Day 7 – (3/20/09)

Got up, brushed the teeth and shaved. Had a granola bar and got ready to go to the market. All the girls were dressed up and looking beautiful and I was just wearing my Newman t-shirt and jeans – so I was looking dressed down, but it’s all good. We took the city bus, and the driving is insane here in Mexico, and the bus drivers are no different. First we bought our bus tickets for our trip back home to El Paso, and then we hopped on the city bus for 4.50 pesos. The driver was insane, driving fast as heck on corners, stopping a dime. We had to stand since there were really no seats left when we got on the bus, so we grabbed the handrails on the ceiling held on! I had to use both hands. Kerry is short enough where she could still grab the handrails, but when the bus stopped quickly her feet went flying up and she just held on by the handrails. Jen held on to seats instead, and when she did that, she held onto a seat where some random guy was sitting, because that’s where there was room and she could still stand by us. Well, this put her in the position where her chest was close to the guys face, and she commented “This guys is about to get a closer look at what he was just looking at.”

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Town Centro

We got to the stop, and took a short walk to the Cathedral and it was very beautiful. We only made a short stop in the Cathedral, and then we walked down to a trinket shop and spent an hour there buying gifts and such. I bought a light blue Cross for mom & dad, and a flute for Rooster, and a Rosary for school, and a nice little hand bracelet with religious pictures & people. Then we moved on to more shopping (big surprise with a group of women). We went on our own without Janiene & Luis, and decided to meet back up at 1:30 at the Cathedral. We did breakfast together first though, we all had Chillequilles, what was like old tortillas with a hot red sauce and cheese, and it came with eggs and refried beans.

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So shopping on our own was good, we had Margie with us to save us when we ran into trouble. It was mostly girls clothes shopping, so I just walked and around and looked badass (or tried to as much as I could with a group of 6 girls). One guy followed us a bit, our group attracted lots of attention – a group of young attractive ladies, and one of them being a black person (nearly non-existent down here). So we had people whistling and shouting at us – and the staring was non-stop. It got damn annoying the way all the guys just stared at our girls! The guy followed us a little bit, and when our group stopped by phone, he went and picked up the phone to make it look like he was calling someone, but just stared at Hannah’s butt – kind of creepy. I tried to point this guy out later to one of the girls, and I said he was in a white shirt, but I found out later apparently it was blue. Update, I’m colorblind.

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The girls bought some nice shirts and Hannah got a nice dress, and I bought a sweet white cowboy hat. I’ve very pleased with it, although maybe I should have gotten a size larger. Then we headed back and met up with Janiene and Luis, but before that we went back to the first trinket shop and bought more stuff, namely Jen buying Mexican blankets. I ended up buying a sweet poncho, really badass, so I’m glad we went back there. I was proud of my Espanol tambien, did I good job of buying it. Then we met up with Janiene and Luis and got some lunch. I ordered quesadillas and a Sprite, and in the meantime ate some chips and Salsa. I put some on a chip and about died! My lips burned for nearly a half hour, I had to order another sprite from the cute little girl working there.

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Saying Goodbye

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Then we headed on back home, and the bus home was not nearly as crazy, so that was nice after our long day. We got back about 3, then took a quick nap, or at least some of the girls did, then we headed out to play with the kids at 4. We got out there, and we saw 3 kids, but I guess the rest were watching TV, so they came out after a while. They don’t get to watch TV often, so it was big for them. We were all so tired, but we worked up the strength to do work. We kicked a soccer ball around – all the kids use their feet, which is darn tough for me. Then we played some soccer, for probably nearly an hour, just 5 of us, while Paco and the girls did dancing with the kids. Then we all joined in on the dancing for a bit, Hannah led us all in the chicken dance, and I think the kids really enjoyed that. Then someone had the crazy idea to do the Macarena, and the kids loved it! They had me do it at least 5 times.

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But before that, Jen was dancing with one of the girls, and then the little girl wanted me and Jen to dance together. So me and Jen danced it was bad news bears, we are the two worst dancers ever. So then I did cabellito and Macarena with the kids, and apparently at that time the group said goodbye to Paco, and I missed it!!

It started by Jen saying that she was going to miss Paco. Then Paco said he originally thought there would be 30 of us, and he thought he could not handle us all, but he was happy to find out it was only 7 of us. But after spending a week with us, he wished there was 30 of us. When I saw the girls next, they were crying, especially Jennifer – damn she can cry.You piece of shit. You owe me for that. I had not cried all week. I went in the lunchroom, and said adios to all the kids who were still there (most of the kids went home for the weekend). I was doing fine through then. Then I went outside to Paco, and said goodbye to him, then I started crying talking to him, but only a little. He said he would not forget me, and that we did a great job this whole week. He hugged me, and we started walking back to our room, and that’s when it started. All the kids ran to the windows of the cafeteria & kitchen, and yelled goodbye to us out the windows. Even the older kids ran over to the windows. All the kids were running after us, and yelling and waving goodbye. It was so sad and beautiful at the same time, and we were all weeping uncontrollably. Then Janiene & Luis came, and we all met at the house and Janiene was surprised at first that we were crying, surprised that we got so close to the kids – but after thinking about it, she did realize that we did so good this week – and we really gave ourselves to the kids. We talked and cried outside for a while, and we laughed at me having slobber hanging from my chin.

Then we headed inside and Janiene started making us sandwiches, really good ones, we also cut up a watermelon – Jen & Hannah bought it and Jen and I cut it up – and it was so good to have fresh watermelon! The meal was excellent, but we were all so tired and emotionally drained from the day and saying goodbye to the kids. Then Ana Ramirez came to say goodbye to us, and we talked for 15 minutes. She asked us how our stay was, and what we liked and what we would change. We made a good list, most of it good things – I felt like nothing should be changed – the whole trip was so beautiful and changing. Then Ana Ramirez shared a story of two children that were taken off the Granja Hogar de los ninos by their father who is cleaning up from alcoholism. He had his boy steal 600 pesos from the boy’s grandma. The boy confessed when asked, and since then the kids have not been seen at La Granja Hogar. So upon the suggestion of Margie we prayed for the kids and their family. Margie prayed first, then we had minutes of silence, then Sister Ana closed it, and many of us were again brought to tears. It was so sweet the love shown for these kids, the effort Ana Ramirez puts in for the kids. Then we had our reflection – about compassion again. I brought up what I thought of last night about Quasi and leading. Then we got into the reflection. We talked about times we felt compassion and what gave us strength to show compassion and the joy of compassion. The “joy of compassion” fit perfectly given we were all just weeping for our love that had grown for the kids. The reflection turned out to be mostly a reflection of our group and how good our group was and how everyone worked together well and how everyone in the group gave themselves away and did not complain. Then we brought up the point that this group was hand-picked, and told Mary that I’m sure it was not in their plans to have their bikes break down, but it was God’s plan that they spend the week with us. It was so amazing to meet people like them and spend time with them. I felt so blessed to have my life so touched by God this week, I don’t know if I will ever be the same – I cry now even as I write these words.

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After reflection, Victoria, Margie and Mary & john went to bed, and the 5 of us stayed in the main room – Kerry, Hannah, Jen, Carmen, and I. Hannah & Kerry started looking at schoolwork – back to the real life. Jen continued to work on her book, I continued to document in this journal, and Carmen was doing nothing productive – as usual. Hannah fell asleep right at the table after a while, then woke up with the biggest belch I have ever heard – she was darn proud, and she should have been! That thing went on for about 4-6 seconds, and varied in pitch and rate. Then she went to bed, and I continued to write. I finally got my journal caught up, so I showered up and packed my bags, which took all of 5 minutes, I barely brought anything. We packed up the van at 1:20am, and Janiene gave me a box of snacks that I really did not want to carry, but I did anyways – it was funny. Luis told me to pitch it the first chance I got. John & Mary woke up to say goodbye – not like they had much of an option, there was no way they could stay asleep. We hugged then Janiene & Luis brought us to the bus terminal. I got the body bag checked, and spoke good Spanish to the man checking – Janiene threw me a compliment, so I felt like a big shot. We loaded up the bus, gave Janiene & Luis a hug goodbye.

Then we started our Odyssey back to EIU!