Friday, May 28, 2010

Fresh Jasmine and One on One Time

Sunday came bright and early. Kids were catching up on their Saturday chores and I literally felt hungover from exhaustion. However, Kyla and I pulled ourselves together and spent the day shopping in Coita and then preparing dinner for the boys. Dinner was a success, I think. I base that mainly on the fact that most of it was eaten and several guys came back for seconds. The other day I had one of the kids ask me when I'm going to cook again. That's a good sign. I really want to try and make something in the outdoor wood ovens, but having no experience with them and trying to cook pizza for about 60 kids could be more than I'm capable of. I've heard stories of others who've succeeded, but at this time I'm still contemplating.

I've had a lot of individual time with the kids this week. Paola and I climbed our tree again. We probably spent a couple hours in it just talking. The girls and I have painted nails, colored with oil pastels, chatted into the night, and have just hung out. I've been doing some homework help, and last night helped a little guy named Alexis with his multiplications tables. Alexis was nearly asleep on the floor the other night trying to finish his homework. And Felix (one of the German volunteers) spent a total of 6 hours over the course of two days with one of the 8 year old boys doing homework. Turns out the teacher thought he wasn't doing his homework, so she gave him extra. Unfortunately he just kept forgetting to turn it in.....I'm assuming he won't forget again after the mountain of work he's had to do this week!

I've been into town several times in the past few days. I wish I could show you how amazing the market is. Thing is, when I'm there, crowded under the tarps in the stalls, people pushing past me, women nursing their children, the smell of ripe fruit, flowers, and the earth in the air - I'm just not comfortable pulling out my camera and taking a picture. It feels voyeuristic and intrusive. I already get stared at when I'm there... the only gringa in Coita, when Kyla's not with me. But I have to tell you this market is fascinating. Every corner, every table is full of clothes, and pots, and raw chickens, and tomatoes, and plantains, and shops full of half cows hanging from hooks, and odorous shrimp being sold in baskets next to carts full of sweets and women with their babies wrapped in cloth around their backs. There are children everywhere, many working, several crying or playing. The market is full of sounds. People yelling out specials and cars honking and radios blasting reggeaton music. And there are thin, hungry dogs wandering around, frequently with teats hanging - scavenging among the decaying fruit and bits of tortillas in and around the street. There are bicitaxis (bicycle carts) ferrying women from the market back home, arms full of fresh flowers and produce. I bought my first bouquet of fresh jasmine the other day. It's aroma is intoxicating. I want to live in a bouquet of jasmine. I've been buying lychee fruit by the half kilo lately from a man who has them all arraigned on his cart like a prickly anime sculpture. They are sweet and delicious and bizarre looking.

Today is Friday. The secondary school kids looked great this morning in their nice clothes, rather then their usual uniforms (which are adorable by the way) because it was another celebration of the day of the students or something. I love seeing all the girls all dolled up and the guys looking snazzy with a whole lot of hair gel going on. This is such a culture of hair gel. I've seen various amazing styles of hair since I've been here...sculptures of sorts. Hogar goes through hair gel practically by the gallon. In the mornings everyone looks shiny and ready for school. The boys like to spike their hair up and the girls use it for a smooth, pulled back, pony tail.

The days are passing quickly and I never feel like I have enough hours in the day with the kids. Between their school, chores, various classes here and homework, it's hard to find time to really spend with them. I love weekends, especially Sundays, because there's just a lot more free time. My days still manage to be full though. I float around a lot, playing tag with the younger girls, reading to the little boys, hanging out in my room with the University girls, practicing English with the middle school boys....and providing movies on weekends. I wondered when I got back if they were more excited about the movies I had than that I was back! Ha. I understand though. I love movies too and I like being able to provide them with a treat.

I thing my best times so far have been times spent in one on one conversations with a couple of the kids here. One of the evenings I spent talking to a middle school boy about his very traumatic, violent past and was able to bring him a bit of comfort. I don't think I have ever seen someone cry as intensely - as though in physical pain from the emotional wounds. My heart breaks for these children and what they have endured. I listen, hug them, acknowledge their pain and do my best build them up and assure them that they are loved and that the past is not their fault. I am frustrated by my inadequate Spanish, but perhaps sometimes what they need most is someone who they can trust, that will listen. It has been rewarding deepening relationships my second visit here, building on the foundations from before. There are many differences in this world, but when it comes down to it - we all want to be loved.

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