Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why I Am Here


Yesterday, at the beginning of the eighth grade class, as I walked to my desk I stopped to pick up a paper and straightened up slowly putting my hand to my lower back. Then I walked over to where the class folders are and picked up the stack of folders for ninth grade. As I turned around, there was Jorge with his hands extended to take the papers from me, "here Mrs. Campbell, may I do this?" Then very quietly he added, "I think your back is bothering you, right?" I nodded and smiled and thanked him. How amazing that he observed that small slow movement my hand to my back and then quietly extended his help. Amazing, and that is one reason why it is worth the huge cut in pay to be here.

Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia

Reina invited me for an outing after school Wednesday. So at 4:00 she closes her office and finds me waiting in the reception area with all of my school “baggage” that I drag back and forth. She calls her son Joaquin and we squeeze into her economy size car and head out.
Small car and big load, for we are all healthy sized people, means we are slow on the incline of the mountain road. It is already a slow road because of the many curves but the mighty Land Rovers pass us quite easily if not a little impatiently.

We are on our way to Santa Lucia. (From the Lonely Planet tour book.) “Santa Lucia is a charming old Spanish mining town build on a hillside. Cobblestone lanes and walkways wind around the hillside, leading to small colonial –style homes and businesses.”

We are not long on the road when Reina gasps and breaks. In front of us is a “viper”. It has a lovely chartreuse green belly and a darker green and black designed back and white sides. Joaquin estimates it to be about a meter and a half long but all I can see is the flowing “s” shape as it quickly moves across the road and disappears into the brush at the side of the road. OoOOoo! Wildlife!

In just a few minutes we begin passing the nurseries where Debbie searched for the Red Hibiscus. Reina points to forested mountains to our far left and explains that they are part of the La Tigra Rainforest National Park – “just 45 minutes away” she says. Soon we come to a “Y” in the road and a sign pointing to Santa Lucia. Santa Lucia is said to be the Virgin to cure the eyes. Since Reina took me for my eye exam perhaps there is a hidden agenda for our visit.

Soon after the “Y” in the road we enter the outskirts of the village and Reina pulls over and parks next to the small lake or large pond that has a lovely walkway following the road and then on around to a small playground and public building. There are benches and flower beds. We stand and sit and admire the view. There is an almost mirror image reflection of the sky and wooded area across the lake. I snap a picture of Reina and the youngest of her four boys, Joaquin (8th grader). Across the street is a shop with parrots calling for customers to come into the brilliantly painted store.

We get back into the car and travel on down the road onto cobblestones and the narrow steep road down, down to the small church unfortunately already closed and locked for the evening. Across the street is a tiny home built into the mountainside that looks deceptively small. We can see only the top most part of the three level home. After I snap a picture I get the “camera full” signal so must rely on my sketch book to capture other images for my brain to ponder.

After a good sit and look about we get back into the car and bounce up the street to the community building and small terrace/park that overlooks the town and valley below. We sit on the wall and I sketch a bit of the area. The sun is starting to set so we get back into the car and bounce up the hill and then past the tree with large 8-10 inch long white bell shaped blossoms that line the ends of the branches like giant oblong lily of the valley making the branch bow down under the weight. I ask what the tree is called. Reina laughs but is unable to give me a name. She rolls down her window and asks the two men standing next to the tree. She laughs again, because the gentlemen have said a small joke, it is a tree whose blossoms when brewed as a tea are said to make you high, “why”, they say, “do you want to get high?” but alas still no name.

We drive on past the pond/lake and out past the “Y” onto the main mountain road. Reina suggests we have dinner together and we go by to pick up Joaquin’s “second oldest brother” from the motorcycle showroom where he works, to join us. When asked where I would like to eat, I suggest someplace they like to eat that is Honduran, not US franchise Honduran. So we go to the Patio. An open air restaurant I have often passed.

I order a yucca dish that Joaquin is eager for me to try along with some refried beans, tortias made in the traditional wood fired clay oven and salsa washed down with coca-lite. A small (3 member) mariachi band walks by offering to play for us but we prefer “the” conversation.

I am home after 8:00, very late for me on a school night. But what a treat the day has been. Thanks to Reina and her boys my eyes and camera are filled with new images, my tummy is full of new tastes and my ears are full of new voices, thoughts and insights.