Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Peru.


Lima, Peru: Settling in, Work and Play

Posted in Peru on October 7, 2011

I woke up and my back was a little sore today. I think I slept a little funny, although it could have also been from the bed. I feel like my bed on one side dips down a bit. Not enough that I feel like I'm going to fall off or anything just like I'm lower down (lol). Bread must be a normal thing for meals here. We had buns with breakfast again. Although instead of eggs this time we had meat with it. It was like round ham or something maybe a mix of meat. They have this jam, I think its figs. So I put some of that on there too and its sweet tasting. I had lemon tea with my breakfast. The buns we had today for breakfast are the ones that kinda rip apart the top of your mouth when you eat. They taste great though.

Our rides have been on time so far since we started taking the vans. It’s the same couple everyday that drives us in. I don’t know their names yet. Its been pretty crazy the first few times we got on the bus. I'll have to ask them in the next few days. Our rides are always interesting but much the same everyday. Aside from the crazy driving that is.

We got to the job site today and the lady that has the key for our locked room, with our stuff in it was a little late. I went up on the roof to talk to the foreman and see what we were doing for the day. Its not like working at home where you can just get told and go and do it. He tells me what we are doing and I say "no entiendo" (I don’t understand). Then he tries a few more times to explain it and he points to stuff. At this point I figured out we are doing something with rebar. Its amazing what you can figure out with no verbal communication. He pointed to a jig he had set up so I knew right away we were bending rebar for our columns. So all I needed was for him to show me the sizes. Once he did a demo I made some marks and I was able to show the other people that were going to start bending. Today was a lot of cutting and building rebar cages. My work buddy is Jessica, her and I were cutting tie wire to tie all the rebar together. Back home I would just use a zip cut on a grinder to cut through it real fast. Here they use a chisel and a hammer. Then they lay the wire on the rock and hammer the chisel through it. Takes a bit longer but works well because the wire is very thin. The kids in the school all left early on a few buses to go on a field trip. There was about four kids that were hanging around the job site. We found out they were still here because their parents couldn’t afford to send them on the field trip. They hung out and helped us do some work. They seemed to like working with me and Jessica. We had them hitting the chisel with the hammer, while one of us held it. I have to admit I was really worried at first. I didn’t want them to miss and hit my hand. However they all did a great job! The oldest one looked about 8 years old, maybe 10. The youngest one maybe 6. They helped us for a bit, but then went and talked to the other people in our group. They are typical kids they get board easy and then get into mischief, but we had fun and
got a bunch of pictures with them.

Once we got some of the wire cut a group was able to start building rebar cages. Just like construction that I work in, the first time you do something it usually takes a lot longer. To understand what the foremen wanted and do the first cage took about 3-4 hours. It was pretty much lunch before that one was done.


Lunch was a bit hard at first today. We were originally going to eat on the roof, but when we got everything set up and were starting to put sandwiches together, the kids were just standing there watching. It reminded me of a hungry dog looking at you at the dinner table. We were told when we had our orientation that you cant share your food with the kids. You have to be careful about what you share with them. If you don’t have enough for everyone that’s there then you cant share with them. We ended up moving down to one of the classrooms to eat lunch. Our host rep that was there sat with us to make sure the kids stayed out and didn’t bother us during lunch. Its hard not to feel bad for eating in front of the kids. We get a pretty long lunch which is nice because after we eat we have some time to play with the kids. I brought out my hacky sack I brought along with me, and Russ brought some soccer balls so he pumped one up. We got a group of us together and started playing with the hacky sack and the kids came over to join us. Were not the best at it and I think that was good because they had a fun time playing with us. If we kept it up in the air for more then three or four times everyone cheered. After about 10 minutes of playing with the hacky sack, a soccer ball came flying up on the roof. Russ tossed it up from the ground and immediately the kids started playing with it. However kids will be kids, and as soon as one of them seen some dogs messing around on the ground he thought it would be a good idea to throw the ball off the roof at them. Of course he didn’t come close but the ball rolled way down the hill. So we sent him after it to go get it.

Back to work after some fun with the kids. We managed to get 2 more rebar cages done by the end of the day and stood them both up. I think that were making really good progress so far. Also we're getting to be really friendly with the workers and learning more Spanish everyday. Even if its only one or two words. The workers are becoming more out going and I think they are enjoying working with us. Near the end of the day I handed out some hard hats and safety vests to the workers that were donated from my work, FRPD (Fraser River Pile and Dredge). We got some group photos and then some with just me and the guys. That was the end of the day and we got in our van bus and headed home.

On the way home we got some some busy parts and the traffic came to a stop. The lady in the bus was telling us to close our windows and keep our stuff down. I guess it’s a usually thing that people come up and grab things like cameras and bags out of the windows of cabs and buses that tourist are riding in.
We made it back to the hostel safe and sound. Once we were back it turned out that one group of girls locked their room key in the room. The best part was that the guy working here that barely speaks English told them he didn’t have a spare key. They got all worried and went up to their room to see if there was any way to get in and the guy came up with the key. He totally played a trick on them (lol).

Paul Sweryda
DWC Participant
Lima, Peru October 2011

Donate Now