Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The other day we decided to go for a ride to Imperial Valley where they grow dates. We stopped for a famous date shake and it was amazing! So yummy. Along the road were these sand dunes I just had to take a picture of. This is ATV country!

Here's one of the date groves.

Another date grove.

Then we decided to find a cache as long as we were out. This one was in Slab City along the canal. We were told it was at the base of the tallest tree. We were ready to give up when we dicovered it under a branch that must have fallen from the tallest tree. But under the tallest tree for sure. Chuck found this one but let me open it up.

Here's what the cache looked like. Many use ammunition cans like this one. Along side on the ground is our gps and my notebook and a view inside the can.

When we signed the log we put the can back as we found it.......under bark and sticks.

Here's the tallest tree and you can see the fallen branch where we found the cache below the tree.

This is Slab City. It was a WWII military base but all that's left is many many concrete slabs. Trailers, buses, RVs, etc. have moved in and people live there now. Many of the people looked like they were still flower children and living in the 60s.

Many get creative. Why anyone would do this, I don't know, but do this they do.

In three different areas there were couches and chairs all in a circle around a makeshift stage and there were signs saying there was live music every evening at dusk. You can kind of see the row of couches, can't you?

Then there's a little, skinny little man, who said he's 77 years old that has been building and painting this monument to the Lord. It's taken him 12 years he said. My camera went dead but some nice people said they'd send me more photos. Around the right side he built a cave like thing using hay bales and adobe mud. Of course, everything is painted bright colors. We walked up the yellow stairs to the top where the cross is. He was very very proud of his work. We were a little scared to even go into the property but we were glad we did. He said he used to get about 10 people a day and now since he's been on Google, he gets 450 people a day coming in and taking pictures. He is so proud that people would come see his art work.

This is a truck the same little man decorated with whatever........It used to be a dump truck. Wish I had gotten a better photo.

Chuck and I were fortunate yesterday to ride along with a couple that do mission work down in Mexico. They didn't have to go far into Mexico to find the horrible living conditions. What we saw just blocks from the tourist attraction of Algodones, where we spent so much time having fun and money, is what you'll see in these photos. AND it's far worse than these photos can begin to show you.

Our first stop was at Anna's. This little gramma was left raising her daughter's children alone. I don't know how many there were but I saw about 5 little kids. There were two pit bulls on chains for protection. The chain link fence is their clothes line and the men in the mission group came along to measure for a new fence for Anna. The little kids were given snack bars and oranges and they ran up to Marylou giving her hugs and kisses. She's Mama and Jack is Papa to them.

I took the picture from the van. Many love their picture taken but I didn't like to let them see me taking pictures of their house.

This is just another area where there are the cardboard houses. This is a neighborhood. How does it compare to yours?

Another neighborhood.

The next place we visited was Gramma's place. These people have built their houses out of anything they can find. It is situated at the dump! When we got out of the van, the kids came running. They hugged Marylou and gave her kisses. We all peeled them a little orange and the kids sat and ate them. Marylou is the lady in the picture.

This is Ramona's house. Made out of wood and cardboard. She wasn't home the day we were there because she was out in the fields working. There were so many little boys and I only say that one little girl.

When you look inside these houses, the floor is the dirt of the desert, cardboard tacked to the walls and, of course, no electricity. I didn't look inside this house, it just didn't seem respectful even though she wasn't home, but Gramma took us inside her house and she did have mattresses. Wall-to-wall mattresses, not very clean and crumpled up blankets and clothes, none very clean. They wash everything by hand and have to carry water up a steep hill for drinking and doing the wash. Supposedly it is a natural spring so is supposed to be clean enough to drink. But what did we find on the hill right above the spring? You guessed it. The outhouse!!

This is the outhouse. You can see the bush behind with white plastic bags stuck in it. That's a tree that is growing below the outhouse as the outhouse is on top of a hill overlooking the clean water! ?

All the clothes you see laying around is the laundry that needs to be washed. It is piled up all over the place!

This little boy, the one in the striped shirt, is Jerry. Jack, on the left, kept teasing him calling him Joe and Jerry kept saying, "NO, that's my sista!" He spoke pretty good English because he works in town shining shoes. We asked him where is sister is and it was her turn to go into town and shine shoes. I didn't get the other little boys name. They told me, but I couldn't understand him. I would love to have taken Jerry home with me. A snappy dresser and so adorable!

Then all the other little kids came running. They LOVE to have their picture taken! Jerry had to get Mickey in the picture. They just got Mickey and they were showing him off. These little kids have nothing and yet laugh and play like they own the world!

Behind the boys is a new room being added on to Gramma house. I think it's another bedroom.

Below is a picture of Gramma and all of us in her kitchen. Yes, that's right. That's Gramma's kitchen. Open-air, wouldn't you say? They said she cooks on that barrel with wood and keeps burning her kitchen down so they don't put up the walls anymore. BTW, she's the lady in the red sweater and dark blue scarf on her head. Whatever she was cooking smelled wonderful!

Gramma is so proud of her house she invited us all in. Her house is two rooms of beds. The floor is dirt! She has a TV in the corner and doesn't understand why it doesn't work!

As we drove around, I took these photos. Sure makes you feel blessed with what you have.

The next photo is another area. Sorry, it's so hard to see. There's another cardboard house built back in the bushes.

After we left this area, we stopped at a veterinarian store/clinic. The couple that took us into Mexico have a dog with an eye problem so they ran in to make an appointment. $20 for the appointment, I might add. I took this picture while inside, which smelled really really bad. They had a peacock and some roosters outside in a pen. This guy was inside in a pen.

They took us to the brick making area where many of the men work. This is a stack of bricks. They make roof tiles, too.

They lay the bricks out to dry before firing.

This is the kiln where everything is fired.

From there we visited another family. The mom is the lady in green. The man with the cowboy hat in the doorway is Jack the missionary. This is a very nice house compared to Gramma's and Ramona's. The front is brick and you can see the tile roof. Her door is just what you see........blankets hanging there. They get very little rain but when it does rain, it's a huge problem. The other two ladies also rode along with us. I'm sitting in the van when I took this photo.

We went to a rehab facility next and it just didn't seem right to take any photos. It's a lock-down facility; you ask for their help which is completely free, you are there for 90 days and there's no leaving. While you're there, you help out as much as you can and when you're better and the 90 days is up, you help some more. We met some really nice people that had a bad start in their lives but have turned things around and are truly wonderful people.