Our Visit to the Refugio

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End May 12, 2006

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Good Day Folks,

Sorry for not writing in this blog for a few days. We are finding ourselves so busy here in PV and the days seem to go by soooooooooo quickly! We have definitely adjusted ourselves to the Mexican schedule; we are no longer waking up at 6:30am but rather 9am or even later and we're all up till midnight usually (the Mexicans stay up much later actually). Quite often we are also partaking in a short siesta in the afternoon as the days are getting fairly hot and it just seems to slow you down enough that a nap is quite welcomed and required.

We also find ourselves eating somewhat like the Mexicans as well with a small breakfast that usually consists of a danish (con cafe y jugo de naranja - coffee and orange juice) and then we have a larger mexican lunch around 2pm followed by a small dinner later in the evening. We all seem to be drinking gallons of water daily along with Rob and I consuming plenty of margaritas and cervesas. (The latter just goes well with the heat!)

What a life! (There will be plenty of exercising when we get home!)

Now to catch up on what we've been up to. Rob and I enjoyed ourselves on our cruise to Las Caletas for "Rhythms of the Night". Our boat left around 6pm and the sea was very rough. Rob and I felt just fine, large margaritas in hand, but there were, unfortunately, several people getting terribly seasick! Not much fun for them at all and, frankly, not much fun for us being surrounded by vomiting for 1.5 hours. Oh well.

When we arrived at Las Caletas we attended an outdoor show celebrating an ancient Aztec wedding which was spellbinding and well performed. Following the performance we had an OK buffet dinner that we ate at our romantic candlelit table for two underneath a huge mango tree overlooking the crashing ocean. The setting was incredible. After dinner, wine and dessert we all followed a torch lit path back to our boat where the crew had us dancing and celebrating all the way back to PV.

That was good fun indeed. Rob had so much fun he made sure to generously tip the crew. This was fine but he actually gave all the money he had in his wallet away and therefore we were stuck and had to either find a bank or hoofer about 30+ blocks home. So we began our walk and got about 10+ blocks when we found ourselves a bank at midnight, which was also beside the hospital where our friend Karen Marjoram was staying.

Now normally we would never think of bothering anyone at such an hour but Rob had spent part of the day earlier with Karen's husband, fellow Calgary firefighter- Rande, who informed Rob on their plans. At 2:30am Rande and Karen had arranged for a private Learjet with a medical team from Winnepeg to fly to PV to pick them up and take Karen to Calgary. Karen was receiving great care at the Cornerstone Hospital and doing alright in PV but they were not able to get her strong enough pain relief drugs. So they were headed back to Calgary and the Foothills Hospital.

So we popped ourselves by the hospital to give them our best wishes. Both Karen and Rande were happy to see us and it certainly made my birthday to give her a big hug! Karen's stepdad was on his way home from the hospital and offered us a ride home in the back of his pickup. As we are staying at his place, the Casa Sombrero, it was a great offer and just like Mexicans we jumped in the back of his pickup and thoroughly felt like scrambled eggs by the time we arrived home because of the rough cobblestone streets.

I also have to make mention briefly that this hospital was beautiful and the care Karen received was great. So if you're ever in PV and need a hospital, fear not, there are certainly very good hospitals to be found in Mexico. Touch wood. Rande also mentioned that if you should ever find yourselves in need of medical attention in Mexico it is a good idea to phone the Canadian Consulate. They can be a huge help and in their case the Canadian Ambassador even came to the hospital to visit both of them and help them out personally with a few legal issues. Now that is service!

As well, for those of you who know Karen and Rande, she is certainly looking to be on the road to recovery. Thank goodness for that and thank goodness for alternative therapies!

Thursday we found ourselves, along with Mitchell Marjoram, at the beach again in Bucerias. Mitchell is Karen and Rande's 10 year old son and will be flying home to Calgary this Monday with his Grandma Enid. We found ourselves a palapa at a great small beachfront restaurant called 'Karen's Place' (coincidentally) and hunkered down in the sand for the day. The kids had a 'super D duper' time boogie boarding and swimming in the surf. We also recommend the food at 'Karen's Place' too. (Actually we've been sort of hard pressed to find anyplace that doesn't have good food) Bucerias is also a great place to buy funky mexican items too ; )

Friday was the big day we've been all waiting anxiously for. This was the day we were going to the Children's Refuge or in spanish; the Refugio. We met Chris Amo, the director of the Refugio's American charitable organization, downtown in Old PV first thing in the morning and followed her to the Refugio. She explained to us that they prefer to not call it an orphanage as some of the children are there only temporarily and that the children are there all for individual reasons; some are brought by their parents/family and some by a federal agency but very few are ever adopted out. It is extremely difficult to adopt a child in Mexico by anyone, never mind a foreigner.

Anyhow, Zane made the comment that it must be very sad to be a child here at the Refugio and she assured us that it really wasn't. This is a place full of love, caring and support. Chris said that there are currently 51 children, ranging from newborns to 15 years old. There are three Madre's (Sisters) in charge that run the Refugio. All the children have jobs and responsibilities and it is just like one huge and close loving family. Interestingly, nobody living at the Refugio has or owns any personal belongings whatsoever, everything is shared including clothes and toys.

Chris gave us a tour through the Refugio explaining its evolution and how it operates. The Refugio was bright, clean and cheerful. One fact that we were quite surprised about is that the whole Refugio only receives a mere $300 a month from the Mexican Government in funding and that's it. Amazingly the Madre's are able to run the Refugio on $5000 a month with the balance covered by donations. This includes food, medicine, utilities, clothing....everything needed for 51 children, the Madres and a few volunteers and wages for 4 needed employees. That is quite a tight budget!

Upon arriving, we were all greeted with big hugs and smiles by several smiling children of various ages. They were thrilled to have us visiting them and had us all playing with them in no time. All the children looked happy and healthy and it was simply a beautiful place to be. It was OUR pleasure to be there.

We left the Refugio in the afternoon just before it was their lunchtime. We left a few things with Chris for the kids there and she expressed her gratitude to the students at Sundre's River Valley School for their artwork and raising over $3000 pesos for the Refugio. Well done River Valley!!!! We can assure you that your donations are very appreciated. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of these special people.

Adios for now,
Tracey Brosh
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