Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: August 26 Silvia's Log

Home Sweet Home - 14 Housemates, a House Educator, a Cocinera (Cook), and a Husky

Wondering where I've been staying when I'm not out with the street children? In a two-story house called Hogar Aragon, where 14 guys who used to be street children live together. There are 3 bedrooms for them (4, 4, and 6 to a room), their shared bathroom, and a study area with a computer and Internet access. The house parent/educator lives downstairs where the kitchen, living room, and another bathroom are. There's an extra bedroom for visitors, and that's where I'm being warmly welcomed as a guest Volunteer.

Oh - how could I forget the dog, Chencho - he's really the neighbor's but likes to hang out with us. His used-to-be white hair is so messy that it looks like he has dreadlocks or is a fat sheep. We give him the leftovers from our meals, and he likes to take naps at our doorstep.

The guys all have daily chores to do, cleaning, setting the table, mopping the tile floors, making their beds. There's a cook who comes over to make all the meals - we just heat the food up when we're hungry. This sounds like a noisy restaurant when we all eat together. Breakfast is at 7 a.m., lunch around 2 p.m. and dinner around 9:30 or 10 p.m. It's authentic Mexican cuisine! By the time I leave here, I'm determined to be able to eat the hottest chile sauces without being red-faced and teary-eyed.

My housemates are aged between 15 and 23. All of them are working or in school, as they need to be in order for Casa Alianza to provide them with all they have- clothes, books, money for the buses and metros, room and board. In exchange, the guys are expected to sincerely try their best to succeed in making something of their lives and ultimately becoming independent.

I've been having a lot of fun here. We all arrive at different times so there are many conversations going on all day as some enter and others leave. School just started after summer vacation, so we're all really busy. Wake-up time is 6 a.m., when they have to shower, eat breakfast, and leave for school or do chores. The cook gets here around 6 a.m. Today we ate "chorizo con huevos" (chorizo and eggs) with fresh tortillas. She tells me that reheated day-old tortillas don't make you fat, but I'm not sure I believe that yet. I'll have to experiment. There are rules - curfew is 9 p.m., but we get to sleep in on weekends - until 8 a.m.

Trivia!I would have expected a house full of teenage males to be messy! Here they're very clean, and I find them mopping and cleaning bathrooms several times a day! On Sundays is general cleaning, and all the furniture gets moved out so we can wet everything as though it flooded indoors. We do laundry and hang our clothes to dry on the roof terrace and climb a winding staircase to get up there. Some even prefer to wash their clothes by hand because they say it leaves your clothes even cleaner. That's what they used to do in the street, so they're used to it more than using a washing machine. The machines and sinks are out back on a patio, and we play the radio while we work. Every weekend a Volunteer hairdresser comes over to give us free haircuts, too! I didn't dare to do anything to my hair last weekend but I will sometime.

This weekend the guys are all going away to a camp in another part of Mexico, an 8-hour bus ride south. I don't think I want to be here by myself, and I'm not going with them so I can see Monica and Shawn. I haven't seen them since last Friday when they went away to their retreat in the mountains, and Monica and I have played phone tag for 3 days. I hear Shawn's sick already. Pobrecito! We're meeting Friday afternoon after I finish my first full week at Casa Alianza with the Street Educators. A weekend with my fellow Trekkers and then Sunday back to my 15 housemates, and the dog. Viva!


Related Dispatches: 
Silvia - Check it out! Riding the buses in Mexico can be an experience!
Sylvia - Home Sweet Home - 14 Housemates, a House Educator, a Cocinera (Cook), and a Husky

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