Somewhere near Tapachula

17 May

Last night I had tears in my eyes……………..well I suppose that’s called crying.

No it wasn’t because I finally realised that puberty has passed me by and I will never be able to grow side burns, it was because I was watching the documentary, “Somewhere near Tapachula”.

It’s a documentary on the orphanage I worked at in early 2007 in the town of Tapachula on the Mexican Guatemalan boarder. It tells the amazing story of Pam and Alan, a retired Australian couple that run the orphanage and how they now have 54 Mexican orphans that call them Mum and Dad. I won’t go into detail, but it’s inspirational and is a real tear jerker, even for Mandy who didn’t know the kids had tears in her eyes. It’s a movie for everyone, it focuses on the kids, and is categorised as a surf documentary as surfing is at the heart of the orphanage life. I remember going out there on the crazy Tapachula beach break with mad rips and having the 10 year old boys dropping into waves that had me adding to the brown colour of the Tapachula muddy water (not to mention getting absolutely smashed). But surfing acts as an escape for the kids from their harrowing and haunting pasts which are filled with abuse, neglect, drugs, torture etc, and the documentary goes into a few of the stories.

It was especially special for me, I have fallen out of contact with the kids, when I left I used to keep in contact with a couple of the older boys that had access to computer and who I was close to, but time slowly reduced the number of emails as with most travelling relationships. But I have kept up-to-date and always look forward to reading the monthly newsletter.

But watching the smiling faces that I used to spend every day with, seeing the little Sammy who I helped toilet train and little Ruben and Alex who I use to bath resembling children, Bruno who I use take to basketball leaving the orphanage, Merril who I gave my surfboard to ripping it up and wanting to be a pro surfer and the list goes on.

It was also a marker for me, to see what I have achieved and the path I have taken since my time there. When I turned up at the orphanage in Tapachula I was dirt broke, barefoot (someone had takenmy jandals whilst I slept on the beach) holding a battered surfboard wrapped in a mouldy dirty duvet that I used to sleep on, and I hadn’t showered for 5 weeks (I’m not that much of a hippy, I was in the ocean everyday surfing – trying to surf).

The reason I was in this state was because 5 weeks previously I had received the news that my Canadian sponsored work visa that I had come to Mexico to wait on had been denied due to the downturn in the Canadian Oil Industry. Therefore I wouldn’t be going back to my job on the Canadian Oil Rigs, therefore I was stuck in Mexico with a credit card debt and all my belongings in my Canadian room that I was still renting. I decided to make the most of a bad situation and live on the beach in paradise and learnt to surf. 

The one thing I learnt from the orphanage was that although I thought I had nothing, I actually had everything. I had a loving supportive family and came from a country where I have running water, a grassy field to play sport on, a first world health and education system, the ability to earn money and travel freely etc.

And to look back at my journey since the orphanage is rather amusing. At that time Mandy was the American girl I had met for 6 days during her Christmas holiday in Sayulita, Mexico who I was emailing on the Orphanage computer.  Lttle did I know at that time that I would move from the orphanage and go land live with her in her 1 bedroom apartment in Colorado, USA after only knowing her for only those 6 days and now we are living together in our own 1 bedroom apartment in Melbourne, Australia 3 years down the track.

And everything that has happened in between;travelling through Colombia, being put in Atlanta city jail and being deported from the states with a 10 year ban, having the scariest moment of my life falling 5 metres from the rope swing fracturing my spine and temporarily losing my vision, working in the Australian Outback with the flies and camels in mine exploration, being a dive master in Thailand, living in Argentina and Paraguay learning Spanish, hitting rock bottom in South America in my search for Antarctic work and then getting to the ice as a 6-star waiter and now settling down in Melbourne (working in Tasmania) for a year while planning my human powered expedition for Africa.

Anyway, enough of me, the orphanage is trying to raise $100,000, and all proceeds from the $25 DVD go to the orphanage, so do your part, buy this AMAZING documentary for $25 and support the orphanage. I can honestly tell you that what Pam and Alan are doing is nothing short of inspirational, they went from being retired to working 24/7 as parents to 54 kids, they get no help from the Mexican government; they have the constant battle of trying to look after the kids and trying to raise money. I have seen their lifestyle first hand and I do not envy them in the slightest, but I admire them to the mightiest (not sure if that is proper English but you get the picture), so if you are looking for a worthwhile cause, this is the one.

Visit the Somewhere Near Tapachula website, amptly named www.somewhereneartapachula.com and you can buy the documentary here www.surfindustries.com/snt (free shipping), and once again if you want you can check out the teaser by clicking here.

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2 Responses to “Somewhere near Tapachula”

  1. Lynn Cameron May 20, 2010 at 2:41 am #

    Pam and Alan are certainly an AMAZING couple
    and deserve lots of support.
    Feel very proud of you to have volunteered
    at the orphanage for 3 months, finding it a
    very humbling experience.
    Have watched the trailer (with tears in my eyes)
    and ordered the DVD.
    Hope all going well in the outback!!
    Lots Luv
    Muz xx

    • Hap May 20, 2010 at 4:44 am #

      Cheers Muz,
      Yep retiring to raise 54 orphans definitely isn’t everybodies cup of tea, and i know certainly not mind, very amazing.
      Off bush now, and Tasmania has no outback, its very much like the West Coast of NZ here, I will put some photos up of where I’m staying her.
      OK the bush is calling, you and dad will enjoy the DVD, I watched it a second time with my work mates here in Tassie and they liked it.
      Hope you’s doing well, will ring this weekend.
      NBL Hap

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