raising the roof
Short version: I had a really good time and was sort of surprised at how easy it was to be with teenagers. I am so used to hanging out with 9 and 10-year-olds that I get worried about being with another age group, I guess. That and the fact that I was afraid of (some) teenagers when I was a teenager myself! Oh wait, this is supposed to be the SHORT version. Another major event for me was twisting my ankle while playing soccer in the street- a very sandy street, I might add. Of course, this was the morning of the first day so I had to sit out for some of the heavy work for the rest of our build, but I think it ended up being a positive thing. The trip was right after the last week of school, and though I was very excited for it, I had also been running around non-stop wrapping up the year, going to parties, and saying goodbye to friends for the summer or longer (my teacher friends who are returning to Spain).
taking a break
I always wish I had more long (and good) conversations with people, so being forced to slow down and rest allowed me to do that!
Ok, now for more details- if I have caught your interest:)
The family who received the house (a very simple 3-room house with electricity but no plumbing or running water) consists of a young couple and their young (2-yr-old?) son. The mom is pregnant and due in a month. We didn't really talk to them much- we didn't even meet the husband until the dedication day because he was working. His job is making artificial trees, probably in one of the factories, or maquiladoras. They were homeless before this and had been moving around, staying with different people.
It was pretty hot, windy, and dusty when we were there.
the family plus a neighbor
On the 2nd or 3rd day we were putting the tar paper down on the roof with a staple gun. I guess we didn't do a very good job because a big gust of wind came and ripped it off, knocking my hat off and brushing over Grace with the tar all over it. Someone had to go buy WD40 for her to get the tar off her skin!
When I twisted my ankle I had been waiting for two kids from the neighborhood to return with their sneakers so they could play with me. One of them ended up helping us with the house later in the week, along with a friend of hers. The friend was a 12-year-old girl, Kati, who asked me if we had brought any toys with us. She said that she collects toys to give out to poor children. I was maybe a little doubtful but also really impressed. Later, I was talking to an adult in the neighborhood who said that she was lying to me! Well, she probably qualifies as a poor kid, herself.
grace after the tar paper incident
.. I guess I'll give her credit for trying.
The guy I was talking to is pretty interesting. He lives and works across the street from the house we built. He is missing his lower leg on one side, and says he lost it three years ago to diabetes. He'd like to get a prosthetic, but they are too expensive for him- almost $5,000, I think, but maybe it is $500 if he was talking about Mexican pesos. He says people in Juarez
are not very accepting of people with disabilities. He used to have his own small restaurant, but now he is unable to go out and get his supplies, so he just survives by charging kids to play a video game he has and from a sort of disability check he gets.
There are buses he could take, but he says the drivers rarely stop for him, and if they do, they will speed up right away and he'll fall over. Also, he says people don't always get up to give him a seat. He has a wheelchair for his house but has to use crutches to get around because of the sand. Learning all this makes me want to have my students make some educational posters about disabilities. We could translate them into Spanish and I could bring them in January when I go back and have them distributed to schools, churches, doctor's offices, etc.
After work each day we went to a paleteria, which is kind of like an ice cream shop but with just as many, if not more, popsicles as ice creams. My favorite thing to get was a strawberry popsicle because they made it with chunks of fresh strawberries.
kati & duck
It was soooo good! I also liked to buy the "agua fresca" drink horchata. This is a cold rice milk that is sweetened and delicious. On the last day we went to the tourist market. I told the kids that there was a Michoana (the paleteria store, a chain) across the street, and a bunch of them went over there with me. I bought what I thought to be a strawberry one, but it was just a regular popsicle without chunks in it and it turned my lips hot pink. I was helping translate for the kids and the lady there was very nice. When we left she gave me a chunky strawberry popsicle for free!!
Our trip back from Juarez was quite memorable in and of itself. First of all, it took about 2.5 hours just to get across the border into El Paso because of the lines. Then, because my foot was still hurting, I asked Brent (one of the adult leaders) to drive my car back for me.
Somehow we missed the turn to get on I-25 North and stayed on I-10 West. Neither of us noticed this for a long time- honestly, the scenery all looked the same to me. When Brent said he thought we had missed a turn I thought he was joking and went along with him- because he seems to rarely say anything seriously and we had two of the youths with us so I thought he was messing with them. A little while later we crossed the border into Arizona!! We had driven for 2 hours in the WRONG DIRECTION!! Luckily we were able to find a shortcut back to
I-25 that saved us a little time. We played lots of games of 20 questions and also a game with Laffy Taffys. (The Laffy Taffys have riddles on them
and you read the questions and try to come up with your own answers to them before checking the answer on the wrapper). We laughed most of the way back.
Well, I think I will leave it at that. Thanks for reading!