The last two weeks of vaca in the U.S. for Christmas and New Years were amazing.
In no particular order: Hot showers. Family. Coffee dates. Hugs. Warm blankets. Snow! Hot chocolate. Phone calls (like, actual phone calls). Chris and I kicking butt at Sequence. Aunt Pat and I dominating Scattagories (do we see who the common denominator is) Sitting behind the wheel. Wine glasses instead of jelly jars. Kitchen chats with my mom. NYC dance party. Using my Visa – like, everywhere. Gluten free cinnamon rolls.
My time was absolutely amazing, though it also feels good to get back to things here in Cofradia. Going through my journal over the weekend, I came across an entry from one of my first weekends, here. Not going to lie, I was a bit naïve to take on so many changes to my life at once, but it’s funny looking back. This was one of those moments I look back and smile.
“The situation would have made anyone chuckle. We were a sundry bunch. As the self-appointed ‘Non-annoying, quite valid’ passenger seat driver, my eyes darted back and forth across the gravel road in front of us, on the lookout for holes larger than the normal divots covering the road.
With a protective eye on the gentleman standing in the bed of the pick-up, behind me sat two fellow volunteers – Joe, a young man from Philly, and Jose, whose American accent gave away his Washington whereabouts, though his strong facial features gave away his Argentinian roots.
“We’ve lost him!” they yelled.
“Darn!” I said.
Andrew, the Irishman at the helm to my left had just inched the car over a speed bump, and we all knew what that meant. The speed bumps here in Honduras, are wretched. Not only do they stand rather erect, threatening the underbelly of every car, but typically passengers can expect a certain amount of “zero gravity” air time.
During this particular journey, we were picking up books. Correction. The trip included 27 boxes of books – a recent donation from the U.S., from this year’s 5th grade teacher. The cardboard boxes were piled high in the back of the pick-up, and Gonzalo, the president of the school board had graciously volunteered to hold down the fort (aka, stand in the back of the pick-up), to watch for any runaways.
What Gonzalo may not have planned for was an Irishman driving his pick-up, whose experience driving a manual vehicle on the right side of the road (I say ‘right’ as a directional term, not a form of judgment) had been nonexistent as of 8 minutes ago.
“We’ve lost him!” they yelled again.
The pick-up came to a sudden halt, and 4 pairs of feet hit the ground simultaneously. Thankfully, Gonzalo hadn’t gone far. He had landed directly behind the truck, and the sore spot he continued to rub on his backside was the only evidence of any casualties. He brushed away our words of concern and playfully shook his finger at Andrew to be more cautious.
We piled back into the car for the remaining 20 feet of our journey, and I laughed at the randomness of it all. How amazingly awesome was it, to spend my morning beneath the glaring sun, picking up boxes of English-language books in a rustic pick-up, with the Honduran mountainside as our backdrop, and our school’s president holding his breath with every pothole.
I have been in Honduras for about 3 weeks now, having decided to spend a year volunteering at a bilingual school in Cofradia. It blew my mind to think of where I was at that moment, when only 2 months ago, I had been working and living in Washington, DC in the throngs of corporate America.
Before I arrived, I knew this year would stretch me. Having only been here a few weeks, I know that will be true, though it will also be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. By year’s end, I have no doubt my fellow passengers and I will know far more about each other than we ever cared to know (deep, dark secrets and all), and the board president and I will move past the ‘pleasantries’ stage to heated conversations about the education system. And guaranteed, I will have more than a slight bump on my backside as evidence of my time here. The good, the bad, the amazing and the incredible. Bring it on.”