Rachel and I are pretending to be aunties this week. Our friend Agustina had to go out of town. She set off on foot Saturday morning carrying her 1-year-old son to a village about 15 miles away. From there she will see if she can hitch a ride to the town down on the coast.
She left her other two children, Alma (9) and Dario (7) in our care. I have to tell you, I felt pretty honored about this whole arrangement. Agustina doesn’t really have any family in the village, except for a grandmother who doesn’t get around very well. Despite the fact that we have different cultures, eat different food, and are two strange white girls, Agustina entrusted her children to our care. I could probably write pages and pages about our “adventures” since Saturday afternoon, but thought I would just cover the highlights.
Saturday 6 pm: After a more traditional lunch of beans and tortillas, Dario eats his body weight in pizza, proving that at least SOME gringo food is edible.
Saturday 8 pm: We finish watching Old Yeller together, and it is deemed the best movie of the village. I mean, donkeys, rifles, rabies, and dogs chasing rabbits…what’s not to love?
Sunday 7 am: The troops are up and ready for their bean and tortilla breakfast. (Can’t say the hour was a highlight for me personally…) Afterwards we sweep and mop, feed the chickens, go feed their animals, make pumpkin bread, clean the filter, play with the dog, and try to distract the kids from missing their mom.
Sunday 4 pm: I teach Dario how to take a shower indoors. I show him where everything is, heat up the water and get him all squared away. I have to remind him to shut the door because we’re all girls and will get frightened if he doesn’t. He comes out 30 minutes later and hands me a dry towel and a pair of sopping wet underwear. He apparently copied his creek style and bathed in his undies and then stood on the bath mat until he was dry. The shower floor gets a second mopping, but Dario is happy.
Sunday 4:30 pm: Alma takes to indoor bathing like a pro. She is thrilled with shampoo and warm water. She claims that she is going to shower every day while she is here.
Sunday 8:30 pm: After sitting through team church, I introduce the kids to the tradition of a story before bed. They’re fans.
Monday 7:00 am: Over a breakfast of bean, tortillas, and hot sauce, the kids ask me (picture me sitting in a mental cloud and thinking about coffee) if they can watch a movie when they get home. Since it’s been raining non-stop for days, I tell them we’ll have to see if the sun comes out to charge the players’ batteries.
Monday 7:30 am: The sun peaks out from behind a cloud. The kids jump around in excitement. They have hope for their movie.
Monday 2:00 pm: The kids come home from their first day of school. They went by their house both on the way there and back from class so that no one would ask them where they were going and so that they wouldn’t have to admit to staying at our house. We weren’t offended. Drawing attention to yourself in any way is a huge source of embarrassment in this culture. They learned from the adults in their lives to avoid anything out of the ordinary where others will want to ask you questions.
Monday 3:00 pm: We help the kids do their homework. The four times table for Alma and words that have the “br” sound in them. Dario is supposed to copy a huge paragraph. Since he doesn’t know his letters yet and is in first grade, I make an executive decision and tell him to copy one sentence. It’s a long one, and half an hour later he is finished. He and I write “a’s” and “i’s” and think of words that start with those letters. Then we play a letter version of memory and call it a day. Alma is worried that her brother will get in trouble for not finishing his homework and I assure her that I will talk to the teacher if he does.
Monday 8:00 pm: Rachel and I are exhausted after trying to study all day and get the kids cared for. We eat tuna with crackers and the kids watch Finding Nemo on my battery operated DVD player while Rachel and I watch an episode of The Mentalist on her player. By 9:00 we are all in bed.
Stay tuned for more from the rest of the week…