Today we woke up bright and early, ready to hit the beach in search of clams. Clamming is a common profession here, with every dozen clams earning the worker about thirty pesos (or less that three dollars). As it turned out, the other clammers were running on Mexican time and we ended up waiting on the beach for a few hours. Instead of napping or taking the time to relax, all that was on our minds was where we would find our next paycheck.
Once the team arrived we got geared up to meet the waves. They set us up with pitchforks and clamming nets and we charged into the surf chanting “Ubuntu!” all the way. It’s funny how the cold hits you in the water. At first it was just the water temperature, but then the wind began to pick up and we were shivering as we worked. In any case, the first hour was less than productive. We averaged one or two clams each – not nearly enough to feed our family of six or pay the bills. As much as we wanted to quit, we couldn’t. We needed money to support ourselves. In the right conditions clammers can catch eight to twelve dozen clams but conditions had not been our favour. We realized that people here must have to save their money to cover days like this when the waves and wind make it difficult to find clams. We also identified with the feeling of desperation that many must feel when struggling to make enough money to take care of their families. After a few hours had passed we made our way home, with only forty pesos in our pocket and not enough money for dinner.
We scraped together some lunch before heading to our next job of the day – helping a rich lady with some household cleaning (actually Rosa at the LiveDifferent house). Going back to the big house, even after just a few days, was shocking for us. Transitioning from a dirt floor and tarps to a comparative mansion left us a little homesick, but also reminded us of what we could look forward to at the end of the week. Our jobs included cleaning ceiling fans, washing cars, cleaning paint trays, and sweeping the driveway. But the end of the day we still only had about 140 pesos, after paying the bills and rent for tomorrow.
At the end of the work day we came home to a sweet surprise. Our neighbours had brought us coffee and pastries – one of the highlights of the evening! In the true spirit of ‘ubuntu’ we shared them all. That’s what impacted us most today – that despite the hardships we experience from time to time, we will always stick together and that will make us strong. Bring on the next four days because we’re ready for adventures.
My highlight of shack week so far was when we were working at the LiveDifferent house. Ryan, one of the staff, had given Jenn one tortilla chip with dip. Instead of eating it all herself, she ran out of the house and shared the chip between the six of us. If that isn’t ‘ubuntu’ I don’t know what is. – Brittany, Academy student