We have arrived to Mexico and we are busy! Our sincere apologies for not sending news sooner. Saying goodbye to family and many dear friends in France as well as packing up for a long-term, overseas move kept us more than busy through mid-August. With truly generous help from friends and family preparing our move (mille fois merci à tous nos proches!), we arrived to Todos Santos on Friday, 21st August after 35 hours of travel. Mexico City was so polluted we couldn’t even see the sky! Baja, however, was stunningly green, rain washed, humid with gentle sea breezes. It felt great to arrive to our new home!
We went up to visit the San Ignacio neighborhood school site the day after our arrival. The property we will will caretake had not been occupied for several weeks. The site was strewn with trash, vandalized and needed a full inventory of cleanup, repairs, a constant caretaker and lots of TLC. Thanks to frequent summer rains this year, the landscaped school garden was beautifully green.
We found a little black cat living on the property. We’ve been feeding hungry Shadow who needs a home!
In our first week here in Todos Santos, we focused on cleaning up the site. Our school community effort was remarkable: Jason and Tammie Jacobs, Faith, Sunny and Stryder came to help Fabrice, Roman and I. In addition, Zephyr and Gregorio Calisto Flores and their children, Aliya and Emma came to join us for schoolroom clean-up and garden work. Cheri and Bob Streimikes came to help us repair broken doors and paint the Sierra School of Todos Santos sign. Every weekday between 10:30 and one o’clock Fabrice and I go up to work at the school site cleaning, gardening and meeting with local contractors to advance with repairs and construction. Before going to school, we work on paperwork and class preparation.
Carefully cleaning up the site, we filled up a truck tractor trailer full of trash! Thank you, Jason, for offering us use of your truck trailer and convincing the Los Cabos garbage dump to accept our trash for free. (Local garbagemen are on strike as the administrative capital, La Paz, is bankrupt and union workers having been clocking the hours unpaid. Everyone in Todos Santos hopes the uncollected trash situation will be resolved soon and hard municipal workers will get their salaries due.) For additional school prep, Fabrice and I met with our accountant-legal-immigration counsel in La Paz and made progress on our Mexican non-profit paperwork. Another immense pleasure was meeting Nancy Naigle, Todos Santos resident and director of the Friends of the Hogar del Niño, a local foster home / orphanage of two of our students, Rebeca and Julian. Visiting the Hogar del Niño with Nancy in a sudden tropical down was deeply moving. What a joy and privilege to meet the directors, Joel and Alicia Fernandez and their huge “family” of gentle, affectionate, smiling children. With over twenty children’s beds, bedrooms for little girls, for big girls and bedrooms for small and big boys, a big kitchen, a panaderia, a dining room, a wood shop, a chicken coop and a church under construction, a palapa sitting room, and husky dogs, it felt like a safe and caring environment. I felt overcome by huge wave of emotion and affection. We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Julian and Rebeca: two beautiful and very motivated Mexican students.
In our second week preparing for school, we bought high-speed, indoor-outdoor ceiling fans and had them installed in the two classrooms and kitchen-dining building. Muchisimas Gracias, Chevo! We had plumbing repairs made, and we collected estimates for significant building repairs: fissured cement floors to be replaced, classroom walls to be repaired from water damage, and a secure, waterproof storage area--bodega with metal doors--to be constructed in one of the classrooms. Building reparations have begun, thanks again to Chevo, a skilled local mason / electrician / plumber. Cheri and Bob Streimikes are leading our effort to make wooden seminar tables. Organically fertilized dirt--from Kaia Thompson’s Todos Caballos ranch--has been trucked in to enrich the soil for our school’s organic vegetable and flower garden. We head up to La Paz the day after tomorrow to purchase more school supplies and furniture as well as to pick up our DHL school materials shipment from France.
We are indeed hard at work getting ready for our first day of school on 21 September 2015!