ASB2010 in Mexico

Students are traveling to Xalapa, Mexico, as part of Alternative Spring Break 2010 to work at an orphanage, serve food and help at a clinic with the nonprofit organization Caritas.

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Last day volunteering

An update from Katrina:

Today was our last day volunteering at Caritas. I was able to sleep in the bed upstairs again because Jenna and Sarah are feeling way better (yay!). I woke up twenty minutes late because the sunshine was warm and glorious and made me feel great while I was sleeping. We all woke up, ate breakfast (leftover tamales and atole from yesterday’s breakfast) and headed to Caritas. We walked fast today since we wanted to be there on time and got there at about 9:35.

We split up into the usual groups – quatro con los ninos, tres en la concina y tres en la bazaar. Jenna, Jose, Jessica and I went with the kids; Bernardo and Tomas went to the bazaar; and Sarah, Saira, and Shnider went to the kitchen. It was nice to be with the kids again, and although I was feeling exhausted it was still fun. We eventually all migrated to the playground, and that was pretty great. The kids have a lot of fun there. I also got to go on the seesaw with Jose, which was something I haven’t done since I was a kid. Daniel got really excited when he was able to go on the seesaw, and I made him laugh a bunch of times. Making kids laugh is so great.

ASBMexico4.jpg When we got back inside, Jose, Jessica, Jenna and I got large group photos with the kids. Josabe and Daniel both took turns in my lap. After that it was naptime (which is the best time ever.) I think we wore the kids out on the jungle gym, so when it came time for naps they fell asleep quickly. Jenna and I apparently fell asleep before Pepe even fell asleep, and then about twenty minutes later Sarah came in and asked if we wanted to get ice cream. Jenna and I said no, we’re just going to stay here and sleep, but then we decided to go anyways. The ice cream here is SO GOOD. We decided to get some for the ladies in the daycare as well.

The whole group left for ice cream, and we were sad to see that since we were early today the ice cream store wasn’t open yet. So we went on an adventure one block to the right of where we usually are, and several blocks UP (and by up I really mean up … the incline and decline here are really intense). We got new kinds of ice cream – I tried strawberries and cream with chocolate, coconut and sprinkles on the outside, with one strawberry for one of the ladies at Caritas.

When we got back to Caritas, we gave the ice cream (paletas, they’re called, like popsicles) to the ladies there, and then Jose, Bernardo, Shnide and Sanaz played basketball. It was fun to watch, and Sanaz was really tearin’ it up. She showed those boys who’s boss! (She does that a lot, which is why I think they tease her so much. I really respect Sanaz a lot.) Eventually it was time to go in to serve lunch, and that’s where the day really got great.

I love serving lunch because it’s the one time of the day that I feel instant gratification for the work that we do. I mean, it’s a chaotic hour (most of the time an hour and a half) but I really love being able to see people eat and be happy. And it’s the same crowd of people every day- it’s not a sea of new, scary faces. These people don’t interact with each other a lot, but they are really all nice people.

Today lunch was especially awesome because everyone got the normal food PLUS cake PLUS bread. Hooray! Everyone ate really well. The cake looked good and I’m still craving some, but whatevs.

About forty-five minutes into lunch, this guy that I’ve seen every day came up to me and asked en espanol if we are going to be back tomorrow. When I told him no, we’re going back to the US on Sunday and won’t be back to Caritas, he stepped away and I started helping with other stuff. He came up to me a minute later with a necklace off of his own neck and gave it to me. He told me that it is made out of coral from Veracruz (the state of Mexico that Xalapa is the capital of) and that he got it from the ocean.

He said that he hopes we would meet again and that his name is Antonio. He looks to be about 18 to 20 years old. Then we hugged lightly, he kissed me on the cheek, and he left. It was raining outside at this point, and he just walked into it and away. I couldn’t believe that someone I didn’t know that I would ever see again would give me something so precious to him. It was just absolutely incredible. I showed it to Saira and when I showed it to Jessica I started crying. I mean, what a beautiful person to give away something like that. It’s so … so nice.

One of my favorite people whose name I didn’t know until today is this guy who is really tall and somewhat hunchbacked and very quiet. He has really kind eyes, and you can tell he’s a good person. He wore a shirt earlier this week that was black and said on the back, “I’m a friend you don’t see,” or something like that, and read on the front, “Make your voice heard.”

Anyway, he was there today and was very polite as usual. Before he left, he gave me a gift as well. It’s a postcard with artwork on it that he designed in school. One side of the postcard says “imagen de leyenda” with a beautiful graphic design of a church. Even the sky is detailed with thin black lines and stuff like that. It’s so pretty! On the back is a description of the church and it has his name. It says Illustracion: Carlos Garibay Millan with his email following it. So wow, I got two gifts today from total strangers, just because they are wonderful people. How about that?

After the feeding frenzy was over, Jair came to Caritas and we got ready to say goodbye to the kids. For some reason this wasn’t very emotional for me, because I feel like the kids have a positive future ahead of them. The women at Caritas are doing so much to make sure that the kids here will be smart and make smart choices. I’m happy we got to know them for the time that we did.

Together with Jair and the nuns of Caritas (the “madres”) we all went to the lunch place from Wednesday. Jair was really sweet and took the nuns’ umbrella and shook it out for them and then made sure we all had a place to sit. He poured me my drink again and we sat next to each other. Making conversation is much more difficult than I wish it was because I only know a few key phrases en espanol and he only knows a few key phrases in English. Haha. Way to go us!

Anyway, lunch was good. I had this thin meat called cercaras or something like that, and it was yummy. I’m ready to go back to some light food like sandwiches and soup for lunch when we get en estados unidos, but I’m not going to complain because the food here is cheap and tastes good.

After lunch they didn’t need us at Caritas anymore, so we walked to the alley by La Sopa that we visited before. On the way Jenna wanted to get money out of the bank, and since we’re paying for dinner by ourselves tonight Jessica and I decided to get money out as well. After that was said and done, Jenna needed change so Jair took us to his work office and exchanged some of his cash for one of Jenna’s large bills. He works in a museum dedicated to a Mexican saint. He writes for the newspaper called Alegro or something like that.. Ugh, can’t believe I forgot.

So anyways, after that we went to the alley and shopped around. I got some new bracelets, a necklace, and a pair of earrings. What a consumer, eh? Oh well, I want to support people and I love jewelry.

ASB6.png Jair and I walked on, in the freezing rain, and I bought a couple more bracelets. He bought us friendship bracelets – the brown one I have on my left wrist is the same type as the brown one on his right wrist. Then he got me a black bracelet with little white stitching and a silver star charm on it, because last night I told him that I love estrellas. He is really a sweet guy.

After that, the group split into two and Tomas, Bernardo, Sarah y yo walked home. We said goodbye to Jair after the alley and said that we would see him tomorrow (he’s coming repelling with us!). Now we are all home, relaxing and doing nothing for the first time since we’ve been here.

Tonight we are going to see Rodrigo perform again, this time with the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra. They are going to perform Obertura Cosi Fan Tutte (5th) by Mozart, Sinfonai #94 en sol mayor Sorpresa by Haydn, and Sinfonia No. 4 en mi menor, Op. 98 by Brahms. Can’t wait! Time to try to remember the past three days to blog about ….

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