The first day of work arrives and the sun is blistering already at only eight 0’clock in the morning!

The first of our two major projects is to work on the Hacienda. It is an 18th century, derelict building, that families once inhabited, but now stands crumbling amongst trees, vines and litter.

The second project is based at the nearby waterfall, part of the river ‘La Posa’. Locals use this for washing the dishes, jumping off rocks into it or cooling themselves off from the midday heat.

 It is a great place where the whole community is welcome and can come together as one.

The access steps to ‘La Posa’ are the focus area for our project. We want to improve them and make the area tourist friendly and safe. 

The pace and progress made this week has been outstanding, despite the heat wanting to slow us down, consistency has been kept throughout.

We have stripped the Hacienda of nature’s overgrown greenery, to reveal what remains today. The people of Nuevo Gulacho can honour the Hacienda, and remember how far they have come in the last 24 years, which can be seen in the strong sense of community.

We have created unity between the national and international volunteers already and we have a good foundation to work and build upon in the coming weeks, as we continue this cycle.

The team has also spent this week clearing the steps to ‘La Posa’ of debris and widening the path ready to start building a proper step way access to increase the potential for future eco-tourists. 

A lot of our time has been dedicated to gathering resources. This started with selecting rocks of various sizes from the pathway that takes you to ‘La Posa’. This will help us save time as we were clearing the rocky uphill pathway, while also gathering a nice collection, ready for the actual building next week. We will build a strong structure of steps that will be long-lasting. We also sourced sand from the nearby river, which we will add water and cement too later and that will set the rocks in place.

I feel the working week has flown by, and the relationship between the nationals and internationals has grown from learning to working together. Whether there’s a language barrier or not, actions really do speak louder than words.

Aside from the physical work, we managed to fit in many afternoons of researching our plans. We have been working with architects on the construction; designing questionnaires for the community on understanding what it is they need from their environment; and making sure they are aware of our purpose within Gualcho. We have also learnt about the history through local residents giving talks on their experiences during the civil war and starting life again, here in Nuevo Gualcho.

It has been a fully packed week and I feel ready and eager to approach the next few weeks with the same excitement and momentum we have already established. 

Written by ICS volunteer Helen Austin