Thursday, March 22, 2007


March 4 – 18, 2007

Hello all!

This was our first travel experience out of the country since returning from Ghana last September. While we were volunteering again, and also in a developing country, it was different than all of our other volunteer experiences:

Our first trip to Mexico, our neighbor to the south;
Our first group volunteer effort;
Our shortest volunteer experience;
Our first volunteer work doing physical labor.

We helped to organize a group of nearly 20 people from our synagogue – Temple Beth Am in Seattle with the AJWS (American Jewish World Service), with whom we have been volunteering for the past 7 years.

Our group including one of our rabbi’s, (Rabbi Beth) traveled to a small Mayan village on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The name of this village is Muchucuxcah and it has somewhat less than 100 families, but it also has an NGO: “El Hombre Sobre la Tierra”, - HST, loosely translated as “The People of the Earth”. One of the things that HST is doing with the help of AJWS and other organizations, but mostly through a cooperative of families from Muchucxcah, is to develop an eco-tourism program.

So, our group went there for a week to help build this eco-tourism site. We mixed cement; debarked trees to build one of the now 7 “palapas” - thatched huts for living and sleeping for the guests; dug out stumps and hauled rocks; planted and watered pineapple trees, and lots of other labor.

The most important aspect of this short, but great experience was getting to know the men, women, and children of the village. We worked alongside the men; ate with the women in their houses; and played with the children. We learned much about the Mayan culture of Mexico and Central America, both past and present, and had an intense experience from an emotional, intellectual, and physical point of view.

We learned however, that physical labor is becoming difficult for us as we grow older, and so as we continue to volunteer around the world, we will limit ourselves to jobs that we can do with our heads and not so much with our hands.

After being in Muchucuxcah for a week, the two of us went to Mexico City for a week of relaxation and fun. Although there was not much relaxing because we traveled all over the largest city in the world, every day from early to late for a week, we did have fun: excellent museums, food, sights, etc. And, having grown up and lived in New York, we like being in big cities which have a lot of culture. It was also a huge contrast with the tiny village we had been in the week before.

We are now back in Seattle, and our plans are to volunteer again, somewhere in the world late this year for 3 ½ months. When we find out when and where we are going, we will let you know.

We are including as usual, a few photos of this recent trip.

Hope all remains well with all of you.

Best regards,

Peter and Hinda