So I get to have a little help in the internet cafe, which means that for three weeks now, someone has deleted my post when I am almost finished. I think this week she understood she had deleted my work when an older boy asked if it was erased and I said yes I have to do it again. She looked at me concerned and I told her it was okay, but now she has to wait for me to write it all again to play games. That suck in and she quickly left the mouse alone. So here we go again.
I can’t believe I am halfway through, I imagined it a little differently. Somehow I thought I would have some profound revelation, or be fundamentally altered by now. I think I might be, at least I know I am growing and learning, but being submerged in this culture it is difficult to see. I love it here, I love the simple rhythm of my days, the alone time and the profoundly quiet and dark nights. Which, I learned this week are not always so dark. Every night we eat soup for dinner, which is a habit I plan to continue. However, we eat at eight or so at night, when everyone has returned from the fields, and since I wake up at five thirty, I go to bed immediately afterwards. Since I ingest copious liquids before bed, I wake up at three or so every morning to use the bathroom. This week, I left my room to find the most beautiful sky full of stars, I don’t think I have seen anything so inspiring in my life. I understand why these people choose to live in isolation, which I am learning is relative, as is cleanliness but I’m still alive so no complaints. People may not have internet, but they do have telephones, and they definitely use them. Every night there are regular phone calls to friends and family, and I can’t help but think of how often I talk to my own family in the States. It’s so easy there, email, phone calls at any time of the day anywhere without any thought to how long I talk. Here people learn to do a lot with only a little. A lesson I am learning as calls to the US are fifty cents a minute, but at least I can call. Every Sunday people walk, drive, or ride into the village to socialize. Here people dance, play, and buy from their neighbors, and in this amount of time, they spread the local news and doings around the area. I am getting used to the cold showers and have found a routine that works pretty well. I think I spend twice as much time out of the water as in it but I have stopped dreading it and instead can even think about thigs other than hypothermia while washing my hair. I have a difficult time explaining the beauty and simpliticty of this life to my family, part of that is I only have a few words, and a short amount of time. I love everything about this place, even the isolation affords me privileges that I don’t get in the US. The people here are incredibly caring and show me nothing but love and appreciation in a subtle and constant way. I am given more food than I should be given, more than anyone else. Hilda has quickly learned my soft spot for fruit and will introduce me to all of the exotic and delicious varieties growing around their land. I am left to myself in the afternoons when the work is too hard or dangerous. At first I didn’t understand their constant insistence that I rest, but there is a certain pride to it. The fact that they can complete their work without making their guest uncomfortable is something they, for lack of a better term, pride themselves in. I think the best part of all of this is the children. They make the walk up the mountain worth it. Romel has collected every scrap of English I have given him in a carefully guarded notebook. Cyntia will proudly recite the English names of fruits when I draw them for other students. Doris checks on me every fifteen minutes or so and will reexplain what I am trying to have the younger girls do. She has teacher in her blood. Patricia and Samira are my companions during recreo(recess) and invent increasingly complex drawings for me to give them. All of them are beautiful individuals with desires and dreams that although are simple, are still wonderful and I hope with all my heart are possibilities for them.
This week, the twelfth of June, we celebrated the Day for the Erradication of Child Labor. We made posters and pictoral depictions with slogans like ‘working is for adults, studying is for children’. The teacher even brought in a few videos on her laptop, which was very popular. Children have the same open mouthed expression watching videos here as American children do when watching TV. Hypnosis I swear. Afterwards we played games, and ate food. I don’t know if the message was received, but to me it was rather poignant. Just a few years ago my endlessly curious and fun loving students would be following in their parent’s footsteps doing work in the fields that I am not allowed to do. I got to learn local games and play so it was a fun, but thought provoking day.
On the home front, I came home on Friday to three dogs full of porcupine quills. I helped Vicente and Nachi remove them in a very traumatic experience for me and the dogs. Vicente and Nachi were completely non-plussed and calmly pinned the dogs to ground, wrenched their mouths open and removed all of the life threatening quills with a steady hand. Doing without many conveniences means adopting multiple roles. Hild early this week had to give a young bull medicine, and that meant jamming a very large needle into its hip and quickly attaching and administering the syringe full of liquid. Vicente castrates all of his animals himself. Not only is it cheaper to do these treatments themselves, it’s more practical since the nearest vet is four to five hours away driving. They perform all of these tasks with a resignation that astounds me.
Time to start the next half of my journey!