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Steep Slope

October 9, 2015

Last year was our first year in Tasajeras de Vargas, which roughly translates to “steeper part of a slope”. That description accurately describes the terrain as our vehicles climb over the bumpy rocky roads, climbing up, up, and up. Once we get to the school, which sits at the center of town, we walk to our individual worksites, which lie even further up various mountains. The owners of each house always greet us at the school and walk us back to their homes, carrying supplies and leading the way down this path or that. It’s amazing to consider how the families choose their land. It seems that just when they’ve climbed a hill for half a mile or so, that’s when they keep going a little further, then cross a river, collect some water on the way, and head on up another hill.

Collecting water to make cement on our way up the hill.

But once you get to the house…what a view. Suddenly it makes sense why they keep climbing when you look out and see all the mountains and valleys, various houses in the distance, and hear nothing but the cluck of chickens nearby. The view is gorgeous and the setting is peaceful. Everyone instantly sets to work in the hole laying bricks and mixing cement for the latrine.

Just keep climbing, just keep climbing.

When it’s time to break for lunch, our hosts stop what they’re doing and walk us back to the school, down the path that somehow seems to be uphill both ways, crossing the river again, and out to the main part of the village. If we cover roughly two miles in our trips to and from the houses, the villagers have got to be covering at least twice this distance as they head back to work while we eat lunch.

Following the path back down to lunch.

After lunch, there they are again, the perfect hosts making sure we find our way back the right path and up the correct hill, so we don’t get lost. Their hospitality and generosity is overwhelming and truly speaks to their kind and caring nature. There is no “needy” mentality, no sense of entitlement, no image of seeking sympathy. They are as grateful for our presence as they are the supplies we provide. And they work harder than any of us Americans. We only dream of keeping up with their pace and efficiency. It is this partnership, this hospitality, this desire to better themselves without offering sob stories, this humble and sincere gratitude that makes us want to return each year and see them again.

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