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Our Life in Mexico - 1968

About 6 months after we got to the Yerba Buena Compound in Chiapas, Mexico, Mama was asked to be the Dean of Women and we moved into La Casa Grande (The Big House). This was the largest Living Quarters on the compound. The downstairs consisted of three different parts.

The kitchen, where Mama cooked for all the students, as well as our family, was on one side, our apartment was on the other side, and in the middle, there was a very large room that served as the Dining Hall. It fit six long tables in it for everyone to eat mess style. In the wall between the kitchen and dining room, was a huge (you could actually stand inside of it) fireplace. On the opposite wall were the stairs that led up to to girls' dorm oratory. When we first arrived, the church was still being built, so church services were held in this dining room, too. On Saturday night, after sundown, we would push all the tables to the sides and put the chairs and benches in a circle, and Daddy would MC parlor-type games, where everyone could join in.

Our family's apartment, on the other side of the dining room, had two doors. From the far door, you entered into the small Livingroom. Through a door on the far side of that, in the back corner, was mom and dad's bedroom. A hallway took you past the bathroom and into my two littlest brothers' bedroom. Then you went out into the hallway that divided the apartment into two parts.

The apartment door nearest to the main entry to Casa Grande, was just beyond the stairs that went up to the girls' dorm. It was usually kept locked. When you did enter into the hallway from that end, to the left was a very large Bodega, where all the Difficult to Obtain foodstuffs were stored (powdered milk, sugar, spices, tin canned goods, etc.). To the right, was the oldest brother's room, then the room I shared with my sister, and at the end of the hallway was our bathroom. To the left of that, was the door to the younger boys' room.

Around two complete sides of La Casa Grande, there ran a covered porch with a cement floor. This was very necessary, as Chiapas had a solid 3 months of rainy season every year. The far side of the dining room had two big Dutch doors that went out to a covered patio.

Here was a place to run the antiquated washing machine, complete with a ringer and two metal rinsing tubs, and a covered area for hanging the wash when it was too wet to use the clothes lines. Out the kitchen door was a place for the girls to peel potatoes and do other jobs that took more space than the kitchen had to offer.

With five very inquisitive, precocious and vivacious kids around, it wasn't long before the locals knew about us. We were in a land of Mayan descendants. A bunch of towheaded kids that were as tall or taller than most native adults, really stood out. And we are all gregarious and fearless. We all made lots of friends; not only the students, but the local farmers and

their families who helped working in the many gardens, the machine shop and the laundry.

Once we were given the coati by one of the locals, and word got around that the boys really liked animals, we managed to accumulate a small zoo of creatures. Besides the coati and our collie, Rex, we acquired mice, frogs, an injured deer that the natives wanted to eat,

a couple of parrots, a very ugly possum (until I insisted the boys get rid of that!). And my sister somehow or another got a Cat!

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