Casa for Juan Manuel Update

The roof is up!!!! You have done it!!! We are nearly there! A Home for Juan Manuel has floor, walls and roof! 

Zata, our builder, estimates three more weeks to completion. Next week he will focus on finishing the outside: patching all holes with cement and making sure everything is waterproofed. The following week they will focus on the inside: plastering the walls, installing the floor and electrical outlets, toilet and sinks, etc. The week after that he will install the windows and doors. Bless you all!!!!

Here is an accounting updated as of today:

 

Description

Amount

Income

 

85,895

Expenses

 

 

 

Labor

20,000

 

Construction material from Soria

20,000 (prepaid; remaining balance 4718)

 

Concrete floor pad and roof

13,115

 

Other misc.

4,683

          Total paid to date:

 

57,798

 

 

 

Remaining balance:

 

28,097

We have received donations of a toilet, bathroom sink, windows and doors, cement and gravel, and a brand-new microwave oven. One woman is currently making Juan Manuel and his father a couple of blankets for their beds. Below are photos of the roof project; click on any picture to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

If you have items or funds to share with this project, please do so; donation details can be found here. We could especially use a tinaco.

It is my fervent hope we can complete the house as planned and also build a wheelchair ramp for Juan Manuel’s house and Don Jose’s house two doors down. At this point Juan Manuel can still walk with crutches, however being blind, smooth surfaces make life easier. And despite his stroke Don Rodrigo is mobile as well, but the ramp would be a terrific addition. Don José lives two doors down and is not able to leave his home as he has no legs and is wheelchair bound yet has no egress from his home.

If this project sounds good to you, please pass the details on to your friends and family. Thank you all!

Easy Social Distanced Day Trip

During the day on New Year’s Eve I was going stir crazy, an all-too-frequent condition during this pandemic, sadly. Just after noon I asked Greg if we might go for a drive. We headed south towards Villa Unión, past the old textile mill to Walamo, winding around and eventually getting to Caimanero. Once we got there we had a picnic on the malecón, then turned around to head home as the sun was already beginning to set. Why did it take us so long, you might ask? We had originally set out for Agua Verde, a town we never reached.

Well, as you probably well know, yours truly loves her camera. First of all I had to take photos of all the cool vehicles and riders we saw along the road, from a couple of guys carrying a propane tank, to others with a big piñata for that night’s fiesta, to pickups and dump trucks and bicycles with migrant workers commuting home from the fields. Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The landscape out that way is just magnificent. The ocean, of course, but the farm fields and palm plantations with the Sierras as a backdrop make for some incredible views. There are farm animals everywhere, particularly horses and cows, and I was fascinated with all the birds of prey we came across. There are huge, gorgeous haciendas and more humble homes, in addition to all that migrant labor housing. You’ll see fish and shrimp farms as well. It’s a great half- or full-day trip if, like me, you are needing a breath of fresh air and some safe social distancing. We didn’t get close to any other human all day. 

Most of the farm workers were being shuttled home by the time we got there—early quitting time on New Year’s Eve—but there were some people working in the fields. The most heartbreaking for me were the families out there with the children. I know very well that it’s best that migrant parents have their kids with them, as it’s dangerous leaving them alone in the absence of school or child care. But it wrenches my heart to see them working the fields, despite the huge smile on this little girl’s face (note the bag of produce she’s just picked on her back).

The other heartbreak for me was a pair of young men who were spraying in the fields while working barefoot! I am not sure if they were spraying fertilizer or pesticide, but I sure did wish they had eye gear, ventilator mask, long pants and footwear. Still a gringa at heart, after all these years.

I’ve saved my two favorite experiences of the day for last, of course. The first was my virginal visit to a pineapple farm! I grew up in the US Midwest, and am well familiar with the sweet, aphrodisiacal smell of a strawberry field. A pineapple field has much the same effect! The air was heavy with the honey-like smell of these delicious treasures. The fields were gorgeous, and I was amazed by the baskets that the workers put on their backs to harvest the pineapples. I can not imagine how heavy they are when filled! While the workers had already retired, a few full baskets remained in the fields, so heavy that I couldn’t even budge them.

My final delightful experience of the day was meeting two guys plowing a field—again barefoot—with horses. I was so happy to find them! Last spring when Danny and I visited Puebla state we met two young men doing this. The morning sun, however, backlit the guys and the photos did not show off their labor as I had hoped. This time I was lucky that the setting sun perfectly lit their hard work.

I know it’s a challenge during COVID-19 to socially distance, but a drive out into the country, and some walks around sparsely inhabited areas, can be a huge sanity infuser. Enjoy!

First House Update of the New Year

Left to right: yours truly, Zata, Rodolfo, Yolanda, Jorge and Greg

I trust you all had wonderful holidays! I did not update you on progress on a Home for Juan Manuel last week, so I am anxious to do so today.

Today Don Rodolfo, Juan Manuel’s father, joined us when we went out to review the progress. He was so incredibly moved. I post video of him below, thanking each of you for your help. What I failed to get on video was the spontaneous dance he did, joyously singing, “I’m stepping on my own land!” He has had a lifelong dream of owning rather than renting a home that, thanks to so many of you, is about to come true.

We have received a little over 81,000 pesos from you, and to date have paid out about half of that for supplies and the albañil labor. Zata worked all through Christmas and New Year’s, taking off just the two main holidays. He and his helper have finished putting up the block walls and are ready for the roof! Wood has been delivered for scaffolding, and they have sand and concrete to get started pouring concrete. The block walls have spaces for three windows and two doors. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

You can see in the photos that this week progress was not of the quality level that it has been up to this point. Zata had explanations and reasons for every error, and assured us there wouldn’t be any more. Jorge admonished him that if the quality didn’t return next week his payment would suffer, so fingers crossed.

This past week we received a kind and generous donation of a microwave oven, which as soon as it’s delivered from the store we will get over to Juan Manuel and his father. The oven they have been using had an actual hole in it. I’ll feel much better when they stop using it.

Don Rodolfo’s facial paralysis and left hand numbness continue after his minor stroke, but he has now seen both a neurologist and a cardiologist. Juan Manuel has been suffering with a boil on his back that is very bothersome and prevents him from sleeping well. Yolanda was fortunately able to get them both some of the medicines they need through her social services connections.

I do hope that 2021 will bring our world more health and physical connection. Bless you for your generosity of spirit and pocketbook! I’d welcome you sharing the original article on this project with your friends and family to help us get more donations of money or materials.

New Year’s Eve 2020

The year that COVID-19 took the world by storm is behind us. Vaccines are rolling out to medical professionals around the world, and in some countries like Israel to the general population. We have a glimmer of hope that we will once again be able to demonstrate physical affection to our friends and non-resident family members, while I know I hope and pray that we have all learned a bit about stewardship of our environment and of our own mental and emotional balance.

This New Year’s Eve in Mazatlán this year was oh-so-very-different from the normal, and yet in many ways was so much the same. There were no municipal celebrations nor official fireworks or drones, at least that I know of. Among the foreign resident community, most everyone I know stayed home and at most gathered in small groups, as did most of my local friends.

Younger people, however, have been partying all week if not all month. Busloads of tourists filled the port, and many of the hotels offered New Year’s buffets with music and fireworks. While the malecón was quieter overnight than a usual New Year’s Eve, when we awoke to take a walk this morning we found a lady urinating on the sidewalk behind our house and loads of litter and trash floating on the maleconcito and in the lagoon.

Greg and I enjoyed New Year’s Eve with our son and his girlfriend via online video. Just before midnight we took our champagne and my camera and tripod out to take a few photos of the Golden Zone fireworks from the beach in front of our house. What was nice is that we were all alone on our beach, yet were able to enjoy a spectacularly clear night. I include a few photos and hope you’ll enjoy them. They are fireworks displays from the hotels, by and large. Families around town, of course, also let them off during the evening and overnight. Click on any photo to enlarge it or to view a slideshow.

I wish all our readers and friends a 2021 filled with health, joy and renewed connections. May we love and care for ourselves, each other and our planet with enhanced conviction.

Merry Christmas/House for Juan Manuel

May the joy and hope of this holiday season fill each of you and help keep you healthy and happy throughout the year!

Today on Christmas Eve Day we went out to Colonia San Antonio. Having handed out chickens and food every Christmas Eve for nearly 25 years, it just didn’t feel like the holidays without it. We gave out some toys to the kids, some clothing and household items to the adults, and chatted with some of the friends we’ve made there over the years, including Don José and Maestra Zulema. We got to know Juan Manuel’s new neighbor, Lucero, who has kindly agreed to store our supplies in her fenced yard that’s guarded by watch dogs during our construction process. 

This week we made great progress: the concrete floor was poured, and the workers began to build the cinder block walls. It is wonderful to be able to walk inside the house and feel the size of the rooms and picture how it will be! Very exciting stuff thanks to all of you!!!

After reviewing this week’s progress and paying Zata and his helper, we went over to wish Don Rodolfo and Juan Manuel a Merry Christmas. The horrible news this week was that Don Rodolfo had a mild stroke. He is a bit paralyzed on the left side of his mouth and in his left arm/hand and leg. He was lucky, for sure. He went to a neurologist for assessment and has medicines, and we are hoping to get him to a cardiologist right after Christmas. Below is their beautiful greeting of well wishes and appreciation to each of you: