This past weekend I went to Juticalpa to get away from San Francisco. In Juticalpa I stay in a hotel with hot water and send my laundry to be done by someone else. Laundry has become a huge pain here without a dryer. Before this weekend, I thought my clothes would perpetually smell like mildew. I was able to get a couple decent meals from an American style gas station that sells pretty good slices of pizza and I got access to fast internet so I could steal some movies. Juticalpa is a nightmare of a run-down, mexican-like border town. The concrete makes it a good 5 or ten degrees hotter than San Francisco. In fact, Juticalpa is so bad that the teachers from our sister school in Juticalpa like to come to San Francisco to relax. So, sometimes it is almost as if we just switch cities for the weekend.
I was sitting at a burger place in Juticalpa when a shoeless kid in ripped up clothing came in and started asking people for Lempiras. I really haven't figured out my official position on this. I don't know that giving money to the kid is going to solve his problems, but I don't yet know if it would hurt his cause either. A couple of the people inside the restaurant gave him food and he seemed like he was starving, literally. What I would really like to do is clean him up and put him in a private boarding school where he can get an education and actually have a chance in life. I had just gotten paid this weekend and I only had a 500 Lempira bill, which is only like 25 dollars American, but is kind of a ridiculous sum of money here. I had my keys and the 500 note on the table and he walked up and asked for a Lempira. I instinctively told him I didn't have any. I couldn't figure out whether I meant that I literally didn't have change for this 500 Lempira bill or that I didn't have a Lempira at all for him.
What I worry about is that he will try and make a career out of begging, which is just a terrible life; and if I can be completely honest, is really annoying to the person you are begging. On the other hand I think, how could I possibly leave a mouth unfed if I have the power to give food to him for a month in the blink of an eye. I hate how much I have been thinking with my head lately, neglecting my heart. Just one Lempira, that's all he wanted and I may never have another chance to give it to him. People say money doesn't buy happiness, but I think that kid would have been pretty damn happy with enough money for a burger and fries. And that is regret.
Roots and Wings