Oh yes, I love tamales.  I love all kinds of tamales.  There is no better time to enjoy them than during the Fiestas Decembrinas (December holidays).  This is a really quick post with a really quick video about our families that get together to catch up on each others’ lives over the building of a mountain of tamales.  You can’t just eat one tamal, even when you try.Tamal Isaac
Even my baby nephew got in on the action except… his was more of a sculpture session. Because we are increasingly mobile and my family is spread out, we gather once a year and tamales are usually part of the celebration. This Christmas Eve 2015, we made tamales of chicken in red chile sauce and poblano pepper strips (rajas) with cheese. We also made Chopes which are sweet small tamales using the same masa (corn meal mix) but with fruit and nuts added. They are delicious! I should have thought ahead and videotaped a step-by-step but… too late; we were caught up in our creations. This was us during the process. Merry Christmas everyone (although I also pulled out my aluminum pole for Festivus, the delicate family balance…. hmmm…)!!

Spring Breakers coming to the border, warning or not

And that is a good thing for Laredo when students from up North come to the border!

Students from Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts at the Habitat work site

Every year around this time, university students on Spring Break visit the border to work with Habitat for Humanity. It used to be that on the final day of their stay (a stay that involves working every day from 8am to 5pm in the Laredo weather, eating donated sandwiches and sleeping on floors of churches that open their doors to them at night), Habitat staff would walk everyone over to Nuevo Laredo. All the warnings would be given “hold on to your purses, don’t walk off alone, don’t wear flashy jewelry, walk in a line until you are at the Mercado, do not take pictures on the bridge, etc.” The students would have a blast and save pesos as souvenirs!
The students digging away - hard work can be lots of fun

Now they are told “Don’t even THINK about getting on that international bridge!” Obviously, with good reason. La Sanbe blog had posted the CNN story and even tonight’s news on KGNS warns Spring Breakers to stay away from Mexico.

I had the chance to interview some of the students that were here for the week from Boston. They said they were very happy to have come to Laredo and even happier to have explored San Bernardo and eaten at local places (Rudy’s BBQ hosted them on Sunday). When I asked if they considered going into Mexico – all of them gave a resounding “NO”. After the Mexican fiesta and other programmed events they were planning on heading straight back to Boston.
The Habitat materials hauling truck and storage container

The AmeriCorps volunteer staff tell me that two weeks ago the Collegiate Challenge group that was here was from a university in CANADA – wow! That group opted to spend their last day in South Texas in Corpus Christi, others will opt for South Padre Island or San Antonio but none consider going across into Mexico anymore. How times have changed, sigh.

In the home this week’s group was building, I found this message and many others posted on the frame for the family:
Volunteers working on this Habitat for Humanity house post messages for the future homeowners

In case you ever have furniture or other donations in good shape to spare or have a free Saturday and want to learn how to use a power tool – give Habitat for Humanity a call but wait until after all the Collegiate Challenge students finish their Spring Breaks because the poor AmeriCorps Service Members are exhausted from working for a couple months straight.

For those who ask “How can I buy a Habitat house?”, I snatched up a flyer they had with some minimum guidelines. Of course, there are other requirements since each house is built for a specific family and the family puts in many hours of their own sweat. I think what people don’t realize is that the family creates a relationship with their new house, a relationship with many volunteers and learns how to maintain their own house since they were there when the electricity/plumbing/walls, etc. are put in. If only people who bought beyond their means had the same experience… it may be a simple, decent and affordable home but it is a 0% interest house with a story. Habitat has 0 foreclosures in all of its years in Webb County. Not every builder can say that as La Sanbe pointed out in this linked story.
The flyer for Tierra Prometida with the income guidelines

Get back to work rat-racers!

I know, I know, it sounds harsh. What I do know is that across the country, many people struggled out of their beds and sadly said goodbye to their kids who are still on vacation. Our world is interesting – we do what we don’t want to do to get to places we really don’t want really get to.

I am still trying to figure this out and hope that if anyone reading this has enough free time to read it, that they will come to enjoy my posts. Love what you do from the 8 hours of sleep, to the 8 hours of work, but most importantly the 8 hours you have to do what you want to do.