Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas in Arroyo Seco

We arrived in Arroyo Seco, our new home in Mexico where we're the only two gringos in el centro, just in time to celebrate a two-day fiesta for the birthday of the pueblo, followed by another Christmas fiesta, followed by a first Communion fiesta, followed by another....

The highlight last week was Santa's arrival to the village on Dec. 26. Our good friend and neighbor, Chena, dressed up and gave out a couple hundred Christmas presents to the village children (which took several of us several days to wrap). She summoned the children to the church by driving around the village honking the horn and blasting carols out of the truck speakers. As we arrived, the girls were already forming their own line, youngest and smallest in the front, oldest in the rear, boys the same. No pushing, no shoving, no whining, no crying. Wow.

Most of the presents had come by way of Sacramento, from generous donations from our friends and co-workers. A favorite present appeared to be the English children's books. Who knew? Our truck was loaded up for the drive down and fortunately we breezed through the Mexican customs checkpoint.

After Arroyo Seco, Santa took us several kilometers back into the deep, dark woods where the 'natives' have set up a camp where they work as produce pickers during the day. Chena says she goes at night because most of the children are working in the fields with their parents. She said she had taken some donated huaraches (Mexican sandals) and pants out to the workers recently. For some of them, it was their first set of trousers.

All the kids were thrilled to see Santa. Mothers pushed right up in the line as well, eager to get whatever gifts were being given.

Michael and I stood back and watched as Chena and her children and friends helped distribute the gifts and the candy.The stars were brilliant in the dark sky -- no light pollution here. It was as good a Christmas as we could wish for, as generous an event as we could imagine. And one of the reasons we've moved here.

Besides the fiestas, we're jam packing our days with trips to the surf beach (the surf is finally back up), trips on our new 4 x 4 Honda ATV (called a 'moto' down here), organizing our new home and getting ready for the next phase of construction, scheduled to begin tomorrow morning.

We've been here for a week and have had overnight guests already as we figure out how to make all of this work for everyone. Our nephew Nate and his mother Beth are in La Manzanilla for the winter. And our new good friend Laura from Calgary was here for several days, helping us all learn to speak Spanish. The village children have already fallen in love with her and we're hoping she'll return for a longer stay next time.

So it looks like everything is in place for another great winter in Mexico. Good friends, good food, good fun!

We're now back in touch with the world --- Michael got the internet hooked up with wireless internet and our vonage phone in this little village of 300 people, where only two other families appear to have internet connections.

Have a great, warm first of the year -- wherever you are -- and please let us know how you're doing. I'd love to hear from you.

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