We are presently volunteering with a volunteer-run organization, QuetzalTrekkers. With a three-month commitment a volunteer spends their days taking tourists on 1, 2, or 3 day hikes up volcanoes. Because it’s volunteer run, QuetzalTrekkers sends their proceeds to local community organizations. Cool, huh? Since neither of us is ready to give a three-month commitment, we are volunteering on the other end of this organization, working with the organization where QuetzalTrekkers sends their proceeds.
Yesterday the ambition was to go visit a remote school on the side of a volcano that QuetzalTrekkers’ proceeds helped build. The volunteers prepared lunch and on-the-fly games for approximately 50 kids. Several volunteers and I, Juleen, hopped in the back of a pick-up truck at 7:30AM, and we were off to visit “our school.” En route we quickly turned off the paved road, which made for a less comfortable ride, but no one was feeling too alarmed. Then, things started to get rough. The road became steep, the truck was struggling, and we were rocking from side to side. Realizing the difficulties that were lying ahead, those of us traveling in the bed of the truck hopped out and started trekking. After all, everyone (expect for me) was an avid hiker. Shortly thereafter, another volunteer who had stayed inside the truck came running towards us claiming, “The truck is on its side in a ditch.”
We hiked back to help. Several attempts to dislodge the truck failed. Holes were rapidly growing below the wheels as the wheels spun with each attempt. Communication was difficult (between two languages). And, leadership was minimal. THEN, the Nicaraguan men said they didn’t think the women should help. Women hiked two miles to the nearest farm to rest... Thank goodness, since we were a group of totally incapable women. An hour later, oxen showed up at the farm. Realizing the oxen were being prepped to pull the truck out, women walked back to see the spectacle. Women’s help was still undesired. Men chopped trees (attempting to make more traction for tires). Men dug holes. Men filled in holes. Mostly, men talked about doing “manly” work. Women made lunch, considering we had food for 50-plus people. Finally, the scene was set: oxen were in place, people were set, and the driver was ready. Oxen began to pull, people pushed (women were allowed to help), and the wheels burned more rubber. The truck didn’t move.
The “gringos” gave up and called a friend to come with a 4X4. While waiting the Nicaraguans, a group that slowly got larger throughout the day, dislodged the truck. It was a site to see and everyone cheered. The 4X4 didn’t come, the oxen were thanked with food, and we drove off.
Long story short, yesterday I had lunch on the side of a volcano with several QuetzalTrekker volunteers.