Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nicaragua 2013 (Part 3)

(Continued from Part 1 and Part 2)

Friday 15 February

After Rob left on the bus for Moyogalpa, I walked back up to the Hacienda with Will and tried to persuade him to join the Nicaraguan pre-school class that was meeting there, but he would have no part of it.  I was disappointed-- last year, he hadn't been a bit shy and would go up and play with whatever kid he encountered.  This year, he wouldn't even look at the other children.  He just wanted me to hold him, and he refused to speak any of the Spanish words we have been working so hard to teach him.  When I encouraged him to go and join the children so he could make some new friends, he cried and said, "I don't want new friends, I want Sam!"  What a difference a year makes.

Because Will would not join the other pre-schoolers, I resigned myself to taking him with me when I went into town to look for Eduardo.  It would have been easier if William would have at least consented to walking on his own, but as it was, he cried, "Carry me, Mama," and so I did.  Up all those big, rocky hills.  I must have been a sight: a pale and dusty gringa carrying both a child and a guitar as I plodded along the dirt road into Mérida.

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The road I used to take into the forest.

A couple of French backpackers hiking to Santa Cruz met up with me and insisted on carrying the guitar up the last hill (even though I assured them I was fine).  Once we reached the elementary school, they went on, and I began to look for Eduardo's house.  He'd moved from the place where he used to live, but I had a general idea of where he was living now.  Some women were standing by the fence surrounding the school, selling drinks and chips to the children when they were out at recess, so I went over to them and asked if they knew which house was Eduardo's. They pointed to a house where a line of white t-shirts hung drying on barbed wire, and I headed down a path towards it.

Standing outside the house, I didn't know what else do to except call out, "Hola!"  I heard some scuffling inside the open doorway, and in a second Eduardo's mother stepped out.  She recognized me and smiled.  I said hello to her and we spoke for a minute or two.  Then I asked her if Eduardo was home-- I had a gift for him.  She told me that he was at school, not the elementary school by the house, but the colegio (or high school) farther down the road.  She said I could take the guitar to him there if I wanted.  She said she would go with me.  I asked her, was it okay to bother him at school?  She smiled and said, yes it would be fine.  They were at recess now.

She went inside and changed into something more fancy and did her hair.  Then we left to continue walking along the road.  She asked if she could help by holding William, but he wouldn't go to her.  She held the guitar instead.

She told me that Eduardo always speaks of me, that he calls me his Mama Meli.  She didn't seem particularly concerned about that.

I told her, "Eduardo is lucky, that he has so many people in his life who love him," and she agreed. 

We reached the high school, and dozens of teenagers dressed in white and blue uniforms were milling about outside.  Eduardo's mom put her fingers to her mouth and whistled shrilly.  She called out something, but it wasn't his name.  In an instant, he rose from where he had been sitting with his friends and came over to us-- smiling from ear to ear.

He was 17, almost all grown up.  A head taller than me now.  I couldn't get over how curly his hair was.  It was beautiful.  He seemed surprised to see me; he hadn't gotten my messages about what dates I would be in Merida.  I just ended up lucky-- he'd only come back to town and started up school again 2 days earlier.  Before that, he'd been living near Altagracia, working in some plantain fields.  Saving up for a guitar.

As William squirmed in my arms, I tried to explain to Eduardo that the guitar was a gift for him.  I tried to explain that it was Rob's guitar-- a very sentimental guitar because he was playing it at the moment we first met.  I'm not sure if I could convey that so well.  Eduardo said thank you and took the guitar from me but did not open the case. He handed it to his mother again and asked her matter of factly if she would take it back home for him.

We talked a few minutes more, and he said he would come to the Hacienda that night to see me.  Then his mother and I turned and walked away, back towards the house.  She seemed worried that I would be upset he'd sent the guitar back with her, but I said I understood.  It's not like he could carry it around with him at school all day.  

Once we got back to the house, I took a picture of Eduardo's mom and me together.  We hugged and said adiós and I continued on to the Hacienda.  It was a lot easier to walk now that I was just carrying Will and not the guitar as well.  

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Will and I were thirsty, so we stopped at a little kiosk in front of somebody's house and ordered a juice.  I thought it would be served to us in a glass, but instead we were given a traditional Nicaraguan juice baggie, with a straw.  

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When we finished the juice baggie, we continued on to Clara and Jehu's.  I bought some tiny bananas from them for 1 córdoba a piece, and they gave me some mandarinas just because they like me, I guess.  Then Will and I headed back to the Hacienda to go swimming in the lake.


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For lunch, I made us peanut butter sandwiches, and we ate the bananas we'd bought from Clara and Jehu.  Will was exhausted and fussy after such a long morning, so I got him cleaned up a little bit, and we took a nap together in our room.


That evening, Will and I went out to the dock to watch the sunset.

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Just before it got dark, Eduardo showed up-- guitar in hand.  "Mama Meli," he said as he walked out onto the dock.

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We hugged, and I told him I needed some pictures of us because I hadn't managed to get any good ones the year before.  We found a spot where the lighting was still okay.

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I was so happy to talk to Eduardo, but it went by so fast.  William was becoming a bit cross, and I couldn't really focus my full attention on Eduardo when I was trying to make sure that Will didn't run headlong off the dock and into the lake.  It was hard to make a really good connection with Eduardo this time, I guess because I knew we only had a few minutes to talk and then it would be a year or more before we saw each other again.  Maybe I also felt less worried about him now that he's practically all grown up.  So mature.  And my walk with his mother in the morning reminded me that he does have her in his life and that she loves him very much.

Eduardo gave me some perfume and lotion that he had probably bought at the tienda right beside the Hacienda, and I almost started to cry.  I don't want him to spend his money on me.  But he insisted that he wanted to give me something because Papa Rob and I had given him the guitar.

I showed him the book I had bought and tucked into the guitar case.  It had photos of where you put your fingers to play the different chords.  I said I hoped it would help him figure out how play, but he still would need someone to teach him.  He said he had a cousin who played guitar and who could help him out.  We talked a little about how he still wants to go to university to study music, how he still wants to come to St. Louis sometime and stay with Rob and me.

Before too long, William tripped and scraped his knee, which made him holler at the top of his lungs.  I needed to get him cleaned up and bandaged, and that meant my time with Eduardo was about over.  I asked him what he was doing the following day, if he would be able to wait with me for Rob and the other runners at the finish line, but he said that he job lined up for the morning-- working construction for one of his neighbors.  

So I hugged him one last time.  I said we should Skype again as we had done once before in January while he was living near Altagracia, and he nodded but said he didn't have much access to the internet in Mérida.  It was difficult to use the computers at the Hacienda anymore, and that was really the only way he could get online.  He asked me when I would be coming back to Nicaragua again, and I said I didn't know.  It wasn't the most hopeful way to leave things, but still, I know I'll see him again.  Eduardo and I are always going to be part of each other's lives.


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Stay tuned for Part 4.

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