Friday, November 4, 2011

Work and Pleasure

4th de noviembre

Today was a special. I mentioned to Sergio yesterday that I wanted a morning off to go on a tour and he said he would take us on a tour. The eight-year-old boy who was healing from 35% body surface area burn lives in Amantenago de Valle which is well known for its hand-made and hand-painted pottery.

Our taxi driver Jose Luis was so friendly and attentive. He had to fill up with gas, add some oil and change a spark plug on the way to Amantenango de Valle.

This was a privilege and I was glad that we were mixing work with pleasure: this worked out well for everyone. We hired a cheerful taxi driver we'd met several days before and that Kathleen had used him when she went to Zinacantan. We drove to Amatenango and waited at the patient’s relatives home until he arrived. As we waited, a woman was making pottery. We watched and asked questions and I tried to do what she did but I quit before I created more work for her as she would have to correct my mistakes. She was happy, chatty and pleasant as she asked Don Sergio about us. Sergio says the people in Amantenago are very happy and hard workers.

While we waited Don Sergio educated us on the various fruit trees growing int the family's yard. He picked a lime and scrapped and sniffed the rind and said these are sweet limes. He peeled one for us and he was right, it was the sweetest lime I’ve ever tasted.

The sweet lime tree in Amantenango.

After the bandage change Kathleen worked with the boy with physical therapy to show how to start moving his wrist so the burn contractures won’t limit his mobility. This kid is so happy it was easy to make a game of it.

This fire block is outside the house which is better than inside.

Clay pots are used to cook items for long periods. These can weaken over time and break while being used.

On the way back we stopped at the road-side pottery market and I was overwhelmed with choices I just started picking what I liked… for friends of course. I overloaded one bolsa and needed another. Our next stop was in Teopisca and we bought tostados de manteca of various flavors: these are regional to Teopisca. Sergio bought a few things as well.

Two years ago when working with him he'd just started a school project in Villa Hermosa. The ground was being prepared for the foundation at that time. A year later the building was started and now he has a building for kindergarten and for primary school. Supporters from San Miguel Allende helped purchase the doors and windows and now the school needs desks and two black boards, and a teacher, which he said is ready once the desks are in. There are two rooms and they need 20 desks apiece and one blackboard per room.

The kindergarten building is cold because of a metal roof, so the teacher uses the new primary school building until it is in full use with elementary students.

New kindergarten built by Don Sergio.

The primary school was painted too soon and the rain washed it away. Don Sergio says he does the painting himself as its easy.

Leveling the ground for a court in front of the primary school.

Latrine used before.

New latrines after.

Today the sun is shining and it is warm outside, so we set up a little desk and chairs and had a picnic. This was the second time I’ve seen Sergio rest to eat; the first time was two years ago in this same spot but we sat on the ground.

Kathleen, Jose Luis (taxi driver) and Don Sergio.

Not too far up the road is a nature park and caves for tourists - foreign and national. He took us there and showed us how they used to get into the caves with ropes and said you used to be able to go very deep into the cave. Now it is a well paved concrete sidewalk that goes only 75 meters. It used to go about 500 meters, but some German tourists went past the allowed area where it wasn't lit and managed to get themselves lost, as their flashlight gave up. They had to be rescued, and since then that has been blocked off. Sergio recalled it had been 35 years since he’s been here when he and Elsa had two kids and they were small then. He recounted the entire day his family spent there and how the kids were so tired afterwards everyone slept well. The sad story of the park was a recent death of an eight-year-old boy who wanted a horse ride horse (the park offer rides): he and the horse were struck by lightning and both died quickly. Don Sergio expressed his sympathy for the father who had come up to San Cristóbal from Tuxtla and who had wanted to indulge his son in a fun day.

Outside las grutas (caves).

Old entrance 35 years ago, one used to have to use a rope to climb out.

Horse rides. Look how perfect his print is.

The evening museo/clinic was very busy again. The two Zinacantan women came and the one with the severe infection seemed in good spirits, although her wound does not look any better. The other woman appeared more ill, tired and now had developed a cough. Her blood sugar was still high, mild fever and I could here fluid in her right lung. Oh boy, please go to the hospital, I’m thinking. The family showed me the medicine she was taking (just restarted) but she really needs insulin. Somewhere along the line she was given cipro (antibiotic) but was not taking it, so I convinced them to restart that. They will be back at the same time mañana.

This was a good week for tourists – maybe Sergio’s right – the tourists will return. A group from Norway came and were shy to ask questions but they were very impressed with Don Sergio’s work. A woman, Violeta, I met yesterday via the blog, has supported Don Sergio’s water treatment projects over the years also came in with two friends from Wisconsin as well as another guest from Bela’s. I knew Sergio was tired when the day started but he gave two outstanding tours and our day ended after 7:pm.

Violeta is an artist and has known Don Sergio’s for many years. She is from Mexico City and has been coming to San Cristóbal since 1983. She gave me more insight on the significance of the many facets Don Sergio’s work. She, I and her guests went to a soup restaurant, El Cauldron near el centro and had sopa saboroso. While eating, a trio of musicians came in and played Cuban music: a drummer (small bongo drums), a flutist and a guitar player... it was a magical night to end this special day.

Posted by Patricia Ferrer.

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