Day 14: Little Hands and Little Hearts
After another wonderful breakfast, we made our way back to the orphanage, energized and ready to make the kids a playground. I am still unsure about all the details but there was some miscommunication about the job we were anticipated to do: we went in thinking we were going to build a playground, where as the orphanage construction workers had planned for us to help build the foundation for a playground. It was a damper on my vision, but we are foreigners coming into their country and should be catering to their needs and not what we think they needs are. A very important aspect of globalization: asking people native to the culture what they would like us to do, this way we can understand what our role is, and will overstep their authority. The orphanage constructors say they want us to help build the foundation for the future playground, so be it.
Dig a trench around fifteen centimeters deep: a blistered check. Selecting rocks from a giant rock pile and hulling them up to the future playground: check with some minor scrapes. Kids in flip flops playing on and attempting to move the oversized rocks: a reality check (please refer back to Day 11, the ‘Side Note’ portion of my blog for additional background information). The workers not telling us that there are possibly scorpions in the giant rock pile that we have been rummaging through: shocking check. Placing the rocks into the trench: tiresome check. Making and mixing the cement: a messy check. Pouring the cement onto the rocks in the trench: another messy check. Finding smaller rocks to fill the gaps in the wall: tedious check. Being able to finish the wall: incomplete.
Later, after a morning of hard and vigorous work, we headed back to the Sea Garden, happy to oblige Lolo request for us to eat lunch at the hostel, a five minute trip from the orphanage. Because the plan was for us to build a playground, which would take up only a portion of our afternoon leaving us a bit of free time on the beach, we got the option to stay at the hostel or return to the orphanage to help with the wall. There was no question in my mind where I was going, I was determined to assist with the wall and help in any way I could. After a couple hours of helping mix more concrete and tediously filling gaps in the wall with smaller rocks and/or chunks of cement, we realized that we were no longer of much use to the workers and were not making much progress towards the wall’s completion. Bruised, dirty, sore and ready for a change, we brought out the game changer. The kids at the orphanage went nuts when they realized we brought face paint (really water based pastels but serve the same function); they were children lining up left, right and center all waiting patiently for one of us to draw on them. We brought out all the face paint and distributed it to some of the older kids who quickly joined in with their artistic creativity; suddenly instead of asking us to paint on them, we were being asked if we could be painted on. I rolled up my sleeves and hiked up my shorts, a bare canvas ready for the painting. Time passed and slowly but surely, all the main areas of my skin were decorated: hearts; stars; random designs; flowers; my name, misspelt (more attributed to my inability to say the letters of the alphabet in Spanish than their spelling) and written in giant colorful, bold letters; and autographs of my artists. Fatima, who periodically came to check up on us to see if we needed anything, actually burst into laughter milliseconds after seeing my face, which was covered from my forehead to my chin in face paint.
Saying goodbye to the orphans was much more difficult than I had anticipated, I did not expect to get so attached in such a short amount of time. Carlos, although not verbally bidding me farewell, gave me a flash of a smile and a solid high five. Pedro asked for a picture of us together then whisked off into the orphanage and did not return. Velma ran into my arms, then made a heart with both of her hand and placed it over my actual heart; then using one hand, made half of a heart and held it up until I complete the other half with my hand. Then finally I held the girl that I had the Spanish conversation with, who’s name I still do not know, which turned into a several minute hug. Something about their eagerness to give exuberant amounts of love, in addition to their unwillingness to physically let us go made me homesick for my own siblings; causing me to hold on even tighter to them, even though we were told we had to leave.
End of day 14