Collaboration and My Best Birthday
Once I'd gotten home from Costa Rica, I made a list of the best and worst things of 1993, and a list of resolutions for 1994. A few of the best things I included from 1993 were: meeting Nahun and everything to do with him, going to San Miguelito with Osmar and the first good working ventures there, the trips to San Francisco and Costa Rica, meeting Edwin, finding San Miguelillo, and Plan Verde. A few of the worst things that I included were: the worst birthday of my life with the fire, and all of February, Michele leaving Honduras, going to the hospital twice in the summer, severing ties with San Miguelito and Vilma, my difficulties with men, and breaking up with Nahun. I felt that if I made a list of resolutions, maybe I could stick to them. They were mostly about work, improving my Spanish further, making sure no one else stole anything, no new Honduran boyfriends, and taking a trip to Guatemala and El Salvador. When I got home I wanted to take a trip across the United States, which I ended up doing. Ultimately, I just wanted to help as many people learn new agricultural practices as possible. I also wanted to see a little more of the world in Central America, and I was able to do that.
I was already starting to look toward the end of my service in eight months. I definitely wanted more work to show for my time there in Concepcion, but I wasn't quite sure how to get it. People were so sad and hopeless, really. I wrote that I didn't think it could change much, with all the people and children who were sick and dying. It just didn't seem that they really cared about changing their lives. All they seemed to worry about were reputations and what people thought of them. I also seemed to feel out of sync with everyone in town, and the farmers with whom I was trying to work. I hoped to feel better once I visited my two new towns San Miguilillo and Plan Verde.
I had gone to the Peace Corps office to get vegetable seeds, so that we could plant again in the seedbeds and terrace that were already made. Early in the month, I made a trip to the new town called San Miguelillo. There were seven families of men, women, and children who were participating. We planted radish, onion, pepper, and tomato seeds into a large seedbed. This group seemed really excited and reliable at the time. One of the women even made a duplicate seedbed all by herself. Unfortunately, the insects ate a lot of what was in the seedbeds, and the group dwindled to two men, one woman, and two girls.
During our agricultural meeting in Teguc, a young man from Zamorano Agricultural School, named Julio, said that he could come and help any of us with our farmers. I thought it might be good to get him out to see what was going on with these farms. He proved to be a successful connection, as he came all the way out twice. His first visit was in March.
My other incredibly successful town was Plan Verde. This town was located right along the road, and therefore extremely easy to find. I also liked this town, because I could always get a free ride home on the truck taxi returning to Concepcion. There were about seven families in this group, too. I had one woman named Dona Juana, and even a fifteen year old girl named Maria. There were also five men who were very enthusiastic. I spent many happy days with them, especially Dona Juana and some of the men. As I said, we had tried to plant vegetables in a fenced terrace, but they hadn't come up. In January, I brought the new seeds, and we planted them in this beautiful terrace. It seemed at the time, maybe only three men Don Aquilino, Don Naro, and Don Fermin would be in the group. This didn't turn out to be the case, because everyone came back, once the vegetables worked out. At this point, I was telling everyone at home that my "brilliant career" of Agricultural Extension was finally talking off. It was about time, and I felt energized. As I said in a letter it was wonderful to find people that weren't apathetic or pretending to be interested!
Around this time, there were two American women who showed up in La Esperanza, Judy and Suzanne. They were living together, and they planned to start an orphanage. They were interesting people, especially Judy who became a great friend of mine. She was a colorful person who was about forty years old, and ready for any adventure. She had been married for about twenty years, and then gotten divorced and decided to move to Honduras of all places. We became great friends over the next eight months. It was nice to have a new American friend to speak english with every two weeks or so. I was very grateful for her friendship throughout that year.
It happened to be my birthday that month, and I wanted to make it at least better than the year before had been. You can go back and read about what a catastrophe that turned out to be. Anyway, I had mentioned to Nahun and his family that my birthday was coming up, and he had said that he was leaving soon and wanted to celebrate with me. I wasn't expecting much, but when I went over to buy dinner, as I sometimes did, Dona Tina gave me a free dinner plate and Don Tonio gave me a beer, completely out of character for him. After that, we all went out to the back courtyard, and they threw water on me in the Concepcion tradition. Nahun took pictures of me, and then we finally took a picture together. Then, his mother lent me her prettiest dress, because I was completely drenched. and she sang me a song about God that was very inspiring. It was a beautiful experience, and I felt exceptionally loved. We took more pictures, and then Nahun, his two brothers, another friend of theirs and I went over to my room.
First, I changed out of the dress into something else dry, and then they showed up with some beers. After a little while, the other guys left us there in my room. We talked of how much we'd missed each other, and just enjoyed just being together. Soon his brother, Hubert, came and told him that they needed him to work on the satellite dish, because he was the only one in town who could figure it out. Finally, on the third try Hubert got him to go home. Apparently, there were a lot of people waiting for him to fix the problem. The next day, my friend Yesenia Nolasco said that they hadn't been able to watch their show, because Nahun was at my room for a birthday party. I said yes, sheepishly. Unfortunately, we decided that this was a moment of suspended reality, and overall it still wouldn't work, but it was a perfect birthday. The next week, we said goodbye for the last time until June. We both felt that we needed to get on with our lives, but it was a bittersweet moment between us.