Greetings, didn´t want to be late for my first day at the Orphanage and as i needed to take 2 buses, made sure i was up bright and early 6am. The house was very quiet and having negotiated a cochroach in the bathroom and trapped it under a glass, (apparently they come up through the sink when it is very very hot - and it has been 34 degs). I then left and made my way in the dark to the bus stop. All bus stops are not obvious, sometimes yellow lines on a road, sometimes nothing, usually on a corner. I´d had a trial run trip with Alex from Projects yesterday and made some notes ie opposite turquoise house, little did i realise that virtually every other house is turquoise. I did find the right place though and the 604A arrived at 7am, nearly full but the driver did stop and i hopped on. The door only just closed behind me and i couldn´t see the driver to pay him, after a few seconds, he stopped again and 2 further people got on, i was squished between a rucksack and a large lady all made up ready for work. Somehow everyone shuffled forward and i was then able to pay for my ticket 6 pesos. All fairs are 6 pesos and it does not matter where you get on or off. It was still dark and i wondered how i was going to see the landmarks i had noted the previous day. Pretty soon people started to get off the bus and i got a seat. I had to make sure my bus turned left at a big junction (otherwise i´m on the wrong bus), it did. It soon started to get light and i saw the park on the left hand side and shortly after Radial Tyres big yellow sign, i moved to the back of the bus and pressed the button. He stopped and i got off with some others, A short walk past the Traffic Police HQ to my next bus stop. This was in the totally opposite direction and i had to wait for the 52, not 52A, B, C or D - just the straight 52. The first one drove past - but this did happen the previous day. But at least i was at the right stop! The 52 arrived and not too crowded i got a seat, i now had to make sure that it went straight ahead at the interchange and then it had to turn right at Pollo Pepe - it did. It wasn´t very far now and the 52 terminates where i get off. A short walk down a street to the Orphanage. 0745am, kids being taken to school, all smart in uniform, people walking to work, starting their cars, all normal. If you walked past the Orphanage you wouldn´t necessarily know it was an orphanage. I waited outside, there is one locked gate and then a big locked wooden door. I waited, nothing, more mums were taking their kids to school, i thought that any minute my 2 other volunteers would arrive and we´d be let in. I moved slightly to my right and then noticed a bell! I´d been stood 30 mins and it was now 0815. I was let in, i started with Hola buenos dias but didn´t get any response from the girl that answered, she was about 15 and it is home to her. Nothing prepared me for what i saw, the place was a mess. There is a concrete courtyard and covered eating area and a covered play area for the smaller children with small slides and climbing equipment. Everywhere, literally everywhere i looked, there were disgarded clothes, drinks, partially eaten fruit, odd socks, odd shoes, footballs. The dining area had tables and chairs in disarray, partial eaten fruit disgarded, spilled drinks, so far removed from my diningroom or kitchen. One girl was starting to sweep up, so i thought - let´s get started, no one else present yet, a few boys 8 or 9 yrs old wandering about not quite dressed , barefoot. So i started to pick up clothes, collected all the footwear and put them in pairs against the main door to the classroom, socks all on one pile, clothes over a rail. The classroom had dropped food on floor, papercuttings, pencil sharpenings, chairs in dissarray. I could go on, between us we swept all areas, mopped the floors, cleaned tables and chairs and put everything into order. I won´t mention the loos! The sink in the girls loo is broken and im sure its something minor, but no funds to get it repaired. There is one lady who comes in everyday and she cleans, cooks etc. Washing up, well forget fairy and hot water. Cold water and soap powder, but it is what it is and everything is clean. Some boys came outside and i asked if there was any music. They brought out a cd player and a cd (all in spanish) which i managed to get working and set at 10 it blarred out spanish music. They looked at me as if i were mad, not quite sure what to make me. I then asked one of the boys for a dance and he just stared at me and walked off. Undetered i then asked the next one, similar age, again no response. The younger boys appeared 7 or 8 yrs of age, "Do you want to dance" I asked. They giggled and ran off. The doorbell went and 4 youths doing work placement came in. I then asked another smaller boy to dance with me - again no joy - they obviously havn´t seen me dance! I then asked the workplacement 17/18 yr olds to dance and each of them took my arm and we did a quick shimmy. The last one i said we ought to do a tango but he didn´t understand. The kids were now all laughing and hanging out of the window watching. I said to a couple of them that tomorrow it was their turn. I sat down briefly and 2 boys came and sat close to me, they had plastercine and one gave me a piece and i managed to make a snail, which they found funny. They all then appeared and had some free time throwing balls at each other. It was then time to finish off their homework, i sat down with a group of 4 boys, one of which id drawn trees with yesterday on induction day. He had cut out my drawing and put the cutting in his workbook but then copied my drawing into his book, but still kept my drawing as he liked it. We did grammar, i can now do spanish grammar for 8yr olds so i am making progress. They also taught me so the 2 way process does work. When i left an hour or so later, they all came to say by, hasta manana, with beaming smiles and the girls came and hugged me. Alex had arrived and after work we went down town, he drove which saved me the bus journey, we went to the office and i met jorge, jonathan and carlos again. We chatted and chatted and they have decided we must soon have a tequila night. Tequila, Alex tells me is smooth and should be drunk like a fine wine, not like a shot! and there are various Tequila so i must try them. i left at 5.30pm for my 2 bus journeys home, a 51 (not 51A,B,C,D) and then a 622. Again looking for landmarks is challenging as they do look the same. I got off one bus and found the stop for my 622, which was fine. Then got off too early from the 622 and was a little lost - but all the roads are on a grid system, so just 2 blocks away and i was back in the right direction. Thank God for mobiles! It´s still very hot, still love it and had someone said to me i would be commuting in Guadalajara with the early morning folk on my own, i doubt id have believed them. Everyday is a new experience and good ones. So Tequila is definately on the list as is Wrestling - not me personally ha ha.
What a journey, 15 months waiting to finally have this adventure, 19 hours of travelling and I'm finally here - yeh! The flight from the uk seemed endless, the transfer through Atlanta was much easier than expected, being guided through immigration, my suitcase had already gone ahead of me onto my next flight as it technically was not stopping I the US, although I was dubious about this, having had cases go wandering before, but the uniformed staff assured me that would be the case. There is further customs to clear, even though I did not have any bags to check and then a final security check and body scan just because I was entering, be it briefly the country. The guidance throughout the process is amazing, plenty of uniformed staff who if you appear at all to need assistance readily approach you, but not in an intrusive way. You are guided to the internal train which takes you to your next terminal. The train is announced and arrived 50 seconds later,4 stops later (2 mins travelling) I arrived for my last flight at the new terminal. Atlanta has 5 terminals and is the main hub for flights to central and south America. I waited patiently my remaining hour and this was a normal short 3hour flight. By now I just wanted to get here!
On landing, this final stage was remarkably easy, no long wait for baggage, mine was first off! No big wait at immigration, cases are scanned again coming in and a brief question through customs then through the doors!!
No need to worry about not seeing the Projects Abroads sign, a beaming, smiling face looked straight at me with a big Hola! The last part was, exciting racing through Friday night traffic, it was very busy and my lady driver would do very well in a Formula 1 race anyday, very safe and skilled. This journey was made all the more reassuring as both driver and navigator spoke English and put me at ease.
I finally, finally arrived at my host family's house and the welcome was as warm as any of my family have given me, when they have not seen me for a long time. Hugs and kisses and big smiley welcomes from Bertha and her family. Despite my limited Spanish we managed get establish that I'd been travelling 19 hours and my body clock (not an easy translation) was at 4am! My room was a welcomed sight, huge bed and having had a drink I made my excuse me and got some much needed sleep. Tomorrow is the first day and the adventure begins!
Today we'll share a very mexican recipe here on our blog; Pico de gallo sauce! it's one of those sauces that always makes a special appearance at every mexican table, deliciously awesome for tacos or steaks.
and lets start:
First we will need some fresh tomatoes, peppers and cilantro are the key to the best salsa--grab from the garden or check our your farmer's market.
Combine tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, garlic and jalapenos in a bowl. Add lemon juice, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper, then stir well. Chill at least one hour before serving.
Notes: To cut down on heat, you can remove some of the seeds from the jalapeno peppers before chopping.
Number of Servings: 8
Enjoy! (buen provecho)
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