"...He prayeth well, who loveth well, Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best, All things both great and small;
for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all..."

The Rime of the Anchient Mariner -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Life on 'el Rancho'

It's taking me a while to figure out where to begin. Like all new 'beginings' the last two weeks have gone by quickly. Fitting into a new host family, forming new working relationships & friendships, and trying to observe as much of people's routines and interactions as possible. I was sick for most of last week, but am doing much better now.

As if it could be any other way, I love my new host family and decided to stay with them through the holidays. They are the sweetest people; there are seven little kids in the extended family. They are such neat kids and very smart. I've started helping them with their homework, and have started teaching them how to work my computer (1-on-1). I'll start teaching them the English alphabet soon, but it's going to take some brainstorming as I don't have any teaching materials as yet. One thing that's pretty cool is that they chant my name sometimes when I come home, so they are like my own little fan club, lol. I have 3 host-sisters who are about my age. They were reserved at first, but they are starting to get used to me & we've started sharing pictures and stories about our life. I saw a pic of my host mom in custume when she was an extra for the Zorro film w/ Atonio & Katherine Zeta. One of my host sisters was on the cooking crew and had some fuzzy shots of Antonio; apparently she used to get flowers from some of the americans that were trying to woo her & one offered to take her back to the states (as a bride I suppose). My host-family has a very modest way of life & a humble home, but feel honored to be a part of it.

Challenges to life on in 'el Rancho' as they call the community is that it is underdeveloped (no jobs) and appears to have been forgotten by time. It's very dusty since there are no paved roads. The most interesting attraction is the Hacienda where they filmed el Zorro, but it's privately owned & is not counted on as a source of tourism for the community (yet?). There is one elementary school and a tele-middle school (lessons given on dvd/vhs), and few kids actually finish the middle school. There is a big trash problem in the community, along with a myriad of other environmental issues.

My community is part of a National Protected Area. There is a huge errosion problem caused by overgrazing (which is being addressed) & from the brick-making industry (which is not being addressed). The brick-makers actually take all the dirt leading up to and around the trees/cactae which causes them to die; each bricking-maker burns 200 tires a day in the kilns & there are 1500 brick makers in the municipality. There is llegal harvesting of trees to be used/sold for wood burning stoves, iillegal harvesting of rare cactae for sale, and the capturing of endangered bird species for sale. The presence of a thermo-electric plant, a paper mill, water intensive agriculture and exhaustive presense of Thermal Roman Bath houses all contribute to the lowering of the water table...the same thermal waters that have made this area of Mexico famous.

As an Environmental Educator, I have my work cut out for me. On the one hand, I've only been there two plus weeks, and the holiday season is upon us, so I really can't expect to get too much done. The American side of me is starting to feel ancy about needing to do something fruitful to announce my presense and inevetable positive impact on the community (lol, the PC calls this an Early Win). One nice thing is that I have a lot of discretion with how I want to approach formulation of an environmental education program.

On the other hand, I have no environmental education experience, so I'm going to be teaching myself & that will take time. I have'nt really thought about this because I've been busy assimilating other things...

It seems overwhelming, but considering that Environmental Education programs take years (5, 10, 15) to become part of the culture, I believe we have to start somewhere!

Other noteworthy news:
-I'm over halfway through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo--what an awesome book!
-I'm invited to a quiceaniera this Friday! Should be fun
-I'm considering getting broadband for internet usage (if it's feasable, I'll likely get it)

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