Because the electric tracks are not yet all etched, which they need to be before the plaster/stucco layers get put on, the guys are working on the ceiling, that beautiful brick ceiling. One brick at a time, one curved row at a time. It's truly exquisite and I keep thinking about how some Americans may love bringing this technique into their homes. For a minute I devise a business plan in my head about doing just that. Later that night I read that a couple has had the same thought and is doing this in Arizona, having brought in a small crew to their new company. In doing so and to obtain their visas, they had to prove that these workers provided a trade that would not be easily findable in the US. Watching Rigo at work, I can see how that would be. Thank goodness though, I let go of the business plan and just vow to enjoy my ceiling - especially once they patch the little holes my sharp eye is seeing in the cement. I'm guessing this gets fixed later?
So yes, truly beautiful.
And also a little dark.
Going over there at dusk is a daily treat. The house is quiet and Lila and I can be there on our own. This is the time when I can really look, feel, think - and pivot if needed. She plays with the many dogs and I take it all in.
Sometimes I call my sister, too.
That night, I tell her about the ceiling and also about the darkness. The bricks are up a third of the way and it is starting to feel pretty dark in there. Of course, after weeks of no ceiling and the house drinking in the natural light with abandon, it was bound to feel this way.
Because the whole back wall is windowless and because the big glass doors will lead to a roofed patio, there is a chance there will not be much light. And if I know one thing about myself, it is that I need light. Almost like I need air. In retrospect, I think I would have designed the house differently had I really thought about this. But I didn't and here we are.
My sister quickly suggests skylights. I quickly decide that it's probably too late but commit to asking Jorge in the morning. I even make a plan of where I would want them, given where the bricks are already resting, all pretty.
At 9 am the next day I am back at the house and telling him about my latest pivot. He listens and then says: yes, we can do it.
We discuss glass vs plexi, we discuss size, we discuss cost. For $250 I can bring three big chunks of overhead sky and light into the house!
And so it is.
It will look a little different, the combo bricks and clear. And I think it will look pretty nice, actually.
So many things I am learning through this process. I am already excited about the next one.
I was still shaking my head about having handed my neighbor the 50 pesos when I made my way to the house in the morning, moving very slowly as I happily got caught being in the back of a herd of cows. This man takes his cows out in the mornings, and back in at night. Often, they are running (well, more like ambling) loose around the field, and most of the time we can hear their bells in the distance, somewhere. They may have eaten a small row of another neighbor's's banana tree. Another neighbor I need to write about. So the man rides his horse right behind them and his dogs run near the many paws. The first time I saw them my mouth dropped when I realized that the loudest mooing sound came from the man, not the cows! He sits on the back of all of them, mooing. Loudly. It is a weird thing and I had a couple of non-shareable thoughts about that. Anyhoo.
Eventually, I made it to the first river bed, the one with many big rocks that make my car go clunk clunk clunk every time except that morning... nothing. It was as though I was crossing the softest sandy beach. Not a stone, not a bump, nothing.
Same for the two other crossings.
He made it happen. The day after he had me and others sign the petition, the-man-who-took-my-2000-pesos had somehow managed to get all three river crossings in tip top shape. Impressive.
Makes me wonder what else he can get done.
Which is exactly what Alberto and I discuss the next morning, as I walk across the field to ask him for a water refill for our tenaco (I think this is our third refill and I appreciate how he has kept his word about keeping us supplied while we build)
Once again, I am told how uncohesive our colonia is and how much more we could get done together. How someone must take the lead. And once again I know I am not the one to do this. Not because I can't but because... well, I can't.
The more I navigate this project and this life, the more I become aware of how far I am culturally. In some ways, it makes me sad because I feel as though in the end, I don't really truly belong to any culture. Not French, not American, not Mexican. Each one of these has gaps that I will never bridge and this one is the biggest one. I may live amongst Mexican people but I will never be one of them. This realization became clear to me this week, as well as the ways that trying to shrink the gap is changing me, gradually.
Meanwhile, we had three smooth river beds and that's pretty dang cool.
Today, we have a full crew and when I arrive with a bag full of roasted chicken and warm tortillas for lunch, Jorge shows me that they have started on the roof. I guess somewhere along the way they decided to do this before the plastering of the walls and there they are, rows of happy little bricks beautifully arched over a corner of the art studio.
The first thing I notice is that one of the bricks has a number etched into it. Two, actually. I think one is 492 and one is 500. I am guessing this must be a batch number, as these are hand-fired. I love love love that. The second thing I notice is that the grout in between them is not super even and because I have been concerned about that for the cinder blocks too, I ask Jorge. I think he tells me that there is another coat coming? I will ask again today. And then, the intimacy. Something about having a little corner of the house roofed feels intimate, sweet, special. Darker too, of course. I had gotten used to the open ceiling and this is a new chapter.
Jorge and I talk about many things, including the wiring. He shows me how he has been cutting the tracks where all the wires are going to be living and I remember how he told me that when the house is finished, I will have a croquis of where all of these are, both electric and plumbing. Apparently, each house has one and that's to be sure that if needed, one knows exactly where to chip away at the stucco. No sheetrock to move away and expose the frame.
Then he shows me this bag, full of plastic plates and things for the electricity. Since we do not (yet) have electricity nor a sure path to it, I tell him that we are looking at A Bag Full of Optimism, which makes him laugh. Again, no one seems to be doubting that we will have it, somehow.
We talk a bit about his bid for a small second story, one that will allow for a guest room. We had decided early on not to have a separate studio/guest room building, and the cost for the second story is indeed much less. It's not bad at all, about $6000 all complete with a small bathroom (plus the spiral staircase) but I need to wait and see what happens with 1) the electricity and 2) the current budget.
Speaking of current budget, he tells me again that we are doing fine, with just a little hiccup for the welder's work (= windows) because the iron has gone up in the last month - and is continuing to go up. We talk about where to get that cost back and are toying with the idea of a simple fence made of palm ribs. The material would be pretty much free, and it would be beautiful. However, it would only last a year.
Reading the news, later on, I feel privileged/guilty that these are my current concerns. What else could I be doing?
This morning I had received a photo from one of my refugees students, a man from Cameroon who, because he speaks French had a goal of making his way to France, eventually. After four years of dealing with the immigration system, the UN, and some horrors, he sent me a photo of him standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. He made it. It choked me. I know better than to think his life is going to be a bed of roses going forward but at least he will understand the language, and people will understand his.
For today, I will take this as enough.
I am always inspired by how easily a reframe can alter our inner terrain, which in turn alters our reality.
In one of my classes, I teach this chronology: thoughts ---> emotions ---- > actions ----> reality.
What we think affects our emotions, the way we feel, which in turn affects our actions, the way we act, which magically affects our reality, our life.
I VERY MUCH believe in this and its summary too, which is: our thoughts affect our lives.
This is why love these words send to me by a friend yesterday, after reading about this whole adventure.
"Thoroughly enjoying it…and thinking oh my goodness, if it’s driving you a bit bonkers, those of us even further down the type A/righteousness tunnel would be done for! Good job practicing patience and tolerance and acceptance of life in a place that operates on different values! They’ve built in sick leave and vacation and bereavement leave and wellness time into their work…you just didn’t know it was part of the contract…"
Freaking brilliant! A built-in, unspoken system. One which, like so many here, I have not been privy to, until well, I get to live it.
I love it.
Klaus came to visit. With a strong Austrian accent, Klaus came to visit and give me a third bid/consultation about the solar panels. Every time I learn a little bit more and the prices are somewhat the same. All of them going way up when I mention air conditioning. As I write this right now, I am reminded of a conversation I have had with Juliano, a while back where he told me that I should buy the panels and batteries myself, then pay someone to install them. I am going to look into this today.
As I walked Klaus back to his car, making sure he knows how to get back to the highway, he asks me when the house will be ready. "In about two months," I tell him. He says nothing which unsettles me. "You don't think that's going to happen?" I ask him. And before he can answer, feeling a slight bout of defensiveness coming on ("don't you dare throw doubt on my dream") I add, turning around to show him the magnificence of my little queendom: "We did this in a month, you know?" I was hoping he'd be impressed. And that's when he tells me that yes, this part always goes up fast and that the speed of what happens next has all to do with the workers and then something about "how much time/work they put in."
As he drives away I look back at the house and my crew of 2 and remember that Jorge told me they would be plastering the inside walls two weeks ago.
It will happen at just the perfect time, I remind myself.
Monday. Jorge and Anselmo are working on their own, Catarino and Rigo being at the memorial.
I make a couple of runs to the house throughout the day and each time I notice that The-Neighbor-Who-Took-My-2000- Pesos is working on something on one of the river beds. Lifting big stones, using a crowbar... something. Always with a machete.
Because of our latest interaction, we now say hello when we pass each other and that's nice. Right? Yeah, I would say it's nice. Eases the tension a bit, even though there is something slightly odd about being waved at with a machete.
Now that I think about it, a friend here told me a while back: "that 2000 pesos was your tax for being there. He won't bother you again." Maybe she's right.
By late afternoon, as I get ready to traverse the last river bed for the last time that day, I notice how very. very smooth the ground is. No more rocks, all sand, like a tiny beach. While I am not sure what this will look like when the rain comes (or really any of this), it sure is nice, and can feel Mitsu's tires smiling a bit.
I also notice a huge excavator cleaning what looks like the last of a big job of moving rocks.
I love the excavator.
I slow down, and tell my neighbor - I am going to find out his name, gosh darn it - how nice this is. He agrees. He says that it has something to do with the petition he had me sign earlier, something about the company that is using "our" roads to build the highway, maybe. He seems pleased and I am pretty sure he has been working on this all day, a task which probably has kept him from his shop and making money. Oh, did I mention that he is a barber? He is. He either owns or works at a little shop nearby. Which tells me that he has a propensity for sharp objects.
And then ... wait for it ... the whole thing suddenly turns into the softest yet no doubt real ... toll situation.
Even though I do not understand all of his words, I am keenly aware that I am being asked for money. For beer. For the guy in the excavator. Whom, he tells me, has been working for free. Which, I tell you, I am not sure that is the case.
But then again, I am not sure of much, particularly I am more and more unsure of ever being told the full truth. Hmm ... maybe a 65% average truth?
So, money. He is clearly asking me for money.
And I actually hand him the only money I have on me, a 50 pesos bill, which he accepts. Shocked that I gave this man a peso, let alone fifty, I manage to say before I leave: "please be sure he gets it," and decide that because I said that, I had the last word and I am in integrity, full of boundaries, in other words: in charge.
Shaking my head, I head back to the cabin, somehow amused and humbled by yet another surprise.
With everyone gone for the day, I wanted some me-time at the house. Also, Jorge had asked that I give him a somewhat exact drawing of the indoor kitchen and the studio and I thought that being alone over there with my sketch pad and a measuring tape would be good.
The sun was setting, Lila was laying in the "front yard" and I breathed it all in. The view from all the beautiful arched windows, each one showcasing a painting-like vista, perfectly (albeit accidentally) framed.
It felt darn good. I could see it.
Then of course The Questions showed up, wagging their tails at the idea of ruining a perfectly good moment. "Will it be dark once the roof is up?" "With the metalwork on the windows ruin the view?" (even though we already addressed both these questions a few days ago, mind you.)
But I was here with an assignment and I was looking forward to it.
I looked for the bag of loose chalk Jorge had used on the first day, excited to get my hands in the highly messy stuff.
Equipped with the white dust and my measuring tape, I began placing the counters in the art studio, the way they have been sweetly waiting in my notebook for weeks.
Each little square is 50 cm. So eight squares should give me 4 meters. Wall to wall.
First, let me say that having moved to the US right out of high school, I never got the hang of whatever it is we call the non-metric system. After 17 years of knowing that 100 cute little centimeters make a meter, and 1000 of these make a kilometer, I could not imagine why in the freaking world anyone would ever talk about 3/8 of anything. It seemed nuts and a bit silly. So I never learned it, really I never had to. The sad part is that in the process, I kind of lost the metric system. It melted out of my brain, somehow. So now, when a sign says: traffic light in 100 meters, I don't have a strong sense of when to expect it.
Here is one thing I do know, however: I measure one and a half meter.s Just like my mom did before she started shrinking a bit "and her capris turned into pants", as she used to tell me. I miss her these days and wish I could share this ride with her, call her in the mornings and tell her about it. My sister kindly reassures me that I am not crazy.
1 meter 50 centimeters. Yup. That's me. And that's handy.
A couple of months ago in a restaurant, as my friend Destiny and I were trying to figure out how long the outdoor area was, I lay down and told her to count how many of me there were. She still talks about it and tells me that when she has a drink, I'm the one who acts drunk.
Back to the studio with the measuring tape.
Something was not lining up. I could not place all eight of my little paper squares on the dirt floor. No way, no matter what. Which messed up all my calculations!
What the heck was going on?
That's when I remembered a question Anselmo had asked me before we even put down the first block: did I want my measurements "libre" or not? Libre means free, and in this case meaning did I want the four meters to include the width of the blocks, or did I want to end up with four meters in between the rows of blocks. I had said that I wanted to include the width of the blocks, so as to leave more space for the patio,
And here I was, my 8 little paper squares not fitting because instead of 4 meters, I had about 3 and a half!
BUT I had a bag full of messy messy messy white powered chalk (and black pants, which made the whole thing that much more satisfying) and so I started drawing the studio, right there on the rich brown dirt. One line at a time, in the quiet of the late afternoon, with the huge undressed, raw windows by my side - and this house which was suddenly becoming mine. A counter here, a bench seat there. A small sink. Yes, I could feel it.
Then the kitchen, just like in my notebook but with 50 centimeters less. The sink, the fridge, the counter, the stove. Also, the beautiful piece of parota wood that Jorge is gifting me that will become a table. The kitchen was waking up. I moved the stove so that two of us (or three, or four) could cook together - because that's what makes a house a home.
When I was done, I stepped back and realized that instead of the big house I had mistakenly thought I has mistakenly designed, I had created a very lovely little casita. That made me smile and when I got home later that night, driving through the dirt roads and the three river beds, I announced this news.
Funny enough, no one was surprised. I guess I was the only one who didn't know.
It's good for me to actually leave town on Sunday so that I don't show up at the site three times a day "just to see how things are going."
Four of us including Lila climbed into Mitsu and headed South.
The approaching Semana Santa can be felt and there was way more traffic than usual, which made me appreciate how smooth and easy this drive usually is.
Twenty minutes through the jungle and twenty minutes through a series of red lights (oh dear - all the ways to mess up while driving over here...) and you arrive in a sweet mid-sized beach town with a great little health food store, which is worth a story all in itself. Twenty minutes more and you are in the city, complete with a Home Depot, Costco, and Petco.
We had a plan and it was threefold: make our way to an English speaking used bookstore, then lunch at a Nashville style restaurant to fill up on exquisitely fried chicken and mac 'n cheese - then up the coast to a secret place, a tiny tiny village I was excited to share because it is so darn beautiful.
All three goals were achieved (the bookstore was a bit of a letdown but the chicken wasn't and everyone loved my special waterfalls/swimming hole spot) and we got home with our souls and bellies filled to the rim. As a bonus, we did some people-watching and I had excellent Lime Ice cream. It always surprises me how varied the adventures can be, over here. You can watch a Broadway-style show one night and be hiking in the jungle in the morning.
Me, I was excited about the next day, which is Monday! On Monday, we make things happen.
Will I learn?
Some days here feel like they last a week, so full they are of dense mini-chapters. Yesterday was such a day.
The night before, I had begun watching a documentary called "Dirty Money," the first episode of which recounts the story of Wells Fargo's fraudulent practices that came to light in 2016.
Watching the show, I remembered that while I had closed my WF account years ago, I had re-opened a small one last year in order to facilitate an online transaction that I could not make happen with my credit union.
I made a mental note to close my account in the morning and transfer the $500 that had been sitting there.
Except that the $500 was mostly gone.
Two withdrawals and a string of monthly fees for being under the limit had emptied my account.
The first thing I thought was how amazing that I had watched the show and been alerted to get into that account. The last withdrawal was only two weeks old.
Anyhoo, that felt all kinds of weird, especially that my email and phone number had been changed on the account.
I got on the phone and was passed around, put on hold and finally decided to shelf the whole thing until Monday and instead redirect my energy to getting lunch for the guys at the house, in the same process treating all three of us to a bowl of local goat birria at a palapa-covered roadside restaurant.
So off we went, ordered four portions to go, and sat down to the traditional dish of stewed meat and tortillas.
Being a bit weirded out by the bank situation, I was grateful that there were no goats bleating on the other side of the fence of the restaurant. That always unsettles me, knowing that I'm eating their friends right in front of them.
As often when it comes to meat, I liked the experience more than the food and Lila ate most of my food from under the table. The passion fruit water for delish, though.
As a big group of people arrived to eat, I talked about how strong men bonds seemed to be, over here. Something different than in the States and even different than in Italy where you will see straight men kissing and touching each other affectionately. This is another flavor, one that has made me feel excluded a few times, one that I file under my "may never fully understand" mental folder.
Loaded with two big containers of stew, fresh tortillas, and salsa, we made our way to the land.
We got out of the car and I called out "Birria!" to a strangely non-receptive group. Rigo was up on the roof welding the end of a beam, Anselmo was doing something, Jorge was gone and Catarino was under the shade, dressed as though he was going out, not building a house.
I told him: "Hey, I have birria, you hungry?" Catarino is hugely hungry.
"Not really" was his answer.
Something in his eyes was turned off and there was no hint of the trademark style.
Before I could ask, he said to me "my cousin got murdered."
Something in me was shocked, something in me was not surprised. Something in me knew that my instant tears were inappropriate, too.
I heard pieces about "he had just returned from the States, he had young kids, I am not sure what problems he was into, he was left there, two people ran away..."
The birria sat, a bunch of goat meat suspended in broth while his words floated in the air.
The other two men were working, a couple of the unstoppable jokes flying between them and when we left a while later I knew once more how much there is that I will never understand and yet how much more I understand than I did a year ago. What would have been pure shock and a slew of questions last year had made a place for a maroon-color ache that said: "this too, is living here. And you know it. And you are choosing it."
We passed Jorge on the way back and an hour later he texted me to say that they were taking Cata to his uncle's house and would be back in the morning.
Why all four of them had to go, I don't know. I felt petty even wondering. And even though it has been a choppy week attendance-wise, my heart felt glad knowing he had his guys friends with him, the people he shares most of his waking hours with. His tribe.
Back home I decided to try and resolve the bank situation in the time I had before going to the water meeting. I needed to fix something and that seemed like a good focus.
It took a couple of hours, some dropped calls, a lot of holding time, not settling for half solutions, and finally, minutes before I had to leave, a man named Kevin threw enough focus at it that this morning most of the money is back in my account. Which I will close as soon as I get the fees back.
Then it was time to go to the water meeting.
A bit earlier, not knowing what to expect (I knew this was not going to be any standard HOA meeting), I had wondered if maybe I should bring something. Would it be like a potluck? Would everyone bring something but me? Would I be the only one bringing something? What should I wear?
In the end, I got in my car and made my way there.
I was tired. My heart hurt. The bank thing semi resolved still left me feeling violated. Not being stunned by the news of Catarino's cousin did not take away the horror, the knowing.
And now, this.
This movie-like scene.
Picture a group of maybe 20 people standing in a circle in the middle of a dusty road, at sunset. Some are leaning on motorcycles, a puppy really wants to play fetch and I am the only white person.
Anytime a truck goes by, the circle splits then reshapes. I am thanking my angels for not having brought a fruit salad or cookies - yet my orange shawl feels too fancy.
Jose Luis leads the meeting and I am aware once again that I still don't fully get him. His girlfriend is by his side, young and strong, and nodding at his words. Their home, which includes seven beautifully crafted rental units and an upcoming swimming pool is by far the fanciest in the area. He speaks of neighbors, of community, of joining forces. He is a natural-born politician, eloquent, knowledgeable, and connected. Powerful, possibly.
The words are flying fast and I am trying to hang on to most of them.
Independence from the government and their utilities.
There is enough water for 30 houses (or was it 300?) right there.
"The man said so."
Every time he says a version of "the man said so," both his arms move towards his chin in a strong gesture I don't recognize. I vow to pay more attention the next time it happens.
And that's when I understand.
A few weeks back, I had heard Anselmo talk about digging a well near my house, on the land which happens to be not-all-that-close to Jose Luis' house, his "colonia." "But how would we know if there is water?" I had asked. "Oh you just call the man." he had answered, shrugging. The man. At the time I had let it go, not ready to tackle the idea of digging a well.
And now, this. The man again.
The man had been called to Jose Luis' and his neighbors' colonia and he had shown up and he had found water. Using a stick. A stick that had jumped so hard and strong (the gesture that was replayed and I had not understood) that there was no doubt water was there, and a lot of it.
No one in the group had blinked at this. No one.
The conversation had simply moved to the logistics, led by Jose Luis who had gracefully created a committee right there on the dusty spot and was orchestrating this thing which could solve many people's primary problem about living there. WATER.
He talked about the potential cost (3000 pesos a meter), how to divide it. The woman on my left wanted to know how the people who didn't contribute were going to be kept out. She asked that several times.
All this in a circle, in the dust, as the sun set. A movie.
A few times, Jose Luis turned to me to check if I was following. I nodded. He also turned to me when acknowledging a few other people in the group who live in my colonia, a short drive up the road and past two river beds, a two-minute drive but a distance which seemed challenging for water to get to, really climb to.
I became aware that there were two populations attending: the people who live close to the future well, and us, up the road.
A woman from my area spoke up and said that our neighborhood had very little community organization, unlike this one. She mentioned the situation with the electricity, and then mentioned Ofelia, the beautiful road warrior lady I had met just a few days ago. She was the organizer. Since Ofelia had invited me to this meeting, I was wondering why she was not there and was glad when she arrived towards the end, riding her badass four-wheeler, her dog running by her side.
In the end, things were left at: The man is coming Monday. Whoever wants to be part of this, please show up ready to put down some money. The well could be built in two days, then we need to get together and build a cistern.
I walked back to my car as people gathered post-meeting to talk. I did not feel ready to insert myself and am hoping they will add me to the Whatsapp group.
I am not sure what happens next for me. The water seems like a secondary issue to the electricity as I can easily (albeit somewhat expensively) get it delivered. Getting water to climb to our area sounds challenging but I am staying wide open about it.
From what I am learning about this place, things tend to move very fast - or not at all.
I went to bed without dinner and watched more "Dirty Money."
Today is a new day.
I was wondering if today would be a workday, given the events of yesterday.
Early on though, I got a text from Jorge asking me where I wanted my bed.
I was surprised. We have no furniture yet. Nor a roof. Nor a floor for that matter.
But I am way past thinking I know the chronology or sense of things, so I answered: under the window, in the middle.
For a bit, I had considered the idea of asking them to build me a concrete bed, the way many are in Mexico. It would be strong and clean and I would not have to buy a wooden bed. But as I toyed around with the thought, I came to the realization that I may want to move it around at some point, and so, no concrete bed. Which made me mildly wonder about the question.
I made my way over there, happy that they were all working, and even though I could feel the grief hit my chest the second I stepped out of my car, there was something soothing about the water-to-gravel-to-sand-into-concrete steps.
Jorge was way up above, filling the long wooden forms so that the beams would be nice and cozy.
I sat down and took it all in. Music was playing, they were working, making concrete, and carrying it up to fill the forms. Water, sand, cement.
Arms, legs, skills. Rhythm. Building a house. Sin luz.
Catarino was quiet and moving steadily. There was nothing to say and even though it wasn't completely comfortable (it often isn't) I knew that sitting and being was what was I was going to do for a while.
Sitting on the front edge of what was becoming my bedroom. On this piece of land that already held so much history for me. Near the river, the mango tree, the jungle. The questions, too.
Finding a stopping point, Jorge came to me and took me to where the bed would be, asking me about plugs and light switches. Aha! That was the reason. Wow... we are talking plugs and light switches, now. Which is extra fun considering that we do not yet know where the electricity is going to come from.
Where do you want them? Do you want them horizontal or vertical? Something about that simple question made me feel like a queen. I get to choose if my light switches are horizontal or vertical?
Then we talked about building a small bodega/storing area for things like a surfboard and the machete I have committed to buying, I am amazed at how he always holds the final vision in his mind, even as I pivot and make changes. In some ways, I think he sees it more clearly than I do. And it's possible that the other guys do too.
Now that we are starting to talk about details, it's as though the project both got smaller and bigger at the same time. Smaller because we are looking at tiny parts like light switches and counters. Bigger because well... this is going to be a HOUSE!
While we were talking, the gentleman whom we paid for water but never delivered walked towards us with a piece of paper to sign. Per his habit, he addressed Jorge, barely looking at me, although there was some indication that for the first time, he has noticed that I exist. He spoke to Jorge about the road being hurt by the big trucks of the highway construction crew and he wanted him to sign. I stood there, wondering if he would ask my signature also, and having had enough of the whole thing I let my somewhat adequate Spanish spill out, making eye contact with him and holding on to it.
Within seconds we were talking about the colonia, the water, the electricity, what he saw as a lack of leadership - and more. I signed his petition and told him to let me know if I could help in any way.
As he walked away I turned to Jorge who seemed impressed (relieved?) that I had not mentioned the 2000 pesos. I guess I am learning.
There was one last widow to "punch out," the one from the now-shower and it was just as exhilarating as the first one.
Once more I am aware that within the frustration, the heartache, the questions and, the doubts, there are bigger threads of awe, gratitude, and sheer thrill that get woven into this tapestry.
Back home with the assignment to come back on Monday with a definite-ish design for the kitchens.
A plate of warm homemade cinnamon bunuelos for dessert made it all that much sweeter.
Tomorrow is Sunday and "descansamos." We rest. Week by week I find myself falling into the rhythm of Sundays being off, being of a different flavor.
I am ready for it.