THE THERMOMETER says 91 degrees, but it feels even hotter. The mosquitos swarm, in full attack mode. And Fabricio Rodriguez has an afternoon of physical labor planned.
But the man is smiling. His fiancee, Emily Randle, has just arrived, home from a night out to celebrate her bachelorette party. They each grab a paintbrush, happy to be together, even if their together time is spent toiling.
"Our whole lives are so busy - we often have to schedule time to see each other," says Randle, 31.
Rodriguez, 39, is lead coordinator and founder of the nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Center, which aims to reform the restaurant industry by pushing for fair wages, paid sick days, access to health care and other rights. He also organizes for the Philadelphia Security Officers Union.
Randle does political and communications work for the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nursing and Allied Professionals.
Like many activists, both also juggle other advocacy jobs.
And their wedding is less than two weeks away.
That's why, when it came time to plan the honeymoon, they resorted to an unusual strategy.
"We Googled 'most remote beaches in the Caribbean,' " Randle says with a laugh.
So they'll go to Holbox Island, a small fishing village north of the Yucatan Peninsula, for eight days after their July 27 nuptials.
"Peace," Rodriguez says, imagining the honeymoon. "We whiz by each other often, so this is going to be nice."
Before then, there's work to do.
On this Sunday, they're painting picnic tables in the grassy lot beside their North Philadelphia home. They'll need the seating for Rodriguez's father, siblings and other relatives who will share their home the week before and after the wedding.
They're also still putting the final details on other wedding plans, like a bus tour showcasing Philly for out-of-town guests, a post-ceremony scavenger hunt and a Puerto Rican-style barbecue reception at a nearby park.
Despite the heat, they're not sweating from stress.
"Because we're organizers," he says, "it's sort of second nature to put an event together."
- Dana DiFilippo