August, 2011 § Leave a comment
The next morning Delmy took the bus and Christine took me on her scooter to the school. As soon as we got there, Doña Bictelia wanted to talk to me about my plans.
I cursed my dumb self for not bringing the list of questions. She and I sat down and she asked me what my plans were. I’m a little ashamed to say it but, six months came out of my mouth. She gave the impression of having no idea how long I was planning to stay and so, out of fear or divine providence, I spoke from the heart. She said she’s grateful for any and all the time I can spend with them. She said the last girl, Mackenzie, only was here three or four months and she made a huge impact on the school and some of the things she advised/implemented have changed the school forever. Good. Six months. More if I want, but no obligation. I feel… free, at peace, and cowardly. I hope everyone at home doesn’t make me regret this with their weighted questions, plans, and judgement.
The conversation went logistic after that. Doña Bictelia shared with me her vision for the school, what she’ll have me do, their curriculum, etc.
After we ran out of school topics, she started asking my expectations for payment and said she could give me whatever minimum wage is in the States. I told her that for the initial six months pay would not be necessary. I said all I needed from her was a place to sleep and food to eat. She was so grateful and started getting teary eyed. I told her this is, for me, a privilege to help a great school. I didn’t want to see her get too grateful because I know what I’m doing has nothing to do with my character. It only means that maybe I’ve gotten rid of enough of my character to allow someone else’s to make an impact on my actions. She knew that, too, because she kept saying, in between thank you’s, that God is so good.
I had fun at the school despite the pressure I felt to memorize every name only to forget them in the next six months. I took a list of the textbooks and prices to see if they might be cheaper in the States. Delmy engaged her kids in a game that I participated in. I tutored three kids with their math, in English. THAT was a doozy.
And, I observed a spelling class. The teacher was displaying a strange mixture of trying to impress me with her English but not so much with her teaching. She’s obviously a smart chick to sense that I know more about English than teaching! She got so frustrated with those kids and by the end decided to just sit down as she told them they aren’t leaving and she’s not even going to write what the homework is on the board. I was surprised she would let me see her get so defeated, or maybe she saw it as a sign of strength. Probably the latter because if I know one thing about Hondurans, it’s that they “save face”. The good news is, she did actually let the children leave after class. So, taking hostages is not a valid disciplinary action. I took note of that.
By the time we got back to the house I was 100% exhausted. I collapsed on the bed after making plans with Bictelia and let my body, and mind, rest. I’m not sure what it was that made me so tired. Maybe heat, maybe sickness, maybe travel.
I finally got up and Doña Bictelia and I went to the local high school to see the Garifuna dancers shake their tail ends in colorful outfits and beaded hair.
The whole event was very similar to events at local high school in the States. There was an entry fee, and they stamped people’s hands as they passed through. Of course they were too [place adjective here] to ask for my hand so they merely pecked my arm with the stamp as I passed through.
The place was full of people, color, and music. The field is in the middle of four strips of classrooms that surround it in a square. Bictelia and I stood on a ledge perpendicular to the field. You couldn’t see the bottom half of the dancers because the crowd in front was so close to them. But, you could see their arms waving, chests thumping, and beads flying as they danced to mainstream pop songs that we hear on 100.5 back in Chesapeake. Some of the songs were redone by other artists either in Spanish or with a Caribbean flare. Bictelia had conversations with adults, teens, and children alike, and though they mostly didn’t acknowledge me, I was glad to be associated with someone who is obviously respected in the community.
We left after all the groups had danced and went to Delmy’s half-sister’s house. Delmy’s half-sister lives in New York and has been gone for a year. There is a guy that stays at the house but he is a Honduran male so the house has collected dust, dirt, and trash as if it were abandoned for a year.
The New Yorkian half-sister asked Delmy and her aunt to go over and clean up before she arrived with her boyfriend and two children. So, I stopped at the house and spent some time cleaning, the rest just waiting with Meylin while Delmy and her aunt cleaned the place from top to bottom.
It rained hard that night. I loved the tropical thunder and lightning and the cool breeze that followed.
Still feeling exhausted, I went to bed early that night. I had told Delmy that my throat was hurting and all I remember is her bringing me medicine. I swallowed a spoonful of something and passed out again.