learning, one quality a volunteer must have on any Global Build is the willingness to adapt. Adapt to everything. You experience changes in some expected ways like your daily routine, types of food, sleep, and the host country’s language and culture. These are normal of course, but the ones that catch you off guard are the challenges, and there are always challenges.
How you adapt to those challenges, and especially the ones early on, set the tone for the whole week. I can proudly say that our team handled one today effortlessly, with a great attitude through very physical work, and by supporting each other. We expected to be digging 32 post holes on our way to adding walls in the next phase of construction. Instead we were informed we needed to dig down and remove almost two feet of dirt across the entire footprint of the house (450 sq ft) so the concrete slab foundation could be added later. This task is typically done prior to us arriving, but instead of complaining about the change of plans, everyone grabbed a shovel with no hesitation. It had to be done to move forward.
It was inspiring for me to witness, much like the daunting tortilla con queso “snack” yesterday, everyone pushed through.
I also appreciated how well everyone worked together and didn’t require direction throughout the day. Everyone found their speed, shared tools and skills, knew when to take breaks, looked out for each other’s safety, and worked together to move the earth. We were an efficient machine set on having the foundation hole completely dug by the end of our first day.
I know the motivation for everyone to finish the back-breaking work (I never appreciated a Bobcat more than today), was so that the future owners of the home, Marcela and her son Heiner could walk around in the space that will become their home. And they did!
I watched them step through what will be their kitchen as I could smell the delicious food they will cook and share with their family and friends. As they walked to the other end of the house, although I couldn’t hear or understand the conversation, I observed the body language and smiles… this would be 14 year old Heiner’s own bedroom. Of course, across the world, every teenager’s dream!
Tomorrow we move on to the original goal of digging 32 holes through the same hard-packed clay soil we labored in today.
But we will certainly work hard together, adapt as a group, and will be one step closer to a home for Marcela and Heiner. That’s our reward and why we volunteer. The warm weather and break from a long Minnesota winter are our bonus!