Amaury from Belgium tells us about his #LuckyMonth visiting Guatemala. He shares his experience building better lives for three families in Santa Cruz Balanyá, building a school in Cuidad Vieja, all the while exploring the sites of Guatemala on the weekends!
It’s 7:30 am. The city of Antigua is already buzzing. The scooters and tuk-tuks zip along the streets. On the buses, the driver’s mates hang from the door shouting the destination of their vehicles to passers-by. But despite this hustle and bustle of people, nature is present to remind them of its domination, with the volcanoes and mountains that surround and overlook the city.
In front of San Sebastián Park, I’m waiting with Paul, another volunteer who comes from Florida, for the arrival of our driver Mario. He is a Guatemalan mason and he will take us to the village of Santa Cruz Balanyá.
This is how my first day in Guatemala began. That day, I still could not imagine the incredible experience that I would have here, in Guatemala…
The first two weeks I worked with Paul, Mario and some other Guatemalan workers on the construction of 3 houses for 3 underprivileged families in Santa Cruz Balanyá. They aren’t big houses with a swimming pool and a tennis court. They are only small houses built with blocks and a roof of corrugated iron, and have 2 rooms (one a bedroom for all the family, and the other a small bathroom). They are little, but they are the essentials. The main thing is to give a roof over the head of those families.
The last two weeks I participated in the construction of a school in another city, Ciudad Vieja. It was a big project. So, I was with a big team of masons and workers: Bimbo, Otto, Chipilin, Carlos, Carlos (also), Luis, Luis (also), Marvin (aka “Tres Puntos”, because of his tattoo with 3 points on his forehead) and Edwin. It was a very nice team! During the breaks, we shared our meals and played football together.
Before I volunteered I didn’t have experience in construction, but it was not a problem. No matter your age or ability, you will be able to help!
During my volunteer experience, I was able to travel each weekend. I climbed volcano Pacaya and cooked some marshmallows above the lava, I explored the Maya temples of Tikal in the jungle, I swam in the natural and turquoise pools of Semuc Champey, I sailed on Lake Atitlán and I slept at the summit of volcano Acatenango, lighted by the eruptions of neighbouring volcano Fuego.
I saw a lot of cities and landscapes, but my best experience was my exchanges with the Guatemalan people. I lived with a Guatemalan family, I ate the Guatemalan food and I worked each day with Guatemalan workers. I think that when you explore a country as a tourist, you know only get to know a small part of it. In fact, you can travel more by staying seated and talking with a local.
Following my time volunteering with Constru Casa, I’m sure of one thing: it’s only through the people that you can explore the world.