Clearing Scorpions from Rock-Piles to Build a School

I sneak off to an empty hammock, and carefully, carefully lower my aching backside into a semi-comfortable position. I hug my laptop to my chest and hope for sleep. Just 15 minute refresher. Anything to lessen the cracked-out, tireder-than-anything, living-by-coffee feel.

But it’s not to be. Jackson and Marciela alternate visits, Jackson showing me things or dropping Flea in my  lap. Marciela leaning into my hammock curious about the photos on my computer.

A tired yawn and resignation. An awkward launch from the hammock, as Spencer, Martina and I head back to the school, now strangely deserted and quiet with the children gone for the day.The men were to leave their wheelbarrow, but there’s nothing, no tools. So we do it the old-fashioned way.

With bare hands, one at a time, we root through the weeds and drag out massive cement blocks from the pile (the remnants of a dilapidated building to be recycled into  foundation filler for the new building.)

Every rock we kick and turn over gingerly before picking up–waiting a minute, to give the scorpions a chance to run and find a new hiding place.

Every rock we lug saves Martina that much in fresh cement costs. So we work all afternoon, in the hot sun, coughing in the dust, our hands covered in cuts, until the pile is reduced to a clearing and the only rocks left are so massive we couldn’t move them, even with all of us trying.

Martina is beside herself with appreciation.

We sit on the stoop of the school, in the afternoon sun, sipping water and catching our breath. She tells of the children who have helped her, lugging baskets of rocks on their recess.

She points to the row of coleus, bravely sprouting, from rusted tins–“I don’t believe it, those are the paint cans we brought up to paint the school last time….nothing is wasted. Nothing.”