Last week in Mexico and conclusions
Unless you really understand others, you can hardly attain your own self-understanding
– Miyamoto Musashi, the book of the five rings.
This last week hasn’t disappointed. I got some weird rashes and sickness. Luckily the doctor who I went to was good and was healed in about 4 days.
I continued to work in the library where we continue new games and activities. We made bracelets and played some tag. I gave out the rest of the prizes to kids who continued to read and am so happy to see them progress in the size and difficulty of the books. We read scary stories and played our last game of football together.
I visited the local orphanage in Zihuatanejo city. They had the most amazing facilities for the kids. Lots of toys and art. I’d met lots of the kids from the orphanage in the turtle camp. They were delighted when I paid a visit to play. I get such an amazing burst of energy from the limitless energy they seem to have.
I went on another turtle patrol. Finding two more nests and driving the quad bike along the coast feels spectacular. Finding nests and helping keep these future baby turtles keep safe can give you such a high.
I (accidently) joined the local football team that competes in the city league. We wore the arsenal away kit and I was put up front. I started the game poorly with a few bad touches. I soon settled in though. A one two with my team mate led me one on one with the keeper tight on the left side post. I was unable to finish it. I had a few good attempts on goal but to no success. The game finished 1-1 and then went to penalties. We won on penalties thankfully. Then sharing some beers with my team we spent the evening listening to music and eating tacos. They wanted me back for other games but it was sadly my last week here.
I got to show photos of my time here and thank everyone I worked with and made friends with. We had pizza with Laura Kelly, the director of the library, and all our friends and host family to say goodbye. The hospitality and friendliness here is astonishing and truly touches my heart deeply. I considered missing my flight so many times and staying just a little longer. However I also have no money to get another after an ATM ate my bank card (some reason they give cash first then give you the card).
I suppose all good things must come to an end… and the love for here might drive me to new adventures.
Reflecting on a life-changing experience
What I’ve done
I spent most my time opening the childrens library of Barra de Potosí in the state of Guerrero. Most kids didn’t like to read so as Maestro Liam my job was getting them to do more. I had stars given to each child who read more than half an hour at their reading level. If you got a certain amount of stars you got a prize. I’d spent lots of money on prizes and supplies for them, it didn’t feel like money spent, it felt like it was invested into them. When reading times were over I’d make an effort to play some games. Puzzles, Hangman, lotteria, go fish, dominoes, matching games, telling scary stories, paper airplane competition, tower building, jenga, football, hurling, tag, bicycle races, guessing games, ball games and of course lots of art has been the centre of what I’ve been doing. Teaching a little English through songs and music seemed to work best with most being reluctant to learn.
None of the kids are required to go to the library, most have phones and video games and other things to play. Creating an environment that’s fun, playful and includes learning is no easy task. Some games find that balance. They are all quite competitive here which helps when playing sports and games
In front of the library where there is a little shade I’ve built 3 seats from palm tree bark. I’ve transformed the library from a mess of sand and 5 foot weeds to a garden with various rock circles for planting flowers and trees. I haven’t got to see them grow but I trust they will.
What I’ve learned
I’ve met some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Kind hearted and loving. In Barra I was cared for as one of the family, having eaten, played, joked and drank with most of them. I’ve come to see the hard decisions some have to make here.
There are people here not only trying to change Mexico for better, but also the world. I’ve met people trying to conserve nature and replace plastic with more biodegradable solutions. People do try to make a difference here similar to everywhere else. It’s inspiring. One man is replacing plastic straws with a biodegradable coco straw in all the restaurants here.
I’ve learned how a small business works, living and working in the restaurant that the family owned. Relaxed and simple, kids would play around the open outdoor restaurant they had lots of regular customers for cenar (evening meal). This is where I met a lot of people, learned new slang, foods and even card games. I exchanged things about my culture and language with people here.
I’ve learned an entirely new language with some Mexican slang to go with it. I’m not fluent but I’ve learned enough for conversation and doing everything I need in México.
I’ve witnessed, tasted and learned of new arts, foods and even dance. Travel has taught me more than I’d ever study in a book.
What I will do
I’ve got a greater appreciation for traveling and putting myself forward to more volunteering and good. I’d realised in working in an internship in an office for a year that I wanted to work with nonprofits and charities. Working with kids and helping different people around the village gives me an immense energy I dont get from normal work…a helpers high. I will volunteer more than ever I hope and regardless of experience, I hope to leap into new areas and adventures.
Goodbye Barra de Potosí (for now)
I hope to come back here some time. People see and realise that their home is paradise in many ways. I came in the off season for tourists and could get to know people pretty well as they weren’t at their busiest.
It’s hard saying goodbye to the kids telling them the library won’t be open. It’s tough to say goodbye to new team mates, new friends and new adventures that have been had. I’ve learned a lot about a lot of people. Life is a continuous journey of learning and I hope I never stop exploring new lands and places the world has to offer.
Peace and Love ✌
Paz y Amos ♥
Cathal ‘maestro Liam’ McGivern