It's only been a few days since my last post but quite a lot is going on and I want to keep on top of it.
First, we are no longer staying at the hostel, we have officially moved in to Mission I'm Possible headquarters and we are welcome here for the rest of our stay (3 months)! The head-honcho Dave Stewart is a force to be reckoned with and his partner Rebecca (who speaks very little English) keeps us striving to learn Spanish, constantly engaging in conversation. Not only am I learning Spanish out of necessity but I'm also becoming more animated and clever with my gestures when words fail me.
Dave refuses to charge us rent, instead suggested that we donate what we think is fair to one of his many projects. Christina and I are on a shoe string budget so this form of barter was a blessing. We negotiated S/.1200 (roughly $600.00 CAD) to improve the water "situation" at the headquarters and to set up our bedroom.
It's important to mention here that the city water only comes on in the morning before 9am and again later in the evening. This water is okay to use for washing clothes, showers, cleaning and dishes, but is not for drinking (for that they collect rain water which was stored in a couple of 20 gallon jugs). With the money we donated, we were able to buy a 750 gallon tank (replacing his 250 gallon one) for the storage of city water which means even when the place is full with 6 people we will be able to have water ALL DAY!!
Not only that, but we are going to use the 250 gallon tank for the rain water and attach a filter to that as well. As a bonus, we were able to attach the toilet (before this we used a bucket to fill the toilet tank), washing machine and even install a second shower (outdoor head soaker)! I had zero plumbing skills but I tried my best to be a helpful assistant as there is never a shortage of things to do.
The living conditions are SO different from home, it's much more open concept- where most of us would have a hallway, my place has open sky and a garden. If it's raining I can open my bedroom door and get splashed! Some would look at this place and call it a hovel and could be right- the roof is made of metal sheets, there are bugs everywhere and you can't drink the water out of the tap- but the things that get done here are game changers.
(yes that is a puppy sleeping on the table)
Rebecca has created a school here for the local children to learn traditional crafts, gardening and even some English. A lot of these children are left alone (or with relatives) during the day by their parents when they go to work, so this provides them with some projects to focus on and they certainly seem to enjoy all of it. I didn't think I would enjoy having a bunch of kids around but they are polite, upbeat and enjoy practicing English with us.
Seeds are being planted in our garden but they're also being planted in the streets. I see the roots reaching our neighbors and their children and I can only imagine what kind of beautiful flowers will bloom!
When we first arrived here there was this little boy, Bernardo- he's much younger than the other children (maybe 2 years old)- he never smiled or laughed. I was told his home life was abusive and I recognized distrust in his eyes whenever I smiled and said "Ola". Yesterday Dave grabbed him by the arms and swung him out in front of himself as he walked to the bathroom and he started laughing! Rebecca bought him a tiny plastic truck (Dave reprimanded her as he detests cheap plastic trinkets), she smiled at me and said "Bernardo!" and gestured a huge grin with her fingers and winked. Bernardo had that truck in his hand all day, playing in the dirt! Dave was right, it is a tiny plastic piece of crap, and if it puts a smile on Bernardo's face... it's gold.