Wednesday, January 9, 2019

No tourists were harmed in the writing of this post...

It's not with every tour that my guests get the opportunity to have an upclose and personal experience with a man carrying a glock and another carrying a semi-automatic. Not sure if the third guy was carrying, or if he was just the driver.

Let me back up a little. I set out for Hierve el Agua at the usual 7:30 and picked up Ed and Gracie. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent. We set out and get just outside the arceological site of Lamityeco and suddenly, the van stops. RPMs go flat, no power steeering. Just electrical and good old-fashioned coasting. I am thankful for the nice wide shoulder as we pull over and stop. In spite of about 20 minutes of best efforts by both Ed and I, including taking out the air filter and giving it a shake, the van is not starting. Decision time: call the day off, go back and get their rental car, or take various forms of public transportation and just go for it. Ed and Gracie were game to go for it. We decided to leave lunch behind, tossed towels, suits and snacks into backpacks, tried the van one last time, and then turned around and - ta da!!! Literally the next car was an empty collectivo. After a little discussion, the driver agreed to take us all the way to Hierve el Agua for $350 pesos. And we're on to Method of Transportation #2.

Collectivos are basically shared taxis. 5 people - 3 in back, 2 in front + the driver.

After a great hike, an amazing swim and some time in the sun, we head up and have lunch with Maria. Maria is my constant at Hierve el Agua. She runs a little food kiosk and seeing as we had left the Go Well lunch in the van, we settled down to eat with Maria. "Que milagro" (what a miracle!), she said, when I told her we were eating with her that day. She was busy so I helped us to drinks and told her our order. (Memelitas - an order is 3 hand made corn tortillas with black beans, avocado and tomato and choice of chorizo, tasajo or cecina. Of course we had one of each.) Maria is always there working, even on the coldest day of the year, when we are almost the only guests and the cold winter wind is blowing through the valley, she is there. I try to show her my appreciation of this by giving her my leftover sedona salad whenever we are there. When her rush settled and she could have a seat, I told her what had happened. La caminetta se descompuse. "The little truck decomposed" is the literal translation, but really, it broke down. We paid our tab, joked about there being no salad today, and off we went to find the pick-up truck style collectivos to take us back to Mitla. It was time to go.

Method of Transportation #3. The collectivo looked almost full and ready to go, but we needed a bathroom break before. I walked over and told the driver we were three, would he wait while we used to bathroom. He said no problem and sure enough, handing over our $150 pesos ($50 pesos per person), Gracie and I hopped into the back and Ed into the second row of seats on the inside of the cab, and off we went. The view over the old road is magnificent as you look out the back through the swirling dust, random donkeys carrying wood piles, cows being herded by two weiner dogs, you are treated to spectacular mountains which your heart will long for when you are either back in the city or away from Oaxaca. I had the jump seat in the middle of the two rows, so spent my time between chatting with Gracie hanging on to the metal grate behind me and trying not to slide out the back.
The back empty holds 1 on the booster seat and 4 on each side.

We arrive safely in Mitla, hop out of the back of the pickup, and like magic, a bus is going to Oaxaca. Now, my plan was to give Ed and Gracie the Go Well lunch so they could have it for dinner, and also drop towels and grab sweaters from the van. Would the bus drop us at the archeological site? Yup. $12 pesos each gets us on Method of Transportation #4.

Get on the bus, Gus.
After a short stop in Tlacolula, where we acknowledged that the only methods of transportation missing from our day was mototaxi and either horse or donkey, we are dropped off at Lambityeco, the archeological site. And now the fun starts.

I had forgotten to lock the van. As we get off the bus, I notice three men and a white pick up truck by the back of the van. Are they stealing my tires? I need new tires...

Alas no. One gentleman is dressed in plain clothes with a badge and Ed later tells me, a glock. There is another man in the standard blue vest with a semi-automatic slug casually over his shoulder and a third man with a great face and a plaid shirt. I smile, introduce myself, and shake hands all around. Mr. Badge tells me he is of a certain rank (I believe judicial, which Carlos tells me are federal investigators with the most power to toss my silly arse in jail) and explains that they were concerned because the car was by the side of the road all day unlocked.

Mr. Badge then tells me that he found my card in the van, and shows me his phone, where through his personal facebook account, he found me on facebook and had both texted me through Messenger and left me a voicemail to try to find out what the story was. He was one step away from having the van towed because they did not want it to be vandalized sitting there overnight unlocked. And then I showed up, smiling and apologetic. We shook hands again, I thanked them all and apologized, and they were on their way. He was sure to advise the van was as they had found it. I said of course it was. I missed taking a picture of the trio.

(Can I just interject, before moving on to Method of Transportation #2(b), that I am so grateful living in Oaxaca. I didn't get a ticket for abandoning my car, or for leaving it unlocked. Grateful, again, to my adopted country.)

Ed and Gracie, through the whole "and then there were men with guns" part of the story, were cool as cucumbers. Only after did they laugh and remark on what seemed like the only appropriate ending to a pretty adventurous day. We got their dinner packed up, heading across the highway, and as luck would have it, another collectivo came by in short order which delivered us respectively to the Huayapam crossing and me downtown to the baseball stadium. Our selfie in the collectivo before we parted for the day.
Still smiling!


As I walked home, I decided I would grab a coffee from the cart at Llano park and ran into my friend Carlos, who asked me why I was seemingly coming back from tour without my van. Where to start?

Meanwhile, Ralph had called our mechanic who was going out to the car, eventually had it towed to the shop and today it was getting a new fuel pump installed.

Yet another amaxing Go Well day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sustainable Water - A plea

As I was coming into the house today, coming back from the dog refuge yet again, I remembered what my friend Jackie Hastings had said one time while she and I were chatting when she was in Oaxaca. She asked me if I volunteered for anything here. I didn't, at the time, and told her that I had not found my "thing" yet. I now do some work with the Oaxaca Lending Library, and I for the past few years, I have helped with the dog refuge in Zaachila. I have posted about our work there on this blog in the past.

Today, I am doing something I am remarkably uncomfortable with. Here we go...

I am asking for financial help from you, readers and friends. 

In a week of exasperation, of feeling my heart sinking, my spirits rather than soaring at the incredible work we are doing at the refuge, I felt dispair. Again, we were without water. When we should be cleaning the cement floors of the pens we helped build, we were so short on water that we didn't even wash our hands as we left to drive home, as I wondered how the hell we were going to get water, I thought - I can't do this anymore. I can't keep wondering, every week, not only where food is coming from, but if there is going to be enough water. It's not all about kissing puppies.



I believe in God. You don't have to, but I do. And so, as we are driving away and all I want to do is pull the car over and have a good cry, I see a sign on the side of the road. "POZOS". Wells. Water. I pull over and tell Carlos to go take a picture of the sign. He gets back in the car and we look at each other. Water.

As we are driving away, talking about what our rescue friends were telling us a few weeks back - that the federal government has been fining people for putting in wells, we see a man on the side of the road riding his bicycle, to which is strapped to the back a black sign with brightly painted letters. It says: POZOS. Wells. I tell Carlos to call the number that was on the sign. I took it as a sign from God. Well, I guess, two signs from God. Dig, Tanya.

And so, we made the arrangements and the guys came, three of them on bicycles, with little divining tools in their backpacks, and they said for 10,000 pesos of labour and about 5000 pesos of materials, we could have a well in two days. Sustainable water in two days. It seemed impossible. I had to ask - were there any laws preventing us from having a well? Their answer: not at this time. And so, I agreed. We would dig. And the dogs would have water. And you know how I decided to not look any further for other guys who also do the same work, and maybe for a better price? They were good with the dogs. These three guys walked their bicycles from before the entrance gate to the refuge, and calmly walked through the sea of fur and barking to where the water was closest and as they answered my many questions, they pet our resident pitbull, Barbie, and played with our old chubby girl, and so I said yes. I didn't and still don't know where all the money will come from, but it will come.

Can you dig into your pockets and help me dig for water?

  • Canadian? Send me an email money transfer to tanyalapierre@hotmail.com
  • American: PayPal your gift to info@gowelltours.com or rdgault65@gmail.com
  • Oaxacan or in Oaxaca: Contact me at 951 287 42 88 and I'll make meet up arrangements, or leave me your donation with either Dr. Sonia at Veterinario Madera (DivisiĆ³n Oriente 315) or at the Circulation Desk at the Oaxaca Lending Library in an enveople with my name on it (Tanya Lapierre)


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Day of the Dead: Newcomers to a 5000 year old tradition

I just finished Phase 1 of our Day of the Dead altar. There is always a Phase 2 because we build it with our neighbours and then we forget the odd thing, or decide to add some things once we have it set up. A picture of Helen, Ralph's sister is needed, and a Coca Cola without sugar for Patricia's mama, who left us last year. As we set up the altar, we chat, and some believe it is our chatting that brings souls by for a visit. We talk about the deceased, but we also just chat about what we're doing, what plans we have. The idea is that the souls that come back to visit want an update on what we've been up to and what we have planned.



There are sad moments, of course. This morning lying in bed before I went for a run, I was thinking that this was the first year I would celebrate my Grandfather's passing. You don't celebrate someone on Day of the Dead if they have not passed more than 12 months. In practice, the tradition started from when you would bury your dead under your kitchen floor and then once a year (once they had passed for more than 12 months), you would dig up their skull and place the skull in the house in order to have that soul "visit". No one wants to dig up a semi-decomposed skull. No one. So, the "story" is that those recently departed stay in the land of the dead to keep it safe while the older souls go back and visit.

But then this morning on my run, I started thinking about what my Grandfather would have thought of coming back to visit. I wonder if by my living here has now obligated him somehow to come by and visit. This idea makes me smile. There he is in Canadian Catholic Heaven and someone knocks and says - OK, put the chocolate down, you need to go and visit Tanya in Oaxaca sometime in the next 24 hours.

And I can just see both the look on his face and the twinkle in his eye. His crazy grand daughter went to live in Mexico (where he thought I would be murdered) and now he has to come by and visit. But the twinkle and the half smile would show that he would be happy to come, to see, to explore. Had he been able to visit when he was alive, we would have sampled all the street food together and he would have had the runs for a week and he would have shed tears in the Tlacolula market for all the fresh food and yellow chickens. He never did manage a visit, but he is with me here every day. When I make bread, when I grab my cookbooks, when I talk about Oaxacan chocolate...

And so over the next few days he will come to visit. He was here once before, his spirit came to visit just after he had died, when I felt him so close I could almost smell the aftershave (Old Spice and Azarro, forever!). And now he gets to come back. Along with so many others who we loved while we could hug and hold, and love now that they live on only in our hearts and memories. Sisters, parents, grandparents, friends, cats, dogs.

Enjoy Day of the Dead, whatever your custom or beliefs.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

5 Months of Working with Dogs

Yesterday was my last day at the dog refuge for about a month. As I prepare to go on vacation, there were a few things left to do to sort of "round off" the work Carlos and I have been doing for months. As I was leaving, and others left, I got big hugs and lots of "enjoy your rest, you deserve it" comments, which was lovely, but what was even lovelier was that yesterday when I left the refuge I felt genuinely happy and pleased with our work there, and also, yesterday was a reminder that I am not alone in the work we do there, that I am blessed to be amung people with warm hearts and hugs and laughter and shared tears but above all, support.

Learning to mix cement on the ground.
Yes, Carlos is holding a puppy while Catherine and Don Feliciano mix cement.
Someone had to take pictures!

Thanks to Catherine for the door design!


I was trying to think of how long I have been dedicating one day a week to this work, and it has been since around April. Which got me to thinking - what have we accomplished in this time? As much I believe in looking forward, looking back occasionally has benefits as well.

  • Through donations from friends, we delivered 41 bags of food for the dogs. It means we fed the dogs for 20 days. Thank you Bonnie LH, Bonnie T, Jodi S, Erin S, Claire J, Donna M, Bianca A, Donna D, Sue N, Kathy H, Martha S, Trina H... (if I forgot your name, I am SO sorry!)
  • We rebuilt 10 dog enclosures which the municipality had started. This involed wood strips, plastic ties, more sheet metal and about 200 screws and washers, which I donated.
  • We divided the space into 4 distinct areas, allowing us to have capacity for safe intake of new dropped off dogs, and when I come back, having all the dogs inside the enclosures (there are a few who like the feeling of the alfalfa fields under their paws, but they are not safe so, time to leave the open fields behind.
  • I rescued Rico. He is a work in progress and no, won't live with us forever, but until he is eating well and has some weight on him, he'll continue to share the cat beds with Diego and Hilda.
  • I made new connections in my community, and I am honored to be counted as one of these hard working, inspirational group of people.
  • I helped to get dogs adopted, between bringing puppies to homes and people to puppies, they are no longer in the refuge.
New enclosers with doors that lock!

Dog houses for shade, protection from the rain and patios.



Work when I come back:

  • one of the key pieces of work we need to do is to get signage (pricing this out) made for the refuge, so people know how to get there (I spent 40 minutes yesterday driving around the countryside trying to find a couple who had come out and gotten lost). 
  • The second is to get a used grass trimmer - we borrow Carlos's nephew's but we need one that is there. The refuge looks so much better with the grass trimmed, and it is easier to make sure we pick up all the poop. (A second hand grass trimmer was $1300 pesos). 
  • The third is to get our website up and going (hours of work but maybe $10 USD for the domain name per year), so people can be exposed to the work we do at a broader level and also see all the dogs for adoption. they need to know how to donate, what to donate, what projects we have going on, and how to get there if they want to adopt or offer volunteer hours. Also get a GoFundMe page roganized or something similar for people to consider donating to the project.
  • I'll continue to work with APAOAX and Huelas de Ayuda, both run by amazing women, and with them we will build more dog houses, a roof extension for more shade over the patio at Tia Migue's house, capping the "french drain" hole that was dug to allow for some water drainage, partition one other section to allow for five distinct areas for the dogs to be in, and then another roof structure with eaves to collect the rain water into two above ground cistern type reservoirs (tinacos). We're working on that budget now.
  • The fourth will be to figure out how to get the dogs vaccinated. APAOAX can get the vaccinations for less than 200 pesos per dog (C$15 or US$10) but still, with about 100 dogs, that cost adds up. The government changes in December, so maybe the local municipality will be all excited to help??
  • The fifth (but not last because as you all know, there is always work to be done!) is to try to get the bags of food we feed them at a discounted price. Right now we buy them retail, at $297 pesos per bag, and they eat 2 bags of food per day. I'd like to see people's donations go further when they donate money for food.

There is a longer list, but these are the ones that come to mind on this Sunday morning. Yesterday, friends from APAOAX and Huelas started to count the dogs, there are at 87. We've not counted the dogs outside and not all got counted, but 87 is a starting number. We started 6 months ago with no plan. What a difference a day makes.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Dog Refuge Work

I haven't written about the dog refuge work in a while. Although we can all say we are too busy with work or "doing" or catching up on Queen of the South on Netflicks, in truth, sometimes you just need some time to gain some perspective. Sometimes things are not pretty and they make us cry and so we need a little time for the heart to heal before we share it.

We ran several steralization clinics. In all, we had about 20 to 25 dogs spayed or neutered. It was the first clinic I was involved in. The process was amazing. Two vets work side by side doing two dogs at a time. Another vet tech and a helper weigh the dog, give them a shot to knock them out, and shave their little bellies. Before all this gets going, all of us go and round up dogs and check them. If they ahve been fixed, then they get to wear a lovely green ribbon necklace. We had gone before the vets to clean all the kennel spaces we had, so when the dogs were done, they can be laid down on cardboard to rest. Costs - we pay the vets 500 pesos each for their day, drugs are provided y an organization called APAOAX or Huelas de Ayuda, and the rest of the work is volunteer. Near the end of the day they steralized a pregnant female. The doctor's view was that better to have one steralized female than a non-steralized one AND all her pups, so they abort the puppies and fix the female. Paulina, one of the volunteers, burried the unborn babies. She was digging the hole as I drove away, exhausted and emotionally shattered.
Vet doing surgery on Espumita.

This girl was already done.

This little one is in recovery.
We built dog houses. These dogs had barely any shade, so one of the volunteers had an idea to build them dog houses to chill in, get out of the rain and the sun. We built them over four weeks, a total of 20 little chelters, I think. The dogs made me laugh a lot when we were building them. They would be in the little houses before they were built, trying to help with spacing, wood cuting. Those of us who built them laughed a lot, and sweat in the sun, and measured and remeasured and cut and drilled and cut ourselves on sheet metal.

Just Chillin'!

Front patio is a much desired location.

I brought my cousin Bianca to the dog refuge. I am always a little anxious bringing friends and family to the refuge. I pee in a bucket and wear clothes I would be generally OK with tossing out at the end of the day. I have come home with scratches that have gotten infected and left long scars, bite marks, scrapes and usually muddy and smelling like dog poop. The refuge is a long slow process, and I worry that people will come and think: this place is terrible. And it is, in some ways. And in other ways, it is a place where the dogs can live and eat and not be hit by cars or die of starvation. I have had friends cry and others be overwhelmed and stand there and just hold puppies. And then there are others that just love the dogs up while there and help shovel poop and are happy to go and have seen it. Bianca's issue was she only had two hands to love up the dogs, but the third one was happy for a leg hug.
All this puppy love and only two hands!

Are they really lining up for snuggles?

China died. China was my fave little wavy haired shy black furred girl. She would run away from me, but when I eventually caught her, she accepted the snuggle. A dog that went out for adoption, a big black god the adoptive family names Valentin, dies with blood coming out of his nose. He had a respitory infection. They tried antibiotics but waited too long. China had a cough and she died this last week. The vet has been to the refuge and was taking samples. Tia Migue had a cough medicine she has given in the past and I took a pic of the bottle and will wander down to the vet to talk to her today and see what can be done. The dogs are not all vaccinated, nor do they have their rabies shots. Put it on the list of things we need to do, but to good thing is that we had the vet in and are trying to address the issues. We can't have dogs adopted out and then die in someone's home. I was so sad, but I was happy Valentin was loved as an individual dog in the days he was with us here, and I did manage to love up China and give her a name. I am learning that saving them all is near impossible.

China and I. 
I ran over a dog. Well, actually, while I was turning around outside the refuge and it was pouring rain, a dog ran under the car and I did not notice, and Carlos was in the car (he usually watched to make sure there were no dogs under my car). I was heartbroken, and we went back on Tuesday with the vet and he went to the vet to get xrays. I have to go today and follow up and see what happened in the end. My heart is too raw, I cried the whole time I held him while the vet examined him and determined he was coming to her office. We used a strap as a make-shift muzzle and his yelp of pain when we moved him shattered my heart. But it also made me mad and determined. We need to get all the dogs inside and partitioned off for their safety, and we started that last week. That way we can also have people go in and adopt safely and not have dogs jumping all over them, and I can drive bags of dog food in and not be worried about running over dogs. Our plan is to also have an "intake" area for when people dump off dogs in the middle of the night, because people do that.

Carlos mixes cement as the Tia supervises.

Posts were put in by Don Feliciano, and we are putting in a cement base along the bottom to try to prevent the dogs from digging under the fence. Try.

The Refuge, with the beginning of a new division.
Work never ends, but sometimes my funds and my energy do. I spend money I shouldn't helping, buying, building. I spend gas money to get there and back. I spend time there when I should be working on 100 other things. We are a small group of people with help from the Municipality for food and water, but we are far from a place where we can just "go to clean", though we need that, too. However, a few folks have offered to help, and I now feel like I am in a place to engage that help. Many freinds have helped with money and I hope they will still find some room in their budgets to do that.

In my head, I have plans. So I am taking another page from Trina's advice book and I am going to write them down.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Running with Rex

Around the end of May I met a dog who was potentially interested in running with me. I had been looking for a canine running buddy for a while. Someone to motivate me to get out of bed in the mornings,who was depending on me to get my butt into running pants and get a collar on and hit the pavement.
The issue, of course, is that canine running buddies don't post on Facebook, but thankfully for me, their less furry Moms do! And so, I have, since May, had a running buddy. Yeah!

The other day while starting out on my run, Rex, my canine running buddy, stopped dead in his tracks. To poop. That got me thinking - what advise would Rex give us runners? I read Runners World blogs and articles all the time - eat this, drink that, buy these shoes... You know the ones I am talking about, those articles that flip over in your brain as you start out before dawn (6 ways to make sure you are seen...).

Here is what I think Rex's advice would be:

  1. Poop when you need to. Have someone carry a bag for you if you are going to run in "one of those" places, but just poop when you need to.
  2. Pee when you need to. Although awkward sometimes in the middle of the street, just be quick about it. Everyone get it. Everyone pees.
  3. Integrate cross training into your run by including side lunges at passing bikes, sideways running while looking at roof dogs (if you live in one of those cities) and full force sprinting if there is a cat that crosses your path.
  4. Run as much and as often as you can. 
  5. Mix up the pace. Some days, start out of the gate like you have never been outside EVER, and other times, jump around a bit in the middle of your run to not get bored. 
  6. ALWAYS sprint the last two blocks home.
  7. Eat if you can while running. Look around the bases of garbage cans for enjoyable and nourishing nosh while out.
  8. Sticking your tongue out will help you run better. Trust me on this one.
  9. If you run into fellow running dogs, YELL at them from across the road. Something like: HEY! I AM HERE! I SEE YOU!
  10. Last but not least, beware of chihuahuas. They cannot ever be trusted.



Wednesday, July 4, 2018

1226 Pesos, 3 lightbulbs and a cell phone

About a month ago Carlos and I went to the Zaachila Dog Refuge and there was no water. We had gone by chance mid-week because there was an opportunity for one of the puppies to be adopted. Whenever we arrive, there always seems to be some sort of drama. Either someone left 7 dogs tied to a garden fence with wire, and those 7 dogs were then attacked by the resident dogs and several died, or there was no food for a while, or maybe a dog had a litter of puppies and did not have her own milk so we went out and got milk to feed the little baby puppies with. On this one day a month ago, as wonderful as it was that a little black fluffy puppy was going to be adopted by an adorable girl who loved this little fluff ball as soon as she held him, the other dogs were suffering. There was no water.

We asked Tia Migue if she had a number for a pipa. (A pipa is the water truck that comes to deliver water when there is no water that is pumped by the city directly.) She did not have one, but said if we took this one side road and went to the very end, there we would find a pipa company. We understood that although the city is supposed to deliver water to her, they had not (yet) come. We left her with 150 pesos and said we would arrange for water to be delivered into the two tinacos (holding tanks). 

I am a girl of the modern world, and although sometimes this serves me poorly in Oaxaca, my first instinct is to go to Google and ask "pipa Zaachila" and see where that gets me. It got me a number, so while driving through country roads on the outskirts of Zaachila, stopping at a corner store to ask about a pipa, getting another number, not having accurate directions, calling one place that could not deliver the smaller quantity of water we wanted, we did eventually get water delivered. The company called us back to let us know they had delivered it, and of course, the city delivered more water that night. 

I live in a priviledge I never thought of. I have a phone, electricity, and 150 pesos (about 10 Canadian, 7 US dollars) is not beyond my reach to pay for water. I can read and write. On that day, I was struck by something I considered to be such a simple thing to take care of seemed insurmountable for Tia Migue. She did not have 150 pesos. She did not have a phone, because she has no electricity to charge one, even if she did.

I managed not to cry, though writting this today I am flooded with such emotion, such gratitude. On that day, it got me to thinking. She has no light. She has no way to charge a phone, which in turn means if she needs help, she has to walk for it. Walking means leaving the refuge, which often means she has no less than 10 dogs walking with her. The pipa is about 5 kilometers away from her house. At least a 2 hour walk and only if she had 150 pesos to start with.

Carlos is an electrical engineer. He and I have often talked about solar power and its possibilities and uses. He has installed panels at his house. We decided to install a solar panel for the dog refuge. We talked back and forth about the costs, different parts, and then as we were headed down to the market we passed a shop that had a kit. For 1226 pesos (about $80 canadian or $65 USD) we got a kit - a solar panel, a converter and battery combo with 3 lights each with a 5 meter cable connector, and one USB charger. Carlos tells me we could have gotten it cheaper by buying the parts separate, but we were there, and some days I give in to an easy option. 


I had an old cell phone at the house, so the following Sunday we went out to install the solar panel and the lights, as well as bring Tia Migue the cell phone and we loaded it with 50 pesos (about 2 weeks worth of credit on the pay-as-you-go plans from TelCel). You could see by the look on her face she did not really understand why we would spend money buying this, time installing this. How was this going to impact and help the dogs?

Carlos and I knew. We knew that having lights at night would be safer. We knew that having lights at night MAY mean less people dump dogs at random in front of the gates. We knew that having a phone meant we could call and ask if she needed anything as we were on our way. We knew that a phone meant calling the city to ask about water, maybe even ordering water. We knew. We knew that her having a phone may mean more dogs get adopted quicker, or that a vet could call before going by. We knew.

And on the following Sunday when we went back to clean and fix another casita, Tia Migue knew as well. It was the very first thing she said when we got out of the car. Before we left, she told us that her neighbour had come over asking about these lights, where did these come from? The glow on her face was obvious, The little cell phone she keeps in her bra, away from the dogs who will eat your car keys if you let them. 

Last night a lady who works primarily with Spay and Neuter called. The very first thing she said was: you installed the solar panel. 

We installed the solar panel, and for 1226 pesos, we changed things. I am eternally grateful that I can give back in ways I never ever knew would be possible. I am filled with gratitude for the people in my life who help me give back. And for dog love, which fills me up and makes me smile.