Well, if I thought Saturday's sun was bad I was sorely mistaken. Sunday's sun was worse. And I was unprepared. Mi cara es muy roja. And I've got the picture to prove it.
Karem picked me up at 9:30 and we walked over to the clinic -- about a 5-minute walk. She presented me as the volunteer who is also a therapist, so if there's any therapy needed, I'm their girl. But in the meantime I could just go and play with the kids. So that's what I did.
There are about 30-40 kids ranging from 2 years old to 13 (most are around 4-6) and they have a wide range of disabilities. So wide that in an ideal world they wouldn't be clumped together like this. But these kids are the lucky ones. The nursing staff is competent and caring and there were a good number of us volunteers (5 or 6 of us) helping out and spreading the love. I was the only American, but I'm getting used to that.
Right before lunch I found myself drawn to a little boy of about 3 years strapped to a wheelchair and crying. A quiet cry. His head was hot, so I blew on it a little and rubbed his head and hands. He quieted a little but not much. I couldn't bring myself to leave him so I became his lunch buddy and carefully fed him for the next 45 minutes. The time flew by. Drool abounded. He didn't eat as much as the other kids at our table (who were also being individually fed), but he ate more than I thought he would. And did I meantion he drooled a lot? Mi amo.
I left him with a nurse after lunch so she could wash him and get him ready for his nap. I went in search of others to help get ready for naptime and didn't have to go far. Teeth brushing is a big deal here (they all need new toothbrushes) and so everyone takes their turn. I went into the girls' bedroom and went from bed to bed quietly playing and connecting with the girls.
One girl asked me to come over ("Amiga! Amiga!") and took my hand and put it on her cheek. She motioned for me to rub her face and head and so I did. I was in love. Again.
We volunteers parted ways with los ninos y ninas, whispering "Hasta mañana" as we crept out.
I walked back home to a yummy lunch of chicken, potatoes and, of course, a side of rice. I think if I were to go into a bar here and order a beer it would come with a side of white rice. My stomach bloats at the thought.
But truthfully, home-cooked meals are such a luxury when traveling. Laura even makes the juice we drink at each meal! Today's juice was made from purple corn that's boiled with cinnamon and a little lemon. Purple corn juice is damn good.
I took a little nap and then taxied to my first Spanish class (taxis cost about 75 cents all over town). For $140/week, my Spanish "class" is a private instructor for 4 hours a day. We'll do some book stuff and other days we'll go out around town and I'll learn through osmosis. I'm not as big of a book dork as my students and clients think I am, so the "outside classroom" technique is probably best for me.
Jorgen (I'll correct the spelling tomorrow if I'm wrong) (my instructor) and I connected immediately. We spent about 2 hours in lessons and 2+ hours talking about our lives (mostly in English but the Spanish is starting to kick in). I talked a little about massage and he told me about his dreams to be a full-time musician and tontrael to Ireland. We both understand the power of Universal Energy. Time flew. I have a decent knack for connecting with people but when the connection is special, you just know it. This was that.
We walked home together because he lives nearby and parted with hugs. Incredible.
Dinner was pasta with meat and jello for dessert. We talked about eating guinea pigs and caterpillars and sushi. Ahh.
It was a magical day. I hope you all have days like this.