An Epic Journey…and lots o’ CT shows!

By now, you all know that it took me 68.5 hours, and more vodka tonics than I’d care to admit, to get to Oaxaca last week. I want to let you know – it was completely worth it! I had a fantastic week, got to get to know a group of volunteers & friends really well, learned a few more words in Zapotec, got to hang out with great kids, and got a dog! (Her name is Negra, she’s scruffy and soooo cute.)

The last week made me think a lot about what it’s like to be one of the “haves” of this world. Even on days when our electric bill comes a bit earlier than I’d like, or when I am working on saving up for a new run of CDs, it’s important for me to remember how lucky I am. Just wanted to pass that along to all of you – we are so lucky, and should be so grateful and happy to live in our shoes!

We had an incredibly successful trip to Oaxaca, and got a lot of work done. The first part of the week was spent constructing the first building for Simply Smiles’ Center of Operations in Oaxaca City. It looks great, and I’m excited to have a place to land every time. (Plus, I can keep my clothes in a drawer rather than in Rubbermaid bins to keep them from the rats…)

This part of the week was also spent reconnecting with the kids at Casa Hogar, and our friends in the dump. It was really nice to see everyone and check in. I even found out that one of our friends is getting married – TODAY! Congratulations, Madai!

The second part of the trip was spent in the jungle – a six-hour car ride from our Center of Operations – to host a food distribution party in the village of Santa Maria Tepexipana.

The drive was beautiful…

The people are beautiful… (is there any question as to how Bryan came up with the name Simply Smiles??)

And we got to pass out food to 1,897 people!

My favorite attendee, is the little girl who inspired my song, Keep Hope Alive. I affectionately call her “No Name” because she doesn’t have one yet. She’s four-years-old, and doesn’t yet have an official way to introduce herself.

Doesn’t matter - I was really happy when she showed up! We spent some time chatting, but since she speaks Zapotec and I speak Spanish, we didn’t understand each other much. But we did have a good time laughing, making faces, and playing in the dirt! Really, what more do you need?

Rather than driving the 6 hours back to Oaxaca City, we all flew out of Huatulco, which happens to be an airport in a beach town…so we just needed to spend a few hours in the ocean! I think everyone enjoyed having a nice shower and a clean bed before heading home. I know I did!

We even brought Negra to the beach with us…maybe so we could take a family photo? If only Gaby had been there!

I returned home and jumped right in to a very busy week of shows.

First, I started off in Hartford, CT at Trinity College on Thursday night in the Underground Coffeehouse. It was crazy weather, so most kids stayed in their dorms, but the ones that did come out – thank you!

Last night, I hosted another Singing for Hope Concert at Southport Congregational Church. Now that I’ve given a name to this concert series things have really taken off. And we’ve raised over $3,800 to support the work of Simply Smiles! It was a great night, with music from my friends P.J. Pacifico and Glenn Roth, and the pastor of the church did a few covers as well!

Tonight, I’ll be hosting ANOTHER Singing for Hope event in Watertown at Caffe Napoli to benefit the Shepaug High School/Roxbury Church service trip with Simply Smiles. This one starts at 6:00 p.m. and I’ll be playing with some really talented kids – Callie Huber and Sarah Paisley & James Donovan. I’m so excited!

Tomorrow night (Sunday), I’ll be playing at the Stafford Arts Commission Coffee House, which is held in Stafford Springs. We start at 7 p.m. and I’ll be co-billing with Jared Polens.

Next Wednesday, I’ll be at The Space in Hamden, CT (9 p.m.) and next weekend (3/11-3/13 @ 7:30 p.m.) I’ll be performing as a part of the 5Arts 2010 Series at The Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT. Not a dull moment booked in the calendar!

For more information and details, please visit the shows section of my website.

I am so happy to be home and I’m ready to share all of my new stories and songs with you, so I hope you can make it to one or all of my upcoming shows!!

Much love, Kristen