It’s day five in Guatemala and a day that I’m not going to forget for quite some time. We left the Black Cat at 7:30am and followed the scent of fresh bread to Xelapan, a local bakery that sells every variety of pastry imaginable. All the breads had local names in Spanish, so I ended up biting into a mini omelet when I was expecting a cinnamon bun. However, it was a fun and delicious breakfast, and our team discovered, surprisingly, our mutual like of the “pan con frijoles”, or bean buns.
We spent the rest of the morning working on the turbine. The blades are coming together. The women gave us beautiful hand-woven maize and blue textiles and we used epoxy to form them into the shapes of the turbine. The structure, transmission, and circuit are done; all that is left is integration. Baring any unforeseen issues, we should be done by early Friday- but on a project like this, there are always unforeseen issues haha
After a lunch at Cafe Red (fajitas with homemade corn tortillas and smoothies) we got in a van and left for the village. The drive up was breathtaking. We left the city and wound up the mountain, passing endless fields of corn and people winding dozens of yards of thread along the side of the road. All too quickly, the ride was over and we arrived in the village.
As seven large Americans stepped out of the van, I could feel every head in the village turn towards us. People didn’t glance at us and look away; they stared unabashedly. We took a walk around the main part of the village, and it was clear that people didn’t know what to think, and I think they may have even been a bit afraid. Some younger kids in the village gave us a tentative ”Hola”, but the general feeling was not welcoming. I don’t think the village has many foreign visitors, and our group, featuring six foot tall Evan, stood out like a sore thumb. We walked around the church and the school, then headed back to our host family’s house.
The family that we stayed with has a son named Lucas who is around five years old. When we first got back to the house, he ran and hid behind his mom’s skirt, but within the hour we had him playing a game of “futbol” with us. He was an incredibly talented little soccer player, and lead his team fearlessly to victory :) After a few hours, we were all hot and exhausted so we sat down and taught Lucas how to play “Go Fish”. It was hard to tell whether he preferred successfully getting a pair or getting told to “vete a pescar!”.
At around 9, dinner was ready, and Martina, the mother of the house, called us inside. She and Wendy had prepared a meal of black beans, rice and eggs, and hand-ground corn tortillas which were fresh out of the stove. Logically, I know it couldn’t have been the best meal I’ve ever had, but it certainly tasted like it in the moment.
After dinner, it was time for a talk and then bed. Our group had a lot to discuss; it was the first time in the village for most of us, and the feeling of being so completely alien in a place is something that I can’t describe in words. It wasn’t easy, but it’s going to give us the perspective to create a much stronger design. The night promised to be cold, but I learned more about the cultural context of the project in one day than I had in a whole year of work, so all in all, it was an incredible day. It’s a day I won’t forget for quite some time.
-Genevieve (or Gigi for all the Guatemalans who said “como?!” when I told them my name)