A Humanitarian Mission

February 5, 2008

I thought I'd share a bit about our recent trip to the lovely town of El Fuerte, Mexico. All of my previous trips to Mexico have been to lounge on a beach, sip margaritas and frolic in the surf. But this trip, although fun, was a volunteer mission with LIGA International. The first Friday of each month, about 15 privately owned aircrafts fly supplies and medical professional volunteers to remote LIGA clinics. My father, a pilot, has been actively involved with LIGA for some time and had two extra seats in his plane for Barnaby (as a translator) and I (willing candy striper). Also flying with us was Peter, a surgeon, who has been volunteering with LIGA for the last 15 years. There's some serious good karma for ya.

We flew into El Fuerte's little strip of an airport. Soon our plane was approached by a swarm of four and half foot soldiers carrying four foot guns. The drug trade is big in the state of Sinaloa, so they were there to search our bags. I thought it was so cool - naive me - to be surrounded by armed men (they knew we were LIGA), and I wanted to get these guys on film to share on my blog! I excitedly looked at Barnaby.

"You think I can take a picture?!"
"Ehhh, I don't think that's such a good idea." Looking at me like I was off my rocker.

Notes to self:

1) not a good idea to take photos of men carrying guns larger than self
2) " " while standing next to small aircraft in remote area known for large drug drops
3) " " " and potentially carrying large bricks of some illicit substance
4) just not a good idea to take photos of men with guns. Period.

I know this is supposed to be a blog about food. I'm working up to that.

Of course, our aircraft and bags are cleared and, with wide grins from the big gun wielding men (see, I knew they wouldn't shoot us), we are sent off in a taxi to the charming town of El Fuerte.

LIGA works with three clinics in and around El Fuerte, each specializing in various medical treatments. I had visions of being a modern-day Florence Nightingale, there to administer to the sick and wounded, healing with my tender touch and kind heart. But, alas, because I am not fluent in Spanish, nor do I have any medical training beyond the application of band-aids and NeoSporin, I stayed with my father and three other pilots to build wheelchairs (from FreeWheelchairMission.org). It was still quite rewarding!

After the chairs were finished there was, unfortunately, nothing left for us to build, so off we went to a lunch of octopus ceviche and

In addition to the fabulous ceviche, a typical meal is one of fresh Bass caught from either the nearby lake or river. I had it both nights: first grilled (a la plancha) then with garlic (mojo de ajo). Served with refried beans, hand-made corn tortillas, fresh limes and a selection of salsas. Mmmmm! I apologize for not taking pictures of these beautiful dishes, but I was so mesmerized that I dug in immediately.

Next trip, I promise!
I'd love to know what you think. Click the Comments link below and share your thoughts.



Carla's picture

Everyday I look forward to your writing and your photographs. When you are tired, busy and don't want to enter a blog just remember we are all out here waiting to read your next one!!

Dreama's picture

I love all of the Foodista blogs...especially picture of the "wheelchair"...thanks for the beautiful writing.

Mandy's picture

It sounds like an amazing trip. Good deeds, good company and good food -- what a combo.

Fonzie's picture

I am very glad I found your website on google. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my sister were just preparing to do some research about this. I am very happy to see such great information being shared freely out there.
Alarbus from Lakewood city