Yesterday morning I went to the DIF at 5:45am.
There weren't any women there..there were 2 young men, probably in their twenties, cooking.....
I wasn't sure how it would go.
One of the men spoke a little english and he asked me to get the beans ready......of course, i said.
He showed me where the cans were and picked up an open one. With the can in one hand and a very long knife in the other he stabbed the bottom of the can and then the beans just slid right out of the can and into the pot.......be careful, he said, and he handed me the knife.
I just smiled.
Then I went looking for a spoon and did it my way.
He kept leaving the egg scrambling station, but I did not dare to move over there. So I emptied 50 cans of frijoles , which have nice little flip tabs on them that make them easy to open, (which is good because in this kitchen the men and the women open everything with a long knife).
Then I cracked around 300 eggs for him and he made the eggs.
The women came around 8am and they quickly took over for him and began setting up their assembly line. The cooks finish off the breakfast items which go into huge pots that are placed on the long tiled counter top. Then the tortillas are heated up and the food is put on the plates with a plastic fork, and into bags and onto crates. A man or lady will come in and write on a piece of paper the amount of food plates needed for a certain barrio. The crates are filled with those amounts and given to the drivers who take them to the barrios to be distributed.
Yesterday I had to keep count of the number of plates on the crates and to whom they were being sent. This was very interesting because my knowledge of mexican numbers over 20 is very limited. But I learned fast how to tell the senoras I had 58 food trays ready for this driver and 69 ready for that driver and so on and so on.... The only problem is while we are trying to meet those quotas, people are walking up to the gated window over the stoves and asking for food trays, which come out of my count....then I loose count and have to recount for the 20th time......
Before I knew it, it was 2pm and I went home so I could go back today.
Only one man was there today. We said hello and I noticed about 100 cans of frijoles on the counter and a spoon.......so I fixed the frijole pot again.
The women came today around 8am and not too long after, came about 800 donated pounds of frozen cow livers and hearts.
I became one of three liver slicers. There is only one thing worse than slicing huge frozen 10 pound cow livers...and that is slicing huge thawed 10 pound cow livers.
I sliced cow livers for 3 hours.
By now, breakfast was over and they began cooking the liver with jalapenos, onions and cayenne peppers. They fixed me a plate and I could only look at it.....
In the afternoon it became busy, as the marinas (marines) had just arrived and needed to be fed. So, we prepared over 150 plates of fried cow livers. Then several trucks from the Navajoa DIF arrived and all of the workers were fed over 50 plates of cow livers. The people here must love their cow livers because they were coming to the gated window in droves, asking for plates.
More frozen cow livers came around 2pm and by then, I had been at the DIF for 8 and 1/2 hours and it was time to go.......
Tomorrow will be very busy, the Baja Bush Pilots are flying in over 22 planeloads of supplies. There are several jets coming tomorrow and Saturday, with medicines, we hope. Huge truckloads of clothing are being collected in Phoenix, Tucson, and as far away as the Pacific Northwest. Aduana, in Nogales, has agreed to loosen certain rules to let in more quantities of items.
The DIF in Navajoa and Obregon will return tomorrow (I hope they don't bring liver).
There has been a meeting for the foreign community to find out how they can help. As you can imagine, there is a tremendous amount of support here from the foreign community; the outpouring of love and generosity is amazing. People are helping already wherever and however they can, generally just by word of mouth. Local foreign restaurant owners have been going into the barrios and cooking for familes who cannot cook. There are over 3,000 families who no longer have any cooking facilities and the compassion these restaurant owners and their staffs have is so wonderful.
While the women and men of the DIF are also cooking and serving thousands of meals every day, there is always conversation in the kitchen about how wonderful this american and that american is because they are cooking for the barrios.
The city water has been turned on, but many streets are still filled with a foot of mud. Some people are just now getting to their homes and finding rooms filled with debris and mud. They are sweeping that mud out onto the streets and some are now hosing their homes with the city water. The bulldozers are running, day and night, trying to clear the mud and debris.
Many roads, that are not filled with mud are filled with several layers of fine silt. The air is filled with dust particles and most people are wearing masks. It is very eerie to walk around and see this.
The arroyas are still running full of water. Bill took our friend back over one of the arroyas to visit his mother again. Later Bill and I crossed a different arroya, to Las Delicias, where over 50 casas were destroyed. We went there to check on another friend who lives at the very bottom of the arroyo. The road to his place was completely washed out and unaccessible, but we could see several roof tops, so it is possible one was his. Before we returned home, we ferried several groups of people back and forth across the water filled arroya.
Shop owners are still trying to clean their buildings and what merchandise they even have left. The loss of inventory, whether it be in a store, or home, is tremendous.
A few small grocery stores are open, but mostly there are canned goods or plastic wrapped items; very few perishables are even left in town. The government has banned liquor and beer sales for the time being. Tecate trucks can be seen daily, but they are carrying supplies around town and often carrying families from one place to another as well.
The roads are open to Navajoa, which is where Bill has gone today. He plans to bring back some meats and chicken and vegetables, because we have eaten all of our perishables and are getting down to a half full jar of peanut butter and a bunch of cans of olives stuffed with anchoives.
Our own personal problems are not as serious as others, but they are becoming an issue. We have no running water inside the casa, so no toilets to flush and no showers to take. We are not sure what has happened.
Bill showered last night, in the yard, with the hose that comes out of the cistern. I had planned to do that as well, until I opened the cistern hatch and looked in there. So, in Navajoa, he will be picking up some plumbing items which I sure hope will resolve this problem.....
I will tell you this, the mexicans in this town are not somber, they are smiling, they are playing with their babies, they are helping one another find places to live, they are cooking for each other and cleaning for each other, and they are hugging one another and praying with each other and they believe in their town. They have hard days ahead, there will be many funerals to attend, but they will probably hold onto each other and their strong faith and they will be fine.