Scott, United States
"What a trip! My Dad and I volunteered with Constru Casa for a couple weeks to help build a house for a poor Guatemalan family outside of Antigua. I was a little apprehensive of what our living conditions would be like during our local homestay, but my Dad and I both later commented on how surprisingly comfortable it ultimately turned out to be. Having a clean, comfortable (and quiet) place to sleep at night was REALLY helpful after spending the day performing labor at the build site.
We also felt spoiled in that we had a laundry facility just a couple buildings down from our home stay. In the mornings we would typically drop off our laundry (soiled from the previous workday) and in the evenings after work, we would pick it up.
As far as a typical day went while building the house, we would get picked up in the morning and driven out to the build site with the local builders. My dad and I really liked the guys we built the house with. We spoke limited spanish, but were able to converse with them quite a bit and form a friendship with them over the 2-week build. I also was impressed with the level of patience that they had when explaining how to perform the various tasks during the build. I feel like I learned quite a bit on how to prep the ground before the build, how to lay a foundation for a small house, mix and pour concrete (with the right consistency), correctly lay the cinderblocks, and how to put on a metal roof, etc. A lot of the more interesting things I learned were less about the build and more from just being totally emerged with the local people and getting to observe a totally different way of life.
In the evenings, my Dad and I would spend time out in local restaurants meeting really interesting locals and foreigners. Antigua is a pretty quiet little town, but for us it was perfect. Throughout our trip we also had the chance to hike one of the nearby volcanoes and toast marshmallows off of molten rocks (so fun). We also had the chance to visit Lake Atitlan and get open water scuba certified (roughly 2.5 hours from Antigua I believe). The water levels at Lake Atitlan have been rising over the years, so numerous rock stairways, terraces and buildings are now underwater. At one point during our scuba diving at Lake Atitlan, we found ourselves exploring an abandoned underwater bar that still had beer bottles on the counters. Imagine 4 people sitting underwater at a bar clinking beer bottles together and enjoying the ridiculousness of the situation. Truly mind-blowing.
I’d also like to briefly talk about the staff at Constru Casa. We didn’t get to meet Caroline van Heerde (the founder of Constru Casa) but got to hang out with a lot of the other staff members who work there in the Antigua office. The Constu Casa staff were not only genuinely nice people, but went really far out of their way to make sure that we were really having a great Guatemalan experience. We even got to hang out with them outside of the build at a local hot springs pool and have a few fun meals with them. Caroline couldn’t have found better people to be running the operations there at Constru Casa.
All in all, my Dad and I had one of the most memorable volunteer trips we could have hoped for. I’d be surprised if we didn’t volunteer with them again in the future".