A couple months ago I was contacted by a company who provides service projects for groups of people visiting this area of Mexico. They had a group of 60 grocery store providers coming to Playa del Carmen in January and wanted me to find them a school to help. I had been talking with the directors of a primary school in the Colosio, Gregoria Cob Cob Primaria, about a library. Last year with KKIS Project I had seen their wonderful library room with shelves, computers and air conditioning but very few books. Unfortunately when I checked again that library room had been vandalized over the summer and was totally out of use. Subsequently each of the 17 classrooms had set up small library shelves that were being used for Reading Clubs. The morning director told me she would also really appreciate having the school cleaned up a bit: the cafeteria tables and walls were dirty, paint was peeling from the outer walls of classrooms and a colorful mural on the inner wall of the playground would be wonderful.
We only had a day or two warning that a Category 4 hurricane was barreling our way in Playa del Carmen, Mexico this week. Monday it was the most rapidly intensifying storm in Atlantic Basin history, as it went from a tropical depression to a category 4 in just over 36 hours. So Tuesday morning at 7:00 am I ran to DAC vegetable and fruit market and Jim went to Mega department store for supplies. A very kind young man helped me to the car with two heavy bags of veggies.
I came home and cooked a huge pot of Minestrone Soup and shared it with friends. The storm was forecast to hit us at 9:00 pm so the city promised to cut off the electricity to avoid fires along with terminating the internet connection, taxi service and buses. The last I was able to read showed it had sustained winds of 145 mph. Time passed with no sign of the storm. We played cards by candlelight and I read downloaded stories on my iPad. Finally we went to bed unsure what was happening.
We had closed our hurricane shutters on the east side of our home facing the sea which lies three blocks away and felt as secure as we could. At 5:30 am it began. The electric went off at 5:15 am. The wind howled, rain beat against our windows, tree branches banged against our roof and we stayed inside and watched. By 9:00 am it was done. Turns out the trajectory changed a bit and the storm hit as a Category 2 in Puerto Morelos which is about 25 miles north of us. But even the edge of the hurricane was sufficient to damage the city.
We walked out this morning around town in the sunshine. Lots of plywood being removed from stores and home windows. I think Home Depot made a mint on plywood! Walls around construction sites were collapsed.
Electricity did not come back on until 11:00 pm Wednesday as there were so many downed poles and wires. We are safe and the town will recover quickly.
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.