Volunteer Testimonial: Volcanos, Hard Work, and Spanish Lessons

volcano buena onda

By David Moore, Buena Onda Volunteer

Today I woke up earlier than usual, wanting to get a couple of moments to myself before the day started. I went on the roof of the hostel with a cup of hot coffee and enjoyed the cold air. The temperature was only 60 degrees, but my blood is slowly getting used to Guatemala and a temperature that just a few days ago I would have thought was perfect, is now cold for my body. When I was watching the sun slowly peak out of the ground at 5:45, I looked at Volcan de Fuego and saw the orange lava spray from the top like it frequently does. It was a beautiful sight. I kept watching the volcano until 6:15 and it went off one more time until I had to go back downstairs and get breakfast at Violetta’s.

The group of us walked from the hostel to Violetta’s ready to begin our day. When we got there, she had a plate of french toast, papayas, and bananas ready for us. Breakfast was delicious and everyone was prepared to go to work and continue to help the small pueblos of Guatemala. This week I have been working in the pueblo of Santa Maria where we have been cleaning the roof of a school by gathering hundreds of pieces of wood, pulling nails out from them and stacking them neatly in a pile. Today we finally finished that long process and we swept the entire roof and stacked stray cinder blocks and other material. This sounds like tedious work, but when you look at the big picture, the wood will be used to build new structures for the school, these new structures will provide more children the opportunity to go to school, with children being able to go to school, their parents can work and help provide more for their families. Once we were done cleaning up the roof we began painting the walls of the roof to make it look more welcoming. We ended up getting half of the wall done and we hope to finish it all on our last day at the project tomorrow.

We left Santa Maria at 12:00 and took a chicken bus back to Antigua. We have been getting on the bus going back to Antigua at the same time the last four days and we have made new friends. Two older women by the names of Amanda and Lillian. They both enjoy talking to us and helping us with our Spanish as much as possible. We got off the bus in Antigua at 12:40 and arrived at Violetta’s where another amazing meal of steak, rice, and tomatoes with the option of putting them all together in a tortilla awaited our group. When we left Violetta’s we had an hour before Spanish class, so I quickly did my Spanish homework, which was a worksheet on the difference between ser and estar. Both of these words mean “to be” in Spanish, but ser can only be used when talking about possession, and estar can only be used on things that are temporary. Once I finished the worksheet I got a coffee and headed to my Spanish lesson.

My Spanish lesson lasted three hours. We went over my homework, and I got 39 out of 40 questions correct. We then played a game where we switched off asking and answering questions in Spanish. These lessons are very long, but they are also extremely helpful for me to understand the language and be able to communicate with people on the worksites.

Once Spanish ended at 17:00 a group of us went out to dinner where a restaurant called The Londonary was having a two for one deal on hamburgers. The hamburgers were very good but took an hour to get. Once we finished our meal, we walked back to the hostel and just relaxed for the rest of the day. I decided to call my girlfriend who I had not been able to talk to for most of the trip. I told her about everything that we have done and everything we were planning on doing. We could have talked all night, but we both got tired after two hours on the phone. We hung up at around 21:30 and headed to bed. Today was a great day and I am very much enjoying my time in Guatemala.