Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oaxaca, Mexico - Day 2, The Fun Begins!

If you've never been on a foreign mission, you ought to give it a try. You'll see the world through different eyes. And so, we continue with Day 2 of my adventure in Oaxaca, Mexico:

Saturday, November 8 – 4:25 p.m.

When we arrived at YWAM (Youth With a Mission – headquarters last night at about 11 p.m., there was a hot meal waiting for us. Is that nice, or what? Chicken rolls and pasta and carrots and fresh tortilla chips with salsa verde. And cantaloupe water. We've all been drilled not to drink the water! But we were assured that it's purified, so I tried the cantaloupe water. Yummy. Delicious, even. Very refreshing.

Then, it was time for bed. Peggy [a classmate of Harry's who has been going on mission trips for years to Nicaragua and invited me along on this one. She runs the pharmacy on the medical missions] and I are bunk mates. She's in the lower, and I'm in the upper. I feel a little closed-in in lowers, so this works for me. Ours is the only double bunk in the room. The other four are triples. Yikes! Nosebleeds!

Also, add up all those one room...with one bathroom. On the plus side, there is an actual bath-room. Huzzah! (Don't forget to put the toilet paper in the little trash can instead of down the toilet...sewer system leaves much to be desired, I'm told. And take very short showers.)

Anyhow, comfy mattress, no apparent bed bug problems this morning [We had been warned about possible bed bug issues.]...a bit stiff, though. Probably a combination of carrying luggage from gate to gate [The mission bins were the checked luggage. Other than that, we were allowed one piece of carry-on weighing no more than 20 lbs., plus a small backpack.] and not moving all night. Anyhoo...

After breakfast this morning (huevos, tortillas, coffee, black beans, papaya, peaches), we went to the dumps to work with the kids. Skits, songs, coloring – frankly, I felt very superfluous until the face painting started. The kids loved it, and, somehow, it didn't seem to loom so large that my espanol es por nada. I can paint rainbows and flowers and stars and hearts in any language. I thought I was going to be stampeded by little girls wanting face paints. It was tons of fun. 

We had lunch with the kids – how can you say "No, thanks?" You just can't. So, we'll see if there are any “repercussions!” Guava water is outstanding, and the sandwiches were like french rolls cut in half, “buttered” with black bean puree, with fresh queso on top. Very good. [We had also been warned not to eat anything not prepared either by Lolita, our wonderful cook, or in a reputable eating establishment. There were no repercussions that I know of. Thank you, Lord!] 

The kids are terminally cute...I want to take half a dozen of them home with me. We've supported Compassion International kids at the church, but to meet them in person touches my heart. They are so open, so sweet, so loving, so eager.

Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

On the way back to the base, we stopped at a Oaxacan pottery “factory” – a family operation where the traditional black pottery is made. We got a demonstration, which was very interesting. The process is basically done by hand, with a potter's wheel made of two discs, one inverted on the other, turned manually. The process takes days, and the technique is passed from generation to generation. I hope that we'll also be able to see how the brightly-colored animals are made. I understand those are very popular, too, but are
not something made “only here” from “time immemorial.”

Made by hand.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
After it's fired, it's black.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

We stopped at a chocolateria on the way back, as well as a place to exchange dollars into pesos (12 pesos to one American dollar). We had some traditional Mexican hot chocolate – very creamy and delicious and cinnamon-y and not-too-sweet. [Bear with me here, all you sophisticated travelers. Pretend you don't already know all this stuff.] Note to self:  Pick up a molinillo [tool for mixing and frothing hot chocolate] to take home.

We're a bit tired, not surprising, having just arrived late last night and hitting the ground running early in the morning. But it's been a good day so far. A very good day. A word about the storefronts and architecture and walls and so forth – just like in the movies, and lots of graffiti...some looks like “tags,” but there's also a lot that qualifies as art (in my opinion, anyway, but what do I know?). I hope to be able to go for a walk with some folks so I can take pictures. 

We are not allowed to go out at night unless it's in a group, and even in the daylight we mustn't walk the neighborhood by ourselves. But the neighborhood seems – and feels – nice enough. Again, what do I know? Anyway, the houses are mainly cinder-block based, 2-story, wrought iron over the windows (and you get the impression it isn't strictly decorative), with tall walls (brick or cinder block) surrounding the property. Courtyards, not much in the way of gardens or lawns. I'm sure it isn't like that everywhere, but that's what I've seen so far. Lots of dust, even though the rainy season just ended. [Later learned that the rainwater is collected in cisterns. From there, it is pumped up to the roof into a sort of filtration tank, and from there it runs through the house by gravity. Assuming the house has running water and electricity, of course, which isn't the case in the villages. When the cistern runs dry, the water truck is summoned to fill it up. Must be expensive. Our particular house had hot water from “on demand” little heaters that heat the water as it goes through the pipes...don't take the first shower in the morning!]

Next up:  A day of rest and sightseeing!


  1. Happy to say I am now a loyal follower of Adventures in Paradise- my first blog.

  2. Thanks, Catherine! Please leave comments, ask questions, and so on. Who knows? I might answer your question on my blog.


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