Thursday, August 7, 2014

Central American Moments

So…remember how I told you about my “African moments”…? Those particular moments that slapped me upside the head on a random day and reminded me that I was living in Africa? Yeah…well after today, I’ve learned that there are “Central American moments” too…

This evening, as I was lounging on my bed, accessing some of the Facebook, my host sister comes in my room and asks me, “Vienes con nosotros, Janina?” (Are you coming with us, Janina?) I’ve learned that when anyone asks me a question similar to this one, I always say yes, without any follow-up queries.  The mantra of “don’t ask questions” has led me to some very interesting places in my life…as was the case with tonight.

We sprinted to the car and the wiper blades were turned to their fastest mode as the rain splashed unforgivingly on the windshield.  I finally asked, “Entonces…adónde vamos pues?” (so…where are we going?) and I was answered with “La Carmen”, as if it was something I should have known. I nodded in blind agreement and drew a face with the fog on the window, with the passing palm trees and bucketing rain outside.

We made a few stops to pick up food, drove towards the Honduras border, up, down, left, and right on curvy cobblestone roads, and finally arrived at our final destination: a cement house wearing a tin roof cap, and siring a mane of lush greenery in the middle of the “campo” (rural village).  When we entered the house, hammocks hung like cobwebs around the room and we maneuvered our way to the back patio where there was a brick oven and children running everywhere. Chickens, turkeys, cats, and dogs waltzed their way in and out of conversations, and I was offered a seat next to a woman with a baby. To the left of me stood rows and rows of cornstalks for as far as the eye could see.

After some futile banter, the matriarch took me by the wrist and guided me deeper and deeper into the corn jungle.  We began picking lemons off the trees and she showed me how to choose the ears of corn that were still “baby corn” (as I always called them).  We spent the evening climbing our way through muddy passes, sheltered from the drizzle by towering banana trees, and finally arrived to the house where the oven was warming the faces and spaces of the patio.  I learned to take the freshly plucked chili peppers and combine them with garlic, onion, loroco (a local flower), and water to make the most delicious chili sauce imaginable.  Finally, we kissed cheeks of everyone farewell and departed with our arms encumbered by various fruits and vegetables. As we walked the cobbled road to the car, the smell of fresh earth and wet soil swarmed all around us and the aromas of the freshly picked goodies filled the car. 

We drove off, serene and smiling.  Though the moon was out now, the reflection of the light still shimmered off the wet leaves. 

In an instance, the tranquility of the moment was abruptly interrupted as a gobble erupted from the backseat of the car and a flash of feathers encircled us.  Juan, my host father, nonchalantly asked me to put the turkey back in the bag and my host sister Alejandra began yelping out of fear. 

After multiple tries, I finally got the stupid turkey (that I didn’t even know was there in the first place) back in the bag.  Margoth, my host mother, handed me the cup of chilis that I had practically thrown at her as if nothing had happened and we all settled into our seats. I kept looking around at them to see if there was any reaction…nothing. This was a typical Thursday night…

Only in Central America.

Later in the evening, I was motivated to make a chicken curry with yogurt.  As I stood in the kitchen, meticulously cutting the vegetables, screams began exploding from the sitting room.  When I turned to see what the hulabaloo was about, a rat the size of my foot drastically scampered towards me with its eyes bugging out of its sockets in fear.  My first reaction was to squeal out of surprise, but then I reined it in and jumped towards it with my arms extended yelling, “Wahh!” (Don’t ask me why, apparently I thought I was the boogeyrat or something…)

We spent the next hour chasing this stupid rat in and around the nooks and crevices of the kitchen.  I assisted with everything I could until the idea of a blowtorch was offered. 

“Nahhh, I’m sorry, I think I’m out on this one…” was followed by, “Yeah, you’re probably right. Burning it out isn’t such a great idea”.  

When we had finally cornered the monstrosity behind the refrigerator, I banged the side of the fridge and it flew for its life towards Juan until it met its inevitable demise at the sole of his flip flop.   

I was okay with the stupid rat until this part.  I cringed with the sounds that crept beneath the flip flop and with my eyes squeezed tightly shut, I made a noise similar to what the turkey made earlier in the car.

Within seconds, the dishes were finished, a cup of chocolate milk was made, and I booked it to my bed for some mindless media to get my mind off of the gruesome scene that had just taken place.

And now I bid you adeu, dear reader.  I hope you sleep better than I!

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