Sunday, July 18, 2010

At the table

This week I found myself sitting down to share a meal with many different people at many different tables. I was always struck by the hospitality and openness of my new friends. I mean, I have been here all of two weeks and yet they were more than willing to share their lives with me. Whether it was a group of Methodist ministers, on a couch squished between two anxious dogs waiting for leftovers, or at a table full of women who spent their free time finding things to do so as to keep from worrying about their border patrol husbands and whether they would come home safe. Sitting at these tables lets me listen, and boy the things I have heard!

I spent days sorting clothes and caulking windows. Tearing up linoleum, and handing out donated food. Camouflaging supplies so they could be smuggled into Mexico, and working on my limited spanish. It's been an exhausting week. I have new jobs and have met a gazillion people. I've gotten really good at asking for people's names... again....and again.

I'm still fascinated by this world down here. Spanish is heard more often than English and one of the most interesting things is that most will just start speaking spanish to me, whether it is in the checkout line or at the church. I follow along fairly well, but when it comes to responding it's like jump starting a car. I sputter. I laugh. I choke out some awful concoction of spanish that probably makes no sense, and then resort to english.

I have yet to cross the border. (yes mom, I listen...) But I have heard some interesting stories of what has been going on. Another interesting thing here is the amount of information that doesn't make it past the border. I hear the true stories from the border and the violence occurring there and they are nothing like the stories that are actually being reported. The government has a very strong hand in what is said down here and they have gotten really good at covering a lot of things up. Mexico is on the verge of imploding, and it is so clear when you hear the stories, and yet no one further north can say anything more than Drug cartels and gang violence.

I have a new job. I am the official point of contact for the Eagle Pass Long Term Recovery committee. Sounds official no? The flooding caused by the swelling of the Rio Grande has caused this committee to be formed, and I get to be the person who sends out all the information to everyone else, as well as tracks down more people. I think I got the job because I am young and savvy and may be the only one comfortable enough to use excel. Who knows but it'll keep me busy, force me to meet new people and teach me first hand about emergency response. Let's just say I've gotten really familiar with the phone book down here.

The real reason I'm down here is of course for the Women Shelter and it is still coming along. We are waiting on tile and a toilet and then we'll be ready to be up and running. Things run differently down here. We call it Eagle Pass time. When someone says meet me in ten minutes, you better give them thirty. And if something is going to be done in a week, you probably should give it two. So there's no saying when we'll be up and running, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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