Lunch

Sometime during the late afternoon, with the installation finished, we sat down in the pastor’s office to eat our own lunch. We had to wave away the flies continuously but peanut butter and jelly had never tasted so good. Our small cooler kept everything fresh and the watermelon I had cubed into a baggie was ripe and juicy. I had to slurp with each bite to keep the juice from running down my chin but everyone else was doing the same thing so I didn’t feel too unmannerly. I finished with a small bag of Doritos. I rarely ate chips at home but with all the sweating I was doing, I figured the salty snack would be good for me. I still had a few sips of cold water left in my liter-sized water bottle, but the ice was down to its last sliver. Ice in my drinks was the one thing I really missed about home but, unfortunately, unsafe drinking water makes unsafe ice cubes so buying icy drinks was rare. In the out-and-about part of my day, I usually had to do without. I’d finally figured out that if I took a half-full bottle of water and laid it on its side in the freezer overnight, I could fill it up the next morning with water and I’d have cold water to drink most of the day. This worked quite well if I had a freezer.

We followed lunch up with a tutorial on how to care for the water filtration system. The pastor and her daughter were quick to understand how it worked and we loaded our tools back into the van. We were hot, sweaty, and dirty but it had been a very satisfying day. The younger children were back in class but one silent young man watched us leave. His sad eyes will stay with me forever.

As we bounced our way back down the mountain, we met several pickup trucks returning from the city. In the backs of each truck, there were ten to fifteen men standing, holding onto a grid of racks for dear life. They rode that way to and from whatever work they could find, usually something on the fruit or coffee farms that were predominant in the area. There were also many small motorcycles putt-putting their way along the dust filled roads. Some of the riders wore suits; others had on the mismatched uniform of the farm helper. Other motorcycles were toting children dressed in school uniforms or families returning from the market. I saw one motorcycle with five people on it. There were two young children sitting on the tank, a man driving and a woman on the back seat. I saw the arm and leg of a toddler protruding from the space between the adults. I briefly thought of the car seat laws at home.

That night, we were not going back to Tegucigalpa. We had rooms at a hotel in the nearest village which was a little over an hour away. We were a little nervous about the condition of the rooms. I didn’t want bedbugs or lice but I could handle a few roaches or mice. I’d slept in some pretty rough places, including a mud hut just a few miles from the Congo border. A clean bed would be nice and indoor plumbing would be the icing on the cake. I really needed a shower. The roads in the village of Guayape were all dirt and, as we drove by the open stalls of their market, I wondered how they could even hope to keep things clean.

A bit of beauty!

We circled a block and came to a huge black wall which miraculously opened so we could drive into a small parking lot. Running the length of the lot was a row of rooms, each with a wooden door and a window with brightly colored curtains. The windows, which sat behind metal grids, were all open but there were screens. There was a chair outside each door and a water dispenser by what looked like an office. The courtyard was swept clean and there were a few pots of dusty flowers sitting here and there along the sidewalk. Compared to where we spent the day, it looked like a five-star resort to me. The next day, we were heading into the mountains. Surprisingly enough, I went right to sleep. That was certainly a few steps beyond normal!

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