Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A typical day for me at Tashirat

At 6:30 I arise and stroll up to a bungalow to do yoga with the sunrise.

Following yoga I enjoy a delicious breakfast. These days it tends to be some kind of green soup or salad. Delicious!

Around 9am I stroll into the school Kitchen to help Louis prepare lunch.

With the help of some of the boys we carry it down to the school.

Depending on the meal I either help serve lunch...

..or help Martha in the store, filling honey jars,


or organizing the supplies.

I return to help clean up the school lunch, and of course eat some as well!

After some happy bellies, Ya-Yin and I clean all the dishes.

At 1:00pm we head over to the communal kitchen and make green juice for the staff.

She juices.

I sieve. Nobody likes chunky green juice.

Then it´s break time!

When I get to drink my green juice!

I return to work for one more hour, doing various tasks. And then at 4 I am done. I have a snack. A delicious, juicy snack...

And then it is time for meditation. I meditate in this bungalow for one hour. I usually last in this stellar position for about twenty minutes before my knees whine and I lay down.

In the evening we cook dinner.

I study for a couple hours, usually nutrition info.

Then, when it is too dark to take pictures, we eat dinner together.

This has been my typical day for the last few weeks. However, all that is going to change in two days. The students go on a two week holiday, and we are down to only five volunteers. So, I will be working in the communal kitchen for most of the day. Other volunteers will be collecting compost, moving trash and recycling, as well as poop buckets. Unfortunately, Abby hurt her back doing compost and is off wheelbarrow duty. Luckily she likes being in the kitchen.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

From Chicago to Tashirat

Andrea and I left Michigan on Christmas morning, took a 33 hour train ride from Chicago to San Antonio, TX. While on the train we were woken up at 2am to get off the train at 4am to take a bus around a bridge that was 18ft under water to then get on a different train.
Thanks a lot Arkansas!

We arrived in Texas just fine and when we called our Couchsurfing host we received a background of loud music and the information that she was actually in Las Vegas. So sorry! Luckily we used the internet at the nearby Denny´s along with the beauty of cs groups and found there was a get together at the bar, we called the number on the event and found ourselves some free drinks and a floor to crash on. One of the guys even gave us a farewell present of jerky, socks, a journal, and water. Sweet.

After a few buses we found ourselves in Mexico City at Andrea´s boyfriend Omar´s parent house. Yay!
We ate really well.

Our crew consisted of myself (I'm the one on the left), Julien (Andrea & Omar worked with him in Canada), Omar (Andrea's boyfriend), and, of course, Andrea

On New Years Eve Day we took a day hike to a nearby forest.
But first we stopped for Pulque (fermented agave), I am actually drinking a Liter of orange juice to fight my cold, but everyone else is starting their celebration of the New Year.

After midnight I decided to try drinking Tequila to break my sickness. It worked! And we danced the night away in the living room with the whole family.

Below: Andrea, Uncle Jon, Julien, and Mom. I imagine it is 3am.

This is Dad holding one of the annoying Dogs that lived in the yard. Everytime I tried to exit the house they would bark at me until I went back inside. I was told if I built a relationship with them it would be better, I found it easier to stay inside. Fucking dogs.
We stayed in Mexico City for a week. While there we took some day trips. This one was to a park in the city with a small Pyramid and some cool cactus.

We also visited the Ice Cream shop because that's what you do in Mexico in January :)
After a week in the city we were ready to head on our way, so we headed to Omar's Aunt's house in the country.
However, Aunt Julie wasn't there, so we took more day trips! Our first one was to a nearby caves, Grutas of "Cacahuamilpa."
The cave was amazing. Unfortunately, the only light parts of it as you walk through with a guide and they tell you to save picture taking until the end...after the guide is gone and you can't see it anymore. Also, the guide is an extraordinarily dramatic individual who never smiles and tells horrible jokes...and it's all in spanish, obviously. But it was still beautiful.
The town where Omar's Aunt Julie's house is is called Puente De Ixtla. A small town with a street that goes through it. We ventured there daily to buy vegetables and fresh tortillas on the street, as well as beer and the occasional taco. mmm..tacos. Unfortunately, the only picture we got was of Julien talking to a parrot.
We stayed in Julie's porch/yard for three days before she arrived. But it was a nice area, right on the (dirty) river, with lime trees, and sunshine.

This was a typical breakfast for us: tomatoes, onion, avacado, chiles, cheese, tortillas, and bananas. Yum. We spent a good amount of time simply playing cribbage and relaxing.

We didn't go out too much, but we did have one fun night of watching the sunset on the lake,
drinking and dancing the night away,

and watching the sun come up in an intoxicating stupor.

Below is a picture of the city of Taxco, one of the oldest mining sites, is known for it's silver and unlike most Mexican towns almost everything is white, even the taxis!

This is Aunt Julie, she has a ton of energy, and only speaks spanish. She's great.

After a week at Julie´s Andrea and Omar went back to the city and Julien and I stayed to work on our spanish, explore more countryside, and get a break from the love birds. However, Andrea left with her camera so I have no pictures of the following week. It did include some beautiful Pyramids in the mountains above the city, a trip to Cuernavaca, Ojo´s de Agua (water near the river that bubbled, looking like eyes), and lastly a trip to the Ocean!

So, now I am at Tashirat. Tashirat is basically an Ashram that has an Orphanage and a school for a nearby town that is inpoverished. I arrived on the 19th of January and plan to be here volunteering for at least a couple months. The picture below is the view from our Volunteer Headquarters. We see the sunset every night and wake up to the sunrise in the morning.

Strangely enough there is also a pool, however, it is pretty cold, and very dirty. I have not yet had the experience of jumping in.

Compost bathroom!

The house/room I sleep in is basically big enough for four beds.

On our day off and sometimes in the evenings we take the bus into town. It's a 15 minute bus ride for 6 pesos. Did I mention the weather is perfect almost every day...

For food we put an order in every week and buy enough for all the volunteers, there are 12 of us right now and we come from all over: Sweden, Belgium, Uraguay, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Scotland, Australia..

This is our kitchen. We cook family style meals every evening for dinner. A lot of veggies, beans, and rice. For breakfast we eat fresh papaya, bananas, mangos, with dry oats, amaranth, nuts, raisins, and yogurt. mmmm!

I still drink coffee every morning. shhh!

The volunteer activities range depending on skill and need. School kitchen, garden, watching kids, and painting are the most common. However, random ones get thrown in all the time. Last week Andrea and I spent the first part of every day doing laundry. We washed mosquito nets, stuffed animals, rugs and sheets by hand. Nothing like dipping your hands in bleach water for two hours!

Below is a picture of the local ice cream place with so many amazing flavors!

So far my experience here has been really great. Yoga and meditation in the morning, volunteering for about five hours a day, more meditation in the evening, and huge dinners with our volunteer family.

If you'd like to see the rest of my pictures go to