Year THREE in Zacango here we come...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Watershed Management

The watershed management group in Zacango has started monitoring the water quality in and around the community. The group meets once a week for meetings and also holds a weekly film night where the community has the opportunity to watch documentaries about similar water and agricultural groups in other rural Mexican communities.
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Let's BAKE!!!

See story of Zacango's new "Pasteleria" (cake bakery) below.
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Floor washing music

There is currently a buzz of excitement among the women of Zacango about the baking group they have just created! About a year ago at this time a friend of mine was talking to me about the work of MCC when she questioned, “MCC has helped us to have bano secos (dry latrines), tinacos (water cisterns), English and computer classes,…what is the next project going to be.” I asked her what she would like it to be or what she dreams of doing and she responded unequivocally: “BAKE!”
The women in Zacango are amazing cooks making hand-made tortillas everyday and cooking up savoury, spicy dishes regularly. Most women cook on a clay stove with a large comal (griddle type piece of metal) in the middle for cooking the tortillas (MCC has promoted and helped build hundreds of clay stoves in the region surrounding Zacango, which use less wood and filter smoke out of the kitchen.); and some women have gas fuelled stoves/ovens. Some women also have large ovens made out of brick (resembling the ovens in those fancy wood-baked pizza joints). However, those who have gas stove are rarely use them because gas is expensive, and the big brick ovens are generally only use during the Days of the Dead celebrations in November to make tlashcalis (maize/lard cookies) and sweet bread for the ofrendas (offerings to family members and friends who have passed away). So while we have had numerous baking nights at our house (pizza, muffins, cakes, and cookies) the women have never had the chance to make the recipes in their own homes due to the lack of an oven.
Thus when I heard that MCC had an extra oven available that they were willing to lend out I asked some women if they would like to use the MCC oven and create a community kitchen. There was an overwhelming response as thirty women signed up to create the kitchen where we will have weekly meetings to test new recipes. The women each paid a small “coperacion” (sign-up fee of about $3 to fix up an old community building and fill up a tank of gas) and are free to use the oven for their personal use (to make birthday cakes, etc.) or to make things to sell in town.
Last Friday we got together to clean up the old building we’re going to use as the kitchen. The transformation that took place in the building was nothing short of astounding. One of the adobe walls of the building was crumbling so the women knocked some pieces of it down, went and gathered materials to make cement, made the cement and patched the wall! They later painted the walls with a mixture of cal and salt and in four brief hours the women had completely transformed the little adobe (clay brick) building – I was blown away! It felt like I was part of one of those home make-over shows or a scene in a Disney movie where everyone works together to the beat of a catchy tune and totally alters an environment! WOW can these women work! See the “before pictures” above and the “after pictures” below.


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Zam and his buddies have been having nightly football (soccer) matches in the church yard. It's always neat to see how things go in phases with kids and to watch them in their intensity with the current phase...right now it's all about FOOTBALL!!!

The enraptured audience: Rafael, Berto, David, Cirilo and Eriberto. Bruce describes how before he took this photo the five of them had been all-out feasting on candy and chips and were thrust into a sugar enduced coma-like state (as is evident by this photo).Posted by Picasa

Kids art class

I think I mentioned in a recent blog that we now have a kids art class. It was formally an English class for the pre-teens and teens and sort of evolved into an art class. Right now we are studying Mexican art and more specifically the art of the Huicholes -- a group of indigenous Mexicans who live in the states of Jalisco and Naryarit. The Huicholes are famous for their cuadros (little blocks of wood) covered with intricate designs crafted out of brightly coloured string (if you google the Huicholes or search them on youtube you can view their astounding work). The Huicholes also make "Eyes of God" (Ojos de Dios). The class has experimented with making both Ojos de Dios and the cuadros (Ojos pictured below; sorry, couldn't locate the picture of their cuadros).
Pictured above are four of the art class students (Oscar, Enrique, Ana Laura, and Benigna) writing a report about Huichol art for Zacango's monthly newspaper.
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Ojos de Dios

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Blast Off!

Zam is studying space in his current home school module and his buddy Enrique came over to join him in constructing a space buggie!

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hizee Ann Turns Six!!!

Hizee has grown so much in so many ways this year! She is a whimsical and thoughtful little girl with a kind spirit and an incredibly contagious laugh. Hizee is full of curiosity and insightful questions about the world. Some of her most recent questions include: Where does our water actually come from before it reaches the pipes in our house? Why does a waterfall never run out of water? What do people eat in heaven? What happens to the air when it goes into our mouths, where does it travel in our body?
Hizee has many close friends in Zacango and speaks Spanish with an impeccable accent. She goes to the local kindergarten on Tuesdays and Thursdays and also has kindergarten at home through a home school curriculum. Hizee has started reading and has officially caught the reading bug.
Hizee suffered the terrible loss of her precious little Chihuahua Flo this year. She still talks about Flo everyday and prays every night that God will take care of her in heaven.
Thanks for another great year Hiz…Happy Birthday sweet stuff!
Hizee on her last day as a five-year-old with her six birthday flowers!
Hizee got a unicorn stuffie from us for her birthday. She named her Juana and loves how her horn lights up. Juana also plays a melody and flaps her wings.
Hizee's special day started early with her three best friends Maria, Lupe, and Diana arriving at 8:30 am to help her start decorating for her party. We then headed off to Olinala with the girls to go for a swim at the pool and have a party lunch. When we got back to Zacango later on in the day we had games on the cancha and cake and popsicles in our backyard. Hizee's last guests left at around 8:30 in the evening. What a day!
Hizee wanted a "Little Man" (her dog) cake for her birthday so here is my attempt at Little Man on a cake.
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What a SPLASH!!!

A few pictures of the fantastic time that the kids had at the pool in Olinala.
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Games in the Cancha and Backyard

Games for Hizee's big day included Red Rover, the Limbo, Horse, Horse, Burro (sometimes known as Duck, Duck, Goose) and Musical chairs, amoung others. Her friend Maria got her really good when she went down to bite her cake (a Mexican birthday tradition).
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Monday, March 1, 2010

The Bean Turns Four!!!

Our little Ziko man turned four a week ago and here are a few pictures from his special day! He was extra cognizant that it was his birthday this year and of all of the wonderful things a birthday can entail: cake, friends, games, presents etc. He decided that he wanted a Batman cake this year.
Zam began this new tradition where the birthday person has their picture taken on their last day of their current here is Ziko sleeping during his last night as a three-year-old. And here he is also with his birthday present (from us) "Hulk arms" as he calls them.

Ziko had an amazing year! He's incredibly enculturated into life in Zacango and he freely trotts around the village with his buddies eating tortillas and speaking Spanish. He is a social animal who loves nothing more than to be involved in the goings on in the community and therefore he has many friends -- from babies to adults. Ziko's talking (in both English and Spanish) has really improved this year and he also really loves drawing. He often joins in on Hizee and Zam's school at home and also goes to the local pre-school two days a week. Ziko is a free spirit with a hot temper. The great thing is that his temper tantrums usually only last a minute or two and his crying is often followed by an all-out gutteral laugh! Ziko is extemely sweet and sensitive and still freely doles out hugs and kisses without being asked. We love you so much Bean -- Happy Brithday four-year-old!
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Diana and Fernando came early in the morning to help with preperations for the party.

Along with his "Hulk arms" Ziko got a "Don't Wake Hulk" game which he plays an average of three or four times a day with his friends.
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Ziko's party games on the basketball court outside our house.
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After games in the cancha (basketball court) we moved the party to our backyard for cake and pizza.
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Kid's Computer and Art Class

We started a new class in Zacango where kids get a chance to work on the computer and explore their creative side. We just started a unit on Mexican art and the kids made Ojos de Dios (God's Eyes). Pics of the art to come in the future.
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Hangin' Out

We built a little coral for the donkeys and our pig around the bend and up the hill from our house and there is a HUGE mango tree in the center of the coral. Here's Zam relaxing in the tree and getting a bird's eye view of the animals.
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