cesar "playing" the guitar
Some of you may remember that a few months back one of my favortie serial-visitors made his way down to spend a few days with me and to reconnect with some of the kids he had gotten to know here last year. I wrote about it briefy here in fact. In that post I had asked if he might be interested in offering his own perspective on both his time here and of Los Laureles more generally. I didn't think he'd take me up on the offer as he's a Senior in high school this year and busy with college admissions essays. I underestimated Mr. Jamie Moon and this evening via email, this is what he sent me:
I arrived in San Pedro for the second time, excited to see Matt, the kids and his newer home in Los Laureles. The first time I arrived was at the same time of year last August; that was a great opportunity to see Matt’s Central American life, as well as fulfill a school-required service project. I got a glimpse into a completely new culture, and was fascinated by it; the contrast between beauty and poverty astounded me. In a place where there is so much natural beauty, there is so much poverty, yet despite this poverty, remarkable happiness. Palm trees planted on the beach, white sand sifting between toes, just a short swim from beautiful coral reefs. Clouds flirting with the tips of mountains, forming different scenic views every day, with flowing rivers and waterfalls hidden in them would make for a wonderful tourist destination. All this was easily viewed from houses consisting of tin and ply wood, with children running around, competing in games in the dirt, like tick tack toe or marbles.
This summer was different because as opposed to leaving at 4:00 every day in a taxi to go home with Matt, I stayed with him in his nice, new house, up the hill overlooking the field, mountains city and beach.The panorama from garbage trucks dumping their load up the hill, expanding the big pile, all the way to the beautiful mountains and distant, frequent lightning, was quite the view from one of his two hammocks. I ended up spending much of my time there this year, in one of his hammocks. Sometimes it was because the kids were in bee-bee gun battles, which I decided I probably shouldn’t take part in (plus I’d rather keep my eye sight than get the “pleasure” of hitting a 15 year old with a plastic bee-bee). Other times, Matt would start down the hill, camera in hand, to an event I wasn’t invited to. So, I really didn’t get to see into the community and different families the way I did last year. While I missed walking to different homes with Matt, seeing the interactions and being part of the birthday celebrations, I was able to have nice, lengthy conversations with kids visiting his comfortable porch and hammocks while he was gone. It was a great opportunity to have conversations and interactions with the niños, as they would ask about my culture, my favorite fútbol team, this and that. It was nice to be able to converse with them, I loved practicing the Spanish and while it’s far from perfect, it’s quite gratifying to be having a full conversation in another language.
One of the highlights of these hammock interactions came when Anuar's younger brother hung out with me while I was playing Matt’s donated, less than prestine acoustic guitar. He began strumming, with an almost-consistent down-strum, as I did the chord changing. His body seemed to be bouncing up and down, head bobbing as he sang out his song, the majority of which I couldn’t understand. It was however, extremely cute to hear his high voice singing out, free to do so. Times like this reminded me of what I realized last year, regarding the term “service” project. It’s not quite appropriate, to come to Honduras for a mere 11 days and consider it service project, which connotes to me, to be in service to the kids.Yes, I was probably a positive role-model to them – I was at least discouraging his crew to go out of the house when he told them not to, discouraging them from diving into his wine bottles while we were home alone, and did help with a little math. I was no celebrity by any means; the second trip specifically, hardly a presence to some. It was really these kids, and this culture that was doing the service to me. It was my worldview that was being expanded, not theirs. I’m the fortunate one, who gets to experience a culture of poverty, with the capability of pressing the evacuate button to send me back to my privileged life.They listened to stories about Los Estados Unidos while I got to experience Los Laureles, and allow it to make a memorable impression on me, that still influence my daily thoughts, much later. I’m very grateful for Matt’s generosity and hospitality.