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Big Backpack–chapter 5

May 11, 2011

I’d been teaching in Zihuatanejo, Mexico for a short time when the owner of my school asked me to start a new school in the pueblo (small village) of San Jeronimito.

I decided to think it over, and go see what the little pueblo had to offer. At first look, it appeared to be a sad, rather dirty, and extremely poverty ridden little village.  Immediately, upon arrival I knew I wanted to stay and do what I could to help.

Donilo (the owner of my school) rented a nice building for the school, and then we went to see the room he had rented for me. Ok, it wasn’t the Ritz, but I thought it would be just fine. The owners were very loving, and they swore to Donilo that they would watch over me. My room had a very, very bad bed with springs popping up, and I wondered how my poor old body would fit around the bumps. It did have an acceptable bathroom. This was to be my new home: a bad bed, a fan, and a bathroom.

Maria the owner, had purchased a camp stove and a cooler, so I would have a way to cook in the room next door. It was quite crude, but I thought I already loved the sweetness, and the simplicity. Maybe it was Maria and Joe that made it all look so interesting. But it was more what I thought teaching in a foreign country would be, than teaching in a resort town.

My little pueblo had one highway running through, and one other paved street everything else was dirt roads, so San Jernomito was a bit dusty at its best. It had a lovely park where the people gathered in the evenings for volleyball, to meet friends or take romantic walks. It also had a small open market, where I found great tacos or a yummy breakfast. It may be a little pueblo, but there wasn’t anything I needed that I couldn’t buy there.

I didn’t have a refrigerator in my room, but I did have a cooler, so every couple of days I needed to make an ice run for my beer. There were only two places in town I knew of to get ice, and I had my favorite place. Every time I went there, the lady would yell to her husband, “Come, come, the beautiful lady is here.” I’m not sure if anyone ever told me I was beautiful before, so of course I bought my ice from her; in fact, if I wasn’t having a great day I’d go just to hear her yell those words to her husband.

I washed my clothes in the lavadera, which is a cement sink with a corrugated bottom, rather like having a giant, old fashioned washboard. This was a standard item in all the courtyards, and it made me feel part of the real Mexico. Maria and I shared the clothesline in the courtyard, along with the burro and a few pigs.

I learned to live without a fridge, and that eggs sitting on the shelf instead of a fridge were ok. I still had a hard time seeing mayonnaise sitting in the sun, but people didn’t seem to get sick from it. I was trying to work my way up to it, but it just seemed something to stay away from, at least for now. I’d gotten used to the cold showers that filled the bathroom with water. In fact, I’d come to enjoy the cold water, and thought all showers would be better not enclosed. When your shower was finished, you had also cleaned the room.

Next week–making tamales with Maria

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2011 4:47 pm

    My husband and I went on a cruise last year and our favorite stop was Zihuatanejo. It’s beautiful. We want to go back and spend more time there. Your post is fantastic and you’ve given me a peak of what lies outside the resort part of town.

  2. April 6, 2011 12:01 am

    Thank you Donna. This is what i was looking for–more of the ordinary and less of the extradorinary.

    Primitive tho it sounds, think how much better the world would be (ecologically speaking) if we all took cold showers, while simultaneously washing the bathroom…

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