Ground-breaking!

Hey again!

It’s Mene, volunteer for the Sacred Valley Project! So far, I’ve been really happy to be Joe’s assistant as this entails managing volunteer groups from all around the world and helping with the construction process on a daily basis. This past week has been INCREDIBLY busy! Basically, it marked the first week of construction for us. I’ll give you guys a breakdown of jobs we’ve done this past week as our journey to finish the construction of our new dormitory begins.

Monday, June 1st, was our first day of construction. Joe and I visited the land with the construction supervisor to clearly define the limits of our property. This process is important for two reasons: first, so that the construction crew could begin digging the foundation and second, so that we could avoid any future land disputes.

 

The crew gets started digging out the foundation of our future dorm!

 

On Monday we also got a hand from a volunteer group from Rustic Pathways, a company that provides teens with cultural and learning experiences in foreign countries. This group helped us gather rocks from the local quarry in Ancopacha (15 minutes away from Ollantaytambo) so that the municipality could deliver them to our land. The rocks are going to be used for the foundation of the new dormitory!

Tuesday included some traveling for Joe and I. After returning some carts that we had borrowed from the municipality, we traveled 30 minutes from Ollantaytambo by combi (van) to a larger “city,” Urubamba. The main reason we went to Urubamba was to buy tools for the construction site and to purchase 4,000 adobe bricks that we need for construction of the building. Even though at the end of our trip to Urubamba we weren’t able to find a vendor who had sufficient adobe bricks, Joe and I were still able to buy shovels and gloves.

The other major thing that happened on Tuesday was that the municipality brought us a huge pile of hormigón or sand. The driver of the truck dumped the humongous pile in the middle of a small residential road that leads to our land, and completely blocked any way through! After this, Joe and I knew that it would take a couple of days to slowly transport the entire pile of sand to our construction site (to this date, some of the sand is still there!).

On Wednesday a group of 22 student volunteers from Global Works came to help us with the project. The group, Joe and I accomplished many things that day. First, we all went to the local quarry in Ancopacha (again) where we spent a good 3 ½ hours moving huge rocks that would eventually be used for the foundation. Then, we went back to the construction site in Ollantaytambo where the group of volunteers and I created a path so that we could easily transport the materials donated by the municipality. That night, Joe and I and 2 other volunteers from a local NGO started transporting the sand to the site with caretillas (wheelbarrows), ultimately realizing that we would need many more volunteers to finish transporting all of the sand.

 

 

Volunteers from Global Works help us to move a seemingly infinite pile of rocks!

 

Thursday was basically a continuation of the work we had done on Wednesday with a bit of a twist. The group from Global Works started work at 8 in the morning transporting sand to the site, slowly but efficiently. The slight “twist” in our schedule came at 10 (during Global Work’s snack break) when the municipality brought a truck full of large rocks and dumped them in the middle of the road. The mound of rocks was so tall that walking over them was difficult! What’s more, the rocks were so big that we could only transport them two at a time! Nonetheless, the show continued and we spent the morning clearing the mound of rocks off to the sides of the road. After a long morning of moving the pile of rocks and transporting materials to the construction site, we called it a day.

The reason I love working with the Sacred Valley Project and being Joe’s assistant is not simply because I love getting my hands dirty and enjoy helping out a noble cause. The true reason I love this work is that I find myself at the front lines of a booming organization that is truly making an impact in the lives of 10 girls who would otherwise still be in the mountains farming or sewing just to get by. I also love that Joe is teaching me the intricacies of the construction process, where, at any moment, things can go wrong. These are all important concepts to learn in life and I am really grateful that I’ll be staying with this project for the entire month.

I’ll do my best to keep you all updated every couple of days on how the construction is faring instead of writing an entire dissertation on what we have been up to once a week! Sorry! Also, make sure to check our Facebook page every couple of days as well to see for yourself the progress that we are making!

Talk to you soon!

Menelaos Mazarakis