A Home for Juan Manuel Update Jan 26th

The great news last week included that so many of you were once again so very generous with your donations. Thank you!! You want this house built and finished as much as I do and almost as much as Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo! Funds received to date are 108,797 pesos. Total paid out thus far is 68,687, with a balance remaining of 40,110. This is terrific news, as last week we had gotten very tight. 

Yolanda and I were able to go to the Aguamarina Hotel on Wednesday and pick out a nice selection of the things they are selling (they are closing their doors as the hotel will be demolished and a huge development á la Camino al Mar will go in its place)—generously donated to us free of charge. We were able to get a couple of wooden doors (that need to be resized for our purposes), a ceiling fan, a bunch of electrical outlets and switches, light fixtures, a plastic table, and a couple of tambos or plastic garbage cans to use to store water. We also got quite a bit of bedding and kitchen items which we can put to good use in this and other projects.

This week’s plan is to plaster the interior walls of the house and begin installing electrical and plumbing finishes, including the kitchen and bathroom sinks and toilet. The lady who has donated these items has also promised us her old tinaco, which we won’t get for a couple more weeks. Thank you!!!

This morning I received a note from a lady who has most kindly and generously offered to conduct a fundraiser amongst her family and friends to raise the money needed to build the wheelchair ramps that I had hoped to build for both Juan Manuel and his neighbor, Don José. As of last week, I’d given up on that dream. Bless her. I need to get her estimates on cost, so she knows how much to aim for in her campaign.

Thank you all! The house is a solid structure, with a roof and drainage. We have what we need for the interior; now we just need to finish that up and then install windows and doors. We are getting closer! If you or a friend or neighbor would like to help out with this project, the ways to donate are listed at the end of the original post.

Lunchtime at the Work Site

I have procrastinated too long on this one. As you all know, construction of Camino al Mar, the huge new commercial and housing development where Dairy Queen used to be in the Golden Zone, is finally and after much delay almost complete. Every time we drive through the GZ at lunch time, I marvel at the hundreds of workers there hurrying to grab lunch from the dozens of food trucks and carts. The hustle and bustle has been calling my camera for lunch. But getting away at lunchtime, somehow, has been really difficult.

Well, today I finally broke away from work to take some photos. Sadly, there are far fewer workers these days, and also far fewer food trucks, so much less hustle and bustle. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy my 45 minutes with these hard-working women and men! The hardest part, as always in Mazatlán, is to prevent my subjects from vamping for the camera. It is really a challenge here to get casual, natural photographs of people as they are all so friendly and obliging. I of course had about a dozen of them ask me where their photo would be, so here are the picks of the litter, so to speak. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

I do love how housewives create pop-up businesses here to service laborers. The food looked absolutely delectable! The workers raved about the quality of the food, and it is all very affordable. I was offered several samples, but was too busy taking photos during the short lunch hour to waste time eating, lol.

I trust you’ll enjoy these glimpses into daily working life here during COVID. I was very pleased to see all the masks in use; not universal, by any means, though every worker had one. While I love my birds, it was really nice to take photos of humans for a change! It’s been way too many months! Don’t worry; I kept my distance and my mask on. These photos are taken with my zoom lens. Stay home as much as you can and stay safe! Hospitals are full and cases are on the uptick.

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.