It’s also hard for me to make this kind of construction work conversationally interesting. I look at the finished building on Sherwin’s flickr site…
and I realize just how much effort went into the construction. I see the things I worked on and it interests me to see how they turned out at completion. But who really cares to look at the sidewalk that I helped work on.
That represents 2 half days, the afternoon before and the following afternoon, of hard work. Forms, filling, leveling, floating, and finishing. It was scary for me as Sherwin kind of let me go on this with little supervision while I helped set up the forms. I was so afraid I’d screw up. Once concrete is poured, it’s there to stay. Of course the job turned out great, he must have been watching me discretely. Every time I see it or walk on it, I’ll remember that day. Sherwin has a picture the concrete pumper truck on his website. It is by far the most intricate piece of machinery I have ever seen in Mexico. It wouldn’t surprise me if that is the only pumper truck in southern Sonora state.
The pumper truck was used for the high and tight areas that needed concrete, It easily reached the top of the clock tower, and also was able to snake around into a back staircase. My journal also notes we poured a couple of 1/4 circles in the center courtyard. I’m sure glad we didn’t have to push all that concrete around in wheelbarrows.
The concrete went somewhere in here, but I don’t remember where. Sure looks different in Sherwin’s photos.
Sherwin also has another site…
that show more of the everyday life at the orphanage.
Has reading this got you interested in supporting the orphanage? A one time donation? Funding is through Reach International in Barrien Springs, MI..
Be sure to mention with your check that the money is for the orphanage in Navajoa, Sonora, Mexico. I’ve talked with Jasmine at Reach (800-869-1412) when I had to get my IRS receipt. I found that 100% of my money goes to the orphanage. I was astounded, "How do you pay for lights, heat, water, stamps, wages, etc.?" was what I asked Jasmine. She volunteers. They have two college students that help out occasionally during busy times and they are paid. The bills are paid by the sponsors of the children elsewhere in the world. Of every $20 for a child, $2 is taken out for expenses. That’s it.
Obviously a labor of love.
Before I left, I wanted to visit an ocean side resort at Hautabampito. This is the picture I sent to my then girlfriend, Praxy.
3 weeks after my wife left me, I was told by one of my employees that the husband of a former employee passed away after a long illness. I got to thinking about that and I decided I wanted to meet this lady. Her name was Praxy Williams.
I had hired her as a fishmarker in 2001 and we never really talked much. She was quiet, I was busy, and we really had nothing much in common. I don’t think we exchanged a dozen words during the April/May fish marking project. I had seen her at a friends house in 2004, but we didn’t talk much then either. We were both married and there really wasn’t anything to say anyway.
Her friends told me she was in mourning and wasn’t up to dating. That was no problem, I wasn’t ready either. I just wanted to meet her some day and ask her out on a date at some later time. That meeting date turned out to be July 4, 2007.
Luisa Lee usually has a big 4th of July potluck dinner at her house. People come from miles around for great food and a cooling swim at her pool. I was hanging around talking with her guests, hoping Praxy would show up. She finally did show up about an hour late. She was dressed in a stunning white blouse and white pants, looking cool and collected. I was taken by her beauty and quiet character. Fortunately she remembered me from working in 2001 and we settled down to a relaxed conversation in the shade about nothing important.
As we talked, I had a random thought that I was looking at my next wife. Suddenly, the hair stood up on he back of my neck and blood went cold. I occasionally get premonitions and I’ve learned to trust them. As I continued to talk to her, I realized that I was indeed looking at and talking to my next wife. Crap! I wasn’t even divorced from the last one and now I was talking to my next one. I couldn’t shake the disturbing feeling. It was quite disconcerting and I spent the remainder of the day brooding over what I had felt. No dice, we were to be married (November 14, 2009 as it turned out) and I knew it.
When I left the US I had a following of friends and acquaintances that wanted to follow my journey to Mexico. The list included relatives, working associates, and even a curious representative at my bank. Praxy and I had been on two dates before I left, both after my divorce was final (yes Y and C, it’s true. I know you are following this). She wanted to follow my adventures and was included. She got the added bonus of a personal email as well as the broadcast.
As the days passed and the emails exchanged, her replies became more warm and personal. It was clear to me that we were starting to get together, but the relationship was in it’s beginning. I had told the Mexican laborers on the project the cookies were made by my novia, so I started signing my emails to her "Novio". Her children, both of whom had taken Spanish in school, picked right up on it and wondered what was going on. Novio/Novia means "sweetheart" or "loved one"or "girlfriend/boyfriend" in Mexican Spanish and it seemed appropriate to me. Praxy asked me about that and I told her I thought we were now on a boyfriend/girlfriend level at that time. She agreed and it stuck. We still call each other novio/novia to this day.
I was thinking hard about all of this when I went to Hautabampito for a afternoon’s walk on the beach and a little R and R from the jobsite. The sand sculpture was laying on the beach near the cafe at the north end of the little tourist hamlet of Hautabampito. I was feeling a little feisty and got a good chuckle at what was laying on the beach. A Mexican man (the waiter?) approached me and offered to take a picture of me with the beach art. I motioned for him to wait. Then I knelt down and pretended I was placing my hand on "Sandy’s" behind with a gleam in my eye. He was astonished and roared with laughter, no one else had thought to do that. Not me, I saw the possibility instantly. He could hardly hold the camera still as he shot the picture. He then gave me a free can of soda, a reward for making his day.
I walked a couple of miles down the empty beach…
considering my life and where my relationship with Praxy was going. I decided on that very beach on that very day that I was going to have to send her that picture of me with "Sandy". My sense of humor is rather irreverent, strong and a little offbeat. If she was offended by a harmless prank with a pile of sand shaped like a woman, then our relationship would never work. I found an internet cafe in Hautabampo, downloaded the photo, and sent it to her telling her she was out of luck, I’d found a girlfriend in Mexico, I wasn’t coming back, blah blah blah. I waited nervously for her response.
She loved it. Whenever she got lonely while I was in Mexico, she would pull that picture up on her computer and wish she was on that beach with me. The rest is now history. But…
It was clear it was time for me to come home. I had a girl in Pomeroy waiting impatiently for my return and only a few things left to do after my 4 weeks at the orphanage. I wanted to take the Copper Canyon train trip from El Fuerte, Sinaloa to Creel, Chihuahua and the return. Since I was in the area, I decided to stop by Mr. Moros at Playa las Glorias near Guasave, Sinaloa. I could kill a week there then start back.
There were no campers at Mr. Moros, no one to chat with, no one to interact with. I went to town for a Christmas party with some friends, then they continued on south. A friend I wanted to look up in Guasave was sick and had moved away. I got bored and left after 6 nights and headed off to El Fuerte for one of the most spectacular train rides in the world.
Next, as promised, Copper Canyon.
Tip–Army inspections of vehicles. They are common, at almost every state line and sometimes set up randomly on a lonely stretch of road. Don’t worry about it, they are just doing their job. They are looking mainly for guns. You’d better not have one with you, they are totally illegal for tourist to possess. Getting caught with one can land you in prison for up to 15 years. And drugs. If you are dumb enough to be dealing drugs in Mexico, you deserve the 15 year sentence that comes with possession.
Smile and cooperate. I’ve never had any trouble with them, but I have had a few interesting experiences.
We were northbound a few miles north of Melaque, Jalisco, at the turnoff to Boca de Iguanas when a Mexican man ran out into the middle of road shouting loudly and waving his arms. I stopped, alarmed. Was he going to shoot at me if I went past without stopping? Was he going to shoot me when I stopped? Neither. I was relieved to find he was trying to hitch a ride and needed to go to Mazatlan, over 500 miles away. He was obviously broke and needed help, so I allowed him to ride in the back of the pickup. Suddenly it occurred to me that we had an army checkpoint 5 miles ahead. I stopped and got out and went back to the man, asking him "Tiene drogas o pistoles o cochillos"? (Do you have any drugs, guns, or knives) and I pantomimed guns pointing around. He laughed and shrugged, then showed me his empty pockets. He didn’t have a thing, not even a centavo. And he was hitching to Mazatlan! So we pulled up to the checkpoint.
The previous day we had proceeded through here without hardly a glance from the guards with the 5th wheel in tow. Not today. The soldiers were immediately extremely suspicious and ordered us out of the pickup. They checked our ID, passports, tourist cards, (if I’d had a note from my mother, they would have wanted to see that), peered under the truck, looked in the cab, checked under the hood, with guns at ready. It is unusual for Americans to be picking up hitchhikers. They were positively grilling our passenger and he was answering, shrugging, and pointing. He stood while the soldiers frisked him. No smiles, all business. I wasn’t worried, we weren’t doing anything illegal.
Finally the jefe (boss) spotted the toolbox in the bed of the pickup. I could read his thoughts (Aha, the contraband is in there!) and he demanded I open it. Inside was a cardboard box. Aha! again, his eyes gleamed and he demanded I pull it out. They all got their guns ready as I produced it from the toolbox and laid it on the bed of the pickup. He asked me (and I’m paraphrasing), "What the hell is in there?" I was enjoying myself as I innocently told him, una pollo roca. I opened it up and behold! a stone chicken. We had bought this as a gift at Tzintzantzun, Michoacan and I could not find any better place to carry it. His mouth slowly fell open with astonishment as he took this in. Then disgust crossed his face and again I could read his thoughts (Why in the heck are these dumb tourists buying, of all things, a rock chicken AND THEN, of all things, giving a ride to a hitchhiker?). He shook his head, called off his troops and waved us down the road with contempt oozing in his body language. We were free to go.
We bought the stone chicken here, but I don’t have a photo of it.
I gave our hitchhiker enough money for food to get back to Mazatlan after we dropped him near Punta Perula.