Monday, 26 April 2010

Habitat for Humanity

Saturday 24th April

It was an early rise once again for the team this morning as they set off at 7am to partake in a community service project called “Habitat for Humanity” which is a charity that builds homes for deserving families in the community, giving them a chance to own their own home for the first time.

Everyone was feeling a little weary as we hadn’t had much sleep for a couple of reasons. Firstly the owners of the lake house had kindly provided us with ample beverage which was to be enjoyed well into the wee small hours and secondly a Tornado that had been raging through Mississippi was heading in our direction and heavy rainfall, winds, thunder and lightning was keeping us awake.

The rain was still falling hard in the morning and there was thought of cancelling the day’s activities. However the British stiff upper lip approach was adopted and we headed off to do our duty.

After around 45 min’s of driving through the rain we arrived at the building project.

Ever since we got here, the kindness and hospitality we have received has been truly humbling and today was our opportunity to give a little back, so after a hearty breakfast of doughnuts, bagel’s, coffee in a box and prayers, we signed legal waivers as is the tradition in these parts and got stuck in to the job in hand which was to paint the whole interior of the house in a single day! Time passed really quickly and the team kept everyone in good spirits by singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody and How Deep is Your Love.

Lunch came in the form of Kosher wieners and crisps served next to the chemical toilet for the ultimate in convenience as the rain subsided for the duration of our break. This enabled us a chance to speak to and pose for photos with the Berry/Pruitt family who were to receive the house from the ‘Habitat for Humanity’ project.

The evening was spent at Edna’s house where we were treated to a ‘Low country boil’ which consisted of Shrimps, Potatoes, Sausage, Corn and Onion all boiled together in the same pot. Delicious! Edna is a Rotarian who lives on a small family farm which has goats, lamas, cows and miniature horses. We all had a fantastic evening and one of the highlights was Edna’s home cooked chocolate fudge brownies to which Allison referred as the best she had ever tasted. It was also a benefit to have wifi access to update the blog which we hadn’t had for a few days.

Back at the Lake house the team relaxed on the boardwalk with fine beverage in the form of Roy’s Californian Shiraz (Roy had gone to bed by this time) and discussed some of the differences between the two cultures that we had encountered. Some of our observations are as follows and are by no means meant to be disrespectful, we’re just taking a little time to adjust.

Being asked for ID whilst buying alcohol was a bit of a novelty at first but is somewhat annoying after a while .More so when you have grey hair and are clearly old enough to be the parent or grandparent (Roy) of the person serving you it’s ludicrous.

‘No ID, no beer’ is the phrase, but its more like ‘no IDea’ as little discretion appears to be used.

Now contrast that with the states gun laws where you can conceale a loaded semi-automatic pistol whilst you pick up your kids from school or carry a ‘six shooter’ into church with you and your brain begins to melt with the apparent absurdity of it all.

Now of course that’s the British perspective, however down here, carrying a gun to them is about as natural as putting milk and sugar into hot tea is for us. (They always cringe when we tell them we do that).

One of the great things about the southern twang is the way they simplify certain words or sayings, why use two words when one will do, e.g. y’all = you all. Even more efficiently three words into one e.g. dyeet = did you eat. Crucially, all the above needs to be spoken in more of a John Wayne rather than Hugh Grant style accent or it just doesn’t work.

Another new phenomenon that the team has discovered in our short time down here is that rather than relatives and in laws just hinting to a newlywed couple that they might want to consider having children, instead they pack them off on what is known as a ‘Procreation Vacation’ also known as ‘Babymooning’.

Our conversation continued once again into the wee small hours but this time the team could relax safe in the knowledge that they were being treated to a rest day and did not have to get up early in the morning.

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