F and I hiked up to El Mecco today, the cross near our home. I don’t know who forgot to bring the water, but we got thirsty. Getting up was no problem. Coming down, though, another story. We got lost and Fernando scouted for a trail while I slept on a rock. It was sunny, windy, and blue. Goats ran the hill in the distance and I could make out five tiny horses, their heads all turned in the same direction. If it wasn’t for the thirst, I wouldn’t have minded being stranded all day long.
Archive for January, 2010
There are 27 girls at Buen Pastor. Creating time for all their homework at the one functioning computer they had was impossible. Thanks to a very generous librarian who donated $1000 during the Holidays, Fernando was able to purchase two new computers in Querétaro and we bought used, excellent quality monitors from a Cyber Cafe here in Guanajuato. Fernando installed the computers earlier this week. Everyone is very happy with their speed and the ability to get a chance to do their homework!
Tomatoes, mandarins, and more on Aldama.
Today marks the first day of classes at the University of Guanajuato. After the Christmas break, the town is once again brimming with UG students, and so are the busses! F and I went to Leon yesterday to look for a couch and lighting. On the way back, the bus stations were packed. The bus that took us from Central (the bus station in Guanajuato) to GTO centro was so full, that three people were standing on the exit steps. Apparently, there was not enough room for safety.
There were a few wonderful surprises this week. Daneli got a pair of glasses and a sponsor, Isabel started to learn to read and write, and new books arrived in the mail! The older girls are delighted with their Harry Potters and have already created a schedule of who gets to read and when. They’ll be using a photo of the family that sent the books as a book marker. All these wonderful things are happening, and I feel more just around the corner. Thanks to everyone who helps these girls grow with gratitude and books!
In yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned that Buen Pastor attracts some pretty special people. I met one of those people yesterday, Isang Smith. After graduating from Columbia and before participating in the American Lung Association’s Big Ride, 22 year old Isang is spending time in Guanajuato. When she’s not in school studying Spanish or out on the trail with her biking buddies, Isang will be doing something incredibly memorable and life changing: she will be teaching Isabel how to read and write.
Isabel has never had the opportunity to attend school. Primeria (elementary) won’t accept her because at 14, she’s too old. So with the help of Fernando in the mornings and Isang in the afternoons, Isabel will be well on her way to gaining one of the most important skills she can have, literacy. Not only will being able to read and write increase her self-esteem, but it will give her more job opportunities in the future and also decrease her chances of unwanted pregnancy during her teen years.
Isabel met her maestra yesterday. They took to one another immediately. Their auspicious partnership holds so much promise.
F and I helped Casey move in to her new place yesterday. She lucked out in not only living close to Centro in a desirable neighborhood, but she’ll be living with two French students. Clara and Marie are sweet, fashionable, and friendly. They speak excellent Spanish and very little English. As a French/Spanish major, better roommates could not be found! We’re very happy for Casey.
After work today I’m meeting with Isang, a young woman from California who wants to volunteer at Buen Pastor as she attends language school for the next three months. I’m thinking a good fit for her will be to start teaching a new girl at the internado how to read and write (she’s 14 years old and has never attended school). Isang has many interests, including organic gardening, volunteering, and mountain biking. I’m looking forward to the potential she brings and the willingness she has to give back. Buen Pastor attracts wonderfully special people.
When I took the photo, I didn’t see the reflection of the glasses on the case. The camera has the same effect of Bacardi and many vueltas (spins) on the dance floor.
I’m looking forward to spending the entire day outside with Casey, showing her some favorite places of mine.
John and Sharon were in town yesterday. We met for lunch at Calipso and caught up. I loved hearing about their recent trip to Southeast Asia and the work they are doing in San Miguel. They brought F and I two little people from Cambodia to put on top of a wedding cake if we ever try to get married again. I’ve perched them on top of my Mexiamora print for safekeeping.
From Calipso, we headed to Buen Pastor. The first stop was the shelter. John and Sharon brought a large suitcase full of quality clothes from a consignment shop in Vancouver. They also dropped off a cake. On our way out, the three of us were kissed, hugged, and blessed by 5 year old Oceal, a very precious and precocious boy.
Next we headed to the internado to visit the girls. They were excited to see us. John charmed everyone by being his funny self, doing a knock-kneed dance that nobody could replicate. Sharon drew a map of the world for Marla to show her where they had been. John and Sharon sponsor Marla. It’s heartwarming to see a sweet relationship blossoming between them. Also, Marla received her glasses yesterday from our kind person in Iowa.
Casey joined us as soon as she finished lunch with her new roommates. We’re all hoping her school schedule will allow her to volunteer once a week. She would help the girls with their homework and just talk with them. I know she’ll get as much out of the experience as the girls will. As you can see, she’s already very popular with the girls.
When it was time for John and Sharon to head back to San Miguel, they dropped Casey & I plus Marla, Dani, and Sara off in Centro. These girls had all been remembered by their sponsors during the Holidays. Casey and I helped them spend their gift money. After traveling to a number of shops, Marla and Dani decided on matching t-shirts, and all three girls bought a pair of boots. Jeans inside boots is all the rage now in the streets of Guanajuato.
One of the things I love about Guanajuato is that I don’t need–or want–a car. I can easily take a bus or walk. I buy just what I need so I can carry it home. Often, this means that I pick up staples at the family run tiendas you can find in every neighborhood. The big grocery chains haven’t eliminated the little guys because lots of people are like me, carless, that patronize them. This also means that there aren’t unintended purchases because there’s simply not enough room in my backpack to carry them home. So my consumption is lower than it was back in the States.
Even though Eugene, Oregon, is a “walker’s paradise“, (link found at Wild Humans), I drove when I lived there. I find that next to environmental concerns, the most powerful variable influencing my decision to walk instead of drive is that I live a culture that supports walking. Everyone does it. I think that to create a valid measure of “walkability”, it’s important to include cultural support in the list as well.
Los Alebrijes are fantastical creatures carved from wood. Bethany and Erik brought us this one from Oaxaca. She’s beautiful and intricately designed with a spider web delicately painted on the nape of her neck. Ostrich feathers envelop her foreshank and hind shank. I like her tentative, stealthy bearing.
I meditate on this image when I massage the women. I like to think the Virgincita is comforting the Pope by grounding his suffering. She does so by seeing him and bearing witness to his pain. Not judging it, or making it disappear, but allowing it to be. This grounds his pain, so he can choose to release it. She remains serene in the face of hardship, not taking any of it on herself, but making a place for it to come out into the light. Her hand rests so gently on his head. Nothing is forced here. He has come to her.
This serene Virgincita inspires me. When I massage the women, I lean on her example so that I might ground the suffering a woman in transition feels when the only constant she has in her life is the knowledge that her 5 year old son has two years to live. So that I might bear witness to the pain a 15 year old mother must feel when she herself lost her own mother. Her arms and legs are marked with self induced cuts, white scars on her dark, beautiful skin. She doesn’t see her own beauty because it’s lost on her, somewhere beneath the cutting, the loss of freedom, the craving for someone to love her despite of it all, someone like a mother.
The Holiday break consisted of a perfect mix of relaxation, working on Buen Pastor stuff, watching four seasons of Dexter, and hanging out with friends. When Fernando finished translating the Buen Pastor website, I was able to migrate the content into a website in Spanish. I finished last night: Buen Pastor en Español.
David Hasselhoff and others welcome you back to the work week.
Thanks to a kind person in Iowa, birthdays don’t go unnoticed at Buen Pastor. Today, Allie turns 4! We celebrated by turning her into a Princess for the Day. She was delighted.
The birthday fund has enough left for two more $20 presents. If you would like to make a girl feel special on her birthday, pick your own Princess here and PayPal me $20. Be sure to tell me which girl you’re gifting. I’ll know just what to get her.
Bethany, Erik, Fernando and I had a great time yesterday at the Buffa. We spent almost the entire day outside. We enjoyed a picnic lunch sitting partially inside a cave to buffer ourselves from the wind. F enjoyed eating the grasshoppers Bethany thoughtfully purchased for him in Oaxaca.
The four of us had a lot of fun hanging from this cross. Erik first tried flying, and then taught F to do it. Me: I was laughing too hard to get horizontal, even with the help of Bethany.