Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Vueltas, Caballos, and Amigos

How big do you guys think my room is? I haven't measured it, but I feel like it's huge. The house we built was 11' x 22', or two 11' x 11' rooms. Two hundred forty-two square feet. I have the most awful feeling that the square footage of my room alone approaches that figure.

So the first day of actual work was really exciting. I was hyper that morning for many reasons (not the least of which was that I got to wear a really cool toolbelt). We sang as we drove to the worksite in the less-crowded conditions of the mini-bus as opposed to the van. The house we were building is in Triki, the Oaxacan village. The Oaxacans were brought up from southern Mexico basically as slave labor, and they only recently gained independence and moved to a hill near Vicente where they built Triki.

As we turned into the village, there were kids everywhere. I was waving out the window as some of them watched us drive past, and a little boy flipped us off! I was dumbfounded at such a welcome, but we saw him again and he was friendlier. The closer we got to our worksite, the more kids were surrounding the mini-bus on all sides. As we got out, we were basically mobbed by kids from every direction. My friend was holding a bag of embroidery floss for making bracelets, and a couple of them did their best to grab it from her. Many of them were calling, "Compra, compra", asking us to buy the bracelets and necklaces they dangled from coat hangers. John, ever our leader, told us not to buy or give out anything until the last day or else there would be so many people around that we wouldn't get any work done.

The building materials were there, but the guy who had the plans wasn't, so we decided to play with the kids in the dirt road while we waited. Dan, who is fluent in Spanish, went into the fenced-off yard to meet the family. For a minute I just stood there, overwhelmed to a point of paralysis. There were kids everywhere...kids that couldn't understand my native language and I was only beginning to understand theirs. I tried to recall even a single Spanish word, but I blanked. Finally another girl came up to me and asked me, "How do you say 'How old are you?'" Ah-ha! Here was something I knew....at one time. I raked my brains for a minute and finally came up with it, "¿Cuántos años tienes?"

Suddenly I came unfrozen. I began asking children around me their names, their ages, if they had siblings, what they liked to do. But the moment when they really decided they liked me was when I picked up a little boy who was pestering me and swung him around, laughing. Soon I was surrounded with clamors of "¡Vuelta!" and "¡Caballo!" I gave them helicopter rides and piggy back rides until I felt my arms would fall off. Finally I said I couldn't do any more because I was too tired. This was answered with a loud chorus of "¡Uno más!¡Uno más!"--"One more!" Finally I spotted Chad just standing nearby. "Go ask him," I told them, shooing them in his direction. They obeyed, and my back was never quite the same on the whole trip. However, I had made some new friends. :-)

4 comments:

Abbie said...

That is so neat that you could interact so much with the kids, Jill. I'm enjoying hearing about it.

Anonymous said...

Que Pasa? I don't know what that means, but its the only spanish I know. Glad the trip went well. Have any "virgin margaritas"?

Jillian said...

Que Pasa basically means "What's up?" Is this Chris or Caleb...because you will be pleased to hear I refrained from ordering virgin margaritas. :-) That doesn't mean I'll never order another one though. They're so good! You should have tried it.

Anonymous said...

Sweet! I know how to say "wuzz up" in spanish! And there is no way I'm drinking a virgin margarita!