Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Winter" in Hermosillo

It's mid-February and it feels like "winter" is behind us.  There were 2 months where it was fairly cool in the mornings (about 3C) and because the houses don't have heating, we had to have our space heaters going, and often found it warmer outside than in!  We are now enjoying wonderfully predictable sunny days and temperatures in the high 20s.

Since returning from our weekend in San Francisco with Brad and Anette, Roger flew to check out a potential project near Mazatlan, and had a project start near Alamos.  He will be a lot happier when he gets a couple more drills working, because anyone who knows Roger knows he's not happy unless he is busy.

I am enjoying the freedom of driving when Roger doesn't need the Expedition.  I have our GPS marked with most of my favorite haunts so feel pretty confident.  It's pretty neat stopping at a red light and being able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables!  Drivers here use their horn more than their signal lights and I've learned which intersections have "optional" stops.  Oh, and the most important thing is to know there is no such thing as a single turning lane so I'm always prepared to have cars come screaming up beside me wanting to turn as well.  Other than's a cinch.

We are still discovering new things about Hermosillo and enjoy getting together with friends.  We watched the Super Bowl game at the home of our friends Perla and Roberto...
and were invited to Javier and Sandra's home for a St. Valentine's party complete with a catered Taco Buffet.  We still aren't used to arriving at parties around 10 p.m. which is usually the time we're watching Letterman and getting ready for bed...
We were told about a great Mexican seafood restaurant, Los Arbolitos, and have been going there at least once a week.  For an appetizer one night, Roger ordered a dozen fresh oysters --- not realizing they would be so huge.  It made it a little more challenging slurping them back - but they were delicious.
We also discovered a great place to get the car cleaned and detailed --- for $7.50 it gets put through an amazingly automated system in tandem with several cleaners, and looked like new when it was done a short time later.

Monday is my favorite day of the week because that's when my friend, Tracey, and I go out to Ciudad de los Ninos.  We were anxious to do more than just work in the on-site grocery dispensary, so approached the staff about the possibility of helping kids with reading as we figured it would help them, as well as help us with our Spanish.  

The staff thought it was a great idea as some of the children only go to school in the afternoon.  So last Monday we went there along with Tracey's sister and 2 nieces who were visiting from Texas.  We came prepared with books, animal flashcards in English and Spanish, and Tracey's nieces brought brightly colored strings to teach the kids how to do string games.  It was a brilliant move on their part as the language barrier melted away with a few easy directions in Spanish.  The kids loved it and were thrilled to take the strings home with them.

The children were also interested in learning English words and practicing writing.
 Francisco (above) and Antonio (below) are brothers and I enjoyed spending time with them.

Many of these children have experienced more sadness and difficult times than we'll ever know.  Often times when I've been to Ciudad de los Ninos, Antonio (below) has been very sad, but it was wonderful seeing him interact and have fun with us.
Below: Milagro (which means miracle) is a very lively little girl, but eventually sat down to practice her writing.

After we spent time in the library with the children, it was time to dispense the weekly groceries.  I had never been in the cottages before and discovered they were spartan, but neat as a pin.  The social worker said they have many children needing to be placed, but they don't have enough "substitute mothers" to care for them.  This week they had 5 cottages that housed around 7 children and 1 substitute mother (who cares for her child/children and other kids who are there without a mother) in each one.   Apparently this week, 2 more cottages will be occupied.
Above:  Tracey's sister and nieces helped deliver groceries to the cottages.  Below:  One of the little children helping to bring food into his cottage.  

Tracey and I had a good laugh when one of the young boys, seen below, spotted a donated cake in the dispensary and put it in his grocery cart -- he almost made it to his cottage until we suggested he leave it for all the children to share later.  He smiled too, and obviously knew he was caught raiding the proverbial cookie jar.

Roger and I are taking Spanish lessons from a tutor twice a week after work at the office.  Mayra, seen below, is an excellent bi-lingual teacher who comes up with innovative ways to teach us how to speak Spanish.  One week she brought monopoly money to demonstrate how to count, and this week she brought a street map of Hermosillo to get us to practice giving and taking directions.  Roger is using more Spanish and the guys have noticed and think it's great.
Our mechanic, Jose, cooked up some chimichangas and chicken for lunch yesterday - everything was muy delicioso!
Below: Cabo's driver and all around helper, Santiago, had to leave school when most of us were more concerned about what was for recess.  Despite a lack of formal education, he clearly has a lot of potential.  After he helped Roger organize the inventory, I suggested I teach him how to use a computer so he could take over the job. 
Santiago is like a sponge, and along with my Spanish-English translation website, the lessons have gone extremely well.  He said his kids (all 6 of them) are proud of him and it's exciting teaching him new things. I am also writing the company newsletter with the help of the Vancouver office manager.  I'm enjoying doing it, and the first edition was really well received.

The biggest news this week is that Brad came through his heart surgery with flying colors and is already back at work.  He is a constant source of pride and amazement to us in how he has bravely handled not only cancer a few years ago, but the recent discovery of an 11mm hole in his heart.  With his typical black humour, the first email he sent had the subject line:  Didn't croak.  We are very grateful for the skilled and caring catheter lab team at the Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton who looked after Brad.  It's remarkable the insertion of the amplatzer device was able to be done as day surgery and in a minimally invasive, extremely high tech way.  We are also grateful for Anette's strength and the love and support shown to them by family and friends around the globe.

Hasta luego.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.                                                                                                     John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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