A friend introduced us to this incredible “swimming hole” a little south of Tulum on the ocean side of the highway. It is an open cenote with cool fresh water bubbling up in the dark middle from more than 60 meters.
In order to pay for books for the Leyendo libraries I have organized several fundraising concerts of local musician friends. The latest was in February with Canadian Blues artist Brent Parkin and his band on Joe Colada’s rooftop.
Friends helped sell tickets downstairs while snacks and booze were provided before the band began to play. Dancing followed and a good time was had by all.
For several years I have assisted students in the schools that the KKIS Project assists to create a large art project to help raise funds at their annual auction.
This year about 30 of their high school scholarship students gathered under a huge palapa to paint individual Mexican doorways. These have been my passion for painting for many years so I brought photos of my work to inspire them and they went to work with acrylic paint, colored pencils and markers.
Their paintings were arranged on a poster board and taken to a frame shop. The result was glorious and it was well received and bid upon at the auction.
Last summer a dear friend and lover of libraries passed away in Playa del Carmen and willed all his bookcases to my library project. A teacher friend suggested that an elementary school in Bosque Real named after the Mexican poet Andres Henestrosa be considered for a library. Both morning and afternoon directors were eager for the project and there was a large well ventilated room available. My visit was greeted by a 2nd Grade class wishing me “Bienvenido- Welcome”.
So the bookshelves were piled in a friend’s truck and delivered to the school with promises that we would return with lots of books.
Parents painted shelving, built more bookcases, sorted books and painted a mural on one wall. Seaside Rotary had donated funds for the project and pitched in to help with the build.
The library was dedicated to John Phillips who had helped the students of Playa in many ways. Tables and benches came from Rotary, foam tiles for the floor were donated by school parents, a mobile train shelf provided space for English language books, a shelf of games for library use came from the government and more books arrived with a visit from Rotary governors.
In January 8th Grade students from El Papalote, a local private school, spent time reading with students in the library helping them discover the joy of reading.
This was the sixth library built by the Leyendo Project. A university student and a high school senior both volunteered as librarians every morning.
Oops! One more studio in Oaxaca I failed to include.
After the red pottery we went back across the valley to Teotitlan del Valle the village that specializes in woven wool rugs and bags. I had visited these studios on my last trip which are well worth the trip, so after visiting the new cultural center and artisan market I chose to visit a candle making studio. When we arrived an elderly woman was seated on the floor cutting disks of wax she had created and forming them into flowers.
Bees wax of varying colors was melted over open fires. The woman then proceeded to show us the process of pouring cupfuls of molten wax over a wick. She would gather the wax from the pot on the fire, climb onto a wooden chair and pour the wax down, then let it cool while she went on to the next wick. It was hard to imagine how many times she climbed that chair to create candles, some of which are up to 5 inches in diameter!
Away from her Smokey workshop was a showroom for sales that was very impressive. I purchased a couple of the white candles surrounded with wax flowers that were carefully wrapped in tissue paper and placed in boxes. They became our center piece for Christmas dinner.
After seeing the process of candle pouring and flower making I marveled at her creations.
The cultural center had these candles displayed and we saw many similar pieces half burned in the local church.
I was not sure how candles would hold up in the humid summer heat of Playa Del Carmen. Tapers have always softened and bent. But when this candle’s central core melted down I attached another candle atop and the wax flowers have maintained their edges. Now it accompanies me every morning for my yoga practice.