Saturday, August 13, 2016

Community Mural in Chimachoy DONE!!!

I’ve been looking forward for weeks to write this very last update on the community mural in Chimachoy, but now that the time is there, I’m actually at loss for words…

This mural has been the centre of my life for the last few months now. Starting with the $1000 grant I got from Te Pollination Project in March, I then had to find more funding (the lacking $1500) in order to realize the project, which was a little stressful. I had already handed over $400 to the community for wall repair and plastering, so there was no way I could drop out. Thankfully the rest of the funding came in and after a series of workshops with the students from both elementary and high school to define the themes and create images, we were ready to start painting by the end of June.

All in all, everything has worked out perfectly. Yes, the painting did take much longer than expected, there was some rain, a lot of extreme cold and heat. Even a hurricane that literally forced me to come off my ladder, but we managed it. The mural is now finished, all 65 meters of it!

It has taken more than a hundred hours in painting, about the same amount of time in designing, prepping the workshops and teaching, as well as about 25 hours in traveling. I will miss those weekly trips to Chimachoy but on the other hand, man, am I glad it’s done now!

Yesterday was a perfect last day. I was happy to have plenty of help from the high school kids as well as volunteers Jenneca Fevos and Marie Duca.  We had to finish painting the last 15 meters plus the titles of all the panels in three languages (Kaqchikel, Spanish and English) in just two days and we did! We were about to finish when it started raining at 4.30pm, but after a short break we were able to continue with the last titles and touchups.

A little emotional I got in the car, ready to go home. As we drove by the mural for the very last time, I was just thinking how grateful I was for so many things, one of them being the rickety pick-up truck I had hired for our transportation holding up during al those trips. (It wasn’t the best of cars, but its owner Carlos is very friendly and reliable but mostly because it was the cheapest option…). I shouldn’t have had that thought, because of course, right at that moment, the car stopped short. Dead as can be.
So there we were. The two volunteers were in the back of the pick-up truck, it was already getting dark, thick raindrops falling down and a motor that just didn’t want to start. I had already locked up the school so there wasn’t even a place to take shelter if the rain would start for real. And where do you get a mechanic, this late, at an hour distance from Antigua? But thankfully, with the help of some rough looking Chimachoy men, Carlos was able to fix whatever was wrong and twenty minutes later we were on our way, racing down the hills under rumbling skies. The huge traffic jam we got caught in was a bit of an anti-climax, but we made it and at 7.30pm I was finally home.

More on this project will surely follow, but for now I’m going to take a short break. I want to thank Jenneca and Marie for being there with me yesterday; Carlos for getting us there (and BACK!); the kids; the teachers; the people from Chimachoy who cheered us on and of course all the people and institutions that sponsored this project. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!