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Nick and Laina's Adventures

Casa Hogar de Los Niños de La Luna

MEXICO | Saturday, 30 January 2010 | Views [2291] | Comments [5]

Maestra and the Niños

Maestra and the Niños

 "Said (Sai-eed), Said! Lavarse los manos!"  I find myself saying on a regular basis, at Casa Hogar, the child care center Laina and I have been volunteering at for the last two weeks. The little house which is home to about 23 kids under 6, is a colorful charismatic Mexican home, and a great place for these under privileged children. We really feel like we are part of their family when we are there, after all the niños have been served their lunch, and we´ve cleaned up, Laina and I sit down with the rest of the family and share a delicious Mexican meal, over the loud and often really funny rancor of the family's jokes, stories and comments. I understand enough Spanish to understand and contribute much of my own to the humor, and when we are done for the day, I always leave with a smile. If you are interested in this center this is the link, http://hijosdelaluna.org/ 
     During the first few days, we felt overwhelmed with chaos, but rather quickly we got into a routine that is quite nice, and despite the ongoing chaos of 23 kids under 6, we are very comfortable and have managed to have some control over the situation, and are now able to organize games! On a regular basis, we will head over to Casa Hogar after our Spanish classes, and when we first get there, all the little kids will  run up to us and hug us, especially the ones that we have been assigned to. Said and Angel are my two niños that i watch out for the most. they always run up and give me high five, and a tight hug around the knees. Often I will make a basketball hoop, a table on its side(as a backboard) with three chairs facing away from each other (if you can follow that) up against the table, with their backrests making a square. The kids love it, and will play for however long it takes until someone sits in the chair, and refuses to move. Then they will all go sit in the chairs, and climb over each other, and quickly forget about the balls. After about 2 hours of play/ lessons, Laina and I will move into the kitchen and help on of the 4 sons cut vegetables/peel potatoes/ fry meat/ or some other kitchen task. Then one of us will line up the kids in front of the sink and they will "Lavan los manos!" (Wash their hands!). "Un brazo de distancia!" (on arm´s length apart!) we will shout as all the kids push each other and try to cut in line. After sometimes a chaotic hand-washing session, they will all sit down and then we will come out and serve them their meal. Meals typically have three parts. They start with a soup, or beans, and then move onto a meat/rice/vegetable dish, and maybe a fried banana for dessert. After the meal, they all line up for aguas, not water, but the Mexican word for juice, that has been made with water (ex. Aguas de Limón (limeade) Augas de Papaya (papaya juice mixed with water) and Aguas de Avena (Oat juice mixed with water...I know I´ve never seen it before either)).  Once the whole meal is eaten, the atmosphere definitely calms down a few notches, and some kids fall asleep, and others just sit down and relax. That's when we get to eat. After the very humorous meal, we will help clean up and then take off for the day (it is now after 5 o'clock), and catch our bus home, and often take a quick siesta.
The night of the last time I wrote, we headed to out to enjoy a night in the town, we had a great time, found a fun salsa bar, danced salsa, cumbia and merenge until too late, and then headed back home, for a fun filled weekend. We met another traveler, Arianne, from the Netherlands, she emailed us through couchsurfing, she was very interested in volunteering at the Casa Hogar. We had a great time, got some coffee around town, and made plans to take her along with us to Casa Hogar so she can see how it works.  On Sunday, Joy and Joff invited us to go to a small town 40 kilometers away from Oaxaca, called Mitla for the day. In the morning, we caught the second class bus, 15 pesos, for the 45 minute ride out of the city and up to Mitla. Surrounding the High on both sides are "Fabricas de Mezcal", Mezcal factories, this region of Mexico is well known for its quality Mezcal. Mitla is a small town, that happens to have 5 sets of wonderfully preserved Zapotec ruins. The Zapotec's are a culture of Native Mexicans (Pre-columbus) that still exist today, but have a large history in this part of Mexico, especially here in Oaxaca. We toured 3 of the ruins, and got to see some beautiful architecture. The first 2 were Elite or king palaces, with beautiful patterns etched deep into the trim on the insides and outsides of all the buildings. The patterns are beautiful, and in the grooves you can sometimes see a type of red laminate, that has even smaller exquisite patterns as well. I can´t believe the camera broke! Well Joff took some great shots, so hopefully i can borrow them. We sat down for a delicious and cheap taco lunch, and then headed back to town. Laina and I have really stepped up our Spanish studying, so we spent most of the rest of our weekend studying.
     This week we visited the Casa del Cutura de Oaxaca, and I think we might have gotten enrolled in the Mexican cooking class (emphasis on "i think"), We´ll see this Sunday. We have spent a lot of time looking at universities in the US for our teaching certificates, and also have been spending a lot of time at Spanish class, and meeting out teacher and her friend in the afternoon for "inter-cambio", (language exchange) for an hour or so.
     In addition to our already very busy day, on Wednesday, we headed to Arianne´s house for a birthday party for one of her roommates. We showed up early, and got to meet everyone, they are mostly from the US, with one from Austria, and one from Netherlands. The house started to fill up with more and more people, until Mexicans were a majority in the house, and the language spoken switched from English to Spanish, more and more Mexican came until the house had around 60 people, and at least 80% Mexican! It was awesome. I got a lot of practice speaking Spanish, and also got to make many new friends.  Some of the people who attended the party were highly talented performers, there were some fire dancers, a Arabic belly dancer, and finally two older men, who are famous here in Oaxaca, and they took out a guitar, and started singing and playing many very good, very fun songs. Two songs I remember in particular, "Guantanamera" and "Chan Chan" by Buena Vista Social Club. Everyone was dancing, singing and sipping their respective drinks (mine was Mezcal). We caught a ride home, very late, and got ready for an early morning at the university.
     Tonight we are going to have dinner at Joy and Joff´s and then Arianne and her roommates will come into town and we will go out dancing again! Then for this "Fin del Semana" (weekend) we will take out studying into high gear with our new 4 hour schedule of various assignments and translations!




You guys are doing a great thing! Selina ( secretary at lowell) always asks how the "couch potato's" are doing. She is amazed and in awe of you guys. Me too! I am so glad you are living a full life.
love mom

  lucy Dunn Jan 30, 2010 12:25 PM


Muy bien! I wish I could remember more of my Spanish. I guess when you don't use it, you lose it! You are doing a great thing, being there and volunteering for those kids. Can you put Joff's pics on your Google docs? Did you bring your external hard drive with you?

  Mommy Jan 31, 2010 12:58 AM


Love your adventures, sounds like you are having fun! We had a great time with Tasha at the airport last night--we danced! You would have loved the group --Texas Blues like Stevie Ray Vaughn style---Take Care. Love, Holly

  holly Jan 31, 2010 2:05 AM


Nick and Laina, You both have hearts of gold and a great spirit of adventure! I enjoy reading about your Mexican days with your new friends. Keep your blogs coming!


  jeanette Feb 2, 2010 5:06 AM


Hey nickandlaina,

We liked your story and decided to feature it this week on the WorldNomads Adventures homepage so that others can enjoy it too.

Happy Travels!
World Nomads

  travel-tips Feb 8, 2010 11:08 AM



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