Comunidad Beca (Scholarship) Trip Report: Oct. 2015
Of all the interesting things that have befallen Comunidad in our 14-year history, having our airplane strip-searched is at the top of the list. This past Beca (scholarship) trip found our chief pilot, Bill Rush, and his passengers standing on the tarmac at the Ensenada airport as the drug-sniffing dogs went crazy around the plane. At one point Bill had to unscrew the airplane’s tail to show that he wasn’t trafficking in narcotics. Finally it was determined that an anti-rust spray that he had applied the day before was the culprit and the plane and crew were released.
Luckily that was the only major surprise of Comunidad’s 14th Beca. Coordinated flawlessly again by Teresa Todd, our Beca director, and Vicky Martinez Rios, our Executive Director, the actual Beca fair delivered both educational assistance and health care to 228 students. Hosted again by the Museo Historical Regional and staffed by over 50 volunteers (from local health programs, translation schools, Rotary Clubs and Comunidad members), the health fair included tuberculosis and hypertension testing, lessons in drug abuse, pregnancy and STD prevention, diabetes control and vaccinations. Participation in the fair is a requirement for all Beca recipients.
The day before a dozen Comunidad volunteers went out to San Jose de La Zorra, where we delivered sports equipment, books and school supplies to the elementary and middle schools. We also learned the basics of basketry from one of the tribal artists and, in what is becoming an annual ritual, tasted this year’s harvest from tribal leader Rito’s winery. We then traveled to San Antonio Necua, where we took a nature walk with the tribal shaman. A great day all around: we will be opening it up to all the Ensenada-based volunteers (medical, translators and logistics) next year.
Finally, a sign that we’ve either been doing this too long or are accepted members of the Ensenada community: On our last night, we invited the Museo Director (who has been a big supporter of Comunidad, letting us use his facility every year) to our celebratory dinner. When he showed up with his girlfriend, she looked past the 17 other attendees to the end of the table, where Bill Rush (not only our chief pilot but chief karaokist as well) was sitting. “Biiiillllll,” she called out (similarly to the ‘Norm’ chant in Cheers). It turns out the she tends bar at La Diligencia, the karaoke hangout for the Comunidad crew most evenings.
Qué mundo tan pequeño. (what a small world)