Two weeks in, and I’m already starting to settle in and get used to life here in the campo. My host family for the first month is wonderful: A great couple and five awesome kids. The home that they’ve been generous enough to share with me is simple, but cozy. It’s a four room cinderblock house with a dirt floor and a barra(adobe/cob) kitchen with a thatched roof just down the hill. There’s no electricity, the water comes from a springbox about 50 meters from the house (we’re too far from the center of town to be able to use the aqueduct), and an overfilled outhouse in the way of services. I couldn’t care less about the lack of creature comforts, I feel totally at home, way more than I ever did in that horribly empty one-bedroom I was living in this time last year.
I think that proyecto amistad is going really well. I’ve worked with folks in the community every single day that wasn’t a Sunday or a holiday, when I took some much-neededrest. I’ve cleared a half-acre of brush with three other guys using nothing but machetes, planted corn, hauled sack after sack of sand on my back for a half-mile in order to make cinderblocks, mixed mortar and laid block for what will be my bathroom, walked up the mountain to harvest corn and eat oranges right off the tree, and dragged about 80 pounds of palm fronds down the mountain with nothing but my back and a bark strap around my forehead in order to thatch a roof. It’s exhausting work, and the people around here shrug it off como si nada. The men and women here are strong as fuck, and I’m well on my way to being in the best shape of my life. It’s pretty damn humbling working with people who have been doing this stuff for their entire lives, and I know it must be pretty hilarious to have this grown-ass man of a gringo come in and be completely unable to complete basic tasks that a six-year-old should be able to do.
My community is a truly beautiful place (no pictures yet, I’ll drop a photo dump sometime this month). We’re way on up in the mountains, with a commanding view of the lowlands down to the south. On a clear day, I can see the Pacific from the center of town. On Cerro Escobal, the mountain from which the people make their living, they grow bananas, mangoes, guava, plantain, sugarcane, cassava, rice, corn, passionfruit, ginger, taro, oranges galore, two different kinds of mandarins, limes, cashews, breadfruit, peppers, squash, and so on. I’m not gonna be going hungry here.
How am I feeling? It’s a rollercoaster. I love the town, love the people living in it, love the fact that I’ll be spening the next two years of my life here, working. I miss my training group but some of us will be getting together for thanksgiving, and I’m lucky enough to have a fellow volunteer from my group working less than a half-hour from me, so that isn’t too bad.
Homesickness comes and goes. One thing I’ve realized over the past week is just how magical the summer really was— it was probably one of the happiest times of my life so far, and I miss that feeling. I miss the music, the festivals, the wonderful new friends and the sense of finally coming into my own on the bass. I miss working with Clara at boxerwood, living with Nate and the guys in fartburg, grubbing in the garden with mom and dad, visiting Ben in Chicago with Melissa and Andrew. It was a sweet, fleeting couple of months. All of these amazing memories are so fresh in my mind, but here I am, thousands of miles away.
I’m excited, happy, lonely. I’m ready to work. I’m ready to see where the next two years take me.