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Reynosa Hotels - hotels.com

Home | Mexico

The Reynosa Children's Home

101 Dalmatians - 32 Children - 1 Van -
and 10 Minutes to get to the Theater



by John Troesser

I saw the changing of the marquee on the Plaza on my way to visit the Reynosa children's home and thought it might be a treat for the kids. When I arrived I suggested it to the Director in a whisper and before he could nod his head, the kids were already lining up. They of course, had known about the movie long before it arrived at the theater. I think they have a Hollywood contact that calls them immediately after a movie is finished.

I went to get the tickets and found that there was a matinee starting in 15 minutes. It took five to get back to the children's home and it took four seconds for them to all assemble in formation. Since the van we were driving only sat eight, we figured that with a little compression we might make it in two trips.

They all felt they would somehow be missing out on something if they failed to arrive in the first batch, so I asked for everyone who was ugly to come forward to go first. I thought it might reduce the crush somewhat, but they saw right through this embarrassingly transparent ploy. With so much at stake, they pushed childhood narcissism aside and formed a beautiful straight line of children - all claiming ugliness.

some of the kids in line
The first wave of boys lines up
TE photo

Now since things are a little behind the times in Mexico, no "field trip forms" were needed nor a lawyer's signature. I opened the side door to the van and it suddenly looked like the roof of the US Embassy during the fall of Saigon. They knew two trips were planned, but they also knew there might be a cartoon not to be missed, so they squeezed in as if this had been rehearsed. Kids sat on laps that were already sitting on laps.

Four more could fit behind the last seat, but it would be tight. They lay down and seven kids climbed upon each other like living cordwood. The trunk lid was closed and even with all 32 of them in there, I found the driver's seat empty. The speed bumps brought expected laughter and pedestrians along the way did double takes. Our arrival in front of the theater literally stopped traffic. Many of the on-lookers thought it was one of those thousand-clowns-in-the-tiny-car routines from the circus.

We made it in time (since there was no cartoon) and I agreed to come pick them up (in three civilized trips) at the designated time. I arrived a little early and the usher nodded and allowed me in without paying. As I entered the darkened theater and my eyes were adjusting to the dark, I felt a small sticky hand grip my index finger and pull me toward a seat. After my eyes fully adjusted I looked to my right and saw that two entire rows of seats were filled, while every other seat in the theater was empty. It was like The Waltons in Mexico.

kids eating
Photo from a field trip to the Brownsville Zoo
TE photo

There were 32 sticky "thumbs up" and I suppose Ol' Walt was smiling down on us. Michael Eisner would probably be wondering why I hadn't paid my admission. I explained to the kids that we couldn't make the return trip with 32 at once and they were disappointed.

On the way back I thought I'd make a joke in my 3rd grade Spanish and I told the kids that I didn't think there were 101 Dalmations, and that I had only counted 99. Instead of a laugh, I got a spirited discussion and then the little boy next to me said politely: "Tio Juan, You forgot to count the Mama y Papa."


Text and photos John Troesser
More Columns by John Troesser
Related Topics: Mexico | Columns | Texas

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