Friday, May 10, 2013

Vineyards, Mysterious European Backers, and Building A Home in 3 Days: Special Project in Valle Guadalupe, Ensenada

New Friends and Sharing Tijuana with Leann

Kelsey's Birthday Celebration! With the gorgeous past LTV Kelsey and lovely Giselle 

Portland local, UC Riverside Grad student, fellow COW History alum, Siena apartment roomie, and food enthusiast, Leann, visited me in Tijuana!

On location at the worksite in Lomas de San Anton
Hard work did these Liberal Arts students some good, though we still find numbers unceasingly difficult
Leann: "I'm not really hungry, but I could go for some ice cream." Me: "YES!"

Me: "I'm SO Ohio right now." Leann: "I'm SO Portland, represent!"

The FEM Staff!

Volunteer Coordinator, Eduardo
Technician, Rigo

Technician, Roberto

Social Worker, Graciela
Accountant, Cuquis and Social Worker, Letti

Current Director, Monica

Accountant, Mario

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tijuana Birthday Fun

Today's song, Dile by Don Omar

Beautiful pink cake, Cuquis wouldn't let them push my head into it because it is so pretty!

Aunt Lisa came to help celebrate my Birthday!

Poppin' bottles....or just one

Birthday dinner in Rosarito!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Smells like Summertime

This week's playlist: 
Summertime by Janis Joplin
Carolina by Seu Jorge

I spent last weekend in San Diego with the group from SDSU and my aunt and uncle. This photo is from Pacific Beach, I need to find a job so that I can live here and become a surfer.  
Rainy day in Tijuana

Esperanza will host a group in June that does home building projects all around the world. The group is made up of people from different countries, and the idea is to build a home in 3 days. This year they chose Esperanza and we chose to work with a family in Ensenada. We have been doing a lot of prep work so that they can actually finish the home in 3 days. The hour drive to Ensenada is breathtaking, from the beach to rolling hills and valleys. The site is in Valle Guadeloupe  a famous area with many vineyards. 

Succulents and cactus. Mom, have you remembered to water the succulents in my room?

These three boys are the sons of the family in Ensenada. Living in the country, they are always playing outside and using their imaginations. Graciela and I enjoyed watching that, it is quite different than the kids in Tijuana who are nearly always on their cell phones. These boys were also incredibly enthusiastic to help us build their home! Here, they're trying to transport pieces of rebar with a bike. 

This past week, two men from the organization came to video the site and to understand how Esperanza makes homes. Eduardo did a great job explaining the process, now he's a bona fide movie star. 

We made about 200 blocks with eight workers. Now it's time for me to rest my back. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

SDSU in Tecate!

What a busy month it's been. Four fantastic volunteer groups and a week camping in Tecate. There's a lot running through my head right now, so this post will be more like a picture book. This past week we hosted a group from San Diego State University. Their administration won't allow student groups to travel to Tijuana so we met them in Tecate, a smaller town about one hour East. The first three days we partnered with another home building organization named Corazon. The rest of the week we enjoyed various activities in and around Tecate. 

Soundtrack for the week:
Lluvia al Corazon by Mana
I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons
Bamboleo by Gipsy Kings
Suavemente by Elvis Crespo

Sunday, the first day at the worksite, we mixed and poured cement for a floor. Corazon mixes cement differently from Esperanza, but this way more people were able to see how the cement forms. We heard many calls for 'agua! cemento! grava! arena!' At a construction site Spanish words are quickly picked up. Davonna mixing the cement!

Many hands make light work. It took us just 1.5 hours to pour the floor for the room addition to the home.
The view from the worksite. From our campground at Rancho Ojai it was about an hour drive through the valleys and rocky hills. 
The SDSU on the second day standing on the new floor. 

There wasn't a lot of work to be done, so some of the group members were able to help the women make fresh flour tortillas for our lunch! I hope they share the recipe. Cindy, Melanie, and Charity. 

Day two involved a lot of measuring, sawing, and hammering. We made 3 walls and 2 roof supports. 
Claire with a hammer, watch out!
Putting the three walls in place took many hands and a lot of patience. It was interesting to see a new way of building walls. This way is great because the home is finished within a few days, but I think Esperanza's building plan is more sustainable.  Davonna, Annelise, the lovely group leader and translator, Lily. 

Bringing the two pieces of the roof together was another interesting sight. I had to keep myself from sounding like a concerned mother. Steve is balancing on a wobbly 2x4! And of course Rigo is like a monkey climbing around and balancing on things no one else can. 

Gail and many others fell in love with this little puppy. Amanda and Kurt helped to give her a bath, hopefully the ticks don't come back anytime soon. 

Annelise had fun playing soccer with the young boy of the family, Daniel. 

Tahn also had fun with the children, this little girl is Daniel's sister. 

Home complete, thanks Corazon! 

That same day we joined with Habitat for Humanity to beautify a playground. Men and their tools, sheesh. Rigo and Brandon. 

Three Musketeers, or the three stooges? Kurt, Hamsa, and Eduaro
The completed garden

Wednesday, we toured the gardens at Rancho la Puerta, an amazing upscale spa and resort in Tecate. Dennise, the head chef, took us around the rows of organic vegetables and flowers. In the background is Mt Cuchama, it is sacred to the Kumiai tribe and a source of inspiration to Rancho la Puerta. 
This is Salvador, the gardener. He talked about the vegetables and let us eat onions, garlic, and lettuce fresh from the ground. Find out more about the resort

Then, they treated us to a vegetarian lunch with vegetables taken from the fields right out the back door. Delicious and fresh. Our bodies had been craving veggies! Carrot and garlic soup, veggie lasagna with tortillas, steamed asparagus, fresh salsa, and a salad of cabbage and celery. Que rico!
We enjoyed many late nights around the bonfire at Rancho Ojai. It is a campground and hotel with little cabins scattered around. We spent most of our time hanging out outside and getting to know each other. Gathering firewood and building fires is one of my favorite memories. There's nothing quite like using what the land provides and spending time outside under the stars. 
Thursday, we went to the cultural museum and learned a lot about the Kumiai nation. Our tour guide, an Anthropologist, was full of knowledge and shared stories of the Kumiai. 
Gail and I in a reconstruction of a Kumiai hut

Later in the day we toured the Tecate brewery. I don't have a picture from that, but here is evidence that we support the local business that is the Tecate brewery. 

Friday morning we visited a clinic that serves a poorer neighborhood. It was interesting for most of the group because many study Public Health. Later in the afternoon we went to Miracle Ranch, a wonderful orphanage. This woman and her husband run it with a large sense of family and religion. 
An olive grove existed on the property, so to make extra money to help run the orphanage they harvest the olives and sell them along with olive oil. The smell was delicious!
The children were in great spirits and were able to put their feelings into words better than most of us. This orphanage is a beautiful organization. Here I am with Gail and Claire, and a little boy who loves to take photos with the ladies. 
Friday, we went to a wine tasting at Cava Garcia. Most of us were tired and didn't feel like drinking wine in the hot sun, so we explored the tiny zoo and took pictures, instead. 

Claire Koala Bear

Rigo, Amanda, me, Eduardo, and Morgan. 
What a wonderful week, I miss all of you already!