Sunday, July 10, 2011

Oscar and Abuelito

The other night, I awoke at 4:50 in the morning to someone banging on our living room window.  I opened my bedroom door carefully which opens into the living room and peeked my head out.  In my sleepy state, I thought someone had somehow penetrated the metal jail bars that protect our door and had gotten inside our house—like someone would be banging on the window from inside our house.  I was pretty upset about being awake over an hour before I had to get up, so I asked as forcefully as I could in Spanish what the hell he was doing knocking at this time in the morning.  He asked for my Honduran roommate, Oscar.  I asked why the hell he needed to see Oscar.  I didn’t want to go get Oscar and then have the guy pull a gun on him.  Oscar isn’t exactly the most well liked person in the city since he isn’t from around here, lives with the gringos, and can speak English fluently—there  is a lot of jealousy.  Finally, I told him I wouldn’t get Oscar until he told me why he was here.  Finally, he said something was wrong with his brother.  I figured that warranted waking up Oscar.  He was just as confused as I was when I woke him up.  We came to find out that his half brother, which is his only sibling, was killed in a drunken motorcycle accident early Friday morning.

Oscar and his brother didn’t have the best relationship growing up.  In fact, Oscar has a huge scar on his arm because his brother stabbed him in the shoulder in an argument.  I think on some level that makes it harder—to be in a bad place with flesh and blood and have him die before you can make it right.  Oscar threw on some clothes, packed a bag, and left for the 10 hour trip to La Ceiba.  Normally things like that would affect me deeply, having lost a “brother” in the same sort of way, but my day surprisingly went on as planned.  Things like that happen around here all the time.  You hear about two deaths here, two deaths there, bad accident here, and a bad accident there.  It got me thinking how immune I am to bad news at things point, and not even just bad news, but change.  Things are constantly changing around here and you kind of just assume that nothing will stay the same.  It is an interesting way to live, always being on your toes. 

Ricardo, my boss, is studying to be the administrator of a school, even though he already owns a school and could probably just place himself in that position whenever he wants.  I am sure the extra education would benefit him, but he already has over a decade worth of experience.  The thing is that in order to be placed into an administrative position by the government, you need to have a degree as an administrator.  Ricardo told me that he has no idea who will win the next election or the one after that.  The terms are only five years without reelection.  He said that if a socialist or communist wins the election, they might take away his private school and his store and make them public, which would leave him jobless.  In order to ensure that he has a steady income for the rest of his career, he is giving himself options by getting that degree.  The point is that people here have to worry about a lot more things than we as Americans have to worry about.  The strange thing is that generally the people don’t worry about these things.  They don’t look for ways to insure themselves and cushion the blows.  Most don’t have that rainy day fund to fall back on.  Maybe it is because they live a sort of fatalistic lifestyle not knowing when that bad car accident will come or when that war will start.

Speaking of war, I have been spending a lot of time at Ricardo’s house brainstorming ways to make the school better.  Of course Abuelito is there.  Abuelito is full of wrong facts about World War 2 and he quite possibly may be the most racist person I have ever met, even towards his own race.  In addition to his occasional racism he will without warning hock a loogey on the floor of the house without remorse.  Normally I would think something like that is disgusting but he does it with such confidence that it is more of a statement of how awesome he is. 

When Abuelito tells stories, I get about 85 percent of what he says.  It is tough to catch all his words when he is missing most of his teeth.  My Spanish has come a long way, but not quite that far.  Honduras has been at peace in terms of formal wars compared to its neighbors.  Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua all had horrific civil wars that crippled the nations.  Honduras has just maintained the same level of shitiness for some time now.  In 1969 Honduras had their most recent war.  It was called the soccer war because it was rumored that the entire thing started over an international match.  It only lasted 100 hours. 

I always love hearing old people talk about what they were doing when an event happened and Abuelitos version was pretty entertaining.  He told me why the war began, which had to do with agriculture and the fact that El Salvador is a nation the size of Olancho and wanted more land to farm.  Abuelito heard on the radio that El Salvador was attacking Honduras.  Any single, armed man was being recruited to fight their neighbors.  Abuelito was married, so he was able to stay in town.  He began organizing a town militia armed with knives and machetes in case the Salvadorans came into town.  The entire town slept with the lights off and under the bed for a week so that the bombers couldn’t find a target.  All of this turned out to be a little paranoid as the only deaths reported in Olancho were from a mortar that killed 2 ducks.  I thought it painted a perfect picture of my Abuelito, the toothless, machete wielding racist that has absolutely no problem spitting on the floor.  Because of all these things and many more, he has definitely been my favorite and the most dynamic personality I have met on this journey.                  

1 comment:

  1. It was great to hear about Abuelito again! He seems like quite a character. I have a vivid mental picture of him.