Taller 1 @ Las Casas Bailaban with Santa Cruz Cuautomatitla Primary 3 students.

Yesterday me and my lovely assistant Miss Sarah Rankin made a 6 hour journey up into the mountains ( it wasn’t supposed to take 6 hours but we ran into the CDMX rush hour traffic and a circus convoy of vehicles on a skinny rd). We left at 6am and arrived at 12 for our first workshop with the kids of Emiliano Zapata Tele-secundaria school , at the moment both the Primary and Secondary students are being hosted in the secondary school  building after the Primary school collapsed during the earthquake on September 19th 2017. Arriving late we wooshed into work with the lovely Maestra Pamela and her Primary 3/4 students  , 32 – 7/8 year olds. They were all very sweet and excited to meet 2 Scots who’d travelled 5000 miles to work with them. We gave them an introduction to the wonderful world and history around this little animalito ‘Cochineal’ , the children were then invited to experiment with the pigment combined with different acids and akalis that can change their tones. The children painted symbols for their town  and landscape , the volcano Don Popo featured alongside the fields of flowers , big skies of stars and their families.

They described how scary it was when the volcano shook and boomed during the earthquake. Little apocalypse survivors – as the final town on the route up to the volcano they are the closest and most intimate with the seasons and reactions of the volcano.  I had intended to get them to paint over tortillas – tortillas from the local tortilleria , but as we arrived I spotted the lady making up the dough and she said they wouldn’t be ready until after 12 , so I improvised with some obleas , a colourful wheat flat wafer  that you can buy in circular stacks. We spoke about these natural colours and there existence in our diet and cosmetics and clothes.Little animalitos in their Catsup!

Afterwards the children were asked if they liked the workshop and one boy shouted (in Spanish) ;

“I didn’t like it, I loved it!” with a big charismatic grin on his face.

The children were very patient and well behaved .At the end of class they surrounded us in a mass hug. Stellar wee souls .  We were treated to a delicious lunch with all of the 13 members of staff in a house of one of the teachers , I asked if this was a usual occurrence and Rutilo explained that they had started getting together more often since the earthquake and it had really helped bond the team together and bring the community closer. Later Rutilo dropped us off at the cross to take the bus back to Mexico City.

I am continually amazed by the kindness and resilience of Mexicans , their big open and generous hearts and an ability to see the good and important elements in a struggle.

As terrifying as the earthquake was , I can also see it acted as a big human shake up , stripped back the formalities of lives and allowed a space for people to connect. We certainly wouldn’t have found this warm community if it wasn’t for the events of September 19 th, so feeling big gratitude for this human connection and exchange between various cultures , big cities and small towns , big humans and small humans , a great insight into other walks of life , we have a lot to learn from one another.

Looking forward to the next one!



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