Looking at the date today, and realizing I will leave Honduras in a little more than a month, makes me oh so aware of the beauty and joy here around me.
I love walking out my door to be greeted with the full bloom of tulip trees and hibiscus.
I walk into morning report and am greeted with a smile and a welcoming “Buenos dias, Lic.! All of the nurses here call me by my title “Licenciada,” but the students have taken to affectionately shortening it to “Lic.” It sounds like a cross between the word leek and lick. A funny sounding word in English to be sure, but there is something wonderfully “belonging” about having a nickname. I love it. When I first was given the responsibility of supervising the student nurses I viewed it as a chore. They were constantly making mistakes that I was ultimately responsible for, one of the doctors was unhappy about having students (and let me know about it in full detail), and whenever there were students on shift I had to be physically present checking into every detail. Yet, as I got to know each of them personally, it became a joy instead. They come here, every day of the week, working for a bare minimum government stipend (they are in their year of government social service before they can work as full graduate nurses) and happily put up with all the menial tasks that students are given. Several weeks ago we heard that the government may not pay them anything this year – that they will have been working A YEAR without any pay, and yet they still show up with smiles in place and work diligently. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I have had to work on my dislike of confronting people when there is discipline needed, and they have had to put up with a nurse manager who does not speak either of their languages very well, but I feel very privileged to have gotten to know all of them. When I see the smile and hear “Lic.!” called out in greeting I am grateful for all we have taught each other.
I have made so many dear friends here. This week was Lesvia’s birthday.
I was invited to her house for dinner and cake. This was my first Miskito birthday party. We sat on the porch of her stilt house and watched the sunset over the Moravian church. Her daughter (also named Lesvia, who was celebrating her birthday as well) had a friend come and set up a sound system.
What an interesting contrast sitting in a house with no plumbing, and watching the young man run a power line from the generator to his lovely sound setup. I was treated to a night of Miskito pop music, some Latin dance music, wonderful times of conversation and laughter, and delicious cake. Since coca cola is a huge part of the birthday tradition here (enough that a verse about it was added onto the birthday song) I found myself suddenly extremely talkative and ebullient at 9pm. One would think a daily habit of coffee drinking would diminish caffeine sensitivity over time, but in my case this just is not true.
I have made friends with all the boys on the youth soccer team. They are very amused that I enjoy playing soccer, and apparently the novelty of a gringa playing sports makes up for the fact that I am so very less talented then all of them. They frequently ask me to play when there is a pickup soccer game and laugh good naturedly with me when I fall over in the mud (yes, I am just that ungraceful, but my cleats were stolen back in November and the ground is very slippery!).
I was very happy to see one of these boys, Nehmias, at Lesvia’s party, since he was good enough to sit by me and chat in Spanish while many of the older generation were speaking only in Miskito. He was also sweet enough to walk me home, since it was well after dark. When we passed by several young men that reeked of alcohol and made suggestive comments I was quite glad that that I was not walking solo.
During the Saturday soccer match whichever boys are not playing are happy to keep up a running commentary in Spanish and Miskito. I am afraid my Spanish learning has plateaued at a not-quite-fluent-yet level, but the my Miskito vocabulary increases everyday!
One of the best things that happened this week was fairly mundane for everyone else, but was a great victory for me! The floor is fixed!
Selen, one of the hospital’s handimen, took pity on me (or perhaps he too sensed the malingering evil of these floor tiles) and gathered the necessary materials. No longer shall the fear of ballistic feces-infused scum water threaten my day.
There is so much joy to be had in every day if you just go looking for it!
Life is good.