Friday, May 14, 2010


The sluggish yet necessary ascent out of our financial slump has begun. Yesterday we successfully produced 50 1-gallon jugs of disinfectant to sell locally. Four socios showed up to complete the task- each worked swiftly and with purpose and got the job done in less than an hour and a half. Don Alfonso was on water duty, filling up gallons of water for each new batch. Don Nando was the steady stirrer mixing the ingredients as Seño Maritza dutifully measured and poured the various components into the oversized basin. I worked cutting and adhering the new labels Jenny and I designed earlier in the week. Seño Lili had the least pleasant job, filling the empty gallons with the finished disinfectant. I say least pleasant because although all of us had to endure the stinging odor of the chemical components, Seño Lili was the only one that had a constant stream of the liquid being poured over her hands. I urged her to wear gloves. “Next time” she said. Word to the wise, those “may irritate skin” warnings on cleaning supplies are not to be taken lightly. Despite another common warning “keep out of reach of children”, we managed to enlist ourselves some little kiddy helpers to aid in our efforts. Don Nando has a small army of children (six or seven- I’ve never gotten an accurate count) that jumped at the opportunity get in on our assembly line fun. His daughters took their positions as lid tighteners and his youngest son began stacking the finished product. I must disclose that the adults warned the kids of the dangers of disinfectant, “don’t stand too close” and advised them not to get the disinfectant on their skin or it will burn. The latter warning was justified in Seño Lili’s case where large quantities of the solution was in contact with her skin for a lengthy period of time, but we all know a little spritz of cleaning agent on the skin isn’t gonna kill anyone. However, Nando’s youngest son took the warning very seriously. When he got a splash of disinfectant on his leg he started panicking, “it’s burning, its burning”, the little five year old yelped, “Be a man.” Don Nando huffed from his position over a tub of green pine disinfectant. Tears began to run down the little kids cheeks and his face morphed into an expression of aggravated suffering. I really think he thought he was going to die or at the very least loose the tainted limb. I couldn’t help but laugh. His mom came to the rescue and wiped his leg with a washcloth. All better.

We finished the first four batches- lemon, pine, cinnamon, almond- and had enough daylight to produce one last batch. When Seño Maritza took stock of what was left of the ingredients she found that there was only lemon and cinnamon fragrance left and green and brown die. This tested the team’s knowledge of quality control. Seño Maritza suggested, “Why don’t we use the green color with the lemon scent?” This may be a valid proposition here in Guatemala since the word for lemon, “limón” is used to describe a lime. Limes are green so to them this made perfect sense. “But we used yellow dye for the last batch of lemon and green dye for the pine, you don’t want to confuse customers.” I injected. “But “limones” are green”, replied Don Alfonso. “Yes, but you need to keep your product uniform for quality control purposes.” “She has a point.” said Seño Maritza, “Lets do another batch of cinnamon.” Seño Maritza is always first to take my advice and I love her for it.

We finished the last batch, gave ourselves a pat on the back and parted ways. Now to the hard part- selling those 50 gallon jugs. When all is said and done we expect a profit of about Q1,000. Such a tiny amount when compared to our Q50,000 debt. Baby steps.

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