Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its fifth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

March 3, 2017

NICARAGUA - DAY 6: RIBBON CUTTING

... our task for the last day was to finish the subfloor, pour the concrete floor, and clean the site ... sounds simple, but mixing four cubic yards of concrete by hand is labor intensive back-breaking work ... to be clear, sticking to my plan to allow my shoulder to heal i did none of this work, but observing the efforts of the rest of our crew it was clear to me that this is not a task for the weak-hearted ... instead, i did other odd jobs and snapped as many pictures as i could ...

... sarah looked at this picture and remarked, "i look skinny" ... "you say tom-a-to, i say tom-ah-to," i think she looks rugged ...

... kari and kevin give it their all ...

... austin chugged away like one of the john deere machines he works on ...

... kara digs while her aunt diana takes a supervisory break ...

... fast as he was moving, i don't know how that hat stayed on ...

... kevin's pleased that his shoulder has healed so that he can do this work  ...

... no labor-saving electric powered rotating mixing barrel, in this part of the world concrete is made by building little "volcanoes" ...

... a very pleased and proud "volcano crew" ...

... austin displays the flag of his alma mater ...

... sarah and her aunt diana ...

... that's my "tropical sun without sunglasses" expression ... 

... a little girl awaits her new house ...

... our "jefe" makes the floor ...

... across the street the kids sell tortillas ... this is one of the ways the family we're building the house for makes a living ...

... a selfie of jon and me ...

... "that's going to be where i sleep" ...

... brian prepares the piniata ...

... the fine cement goes on ...

... kevin during clean-the-tools time

... for next year's "construction girls calendar" ... 

... "the family that builds together grows even closer together" ...

... that's an "i'm so blessed" expression ...

... in her sunday best, awaiting the formal ceremony ...

... like me, jon was tempted ...

... each of us left a message in the bible we gave the family ... my inscription said, "there's no place like home—there's no place like home" ...

... how nice, this "little house at the edge of the city" ...

... the van got stuck in the construction sand—we're lucky jon was around to free it ...

... such happy children ...

... so odd, that this aspect of modern technology has so permeated this part of the world ... hopefully it'll be a tool with which they build a better society ...

... hamilton practices working the piniata ...

... marcos enjoys the tinted safety glasses i gave him ...

... kevin, reflecting upon all we've done ...

... we all gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony ...

... lestor spoke beautifully in english, i'll assume his spanish was equally eloquent ...

... it was a moment of great joy ...

... ruth cuts the ribbon marking the completion of her new house ... of course, it'll take a couple of crews in the next few days to raise the roof and do the finish work, but, for today, it was already the grandest of houses ...

... emotions ran high on the site ...

... the neighborhood kids lined up for the piniata ...

... lestor introduced the littlest of them to this fascinating custom ...

... in the background with great expectation wait those who completely understand the event ...

... the little dancing minion was difficult to hit ...

... he danced away from the swinging stick ...

... "sunday dress means nothing, i'm here to get this guy" ...

... "how did he know when i was going to swing" ...

... for minion smacking usually shy linda wasn't ...

... that's a major league stance ...

... when the piniata finally burst all scrambled for the candy ...

... so excited ...

... our site leader, hamilton ...

... lestor and sarah, our group leader ...

... kara makes a friend ...

... pineapples and melons arrived on the site ...

... this little one perfectly rested in diana's arms ...

... austin, who works for john deere, was excited when the garbage collection came by ...

... the pineapples and melons were scrumptiously juicy and seriously sweet ...

... sarah, relaxing for a moment from her duties and responsibilities ...

... kari, a neat watermelon eater ... good thing i didn't take a selfie, 'cause i'm not ...

... the girls couldn't get enough of the little one—i think the feeling was mutual ...

... the last of our wonderful communal lunches ...

... alejandra rejoined us for this last lunch ...

... the director of the "impru" organization thanked us for the work we've done ... of course, all of us are completely in awe of the work she and that organization does ...

... we visited a house similar to the one we worked upon ... this family has added to the house, completed a more modern septic system in the backyard, and is slowly building a business that will help them to improve their lives ...

... extending helping hands, that is what our work was about ...

... nicaragua 2017: we came, we built, we helped ...

"No one has ever become poor by giving."
ANNE FRANK