Whew, CAP (Community Action Project) Day 1, CAP Day done. It was a long, testing day but one that taught us all something. Due to some of the health problems that the glimpsers have acquired over the past few days, wake up time was extended by an hour – something I’m sure we all appreciated. We’ve never been disappointed by La Estancia, but today’s breakfast was especially a treat: a delectable, gooey, potato pancake, with an egg only adding to the tasty flavor ensemble. After some quick words of encouragement, we hopped on the bus to Las Gradas, the site of our CAP.
There may have been a few wrong turns here and there on the way, but when we hopped off the bus at the school, everyone was rearing to go. The planning from the previous few days proved key today – as soon as the materials arrived, the Ovilla garden was a beehive of activity, as Glimpsers and Gradas residents alike commenced a maelstrom of hammering, nailing, shoveling, and digging. Once we built up momentum, we were unstoppable – except for the occasional break to load up on water and Joshua’s favorite sweetbread. Several hours passed in the blink of an eye, and as the chalk white school buildings faded in the bus’s back window as we returned to Guaranda, spirits were high. Once we returned to Hostal Bolivar, a quick but productive meeting accounted our progress for the day, and established the roadmap for the rest of the project. It’s not going to be easy, but if we build on what we accomplished today, we’re going to be golden. Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say that your children will never be able to look at a fence or hammer the same way after this trip.
After some much needed rest, we returned to everyone’s favorite restaurant and I was lucky enough to experience chicken with ham and cheese for the first time. I have no idea how I was able to go 17 years without treating my taste buds to this experience. A brief period of wandering the city or playing a heated game of cards later, we embarked to the high school for our, sadly, 3rd to last English lesson. Many of the children were gone for finals – something that all of us can certainly relate to – so several of the intermediate classes were merged. Dare I say we made learning the past/present/perfect and object pronouns fun, if not at least digestible? Hopefully our students would corroborate this, but no promises.
As we exchanged our thanks and goodbyes, we had no idea what was waiting for us on the final pilgrimage to La Estancia for the day. Perhaps because it was garbage day, or for some other inexplicable reason, the downtown was consumed by stray dogs, which swarmed the streets, chasing after cars. Thankfully, all of us emerged with nothing more serious than some bruised hearts which were fixed promptly by some of Anna’s delicious walnut cake.
Full in spirit and stomach, we returned to Hostal Bolívar for the last time for the day. One quick nightly meeting later, as the last stragglers returned to their rooms and turn off their lights, I can speak for the group that while we’ll have no trouble getting some valuable sleep time tonight, we’ll be up and bright and early tomorrow, ready to finish out our last precious days here on a high note.