Ricardo had dropped Francisco and I off at the hotel and took the van to the apartment where Mike was staying. I was tired and confused as the owner unlocked the front door and showed us to our room. 90+ degrees, rx no air conditioning, the beds had by far the hardest mattresses I had ever felt and at that point I really didn’t care. We were out very quickly and up even quicker as 5 am rolled around. Time for our first day of work. We got dressed and walked across the street to where the vendors were selling breakfast foods. If I didn’t know that God would protect me I would have been very nervous in this area and even more so ordering food here. I had a fried egg inside of a cornmeal batter deep fried and cup of coffee in a plastic Dixie cup.

After breakfast we walked 10 blocks to where the job site is. The school already has a first and second floor but no roof; there are half walls for the exterior and full brick walls for the interior of the first floor. At this point I have no idea what I need to do, I’m not familiar with this style of construction which is mostly utilizing concrete. Our goal is to have the kitchen and restrooms ready for tile and cabinets to be installed. Francisco and I started brainstorming on the best layout of the kitchen, where we would need wall partitions and counters (concrete). Francisco wanted to run some temporary lighting for the three rooms so we used two wires and attached them to the second floor concrete and dangled switches, not something that looked extremely safe, but he assured me it was temporary.

When Mike arrived he and Francisco huddled and Mike then asked if I could do electrical work. I said yes but I only knew the standards of the states. I worked for a few years as a designer and manager in the telecommunications division of an engineering firm. With that experience I understood the design portion and I installed wiring in houses as a general contractor years ago. Finally something I was comfortable with. I planned the layout of the three rooms and developed a shopping list. It became a tool as I started teaching one of the local guys how to do basic wiring. We finished the wiring of the kitchen and restrooms and they were ready for the lights to be installed and temporary power to the panelboards (fuse boxes).

It was still a couple days before the construction team would arrive so I continued to wire most of the first floor. As the team arrived a scary situation arose, I was asked to translate. Kids were swarming the job site and a lot of the team members were sponsoring kids at that school. “Corey, can you translate for me?” That is probably the strangest question in the world. I fumbled my way through many conversations and the team had no clue. Bartering with street vendors was especially interesting as they bartered down to one price for the Team and offered even lower prices to me for helping. By the end of the week the kitchen and bathrooms were totally finished. Over all, my first trip went very well, thank you God.