Monday, December 10, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I was thinking a few weeks back on things that I have seen over the past 16 months. During that time, I was told that the older brother of three of my students was killed while riding on a motorcycle. Though he was significantly older than his younger siblings, I still saw him quite often in Pancho Mateo.

Many of you who have been down here know the Martinez family, David, Damari (otherwise known as Cindi), Daribelto, and Danilo. It was their brother Kelvin that died, he was 14 years old. Kelvin had gone missing for a few days and so his death wasn’t confirmed for a while because it happened in an area closer to the capital. An 18-wheeler and his moto crashed, instantly killing him and the person he was with. I went to visit his mom, Charito, a few days after I found out, it seemed kind of surreal to see an old picture of him and a few lit candles in the house, but then I got to thinking about it.

I have seen more deaths this year than I have in my entire life in the states. Little boys with tetanus (Salvador), neglected infants, old men and women, young men and women, the dad of Fiordalina, Rosa, and Felix Manuel in Pancho Mateo, Papo the uncle of Delvin and Daniela in Pancho Mateo, the witch doctor in Pancho Mateo grandmother of Marta one of our preschool students, Cristina’s cousin and her baby, Evelyn’s husband and dad to Yunior, Ernesto, Yes Marco, and Ambiolix in Chichigua. People’s husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, moms and dads, cousins, grandparents, all people that I knew or related to people I know. And this is all as of recent.

Two weeks ago there was a young man in Tamarindo that lived two houses down that died. The last pathway to get to our school was filled with people gathered visiting with his wife, people playing dominoes to keep the energy up because that’s what they do, his body in a casket in the house with a glass door so you can see the face. He was young. Last week they had a little ceremony at the house when they took the body away.

There is a woman in Chichigua that has AIDS. All of a sudden last week her health went downhill and was immediately on her death bed, lifeless for days. I went to Chichigua to see for myself, everyone telling me she was just waiting to die. I saw her lying in her house, sleeping, looking dead with the exception of a snore that I heard every once in a while. She died a few days ago. I knew her, and she is now dead, a mother of a little boy that is about a year old, precious as can be.

Why is it that death is so prominent? Why is it that my students who are 3 and 4 and 6 and 8 and 10 years old come up to me and tell me that their brother or father died with a big smile on their face?

And why is it that little Bienvenido always wants double of everything he eats at lunch at preschool? He raises his scrawny little arm asking for more whenever we say there is extra. Why are his arms covered with really bad eczema and just this past summer it was covered with second and third degree burns from a boiling pot that knocked over? Why is his brother Gerald’s head covered with scabies? And why do people not really say anything about it?

It is common. Everyday occurrences that happen to all families. Death. Sickness. Poverty.

I was thinking about all this, as I am thinking about it now. I am so thrilled to go back to the states, and literally count down the days. Why do I do that? I know that it is Christmas, and I am homesick. I wonder though, am I getting away because I miss family and friends or is it to escape the surroundings here that are so harsh. I hope it is the former.