Monday, February 13, 2006

February 9, La Piedad

La Ciudad is the city where Amy spent the summer supervising projects and volunteers for Amigos de las Americas. In a place I would venture to say is the size of Wenatchee, Washington, where there are no gringos except for two or three who teach at the university, she brought us to the deluxe Holiday Inn with swimming pool and wireless Internet on the outskirts of town where it is a regional conference center. The economy here is agricultural, both subsistence and agribusiness - corn, livestock, tomatoes, flowers, etc. The land looks like fertile lakebed surrounded by , at this time of year, dry hills. There were John Deere dealerships and dozens of small lubricant stores where Tom searched in vain for Delo brand for the boat engine (hard to find in Mexico.)
When asked where you come from here (as opposed to tourist centers) you say Washington because almost everyone has either spent time in our state or has a friend or relative there , Wenatchee, Sunnyside, etc. Great conversation material. All this in Spanish, of course, in which Amy is the star, Tom and I get along. In this town I saw license plates from 17 US states, MN, ILL, GA, AL, being some of them, as well as WA,OR, CA. These were not tourist plates, but rather on big fancy rigs that folks who work in the US bring back for their visits home. Amy had many stories about how people go back and forth, legally and illegally. It is really a fascinating thing, what we dont see or choose to see that is going on every day at home.
The highlight of our stay here was visits to six families in three different villages that Amy worked with over the summer. Most of them had housed volunteers, others supported their projects. There were a couple of men and boys who were around, but most were in the US or in school or at work or playing outside. The women and little kids though were full of hugs and smiles and handshakes and loved having their photos taken and meeting los papas de Amy.
The homes and communities we visited were incredibly varied, ranging from a home that was little more than a hovel (with a TV) stacked with corn harvested from the family field filled with loving grandmas and kids that filed in from all over the village while we ate homemade tortillas from the stockpile to a beautiful air conditioned new house with elegant furniture and professional photos on the walls (but no TV and only one child) We met Amparo, the village activist who took the volunteers under her wings and has made their work blossom since they left, telling us of the multivillage litter pickup campaign that has grown since this summer. We saw the landscaping the volunteers had planted by a village church and the benches installed by the soccer field. We just loved Mama Ofelia, Amys special friend, who lived in the house she born in, remembered growing up on one tortilla a day, and was celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary this year.
Seeing Amy in these relationships in the quiet campo and chattering in Spanish all day long was an amazing opportunity, filling Tom and me with great pride for our daughter and the Amigos program. A major highlight.


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