- Breakfast – Eggs, beans, tortillas, papaya, tea
- Lunch – Chicken with mole, mexican rice, lettuce, beans, rice pudding
- Dinner – Quesadillas, bananas, pico de gallo
The first night trying to sleep was the worst. In the girls dorm, there was a lot of snoring, some weird bell ringing, and some very loud chickens that got up before the crack of dawn. On top of that, people kept randomly getting up to use the bathroom or shower – right next to where I was sleeping. Luckily, when I got out of bed, the showers were warm (people showering the night before did not have such luck).
Our first breakfast was delicious and led me to a new favorite – pan dulce (sweet rolls). I ended up eating them every day for the rest of the week. I also tried papaya – not so much a fan. Jim (one of the head honchos) brought out some fungus tacos. I politely declined – one new thing at a time.
We wandered around downtown until 9am, when we met Ted at a well known coffee chain – Cafe Bunte. Ted led us to the Cruz Rojo (Red Cross) instead of our original plan to go to Ojo de Agua. We waited around for a bit and observed our surroundings. There was to be a speech to benefit local service clubs – the Lions, Red Cross, and Rotary. The mayor of Xicotepec led the festivites, and after the speech, we were hustled for money by adorable children dressed as doctors and nurses. A check was also given to Rotary.
Shortly after, a kind man named Felix picked us up in his truck to take us to Ojo de Agua. The drive may have been the scariest I’ve ever experienced, if not for car rides later that day and week. We piled into the back and hoped for the best as we quickly drove down steep hills and off-roaded for a bit.
When we got to the school, it was time for me to shine. With the group, I had prepared a list of questions to ask the principal and translated them. I introduced myself and our group to him and he gave us the breakdown of what we were and weren’t allowed to do.
After some formal conversation with the principal, we introduced ourselves to the kids who shook our hands and said, “Buenas dias!” to all of us. Then we got to work figuring out the best way to handle our project. We could only work on one room of the school that day, because some workers were putting in plaster in the other room. Our room was filled with junk. We started taking it out, but it didn’t take long. The kids rushed in, eager to help. We had what could have taken an hour done in 15 minutes.
The workers in the other classroom helped us mix whitewash and we got started with that while Nate, Chelsea, and Stacy went to get our painting supplies. The kids wanted to help again, but we had to shoo them away so they wouldn’t get their uniforms dirty. We also discovered that distraction techniques were very effective at keeping the kids away from our work area. Distraction techniques involve anything from school yard games to soccer. After we finished whitewashing, we all played with the kids until the rest of our group returned. I taught them how to play Duck Duck Goose.
A couple other groups were at Ojo de Agua that day. The dentist team came mostly to set up their projects for the rest of the week. I talked to their leader Julie about helping them in whatever way I could over fresh fruit given to us by the moms. Although we were warned not to eat cut fruit (it could be washed in unclean water), we were told it was ok to eat. We played with the kids some more, than were brought back to the Cruz Azul for lunch.
Dez and I went to the market with the high school kids for some better cleaning supplies. We got a little lost on the way back and took the long way. We chatted with a bunch of people – a kid, an older woman (who doubled as a landmark for Dez), and some more kids. We heard a couple of them call out “Gringos!” (considered a term of endearment for North Americans) as we descended the path to Ojo de Agua. We were starting to get tired thanks to the extra walking, but Felix found us on his way down and we jumped in his truck.
We got back to Ojo de Agua to discover that our paint was locked up and inaccessible. Fortunately, we stayed on schedule by getting started with another project the principal requested we do. We had accessible paint for the outside of the buildings and started working on that.
Some of the little kids hung around after school was out and gave us drawings they made for us. We talked to them while taking breaks and learned more about them. Like the kids at the orphanage, they love taking pictures. We also “interviewed” them on Nate’s iPad.
We managed to finish the outside of both buildings (save for a second coat of paint) and Felix drove us back to the Cruz Azul. We showered the paint off, then played C-A-B-A-L-L-O (horse) with some of the local Rotarian’s kids for a bit before dinner.
After dinner, we debriefed again and Stacy complimented us on our flexibility. Today could’ve gone a whole different way if not for our adaptability. We went to the internet cafe again after dinner, and it was straight to bed when we got back.