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Blog by Gina...
Welcome to the Adelante Mujeres blog. In case you’re curious, in Spanish Adelante means “rise up, move forward;” Mujeres means “women.” We are a non-profit organization in Oregon dedicated to holistic education, empowerment and enterprise development of low-income Latino families. This is our first attempt at blogging so please be patient as we figure it all out. Our goal is to share with you what is happening at Adelante Mujeres – what each program is doing, share student stories and give you, our friends and supporters, an inside look at what is going on.

I’m Gina Bell. I’ve been a part of Adelante Mujeres for 4 years now, first as a volunteer and now as an employee. Often I will be the voice of this blog, but I’ve invited the participants in our Adult Education program, Adelante Chicas and Farmers Market vendors to share their stories. Please comment and let us know what you think.

We just got back from a weekend at the coast. It is our annual beach trip with the students in our Adult Education class. It is an all-women weekend. No husbands, no kids, which is not generally the case for most of our students. It’s a very fun time. We stayed at a lovely house on the beach, somewhere between Salishan and Depot Bay, Oregon. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer weekend. It was sunny and 67 degrees and there were whales to be watched and waves to be jumped albeit very, very cold waves.

We arrived Friday night and after eating a satisfying dinner we headed down to the beach to have a walk around. The air was crisp and the moon and stars shone bright. We returned to the house, giggled a lot and slowly people began to retire to different corners of the house to sleep. A group of women, with teenaged energy, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning telling jokes and sharing stories. I was not one of them. I woke up early to watch the sun rise and I got to watch as the entire house began to stir and the jokes and the stories once again began.

The best thing about the weekend is the complete lack of a schedule. Everyone is free to do what ever they please. It felt like a big sleepover. Mayra braided my hair as well as Guadalupe’s and a few others. Berta had her makeup kit out and was giving makeovers to Josefina and Rocio. Some of the women were in the kitchen, others read and caught up on homework, many ventured out for a long walk along the beach and a hike up the rocky cliff. Maria and Araceli managed to get caught by a wave and were soaked! My cheeks were sun-kissed by the end of the day and I felt very relaxed. Saturday was one of those glorious days that last forever. We fit in naps and games and beach time. We played Truth or Dare and I learned a lot about my co-workers and the students! We watched the sun set over the Pacific and snapped pictures.

Then it was dancing time. Bridget, Annie, Kristi, Ali and I took lessons from the students. We moved chairs and couches out of the way to make a huge dance floor. We danced to ranchero, salsa, meringue and Spanish country. I’m not much of a dancer but I discovered if your partner is good you can fake it. That’s what I did. We eventually got around to making dinner and eating and then we headed down to the beach for a campfire. Once again I was amazed at how many marshmallows the students could eat. Or rather, were willing to eat. Plus, many of them had never had a S’more before, so I was happy to introduce them! The campfire was great and we chatted and sang songs and enjoyed a starry evening on the beach. Slowly, people trickled away, up the hill, in the house, to their corners, and soon the house was silent.

Sunday morning we ate a delicious breakfast and then started cleaning the house: bedding into the washing machine, dishes done, bags re-packed and then set a plan for the rest of the day. Some students were anxious to get back – they missed their kids and husbands. Others weren’t ready to leave the coast so soon. Two cars headed back to Forest Grove mid-day and two carloads headed to Depot Bay to go whale watching and explore the town. We enjoyed the afternoon which led into the evening. Eventually we pulled away from the beach and headed back to Forest Grove.

I collapsed in my hammock upon arrival home – an exhilarating weekend with the students! For me, this weekend is one of the most rewarding parts of my job – getting to interact with the students as friends, without the distractions that children, husbands and school bring into the picture.

So what do you do to relax and get away? Where would you go if you had a weekend and no requirements or responsibilities?