Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mil Gracias

"A thousand thanks." That's pretty much the way I like to wake up every morning, with that on my mind. There's nothing like living in the middle of one of the poorest states of a developing country to help one realize how fortunate he is. It puts the good fortune of early retirement in sharp focus. Thanksgiving becomes a tangible act.

Don't get me wrong--sometimes I start out the day cranky and it goes downhill from there. But most days I feel very, very lucky. This Thanksgiving, I've been meditating on the gift of people. Having just returned from a trip to Phoenix and Chicago, I realize that although dear friends and family are distant, we are connected by bonds of the heart which transcend place. There is that unique joy in seeing a loved one you haven't seen for a long time. A hug,and then it's like you've never been away.

This morning I spent the morning volunteering at Estancia Infantil, the program for street kids. I've gotten to know most of the kids for over 6 months, and I've grown attached to them. This morning, I came dragging in and was mobbed with hugs and one little girl who jumped on my back. Ugh! I think I know what Santa Claus must feel like. Our project today was to teach the kids how to play chess. Good idea....and bad idea. The old ones did just fine (and a few already know how). But the younger ones (6-8 years)....that was like teaching trained monkeys. Actually, a monkey would do better. I saw a study that said kids who learn chess do better academically and learn thinking and strategy skills. So we'll continue trying. I'm learning, too: patience.

This afternoon, I joined the Australian lady I volunteer with and 2 other friends for a Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant downtown. It was quite the fancy thing with platters of all the traditional favorites served family style. Turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce, oh my! As I looked around the room, I realized that I knew probably 20 or so other expats at the gathering. I felt grateful for the connections with these interesting folks.

And tonight, I'm walking straight down Avenue Independencia to the Teatro Macedonia Alcala for a performance of the State Symphony Orchestra.

A day doesn't really get any better than this. I'll share some of my good fortune with a donation to the Casa Hogar this weekend. That's the shelter for kids of prostitutes.
Happy Thanksgiving, all.