Last night was amazing. When we arrived at the project site after supper, we joined 30+ men of all ages in a fast-paced, enthusiastic effort to pour the solera (a concrete cap on top of all walls). The action included lots of whistles and cheers, and a spirited competition between the mixing crew and the delivery crew to see who could work faster. Women and children stood on the sidelines laughing and enjoying the scene. From 7pm to 9pm, we mixed 30 batches of concrete using hundreds of buckets of sand and gravel, transported it by a caravan of five wheel barrows, then handed it by bucket to the top of the wall where it was poured into freshly-made forms. In fact, the last form was completed just in time to support the last bucket of concrete.

One of our cooks made a giant batch of treats to share with the workers. She had planned to arrive at 10pm, but her friends frantically called to inform her of the rapid progress. She rushed to the project site with three large pots of food and juice, arriving just as we finished pouring the last bucket. The crowd of 60 mingled for a few minutes enjoying food and friends, then slowly drifted into the night. I shared a few words of congratulation with the construction foreman (Maestro Julio) and the community leaders (Froilan and Don Chema). We’ve pushed them hard. They’re used to spending three months on a project of this size, and we’ll have completed it in less than three weeks. The project isn’t over yet, but success is now clearly on the horizon. The community is committed to completing the structural elements (foundation, walls, and roof) before we depart next Thursday and, if tonight’s demonstration of community spirit is any indication of their will, I believe they’ll succeed.

We wished to capture the moment in picture, but the dim light and the fast action could only be captured by our memories. We’re grateful to each of you for your encouragement and financial support. You were an important partner in this evening’s achievement.

–Brian