One Good Thing Leads to Another
When we got home from the field trip, everyone was energized and ready to try something new. I already had some farmers who had made compost piles, namely Don Rene, and Dona Juana. Juana and her husband also made three level barriers, and a drainage ditch on their farm. He couldn't do much work, because of his severe arthritis, but he did help with the compost pile. One day, we went out and spread stove ash all over their field. I still enjoyed working with her, and we got along very well. She had a few chickens that wandered around their house and outside of it. They had received one from World Vision, and she decided to kill it, and make chicken soup on a day I was there. I was concerned that she killed it instead of using it for eggs, but she insisted on making this delicious soup. I ate it while I waited for the truck to Concepcion.
Many of the other farmers in Plan Verde were inviting me to their farms to work. I worked with two older men, Don Felicito and Don Marcos, making level dead barriers to keep the land from washing down the hillsides. Some of the plots were fairly steep, and there was a lot of erosion. At this point, I had blisters on my hands from working so hard with heavy farm equipment. I estimated that I had helped make kilometers of dead barriers and drainage ditches with the level A. It was really quite exciting, and I actually really liked my job. It's funny how quickly my opinion changed, once I found the right people.
The walk to Plan Verde was a long one, about two and a half hours. I had to walk over a bridge to the other side of Rio Negro, and I would sometimes stop and talk to the older woman who lived right by the river. One time, she was gathering her laundry off the line, and I admired a tablecloth that she'd made. It was embroidered with her initials and a big flower in the middle. She immediately took it off the line and handed it to me as a gift. I tried to give it back, but she wouldn't hear of it. I still have it.
I was going to Plan Verde about twice weekly, so Don Aquilino and Don Naro asked me to move to El Espino, next door to Plan Verde. Since it was a long walk, this sounded like a plausible idea. They said there was a small house that I could live in, but I didn't want to move out of Concepcion, and I also thought it would be difficult to be so far from the other two communities. I did think about telling my boss, Gary, that the next volunteer should live there, but I changed my mind. There were so many more communities around Concepcion, and the living conditions were much better. There wasn't any electricity or running water, and I would have had to pour a cement floor. It was a sweet thought though, and I felt well loved by the community.
It was Mother's Day, and I went to La Esperanza to call my mother. I attempted to call a few times, but didn't get through to her. One of those times was at the local telephone office called Hondutel. I went into a phone booth, and the person sitting behind the counter would dial the number for me. Well, this particular time the guy behind the counter was just sitting there making personal calls, instead of helping us three people who were waiting. I gave up after a while. I think this started about two months of time, when I was completely unable to talk to my mother by phone. Sometimes, she wasn't home, and she also took a trip to England for two weeks. We did continue to write each other, though.
My other great success story was Don Pasqual, or Paco, and his wife Guadalupe. He invited Lucio and Filipe, his neighbors in Guachipilincito, to come and work with us, but they didn't show up. We put in some drainage ditches and dead barriers of corn stalks. This gave me blisters, but I was happy, because that meant I'd been working hard. I felt things were going very well with my job, and I didn't hate it anymore!
During this time, my little friend, Maria continued to visit me everyday. She would always tell me if a special food was available, and I would send her out with money to buy things. Sometimes, she would get me eggs, or guajada which was a delicious, white, salty cheese. She and her mother did a lot of crocheting, and I bought two of her works of art. This happened to be the season for my favorite vegetable, the motate. It was a strange vegetable that grew straight out of the middle of a spiny succulent. It had a season of about two weeks, and she bought it for me everyday. I would combine it with egg, as I had eaten it the first time.
I was still writing and receiving letters. I had gotten to know the postman pretty well, as he was always coming over with deliveries. One time, I went to bring him some letters that I'd written, and he told me about how he'd traveled on a ship in the US. He'd been to New York and New Orleans among other places. He invited me to go fishing in his pond. He took a trail that was down the hill from the main trail to La Guaruma, and we soon arrived at the large man made pond. He told me to be extremely quiet. As he threw his net into the water, I could see fish swimming around, and pretty soon two small ones settled in the area where he'd laid the net out. He proceeded to pull in the net with them in it. I had fresh fish for dinner with my tortillas that night. They were boney and small, but what a delicacy!
The last week of May our group of Agricultural Extensionists had its close of service conference. We still had three months to go, but they wanted to get everyone together before people started leaving. We had different activities, shared about our accomplishments, and played endless Spades card games. I especially enjoyed talking to two of the guys from the group. One was Paul, or Pablo as we called him. We'd been in the same Spanish learners group during training. The other was Andy, as he'd always been supportive of my efforts.
Somehow, someone started a conversation about the people they thought would leave throughout the time. Six of our group did leave, three men and three women. One woman said that she thought I would leave. Andy said that he knew I would never leave, after that first time I taught them all to dance the Punta in the beginning of training. I was thankful for him, but offended by the other person's comment. Some of the guys made editorial comments about my innocence, and seemed to think it was funny to mock me about my life choices. They didn't want to hear my dramatic stories, so I just kept them to myself and only shared them with Judy and in letters home to my friends. Ultimately, I felt like the odd person out in my group, and I was much more comfortable with the people in my site. As I have said, "I went Honduran", when I was there.
On the last day of the conference, we used our leftover money from graduation training for a COS (Close of Service) party. We bought lots of alcohol, and celebrated with some of the business volunteers. The eleven out of seventeen Agricultural Extensionists who stuck it out the whole time took a picture together. We also took aa pictures with both the business and agriculture groups. It was festive, if a little bit boring. I just wanted to get back to my town, and all of my friends there.
On the way home, I took the bus that went directly to La Esperanza. It was an old school bus from the US that had been retrofitted for use in Honduras. The seats were small, and close together. When I got on, there were two guys in the seat behind inquiring if I had a boyfriend, and harassing me about it. Of course, I said yes to get them to stop bothering me. It was kind of true, because either Nahun or Edwin might just turn up magically. This harassment continued on and off until we got to the outskirts of La Esperanza. At the first stop, guess who should get on, but Nahun! The last times we'd seen each other had not been positive, but neither were they surprising. He'd told me that he had a new girlfriend, although we had still agreed that we had feelings for each other.We forgot all of that, and immediately our eyes locked. The seat next to me was taken, but when that person left, he came over to sit with me. We didn't say much, but just held hands, put our heads together, and enjoyed the moment. It was probably only fifteen minutes, but perfect as our last romantic memory together. I could hear the guys behind me totally flummoxed. They couldn't believe what they were seeing! It was a wonderful moment of serendipity!