My 21 year old son sent in a guest blog from Argentina - a sunrise outing and an amazing day.
But first ---- I include one photo only for its suggestion of my episode in the back fields this morning. I COULD have taken a photo of the 20 pound fawn that I held in my hands after screaming at the dogs to get away from him, while his mother huffed and bleated from the woods. But I was too caught up in the moment.
Clara flushed him out, all three joined the chase. I was much slower to catch up and saw Guster making jabs at the poor thing, but at least they finally backed off in response to my hysterics. Little guy seemed paralyzed, but after I lifted him to his feet he ran off. I hope he's okay.
Here they are. All wet and panting and wishing they could go back for more hot pursuit. Guster is bound by a belt I had on.
I'm wet and panting too. Time to get in better shape.
Well - vamanos a la Argentina -- Gracias S!
Report from Argentina - courtesy of S.
Inspired by my sister’s guest blog a few days back, I finally decided to take the plunge and get up to watch the sunrise at…8:00, the wonderfully not-so-late time that the sun rises here in the southern hemisphere. I actually got up at 6 on Sunday, just as I had on Saturday, to bus out to one of the many poor suburbs of Buenos Aires and build a house for a young, impoverished family. We worked with Un Techo para mi País (A Roof for my Country), a wonderful non-profit organization that fights poverty by building simple, but sturdy, houses for families that could not otherwise afford a decent roof over their heads.
Unfortunately, this meant that I had to watch the sunrise from a moving bus.
But that didn’t stop me (as my girlfriend T. will attest) from doing everything I possibly could to capture it on camera. Here’s a (very) small sample of my efforts. I apologize in advance for the photo-heavy blog.
T. wasn’t really paying any attention anyways.
I loved how sometimes the blurred billboards and wires and buildings would almost seem to become transparent, allowing the impressionistic sunrise to glow right through them.
A halfway-decent job – certainly nothing like the stunning pinks and oranges of N.’s guest blog (even though I did start watching a full 40 minutes before official sunrise time), but some nice images nonetheless. It got especially beautiful as we approached the poor neighborhood, right around 8:00, and I could shoot straight out the back of the bus (much more effective than the side)…
And because we had to travel so slowly over the dirt roads that I could snap quick shots of side roads like this one:
The barbed wire has an ominous effect juxtaposed with the glowing sunrise. In any case, I think that a bus on South American highways may prove to be one of the more unique sunrise locations featured this year.
By the time I finally caught a glimpse of the sun, so long obscured by buildings and billboards, we had arrived.
On Saturday, we had dug holes (pozos) and put posts (pilotes) in them to support the floor,
as well as moving all the prefabricated walls (paredes) and floors (pisos) off the truck and through winding passageways between crumbling structures to our lot.
When we arrived on Sunday, we had nothing but a slightly-raised platform.
Over the course of the day, we would transform it into a house that would provide 20- and 18-year-old Germán and Daniela, along with their 10-month old baby Jessica and their tiny puppy Cucaín, with a sturdy, dry home for at least the next ten years.
I loved how the Techo program was designed – we spent the entire time with the family as we built, drinking mate together, eating meals together, and even building the house together (Germán was a machine). Unsurprisingly, the unbearably cute Jessica and “Cookie” were a constant source of distraction for the workers all weekend long.
Although it was difficult in many ways, the two days I spent building that house were two of the most rewarding days of my life thus far. I had a lot of fun with the other kids in my program, and loved spending time with the family and the Techo folks.
Also, although the lack of high-quality building materials or power tools made the job slow and frustrating at times, I was thrilled to rediscover a love for construction work in this simple job – a love for simply working with my hands. It’s something that’s been lacking in my life while I’ve been away at college, as well as in my last two summer jobs, and it was nice to recapture that a bit.
All that was secondary, though, to the inspiring experience of attempting to make some small difference in the lives of these people. Meeting this young family and seeing all that they had already had to struggle with in their short lives was overwhelming. I was unbelievably excited for them – I couldn’t wait to watch them enter their new home at the end of the weekend. But I was also filled with sadness when I realized that this was but the first step, that they had a long, long way to go before they could escape the slums that were constantly pressing them down.
We encountered some difficulties at the end of the day putting on the roof, with some wayward insulation and problematic corrugated tin,
but we were able to finish with plenty of time to spare, leaving us with a little time to just hang out in the house that we’d built and enjoy the moment. The family is in the near window.
As the sun set, we hurried out of the poor barrio, no place to be at night. On the way out, I caught a nicer glimpse of the sunset than any look at the sunrise I’d gotten that morning.
I turned around and got one last look at what we’d done. In just two days, we had built a house, one that would soon become a home. I felt a wide range of emotions – excitement for Daniela and Germán, sadness that we were done, pride that we had succeeded, disbelief that it had been possible, and maybe above all the rest, a strong desire to do it again someday soon.