February, My Best Month Yet!
The first event that happened that month was a civic dedication of the viewing hall and gate for the cemetery in town. There was a ceremony in which the outgoing mayor, the new mayor, and my landlord, the principle of the grammar school, all presided. They had a ribbon cutting, and my landlord Profesor Cesario, gave a speech. They asked me to take pictures for the event.
At the beginning of February, we had our annual meeting with the Agricultural Extension Sector and our boss, Gary. Again, we met at Lago de Yojoa resort, and I was able to report all my progress for once. Work was starting to really pickup, and I had three groups. They were in Plan Verde, Guachipilincito, and San Miguelillo. Everybody from our year was doing better, and we were able to council the newer volunteers. I came away from the experience feeling strong and ready to continue working with my groups. My work had suddenly become something that I really enjoyed, instead of feared and hated! I was relieved that I had made the effort to stay, and work through the difficult times, because I felt so rewarded now!
My boss, Gary, had made an arrangement to make his only visit to my site, which occurred that very month. Yes, it did seem strange that he only visited me once. A little more supervision might have helped me do better in the beginning! He might have been able to connect me with the Recursos Naturales office more successfully and earlier. He might have told me who was serious and who wasn't worth much, but that was not in the cards. Gary was scheduled to be there for one day. I took him over to Plan Verde, because it was located along the road. We met with Don Aquilino, Don Jenaro, and Don Fermin, and showed Gary the terrace that had all the beautiful radishes growing in it. Next, we went back to Concepcion, and walked over to San Miguelillo. He was very impressed with my farmers and how motivated they seemed. He told me that I had made a good decision in working with all of them. Finally, he and Don Filipe from Guachipilincito went west to Magdalena to check on Robert, the volunteer living there. This is when we found out that he didn't like the work, and had decided that he was leaving for good. They did find out that there was lots of work, and another volunteer was stationed there the next year. I felt proud of myself for staying through all the hard times!
I was working well with my groups, but according to the women in Plan Verde, the men didn't want to work with them. The men had a macho attitude, and couldn't understand why the women were in the group. I vowed that I would put them in their place, and apparently that worked , because they allowed the women to come back into the group. Everybody ended up getting along, finally. I couldn't figure it out, because this wasn't the case in San Miguelillo. They worked harmoniously together, until everything got eaten by the insects. After that, I had only one farmer, Don Rene.
You may think that I was always surrounded by friends, boyfriends, little kids and visitors. This was actually not true. It was a time for me to get to know myself, and spend lots of evenings alone. When there was no electricity, I would burn matches and then turn them over and burn the other end, to see how much would burn. Sometimes, it was very lonely, because except for my young friend Maria, everyone had stopped visiting. I was kind of old news by then. I would always visit certain friends each afternoon, but I had a lot of time to write in my journal, listen to the Voice of America and the Christian Science Monitor, read books, and write letters to my friends and family. Like I've said, I was always writing on some letter or other. My letters usually spanned a few weeks, and they were full of information. I was thankful that people returned them to me after the fact.
Sometimes, I would hear how young men were talking about me. They were trying to pronounce my last name, Grubb. This seemed an impossibility for everyone, but they all tried extremely hard to pronounce it. I thought this was all hilarious, but now I'm sure that wasn't all they were saying about me. It was Valentine's Day, and I was officially single, wanting to stay that way. Well, my longtime admirer, Martin, had other plans. He came to my front door, drunk and bearing a "gold" ring in the shape of a butterfly, which he said he'd worked to buy. I couldn't believe that, because he would go on benders that never ended. I just couldn't see him working a day in his life. Anyway, He wouldn't take no for an answer and made me take the ring. I ended up throwing it back at him, and yelling some extremely unfriendly words his way. I felt very empowered! It became a turning point for him though, as he stopped drinking for the rest of the time I was there. This didn't impress me in the least, and I never gave him the time of day. Except, I had danced with him in December, and I allowed him to take a picture with me that next May during the Flower Festival.
The winter Olympics were in full swing. I would sometimes see the ice skaters on TV, if someone had forgotten to change the channel. I've always loved watching ice skating, but no one ever wanted to watch in town. I had made an arrangement to stay with my American cousins, the Landsdales, during this time. I was there to get my Gamma Gobulin shot, and watch the women's ice skating! I got to the house, when suddenly there was a power outage, and I wasn't able to see the beginning of the show! All that travel for nothing! Fortunately, the electricity did come back, and I was able to watch the main part!
I had befriended an older lady named Dona Maria, who lived on the square near the Catholic church. She had eight sons, and yet she was a very feminine woman.One of her sons lived in San Pedro Sula, and he was obviously gay. She kept on telling me that she hoped he would find a nice girl and get married. I just agreed with her, because she wouldn't have understood anything else. She was very generous and always had a popsicle or "charamusca" for me. Her husband was a very quiet but devout man, always participating in funerals and ceremonies. She was also a very devout Catholic, who had gone on many pilgrimages to Esquipulas, Guatemala. She told me about the time that she had been eight months pregnant, and walked the whole distance from Concepcion to Esquipulas. It had taken the family a few days to arrive. At that time, I decided I wanted to see Esquipulas, Guatemala during Holy Week, and I would go on the pilgrimage my friends the Amayas led every year.