About me and this blog

I was born on a native reserve in Ontario, grew up on the west coast of Vancouver Island (as far west as you can go without running out of Canada), came of age in Mexico City. Between times, I lived in the Fraser Valley, Texas, Seattle, Oklahoma, Bella Coola, on the BC north coast, and the Fraser River Delta, just south of Vancouver. For now, I'm "settled" in Campbell River, on Vancouver Island.

I have a boatload of stories to tell. These are some of them.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pocket Full of Posies: Day 1

A report of a trip to Nicaragua, carrying supplies after the Christmas earthquake, in 8 parts.


Day 1: Christmas, 1972, Toluca, Mexico

The program was over and the parishioners were bundling their sleepy children against the cold, the women wrapping rebozos around the babies and then over their own heads, until they looked like so many monochrome versions of the Madonna. The auditorium was almost empty, and I sent my brood out to wait in the station wagon while I went backstage to collect scattered shepherd costumes and remnants of halos. When I came out to the entrance again, no-one was left but my husband George and Raquel, one of the young women from our Wednesday Bible study group.

"There you are! Hurry," George said. "They're waiting for us!"

"Who?"

"In the car! We can talk while I drive."

There had been an earthquake in Nicaragua, Raquel explained on our way home. A big one; thousands dead in the capital city, thousands more homeless. Some of Raquel's friends in Mexico City were collecting blankets and medical supplies to send. They needed our car. And us, of course; George to drive, me because the car was registered in my name. We would be leaving immediately; the others would be ready to go before midnight.

I was willing, of course; who could refuse to help? But still, "What about the children?"

"They can stay at my house," Raquel said. "I've already asked my parents."

"They don't mind?" Five kids under eight years old?"

"They'll be delighted!" Raquel was polite, if not truthful.

"How far is it? When will we be back? Philip is scheduled for surgery the second of January."

"It's only a few days. We can make it. Besides, Raquel's parents can take him in if we're not back, can't they, Raquel?" George didn't seem worried.

I remembered another problem; Marcos and James were on my passport. They would have to leave the country when I did. But yes, I agreed that we could leave them with some people Raquel knew in Guatemala. As long as they wouldn't have to go into the earthquake zone with us.

*****************

And so it was that at midnight we sat shivering in a stony courtyard in Mexico City, warming our hands on mugs of chocolate while the men loaded, unloaded, and re-loaded the station wagon. Even with the most careful packing, we would be crowded. There were seven of us: George and I, Marcos and James, Raquel, Carlos and Paco.

Paco was a quiet, skinny young man in his early twenties. Carlos was a bit older, a bit bigger, a lot noisier. A hand-pumper, an arm-waver; he seemed to be preaching even when he was discussing placement of boxes. He carried a big floppy Bible stuffed with notes and tracts, which he called his machine-gun. "Have to keep my machine-gun handy," he said, wedging it onto the dashboard.

He insisted on bringing one other notable piece of equipment; an American army helmet. It didn't fit in easily. Paco wanted to leave it behind, but Carlos over-rode his objections, and we finally pulled out of the driveway with the helmet perched in back on top of James' pillow.

Carlos had a driver's license. He and George took turns, driving through the night. The rest of us slept fitfully. We had breakfast at dawn in a roadside cafe, coffee and a roll for the kids and me, eggs for the others. We were in the tropics by now, and the car felt sticky, even with the windows open. But we were making good time. We were at Tapachula, on the Guatemalan border, before noon.

To be continued ...

Stories of Mexico: Non-fiction
©Susannah Anderson, 2001

No comments: