23 Days of New Experiences!
23 days ago, we left Hamilton Ontario – Mexico bound. On the way, we found Arizona, The Grand Canyon, San Diego, fro-yo, and sunshine. Sadly, we had to leave Arizona and San Diego behind (they didn’t quite fit on the bus!) but the sunshine, we kept with us – or rather, it chose to stay. Most of the time at least!So now, 23 days later; we’re here and settled in – speaking Spanglish at every turn and eating tortillas at any (and we attempt to make it every) meal. The sun does shine most days, but we’ve learned that when it goes down it takes all it’s warmth with it – so we’re left in the cold and the dark. But we don’t mind, our usual remedy is to cook dinner and dance!
A typical day down here on the Baja coast involves class in the morning (right now we’re in the middle of discussing world cultures, the world bank, politics, and NGO’s – being able to discuss with 5 other people that all have unique life experiences and perspectives is potentially the best part. Give us a topic and we’ll run with it!) and then usually teaching or volunteering in the afternoon.
Each week, we get to hit up 3 incredible places – the Good Samaritan Seniors Home, and 2 schools. At the seniors home, we do a multitude of jobs – last week, Colin and I washed fans and windows, this week we did laundry and tackled spiderwebs. Whatever needs doing, we’re game – the Good Samaritan is run by a man named Juan, who does it all out of a belief that people deserve a home. It’s an incredible place; and even though most of the residents don’t speak English we get to communicate with them. This past week, I was lucky enough to spend time with the cutest Grandma EVER – she taught me needlepoint and we talked about her family. When it was time to leave, she showered us all in hugs and kisses, walked us to the gate, and literally tried to come through it to say goodbye!
It’s not only our visits to the home that leave us feeling loved though – our days of teaching at PSQ (Paseo San Quintin – one of the schools!) usually end in sad goodbyes and promises to come back, to tango again, to play another match of soccer or give another push on the swings. These kids are incredibly trusting and don’t know the boundaries that language seems to impose on adults – everything is understood with a smile, a laugh, and a wave of the hand. We speak different languages, but that doesn’t stop us from playing. More than once, I’ve felt like I’m returning to my childhood days of playground etiquette – and sometimes, I even forget the rules and slide before it’s my turn! Some of these kids come with burdens bigger than I will ever know – and yet, they are able to live in each moment. I admire their spirit; and I admire the genuine smiles on their faces. They may not be kids like the ones I know, but they are amazing young people. At the Camalu school, jokes are frequent and they laugh easily – but their thirst for knowledge is apparent. The difference in the schools is obvious, the students in Camalu are more serious and know a bit more than San Quintin; but they are the same in more than one aspect. A few weeks ago, we were teaching in Camalu – and I saw a little girl pull out a Barbie doll and a berry box full of rags she proceeded to use as clothing and bedding for her friend. Fascinated, I watched 3 other girls pull out their own berry boxes from their princess pink backpacks and sit down to play – and was smiling ear to ear – Barbie was one of my own favorite games to play! Every once in awhile, we have the kids join us at the front and teach us a little Espanol, much to their amusement – we don’t always pronounce things right! The experience itself is worth every wrongly pronounced syllable. Teaching and learning – we are quickly learning they go hand in hand.
When we’re not volunteering, we’re out exploring the countryside between house chores and cooking meals – two very IMPORTANT aspects of our lives! Communal living is definitely an experience in itself – you learn what people like to eat, what they hate, and most of all, what music they listen to. We have a set of speakers that get a lot of use, and play host to a lot of dance parties! We try to see as much of our little piece of Mexico as we can, and experience it as fully – trips so far include days on the beach, exploring the coastline, seeing the oyster fields, a volcano climb, a potatoe – taco restaurant, an avertoon dedicated to the Superbowl with Santiago, a night at Andrew & Dawn’s new restaurant, la taqueria differencia!, a trip to Ensenada and La Buffadora (an adventure all in itself!), a night at the pool hall, a retro party complete with pinata, and still, one of our favorite places to visit…is the grocery store.
We love it here, we love learning, and we love being part of a change – our shack experience is coming up soon, and as we learn to live with each other and in this new world, we learn to be adaptable, the accept challenges, and to smile frequently – it really does make not knowing Spanish a little easier. Another comfort is knowing that, in true Mexican style, there’s always “menana” (tomorrow!) to learn a little more!