My Introduction to Concepcion
My house mother gave me a handmaid ceramic basket for my graduation from training. Then, she and the family sent me on my way. When packing, I put it on the top of my smaller but overpacked carry on bag. As I was transporting luggage from the bus to my hotel in La Esperanza, I put this bag on my back like a backpack. It was not meant for such treatment, and I was completely imbalanced wearing it. It was raining and I fell backwards into a gutter that was running like a river. I stood up under my own power, but ended up breaking the vase and getting very wet. I wonder how many people saw me do that! I felt that I just had to keep on going. Sometimes, I wonder how I got through that first completely foreign period of time, at all. It was very lonely! Later that day, when I glued the ceramic basket together, there were some small peices missing, which wasn't surprising. I think this represents the difficulties that I went through in my Peac Corps experience, and the changes it rought in me.
Upon my arrival to Concepcion, the first thing to take place was the decision on the possible land transfer to El Salvador. The second day I was in town was the day we discovered if Concepcion would become a new part of El Salvador. That afternoon, I gathered with a bunch of men listening closely to a shortwave radio. We heard the good news that the only land to be transferred to El Salvador was an island off the south coast. Well, that was a relief to everyone. I didn't know what I would have done, if it had become a part of El Salvador, because I already liked the place so much. I didn't have to worry, anymore!
About a week later, September 15th, the town celebrated Honduran Independence Day. There was a parade with students, teachers, and lots of dancing and marching. I met many young girls, who wanted to talk to me. That evening, I was invited to a dance that went into the night. After all the excitement, I was very tired; so, I spent the next afternoon listening to music in my room with the door closed. What overload!
As you can see, I had many little friends, that loved to visit me. I was getting to know some families, even visiting them every day, already. I soon found a family from whom I regularly bought tortillas.
Within the first weeks, I made a plan to meet an old farmer at 7:00 am on Sunday, and visit his farm. We were horseback riding slowly down a steep and slippery hill. It didn't seem we were going anywhere in particular. Suddenly, he just stopped and declared his love for me. I didn't know what to do. The whole thing was very unsatisfactory, since he was supposed to be showing me his land, and introducing me to people. I got off the horse, and went back up the hill to my room. What a waste of time!
The small room where I lived, bordered on a courtyard. In the garden, there was a cement holding tank called a pila, where I washed my clothes and got drinking water. The water had to be boiled on my kerosene stove, before drinking. We had no electricity in town; so, I had a lantern that I used to write and read by at night. I went to bed pretty early, around 9 o'clock.
There were usually some students that gathered in the courtyard, because they wanted to talk to the teacher who lived in an adjoining room. One day a young man named E. was there, and he professed his love for me. Being young and impressionable myself, I thought this sounded exciting, so I let him talk to me. My little friend G. would come by and tell me about how he was writing a song for me, and her brother L. told me beautiful things that E. supposedly had said, as well. I never heard anything about it from him, though. In fact, he just disappeared completely, and I never saw him again until a bit later in this story.
Shortly thereafter, O., the teacher who lived in the courtyard invited me along on a high school field trip to the waterfall along the Rio Negro. While we were walking down to the waterfall, O. told me that he was the English teacher but hardly knew English. I felt so sorry for him, that I offered to help with his classes, which ultimately meant I mostly just graded tests. Once we reached our destination, we had a feast of chicken, and then some of us went swimming. I tried to teach all the kids to float on their backs. On the way back, we had to walk uphill, and it was horribly hot. Thank goodness a truck came along, as I hung on to the outside of it, catching a ride up the hill. The next day my hand swelled up, because some unkown water insect had stung me.
After this, my friend V. decided to take me down the hill from where she lived in La Guaruma. She introduced me to many people, and then we ended up drinking the milk of a very thin and unhealthy cow. Both X., V.'s daughter, and I got sick. I was very sick, with a temperature of 101. I never even saw or worked with these people, again. Most people in La Guaruma rented land so they were not willing to put a lot of work into their plots. I gave up on that area pretty soon, once I realized this.
My friend, C., who was the maid at Don T.'s house, told me about the dedication for a water project in her town of Guachipilincito. The party was to last for three days, and I was staying two nights at her parents' house. She invited me to walk down and meet her family in advance. I was excited to go and meet her parents, brother, and five year old son. We sat, and talked about the future party all day, and then went home. It was quite interesting thinking about the celebration, and what it might be like.