Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Little Overview

OK, so it's taking a little longer to get things posted than I had hoped. Turns out it's much harder to get things done in the "real world" as opposed to the paradise of El Salvador. Who knew?

Anyhow, here is a nice little audio slideshow for you to enjoy. Hope you like it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

La Libertad

Well Fran and I spent Thursday in the markets of La Libertad, El Salvador. It was a totally new experience to see how developing countries shop. I will write a lot more about it and post a lot more photos, but I will be doing it at my personal blog 

Stay Tuned

What a really wonderful week. I know I haven't been able to post in a few days, but please keep checking back, I have some other really cool stuff to share with you about the project. I will continue to back blog over eh next few days, so check back. And feel free to leave some comments, especially if you were in El Salvador and have a story to share. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Road Trip Wednesday

We started out at day break and headed up into the mountains to a small village called La Concordia. The village is populated by a cooperative of coffee farmers who work together from the youngest to the oldest to harvest and sell their coffee on the U.S. Fair Trade markets. You can learn more details about the visit at David Snell's Travel Blog. Here is one of my favorite photos of the day. It is of Don Antonio and his wife inside their home. It is truly a beautiful place and the village folk certainly deserve better homes. Keep an eye out for this project coming up. If you like to climb... it's your kind of build!
After seeing the village and visiting several homeowners we headed back down to Tacuba to meet with several of the farmers at the coop headquarters. The town itself is peaceful and looks out over the volcanic mountains that surround it. 
Most of the meeting was foreign to me because my Spanish is so rusty. But it was wonderful to see such a group of men working together for the common good of the village and it's people. We could all learn lessons here.

After we left the meeting we had a wonderful lunch at of of the members houses and then headed to the San Jose orphanage to visit what must be the most cheerful, beautiful girl's home I have ever set foot in. If you ever get close, you really must visit. 
Please take the time to check out MORE PHOTOS HERE of our trip to Tacuba and beyond.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Carlos and Concepion Panoramics

Today when I met Ana Gladys we were also able to meet another couple. Carlos and Concepcion live in in a building owned by the local coop with their two children. They have a small back yard that is fenced with barbed wire and an outdoor kitchen. To learn more about Carlos and Concepcion check out the Fuller Center website.  To see a 360 degree panoramic of their home CLICK HERE. To see a panoramic of their back yard CLICK HERE.

Site Work!

How about some work site photos? Take a LOOK HERE for views of Monday's work being done and a few others from the rides out and back. Enjoy!

On a personal note...

... there were some folks who had some questions about Fran and I's insane idea to build houses in Central America instead of go on a cruise, or go to the mountains or go to the beach for our honeymoon. 

We certainly aren't through the week, but so far I don't regret it a bit. To me, building a home for someone else and documenting this amazing example of humanity is one of the best ways to start my life with Fran. How much more love and respect will we have for each other knowing that we have made this small sacrifice to help those around us? How much more will we appreciate our own new home because of our experience here? Call it renegade pre-marriage counseling. 

Homeowner: Ana Gladys Bonilla

This morning was exciting. Millard Fuller, Jeff Abbott, Fuller's director of operations in Latin America and I took off to meet some of the new homeowners in the neighborhood around the project. It was nice to get away from the dust and noise of the construction site and get into the community to see the conditions that the people here must endure. By lunch any lingering doubt of our mission here was erased. 

Our first stop was at the home of Ana Gladys who lives with her husband Santos and their four children in a home that is made mostly of bamboo framing and black trash bags. They do have a bit of tin on the roof, but it leaks and is only borrowed from a neighbor. They have packed dirt floors and a little gas fired indoor kitchen. There is no plumbing, but they share a nearby outhouse with three other families. 

Ana's substandard house has made it through two rainy seasons here in El Salvador, but thankfully won't have to last a third. Soon she will have a beautiful new home built solidly of brick and concrete with doors, windows and a cement floor. Hope is on the horizon for Ana Gladys and her family... literally... for from her yard you can see the walls rising on her new home and 15 others just across an open field. 

For a 360 degree panoramic view of Ana Gladys home, please CLICK HERE. For a view of her yard please CLICK HERE. To read more about Ana Gladys, please visit

Have a Look Around!

Welcome to El Salvador! Click on THIS LINK or THIS LINK to check out two 360 degree panoramic movies of the build site. The images were shot on Monday morning shortly after work began. You can click and drag to pan around and even zoom in and out. You will need to have QUICKTIME to view the panos, but it's free and I will be posting some movies of the inside of some of the homeowners current dwellings later today, so it will be well worth the effort! Enjoy and we'll be back soon with photos, audio and more panoramics. 

¡Qué bien!

Finally we have internet access. I will be back posting a bit for the rest of the afternoon and adding some neat multimedia stuffs. But for know know that the project here in San Luis Talpa is going wonderfully. The houses are coming together beautifully and many of the groups are already building gables on the second day. That means it may be roof time tomorrow! 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Off We Go!

passports in hand
cameras packed
flip flops ho!

Well it's getting down to the final minutes. The plan leaves at two and we are off and running. Tomorrow we will rise and watch the sun do the same over the waters of the Pacific ocean and the beginning of the 2008 Millard and Linda Fuller Blitz Build.

Hopefully I will find time to do everything I have planned. If I do you will be seeing photos, hearing audio and looking at 360 degree panoramics of the work site and the rest of the Salvadoran coast!

Wish us luck and pray for our travel.... we are off again!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Year

What a difference a year can make. 

Things have changed for me in so many ways. I am now married to a beautiful, loving woman. I have a new, fantastic job in a great city. And most important to this context. We now own our own home. For several years now I have worked with the Fuller Center for Housing building homes in Shreveport, La. and documenting their project there. So the idea of volunteer house building is not new to me. 

However, next week when Frances and I leave our new home in Tulsa and fly to El Salvador, I think I will have a more profound understanding of what it means to the people we are helping to build their own homes. To have a place to call your own is a feeling like no other. To have solid, affordable housing is a security that no one should go without. 

This trip means a lot to me in many ways. I am going primarily to document the project. To tell you about the needs and to show you the work being done. But it's also our honeymoon.

When I first talked to Holly at the Fuller Center she said "You know, I am not suggesting that you do a blitz build for your honeymoon, but if you do...."

I thought about it for a while and then I called Frances and sheepishly pitched the idea to her. In an instant the decision was made and we were making plans. 

Now that the wedding is past us, I am getting excited about making plans for the trip south and I am super excited to see all of my Fuller Center friends. I hope that if you aren't making the trip this year you will check back here from time to time and wish us all the best. 

More to come, but for now, here is an overview of the project from the Fuller Center.