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Out came the sun…

But not before more rain would fall, everyone at La Mariposa attempted to carry on with life as best we could. We became accustom to always being cold, dirty and wet. I don’t just mean wet as in, oh I got wet walking to the car, either, I mean everything we own is damp and other things are soaked. For me, I have mildew growing on my backpack, sweater, shoes and suitcase from the air just being so full of moisture. I packed enough clothing for ten days and a few little extra pieces parts…By Monday (10/17) everything was dirty as I haven’t been able to wash anything and haven’t had anything dry from the last washing since the sun hasn’t should its shine in 10 solid days.

The newspaper read more than 10, 000 people have been affected by the horrible weather. But the sun came back to us and we are presently in day 2 of NO RAIN!

Last Thursday and Friday, Ruth, Krissy, Flo, Maia and I went on a couple of visits. First, stop was the Centro Infintil Comunitario a daycare for children in the morning and a reading center in the afternoons.  This was a bit of an excursion to get to it. We hopped on a micro-bus as they call them here, which is nothing more than a van that runs back and forth between two points making dozens of stops along the way for a fee. The micro-bus is an experience allllll on its own. When the van stopped, I looked inside and said to myself there is no way we are going to fit in there. The van which seats 14 had 28 people on it including me by the time it was all said and done. I don’t know how we did it but we stepped in, squashed and hunched over among 25 other hot sweaty bodies. I heard Flo call out “Juli, are you on?” and I said, “Uh not really…” one foot was on the step and one foot was in the air a hand clutching Ruth’s that was clutching the seat. The van started moving…Ruth said, “Watch your ass!” and the van door slid past my butt and shut. Yup just like that we drove off…..When we stopped and the muchacho opened the door I sprang out to the curb and everyone on the van chuckled as we all knew it was bound to happen. From there we started letting people off until we hit our destination and hailed a moto-taxi which is just like the tuk-tuks in Guate and headed up the short walk up hill to the center.

At the center we met several adorable children of all ages. I got the impression that on this particular day they were having some difficulties as the teacher hadn’t arrived to unlock the building and the kids were wandering about…I got the feeling that this was not a typical day and that the center was actually a really great safe fun place for children to play and learn. While we were there we read and played with a few children hoping the teacher would arrive. She never did BUT we did enjoy our time and were challenged and impressed by one of the little girls who was an amazing jacks player! I wish time would allow for me to go back there and get to know how this center runs.

The next day Flo, Maia and I joined Krissy on a trip to the site where the high need families were living. Again, an interesting micro-bus ride…where we face gringo taxation. I knew when we boarded the bus Krissy was bothered by something I just didn’t know what. As the muchacho asked our destination and reached for my cordobas he had a smirk on his face that instantly hit me and Maia at the same time. He was attempting to scam us. I stared at him with an I-know-what you-are-up-to-buddy face and Maia said, “ummmm NO para uno!” He resisted at first than handed me back my change for a double charge. I raised an eyebrow at him and tucked my money away. He knew, I knew and so did everyone else. Krissy was frustrated when we disembarked and kept apologizing for the muchacho being that way. She said he is the only one who has ever done that to her in the 8 months she lived there and it wasn’t the first time.

Finally, after a quick moto-taxi ride we arrived. As we pulled up kids were in the street and standing in the doorway. They were looking like that had cabin fever and stared at us not sure what to make of us. Krissy chatted with the organizer and we got a few chairs set up in a separate room for the kids. The building is used as a dance hall and was now home to 15 families who had just lost their homes to a landslide. They had the clothes on their backs and a few little items. La Mariposa purchased mattresses for everyone to sleep on that are about 6” thick. When Paulette learned they were sleeping on the floor she put an end to that within hours. I have already shared with you my encounter with Daniella, precious child…As the children gathered and took their seats, the organizer handed me three children’s books; all in Spanish and not really picture books. The Spanish words on the page had me on edge…there is no way I can read Boots to them in Spanish. Then Krissy asked the kids who can read and several raised their hand, then she asked for a volunteer reader and a sweet young girl stood up. She bravely stood before the group reading the book. I took a picture or two and saw an older boy watching me I stretched my hand out with the camera and asked him if he wanted to take some pictures. For the next hour he and several of his friends photographed themselves and the center. The little girl that read asked me to go in the next room with her to color with the rest of the group and I did. We sat across from one another coloring with a handful of crayons and markers and a pad of paper to share with 15 kids ages 2-15. I scribbled away and so did she. Then I heard someone say ‘Juli’ and I looked up and so did she. I realized we had the same name. Her knick name is Yuli. We hit it off great after that J .

Instantly a memory flashed through my head of my friend Dawn who calls me Yuli all the time…We played with the kids for a good hour before heading out. Visiting these families was by far one of the most rewarding experiences I have had to this point in the trip.

Then came time for a trip to the long awaited for Escuela de Panama. The Panama School, I have been so looking forward to this trip, and it seemed like on obstacle after another before making it happen. Ruth and I took a micro-bus to the end of random road just outside of San Juan. From there we began a walk up hill on road quickly turned to a muddy foot path. We walked up hill for 20 minutes, each turn in the road revealing another beautiful view of nature and hard look at poverty, it is hard to believe that such a breathtaking area could be home to so many with so little. I learned as we walked together that none of the homes have running water that everyone has to walk to town to collect water daily, either by foot or ox as no one has a car. I thought to myself. I can barely do this with a backpack never mind a fetch a day’s supply of water.

The higher and further we went the more I began to question if we had the right road…It didn’t seem like a school would be in this area at all. Then boom, off to the right stood this magnificent row of buildings. With a new paint job courtesy of World Vision…many children were outside playing and we wandered about, Ruth would give me a tour, introduce me to the teacher and  tomorrow the fun would begin! For those of you wondering about the 70lb bag of goodies, Ishmial drove it up in his pick up and dropped it there for us as it was impossible to carry. In fact one of the young men working at La Mariposa struggled carrying it on his head up the narrow path to the truck…

More on the visit to Panama and the hike to Masaya to come.
As Told By Jules: Journeys in Central America and beyond

1 comment:

Anissa said...

okay waiting patiently now for you next blog.;.