Sunday, July 10, 2011

Peace Corps Extraordinaire

Last week, Seño Maritza was showing signs of anxiety. The root of her worries stemmed from a trip she had to take to the capital this past Friday. A trip she had to take on a bus all by her lonesome. Well, she’d be accompanied by the bus driver, an ayudante (the guy that takes your fare) and a hoard of other passengers. There in that “hoard” of passengers lies the problem. They are all strangers and strangers can’t be trusted. Each unfamiliar face poses a risk. Anyone of them could be eying her purse or even be armed and prepared to loot the entire bus.

Assaults on buses are not rare here, especially in the capital, so her worries were not unfounded.

While Friday neared, Maritza made multiple mentions in conversation about her forthcoming trip, “¡... y tengo que ir solita, AYE NO, como me da miedo!” (And I have to go all alone, OH NO, how it gives me fright!).

For me, Friday came and went like any other day in site. I didn’t see Maritza until Saturday morning when I dropped by her house to give her photocopies of the salina profit analysis. Her son, Rene, let me in and I walked to the back of the house. It was there that I realized Maritza was showering. To kill some time I checked in on our tomato plants (we’ve got one of Kamille’s hanging plants set up in her yard- it’s flowering!), When Maritza got out of the shower she walked out in her towel, gave her usual salutations and headed into her bedroom, where she proceeded to talk to me through closed door.

I asked her how her trip to the capital went and she delved into a long explanation:

You shoulda seen how afraid I was! I go to the capital, you know, but, never alone! I got up at 2am and was in the capital by 7am. Then I took a cab to meet my sister-in-law. I did it all without any problem! We did errands together but then she left me when I had to fix some papers for work. When I was done I asked a police officer how to get to the inner city bus and he explained to me where to go. Then I took another bus to get back to CENMA. From there made it to Esquintla, where I took a cab to the hospital because Marta Lidia’s daughter is sick and I promised I’d check in on her...

At this point, she reappeared clothed and continued to tell the story while rubbing her hair dry with a towel.

... I was back in Chiqui at 3pm and went to the accountant. I finally made it to Casas Viejas on the Princesita (name of a bus).

One is afraid to do things they don’t know about, but, you know what? Before I left I thought to myself, “Annalisa travels all over without any problem. She just hops on a bus and goes from here to there and everywhere.” I even thought about how you travel to foreign countries and get around. And here I am, in my own country, and I’m afraid to travel a few hours. I thought, “If Annalisa can do it, so can I.” You served as my inspiration.

I puffed out my chest and thought to myself, “Annalisa Liberman, Peace Corps extraordinaire. Empowering women in developing nations. My work here is done... It only took two years.”

p.s. Over 4th of July weekend Kamille and I took a fabulous day trip to Copán, Honduras. If you'd like to read about it, check out Kamille's blog.

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