Slivers of Hope in the Middle of Disillusionment
While I was still recovering from my staph infection, a self-appointed electrician installed a light bulb from the middle of my ceiling, and put in a couple of outlets. Then, there was light! I also had him install a beautiful multicolored hammock that my friend V had ordered for me. It was a good deal for about $15. It hung from one side of my room to the other. I would spend time there in the evenings, reading or listening to my shortwave radio. Light was rationed each day, on for six hours, and then off for six. Sometimes, when it was dark, I would fall asleep in the hammock, and then wake up at midnight to the lightbulb turning on. That was rather a rude awakening, but kind of funny, too.
The same day I got electricity, I wrote many letters to people in the US, and Honduras. One was a friendly letter to my friend N, and another was a letter to my new boyfriend, E, in San Pedro Sula. I also wrote a letter to my ex-boyfriend in the US. He was one of my best correspondents. In the letter to him, I said that I was going to be confusing the mailman, by sending all three letters on the same day, but to different guys!
That night, my friend, O and N's brother, invited me to the Liberal Party Dinner. I was the only woman who was present, which really surprised me. I guess I didn't get the memo about political neutrality for Peace Corps Volunteers, because most of my friends were from that party. Even though I didn't talk about politics, I somehow didn't get along as well with the Nationalistas in town.
That next morning, I went to San Miguelito for a party at the church. When I arrived, everything was disorganized, and the men had already started drinking. M and the local teacher wanted me to drink with them again, but I said no. I ended up hanging out with the women and girls of the family, and watching the men drink. I was wondering about what had happened to the tools, that I had lent M. I was beginning to believe my friend O, when he told me M had sold them for alcohol, even though he vehemently denied it. That night, I stayed over at their house, but accomplished nothing! Finally, I asked M's wife what had happened to the tools, and I found out that he had sold them for 27 Lempiras, about three dollars. I gave her the money to buy them back, but she bought an old pick, and used the rest of the money on a debt. She said that she would deliver the tools to me in Concepción. They didn't come for a week.
During this week, I was feeling sick to my stomach most of the time, and I missed at least two days of work. Also, my scalp began to itch, again. My sweet young friend M came to visit as always, and I asked her to inspect my scalp. Well, it appeared that I had contracted a new case of lice at San Miguelito, the night I stayed over! I asked her to assist me in pulling them out, and then I washed everything, used the lice shampoo, and deloused my hair for about two hours. I remember putting my pillow out on a tree, and letting the sun burn all the lice out. The next day, my little friend inspected my head once more and gave me a clean bill of health. For the remainder of my time, I steered clear of those pests!
That weekend, there was a traditional dance competition at the junior high called Festival de Canciones. My friend O invited me to be one of the judges for the competition, along with him and another teacher. I watched all the dancers, and took some pictures for the school. It was a festive occasion. For lunch, they had carne asada which was a local delicacy, but I didn't like it much; as they literally put the meat onto the coals and let it burn. It always turned out hard and tough.
I returned a week later to San Miguelito, because I had made a date to work with the women's and men's groups. When I got there the women, and the ingredients, were nowhere to be seen. Also, the men's group had assembled, but they were all drunk. M said that it wasn't his fault that no one else wanted to work. I said that it was better that we never work together again, because I really wanted to work with people who had "clear minds". One of the farmers tried to talk, and I told him that I could talk way better than him! I never went back there for either group. The village was a total loss to me, and I never saw that family again, even though I had the goddaughter there. M told me where my shovel was, and I bought it back for 20 Lempiras. He also gave me a new pickaxe and hoe, that he'd gotten from a development organization. Looking back on that, I feel bad about the whole thing. I kind of hope they got another set of tools. I ended up walking back with all the tools over my shoulder, and only got a ride when I was almost home. It was a sad time for me, but sadder for them, really, because they had to continue living in such difficult circumstances.
Later that month, while visiting Guachipilincito, Don F agreed to start some soil conservation practices and use organic material to improve the soil. Still, it was mostly talk, but he was a real supporter, so that made me feel good. I felt that he was very enthusiastic and could be a good salesman, at least. Ultimately, his brother put much more of the agricultural practices into action, though.
I had been waiting for a letter from my new boyfriend E for quite a while, and I had begun to wonder if he had forgotten about me. When I went to visit my friend V, curiosity killed me, and I had to ask her about him. I was not expecting what I heard. She told me a litany of things that he'd done, and how the town called him Pepecho, which seemed to be another name for crazy. It appeared that I had made a fatal mistake in picking someone who was a joke among the women of Concepción. Her husband laughed to think that I'd kissed him. It was pure humiliation! The one good thing that happened that day was an invitation to be godmother to their daughter. I was happy to accept. I would have to buy her a dress and socks for the occasion; therefore I had something positive to plan, even with all this negativity.
I went home, and that's when I finally received a beautiful letter from E. Immediately, I ran over to my friend D to ask her about him, and even though she hadn't lived there long, she knew about him! Her husband O came in, and sure enough, he said that E was crazy and immature. Finally, I went to my little friend G's mother, who had been expecting me, after I told her about us. She seemed to think that he wasn't quite as bad as they all said, but that he did a lot of impulsive things and wasn't my caliber at all. That day, I wrote him a breakup letter, but this story was not over, as you will see. In fact, he reached out to me three years ago, and sent a message that started with, "HOLA MI PRECIOSA". I erased it without answering, of course; since we are both married, although I have to say it was rather exciting!
In the middle of August, while on my way home from La Esperanza, I ate a homemade popsicle made from tainted water. Being thirsty, I forgot the water there was always polluted. Immediately, I got very sick to my stomach, and took some medicine from Don T, the nurse. Peace Corps had said that we weren't supposed to take medicine from locals, but I was desperate. It didn't really help, so I decided to check myself into the hospital again in Teguc. I really felt like I needed a big hug. Anyway, this made me feel somewhat better, but they couldn't find anything wrong. The German nurse from the Peace Corps office came over and told me that if I went to the hospital again, they would send me home. Later, she apologized, because they found some record stating that I'd had Giardia. I was never treated for anything and sent home quickly. After this, I never went to the hospital again, and commenced self-medicating in my site when necessary.
After this tumultuous time, I prayed that the next month would be completely different, and let's just say it was. Read on and you'll find out what happened!