Well, it’s officially been a year since I moved to the island of Cozumel. I’ve gotten comfortable in my surroundings, my apartment is almost finished, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great folks. So, who knew I could still be so surprised, and delighted, by what takes place here? But, I just came back from such a special event that I still can’t stop smiling. And, when something is that good, I just have to share the experience.
This event was called “Kites for Kids” and it was held in the Cozumel neighborhood of Ranchitos. Now, let me explain that Ranchitos is a bit removed from the main town in both distance and opportunities. In fact, some of the homes looked as if they lacked many of the modern conveniences that most of us take for granted. Their convenience store had a tin roof and sheet rock for walls, which might help to illustrate what I’m saying. But, differences aside, the point of the party was to bring some joy to the kids and, let me tell you, it was quite the success.
But first, if you could bear with me, I’d like to talk about how this all came to take place. There is a group of folks who recently started an organization called “It’s All About the Kids,” and the origin is, to me, such a great example of island living, simple and direct. From what I could gather, a few of them were working together on a haunted house for the kids during the “Day of the Dead” festivities last fall. It seems that one made the casual remark that “it would be so nice if we could do something for the kids all year round, and not just on holidays.” And, someone else said, “yes it would.” And that, apparently, is all it took for the group to get started. They now have a FB page called “It’s All About the Kids Cozumel” (anyone can check it out), well over a hundred members, and local businesses are getting involved. And, all this has made it possible for them to hold events that can help make children happy. It absolutely doesn’t get any better than that!
Well, that now brings me to the party today. I was given a ride by neighbors who are also involved with the group. They were nice enough to take me out with them since it is a bit too far for this expat to ride her bicycle. We had a nice chat while we headed out of town, but once we pulled onto the “tomato man road, ” don’t ask, it became clear that the folks that lived there might have some tough days. We were the first to pull in, but that didn’t last long at all. Within twenty minutes there were cars everywhere, folks getting out and greeting each other, and the day’s supplies were being hauled out of vehicles by a lot of happy volunteers. I quickly asked if they could gather together for a pic before even more mayhem began and the ones who’d arrived early were happy to oblige. That’s them on your left. Many more came later, but I never did get another opportunity to take a group shot. There was, however, a lot of other photographic opportunities around since the kids also began to arrive in numbers.
Tables were quickly set up to accommodate the different activities. One table was to be for the kites that had been donated for the cause. Once they were unpacked and ready to go the kids gathered around that table and I don’t think their numbers ever died out the two hours I was there. When they were given their kites there were volunteers who helped them to get started and they would head towards the basketball court and the small field beyond. And, eventually, a semi-emergency repair area was also set up for those kites that had been handled by the, shall we say, inexperienced. That soon became quite a popular place to be as well, but it was all in good fun and there were smiles all around.
Another table was set up for face painting. Since the theme was “kites for kids,” the volunteers started out by painting only decorative examples of kites on faces, arms, and hands. But, the face painting became so popular that soon all kinds of creative designs began to emerge. There were at least four, maybe more, volunteers who worked tirelessly on the boys, girls, and even toddlers in the arms of their mothers. I have to admit, I stuck close to that table since it was just so much fun to watch their faces light up when they took a peek in the mirror. Some would come up by themselves while others would arrive with a whole group of supporters. But, once they were done it never failed that they would see themselves and smile. It took me almost an hour to tear myself away, but I wanted to check out the other activities.
There was also a table for coloring that was just as popular as the face painting group. In fact, all I could see was crayons, coloring books, and the backs of a lot of kids’ heads. I walked over and tried to take a pic, but they were all focusing so intently on their work that it took a while for someone to take a breather and make some room. I finally grabbed a shot and moved on to let them get back to their pictures.
Next I went over to the “fishing for prizes” area. What a great concept. It seems that one of the guys in the group had noticed, on a prior trip, that there is a rather high cement wall just standing by itself by the front of the park. Somehow, that gave him an idea for a “fishing pond.” So, a colorful sign was made to help with the concept, as well as “fishing poles” with strings and little hooks. Here’s how it worked. The kids would stand on one side of the structure and then toss their line over the wall where unseen volunteers would wait. In the meantime, another person, whoever happened to be there at the time, as it turned out, informed the volunteers behind the wall whether the pole belonged to a girl or boy, and then the appropriate prize would be put on the hook. How great is that? Everyone was having so much fun. In fact, one of the hidden volunteers was, in good humor, griping about how he needed a hard hat to protect him from all the hooks. But, just as he finished saying that I saw yet another hit him right on top of his head. That was when I started giggling, but who wouldn’t? Then I grabbed a shot of a girl who’d just gotten her “fish.” She was very cute, and very excited.
It was getting time for me to leave so I wanted to make sure I had enough pics of the kids. But, it was an easy task, there were a lot of kids everywhere I looked. While doing this I figured I’d also try to get a bit more info for this blog. So, I asked a volunteer who it was that might be considered the founder of the group and I was told that there wasn’t really any one person. I took a few more pictures and then I asked someone else. I found it interesting that I was told the same thing, yet again. So, not to be dissuaded that easily, I asked yet another person in between shots. When, once again, I was told that it really was just a group effort for the sake of the kids I realized these folks were sincere. It really was all about the kids. I have to admit, with all that is going on in the world today, it was quite touching to see folks who truly had no interest other than to make a child smile. And that, folks, is the reason I can’t stop smiling either. I want to send out a huge “thank you” to all the members of “It’s All About the Kids Cozumel” for their efforts. You are quite the inspiration! Salud!
p.s. I don’t intend to promote, and I’m never compensated, but I do enjoy sharing good experiences