This blog was guest written by Habitat Wake staff member, Angie Rizzo.
After an hour long bumpy bus ride from the streets of what could be considered a South American New York City to the dusty dirt roads that intersect the village, we exited the bus into Romina and Lucas's front yard. Before the whole group was off the bus Romina began greeting us with a hug and a kiss and the excitement was clearly visible on Aure's face.
Romina and Lucas and their two children Christian and Luquitas were our host family for the day. Aure, our mason and Romina's father, along with Lorena, Romina's sister, and Alex and Isaias, Romina's nephews, were also there welcoming us. While sitting on a bucket in the grassy area behind the current home, Aure beamed and welcomed us to "grandpa's living room" as his two grandsons climbed all over him. Luquitas, which means "little Lucas," was introduced as the earthquake of the family.
Maria, one of our Habitat host originally from Barcelona, got us started with a name game called "Shooter". She spun around in the middle of our circle and would stop and point at someone, at which point the people on either side of the person being pointed at had to say the other's name. The one who didn't say the name correctly first was eliminated and the circle shrank. It was amazing to see our hosts get our names right more often than we did! In fact the game boiled down to a nail-biting duel between Michelle and Aure, after three paces Aure turned and won!
Rodrigo, our Argentinian-grown Habitat site leader, got us started with another game called "Mosquito". We convinced Alex and Isaias, Romina's nephews, to join us and the hilarity continued. It's so amazing to me how goofy games and a hug and a kiss can develop such a connection to perfect strangers.
Once the work began, Lorena mingled through the worksite with ice cold mate with just the right amount of sugar. It was like being served an ice cold sweet tea while doing yard work by your good friend. We were so welcomed there was a sense we could show up for supper and be warmly invited in to join.
As the task of digging holes became a complex engineering project with less than adequate tools, some attempted the arduous task of keeping Christian and "the earthquake" Luquitas out of mischief. Pup Patrol coloring books and friendship bracelets materialized and any shy reserve disolved. Dispite the language barrier Lynne showed Christian how to do a connect-the-dots and he excitedly grasped the concept. There's nothing like seeing the light bulbs of learning going on in a child's eyes.
Luquitos, true to his nickname, could not be entertained for long with stationary activities and soon tackled Rodrigo's leg. As Rodri tossed Luquitas in the air and caught him and Luquitas roared at us, you couldn't help but feel like we were apart of a family gathering. It's so incredible how the Habitat family can transcend language, boarders and economic status.
Their neighbor across the street sold packaged ice cream and John and Jean bought a bag full for everyone. Covered in sweat and dirt, we enjoyed popsicles together. Like lolipops, there is some thing childlike about having a popsicle. Sharing that experience with everyone completed the feeling of family connection that I will never forget.