Swinging Hammers and Meeting New Friends

Comments 2 Standard

We have been in Las Cruces, NM, since Sunday … one week, and this is the first opportunity we’ve had to even think about a blog post. We are here for two weeks working with Habitat for Humanity Care-a-vanners (CAVs for short). Anyone who has a self-contained RV and the willingness and desire to pick up some tools and learn to use them can be a CAV and build with Habitat organizations all over the US and Canada. Having volunteered for Habitat in Hartford, we learned about CAV a couple of years ago and wanted to try it. So, when this trip became a reality, we knew that we had to make it happen. We selected this build in Las Cruces only because it fit in our travel plans. 

We arrived on Sunday to find two gravel parking lots at the Habitat office will full hookups for RV’s and a laundry room with two free washers and dryers, a real bonus! There are 10 RV’s in total with about 18 people who have come from all over the US – Alaska, Montana, Oklahoma, a few from Michigan. The couple parked right next to us are retired dairy farmers from Newport, Vermont, Judy and Vernon, very nice people who are also first-timers and share many of our interests. All of the other volunteers are seasoned CAVs, one couple has been volunteering for 20 years! Most of these folks don’t just do one or two CAV builds a year, they do six or seven CAV builds each year … that’s 12-14 weeks of building for Habitat! 

After so many months of waking up whenever we want, we had to learn to get up early again as we have to be at the job site by 8:15. We are working on five small homes on a cul-de-sac with five homes that were completed last year. It looks like there is room for five more, as well. The homes here are not like what we’re used to in New England. Everything’s built on a slab, no basement, no attic. The exterior is stucco, interior is sheetrock with a texture applied to the surface that gives the walls and ceiling an adobe appearance. There is no trim around windows, corners are all rounded. Outside, there is a stone wall surrounding a yard of sand. Sand, sand, everywhere there is sand! Most homeowners who can afford to do so have river rock spread around the front yard and some families put astroturf on the back yard for the kids to play on. Very few yards have grass and those that do appear to be zoysia grass, which can withstand a lack of water and turns tan in the winter. Many yards have huge cactus instead of shrubs.

The jobs we’ve been doing run the gamut … hanging sheetrock, painting walls and trim, setting nails, cutting and installing trim, and making shelves. We work until 2:30 in the afternoon, then clean up the job site and put everything away. We are outside in the wind, sun and sometimes very cold mornings, and we are exhausted when we get home! We’re usually ready for bed by 8:30! 

New Mexico has truly beautiful and diverse terrain, but the climate takes some getting used to. It is so dry here that we have a new-found appreciation of body lotion commercials on TV. There is virtually no moisture in the air here. Louise is applying lotion like never before and complains that her hands feel like sandpaper and her arms and legs feel like lizard scales. Turning the heat on in the motorhome makes it worse. It is SO dry here that when we were painting on the job site, we had to move quickly because the paint dried very rapidly. In New England, you wait 4 hours before applying a second coat. In New Mexico, you can apply the second coat within 30 minutes. 

We haven’t had much of a chance to explore Las Cruces yet, but will probably do some touristy things with out day off tomorrow. Today (Sunday), Bob will be replacing some of the flooring under our bed as the day we rolled in here he found that the water pump had been leaking which rotted the floor. Owning a motorhome is fun! 

Tessa’s doing well. She is enjoying Las Cruces because there is a very large, sandy dog park within walking distance, and she plays there with other dogs almost every day. She’s such a good girl and traveling companion!


2 thoughts on “Swinging Hammers and Meeting New Friends

  1. Living my life vicariously through the two of you. Such a wonderful experience you are having. I too look forward to my days of retirement. Seeing how much younger I am it should be many years from now! Looking forward to seeing both of you when you return. With much envy and happiness for each of you.

    Al and Julie.

    Alfred R. Mercier 860-856-3494


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s