It was the beginning of April, 1993, and I I had been in Honduras for a whole year. I was listening to some casette tapes of Mexican and Honduran music, that I bought in Teguc. Suddenly, I realized that I understood them much better, then when I first heard them. This sent a cold chill down my back, even though I was sweating from the heat!
My friend and neighbor, O had told me that he wanted to show me his home of origin, San Miguelito; so that I could meet his brother and family, and possibly work with them. I thought this sounded like a wonderful idea. We settled on a Saturday that we could be gone the whole day, since O was the math and "English" teacher at the local junior high. We left at 4:00 am, because the walk was long and complex, about three hours! First, we walked down the main road, and ate with his farmer friend who lived in Jiquinlaca. Then, we walked for another two hours, turning corners, and walking down different roads finally arriving at his brother Don M's house in the village of San Miguelito.
Upon arriving, O informed his brother that I was not averse to drinking alcohol. He was elated with this information and immediately served us all a shot of kasusa, the local corn vodka. It tasted horrible, and it was way too early in the morning for a drink, but fun none-the-less. Then, I sat down and talked to the couple, and met their fifteen year old daughter, I. I felt for I, because she already had a little baby girl. When she pulled me into the house to request me as the baby's godmother, I agreed immediately. Afterwards, we went outside with the family, and planned the ceremony that would happen in two weeks. I thought that I could come and spend the night, and work with the whole family. Then, to celebrate, Don M picked a coconut from their tree. Cutting off the top, he gave me a straw to drink the water from it. Needless to say, I didn't really enjoy the coconut much. We all laughed over that one! They all thought I was pretty entertaining, and I enjoyed all of them.
From there, I paid a visit to the elementary school up the hill, where I talked to the teachers, and made plans to work with the students at the school. They had a steep hillside outside, where they were going to plant corn. I explained that we could make some dead barriers to keep the soil from sliding down the hill. I got along well with one of the teachers, as he had lived in New York for a few years. I was very optimistic about the situation, doing this demonstration plot with special planting processes. People would be able to see what we were doing, and then they might want to work in their farms, too.
Don M's wife, Dona G, worked in development with the women of San Miguelito, and it looked like we could have a group doing cooking projects. I told them about a nitrogen fixing bean, and we decided that the group would make some bread with it. This bean would put necessary nitrogen into the soil as it grew, and was known as frijol de abono, or a miracle bean. At the end of the day, I felt extremely positive, as if this area was going to work out. We had met many people, and imbibed many cocktails. It was time to walk the three hours home! Yes, that's right! It was three long hours, and it was already late afternoon!
As O and I were walking by a fence of live suculents, Don M leaned over and yanked out the center of one of them, calling it motate. He gave it to me, and told me to ask their mother to prepare it for me with egg. She did the next day, and it turned out to be my favorite vegetable, but it only had a two weeks season in April. Each year, I made the most of the season, eating more than one a day!
On the way home, we walked by an old woman's house, and thankfully she offered us coffee. Then, we were semi-ready to make the long trek home. Really, I'm not sure how I did it, but about half way there, I sat down in the road declaring that I just couldn't go on. Well, O pulled me up and somehow I made it home. It was the most fun I'd had thus far, and I knew I had found a really great friend. We ended up coming home in the dark at 9:00 pm!
The next morning my friend V woke me up at 6:15 am. She and her sister told me that they were all going to a celebration at the source of the water project for Concepcion. I was really tired, but they were so excited that I ended up going along with them. Since it was a special occasion, I wore a skirt, and sandals. Well, they misrepresented the walk, which was over two hours of rough terraine, and my sandals got completely ruined. After about two hours, we finally arrived at a place that didn't look much differnent from any other. They had a short groundbreaking ceremony, and then we made the long treck home. I returned early at 2:00 pm, exhausted from the long walk.
That afternoon, the postman delivered ten letters, which had been collecting at his house over two weeks. One of them was a package from my mother with a new skirt and blouse in it. I immediately put them on, and proceeded to get many compliments. I enjoyed writing letters to friends and family. Every few weeks, I would get so tired that I would stay home all day and write letters. Sometimes, I would write long marathon letters, that would begin on one day, and finish a week or two later. One male volunteer heard me talk about the volume of mail that I received, and commented jealously. I asked him how many letters he wrote, and he answered, "none". I told him, "if you write to people, they will write to you."
This particular day, one of the letters didn't have a stamp on it. It had come under the door while I was away with V, and it was from one of my work counterparts named E. He'd written a beautiful love letter, but he hadn't given it to me directly. Unfortunately, I wasn't too impressed with him, because he seemed to lack the energy that I needed in a partner. He also happened to live in my friend N's house, and even though we weren't really together, we were still talking. It just didn't seem right to accept attention from E. I enjoyed reading the letter, and I saved it for a while and read it to my mother. I didn't follow up with him, and needless to say, we never worked together. One time, I got a free ride in the back of his truck, but that was the extent of our contact.
The next day, V invited me to their water project dedication party, but I didn't find anyone to work with, because no one owned land. I only sold three people the nitrogen fixing beans, after giving a short speech about their merits. I also had to tell a joke in Spanish which proved difficult, and I danced with the water project director. There, I found a farmer who I thought wanted to learn something, but when I got to his field, he had a group of workers planting in the traditional way. After three hours of that, I left feeling disillusioned.
The next week, I went to Guachipilincito to work on the plot in Don L's farm, using the new level A the farmers had made. In the morning, Don F, Don L, and I worked setting out the pegs on the plot of land. I told the men about the love letter from E, because they told me he'd done a development project with them. They laughed with me and thought it was pretty funny! In the afternoon, Don L and I picked the land, because it was his land. I came back feeling tired with blisters on my hands, but it was satisfying to get something done! I was very happy!