We arrived in Mexico on Saturday, April 4. When one drives from San Diego into Mexico and cross the border you can instantly notice how different it is. That line in dirt has a huge impact. Culture is different, luxuries are less. Material wealth is less. Food tastes better (in Mexico). And much more. One leaves Western Civilization and all it encompasses and cross over into Latin America. One of the main reasons YFBC travels to Tijuana each year is because of the Cross-Cultural experience it offers.
One of the first barriers that we come across is language. The border guards speak spanish and we speak English. We arrive to build a home for a family that we cannot communicate with them. Then Mark was able to go pick up our friend Francisco, he speaks both English and Spanish. The family was relieved - they were able to communicate with us.
Very quickly we were able to find out that the community had lost 5 houses to a fire. We were building a home on a lot that had theirs destroyed. A mother owned the land and was wanting a home for her 18 year old son and his young family. His current home was a small tent. The rest of his family were in different houses until they received their own home.
When Francisco arrived, he also brought his own son, Naphtali along. They have helped us build seven homes already and know how to help and what to do. Naphtali is 13 years old and jumped right into helping with the project. Because of this, other Mexican children felt comfortable and joined along with us. By the end of the first day a level pad was poured, the roof and over half of the walls were framed.
The second day is a lot less intense then the first. Mixing concrete is hard work! It is also hard to get everyone participating in the building of the home. There are times when everyone is needed and their are times when some people are idle. Our group took advantage of this and spent time playing with the Mexican neighbourhood kids. Zachary learnt that they loved to tickle. Holly drew pictures on pieces of wood and had a whole group around her. Claudia and Chantel started playing tag with the kids. Brandon would start a nail and have one of the children finish pounding it in. Playing with the children, working along side with the family, broke down the language barrier.
Nate had an interesting experience with Antonio. He was working on the back side of the house, stringing the wire that gives the home stability and a surface for the tar paper and chicken wire to be placed on. The wire was getting tangled, Antonio and Nate solved the problem together even though they could not speak the same language.
By the end of the second day, the walls were up, the roof was shingled, the walls had wire, tar paper, and chicken wire wrapped around, the door was installed and we were almost ready to stucco. It was a good two days.
On Wednesday, we put the first coat of stucco on by noon and went for a three hour break to let it dry. We stopped for ice-cream in a mall and it was good to have Francisco point out we needed to pay first for the ice cream before we received it. Something we were not use too! Naphtali dropped his ice-cream on the floor so we bought him a new one. We used the washrooms in the Wal-Mart and then went to Home Depot to buy some cement (our ratio must have been off a little:)
At 3:00 we came back and were fed a delicious snack by the family. One of the neighbourhood boys that had helped us all week brought some delicious watermelon, mangoes and pears. The family provided us with tuna salad on crackers or hard tortillas. It was very good. After the long break we put on the second coat of stucco, cleaned up the site and completed the house.