By now, you're wondering if I'm still alive, what with all the reports of violence in Mexico with the drug lords and such.
Fear not. My dealings with the drug lords were quite limited. (By "drug lords" I mean the team nurses who distributed ibuprofen and band-aids like they were candy, and they rarely kidnapped or killed anyone.)
We've made it safely back to the States, and right now I'm sitting by the pool at our friend's place in Malibu. (I call it "The Bu.") It feels slightly surreal to be in such comfortable surroundings after the last week or more in a dry, dusty and unfamiliar place.
We succeeded in constructing a whole house together with our family of 6 with about 15 others. Three more house were completed by other members of our team as well. Seeing my wife and daughters shoveling sand, rocks and cement to make homemade concrete was actually quite satisfying. I anticipate that cleaning their rooms is going to seem like a breeze now.
The family we built a home for was 17-year-old Patricia, her husband Javier and their daughter Paola. Paola is about 14 months old and tastes like pure sugar. I ate her up each day. Just like my own daughters, sometimes she shrieked with delight and clapped her hands when she saw me, and other times she was quite unimpressed with my attempts at humoring her.
Before we arrived, the young family was living with Javier's parents in a smallish, but lovingly decorated home. The neighborhood was just an area of dirt-covered square city blocks with trashed dumped in various places. At one point, I witnessed a neighbor nonchalantly walk out of his home with a bucket and dump his trash in a pile across the street. It was fairly well occupied. In years past, we've built homes in new "subdivisions" that were popping up on the outskirts of town. Essentially, those areas were just large hills where they'd removed the trees and cleared out dirt roads and sold people a spot of land without water or electricity.
This year's site had electricity, which means that there were utility poles and wires running over the streets, and the residents somehow attach wires to the overhead ones and splice them to extension cords they bury in their yard going to their homes. Access to water is via delivery trucks that come to fill large drums for the family's various uses. Whenever we needed water for the construction process, we dipped a pail in the drums to scoop it out.
We brought our own purified water to the sites in Igloo coolers so we could safely drink without fear of retribution from our friend Montezuma.
I'll get around to writing more about the whole process as well as the fun that was had after each work day ended. It seems strange that so many people used up vacation time that they could have used to go to Disney World or Dollywood, and instead they built houses for poor families in Mexico. What makes someone do that? I can't wait to tell you.