This was not something we were prepared for.
It's true that I've grown more accustomed to wildlife in 10 months here than ever before in my life. I'm the little girl who thought that pumpkins grew in the corner store parking lot.
I've toughened up a bit since I traded my heels for flip flops. One morning, before I had had my coffee, a large bird flew into the foyer and then into the dining room, wildly flapping his wings. I shrieked and ran outside in my pajamas to where Senor Gomez was gardening and Juan Carlos, a security guard, was, well, guarding. Neither speaks English, so I wildly flapped my arms and pointed to the house. They tentatively followed me inside and laughed when they realized my problem. They solved it for me somehow.
Later that same morning I bent over to straighten some toys and a frog jumped out. Fortunately he jumped all the way to the door, sparing me another embarrassing round of chicken dance charades with Gomez and Carlos.
Last weekend our new babysitter Jesse happened to notice a massive tarantula in the groundcover under the babies' slide. Faster than you could sing "Down Came the Rain," we relocated the Kangaroo Climber to an area where all that's underfoot is stubby dry grass.
But despite these previous critter encounters, last night's scorpion was creepy scary. I wish I could tell you that we (i.e., Mike) successfully removed him from the premises, but he (the scorpion) disappeared under the stove just as Jim Lehrer dove into the creepy scary economy.
I'm left with the urge to fumigate and then sleep in my shoes. I definitely need to stomp on something.
Hmmm. Thanks for that now. I guess on our next trip home we'll need to invest in this part of the game. I really need a moment. Desiree even suggested we buy MORE balls for maximum impact. Yes. Perfect. As I write this Hayden is pitching balls into the toilet.
B is for Broken Ribs: After his tumble down wet stairs carrying Delaney (she's fine), Mike is still on pain killers and sleeping in chairs (he moves around the house all night in search of one that's comfortable). He finally saw a doctor, but blew off the chance for X-rays, so we don't know if any ribs are broken or not. Boys will be boys.
B is for Beach: I'll end today's lesson at the Beach, where Hayden has found a Boat and Delaney has found her Belly-Button. Bye-bye!
Our gardener Senor Gomez built a base for the sculpture by pouring concrete into a bucket, bolted it together, and installed it in our garden. Since April, the garden has blossomed beautifully as if indeed, it needed art in its midst to flourish.
Our garden is also home to lots of banana trees, most of which Mike has planted. Like Alfred's sculpture, these bananas see a lot of action. We anxiously await each bunch to ripen before we are able to chop it down, and often they require propping up and tying because they get so heavy. The last few weeks we've been waiting on one particularly lovely bunch but alas, we were not the ones to win the chase for this fruit. Someone macheted it before we had a chance to.
"Take me away," I imagine her thinking. "We have some banana-chasing to do."
So, I am feeling overly exposed to the uncertainty of hurricanes, train crashes, market crashes, embassy bombings, Latin American drug cartels, and an infuriating political election. There doesn't seem to be much we can do from here, except watch TV and watch for the arrival of our absentee ballots.
Then I shifted gears to the exposure we feel with health care. I had to make a pit stop at the clinic, pictured here, on my way home from school. Here's that story:
This morning I was exposed in another way, at Miss Peggy's clinic. As my follow-up trauma to last spring's malaria, I have developed some sort of heat rash on my back and neck. I waited in the clinic for my "rapid care" appointment (it shortened the wait from three hours to an hour and a half) and eventually I was ushered, rapidly, to a back room. The dental room. Where an older gentleman was having his teeth done. "This is the only space available. Sit here," said the visiting volunteer doctor pointing to the undulating dental chair.
I did, and soon I was also lifting up my shirt and describing what medications I take, right in front of this other guy. I don't have alot to hide and, with two babies, not alot of modesty either, but still, my rash deserved more, and this guy deserved to learn less!
Then I tried to pull all this rambling together:
One of the greatest exposures we face here on a third-world island is health care, and health emergencies, and we are so grateful for Miss Peggy's clinic. Here is an individual who is making a big difference, whether it's a real crisis or a sunburn because your parents forgot to put your bathing suits on you.
It's hard to extrapolate the little life lessons that swirl around a woman like Miss Peggy. Her efforts humble me each time I step into Clinica Esperanza and see the hopes and fears of unknown neighbors that have lived entire lifetimes with no preventative care. Who am I to take up the time of volunteering medical professionals, surrounded by dozens of truly needy people, with an annoying heat rash. My exposure, really, is so very little.
But today I'm back to bare naked. Mike took a hard fall this morning on slippery stairs after a big rain storm. Thinks he may have broken a rib. The swelling has started to go down, but the extra-extra strength Tylenols don't seem to do much. I have a hunch we'll be going back to Clinica Esperanza tomorrow, humbled by how quickly your exposure can change.
"Let's go upstairs and put our swimsuits on so we can go to the beach." I maneuvered him successfully to the stairs.
On Monday, Sharla went into labor on her way to Palmetto. We haven't seen or heard from her since, but we assume she's had her baby.
(Backstory: Sharla has been our nanny since we arrived on the island, and she discovered she was pregnant [at age 20] with a girl [her second] when she was five months into it. We've had four months to brace ourselves for no nanny, but secretly hoped that it was all a hoax and Sharla wasn't really leaving us. That's part of the reason we decided to start nursery school at such a young age. We knew we'd need help of some/any kind.)
Also on Monday: losing Sharla, we re-gained my car.
(Backstory: my brand new Nissan XTrail lost its transmission on the gravel-rutted road leading up to our house SEVEN WEEKS AGO. It's been in the shop this entire time, waiting for parts to come from Japan. On the slow boat from China. As Mike says, the global economy hasn't found its way to Honduras. But done at last, we picked up the car and gleefully drove home. Before the sun went down, Mike switched the carseats from the Truck back into the XTrail. I'm ready to roll.
On Tuesday, we loaded the kids into my car for school with no time to spare. I turned the key and -- oh no -- nothing happened. We swore, scratched our heads, consulted our Spanish-speaking gardener and couldn't understand what he said, and then we gave up. We couldn't face re-switching the carseats, so we blew off school. But without a Sharla, that just meant we had a whole day to ourselves with two babies.
To balance out Tuesday, however, the wildly evasive Tropic Air Conditioning gentlemen re-appeared with our seven replacement a/c's that have been on order FOR TWELVE MONTHS. Must've been on the same slow boat from China.
(Backstory: our two houses are designed for "split unit" air conditioners that are mounted high in the walls and operate in each room separately, but have outside compressors. Kind of a compromise between central air and window units, but are much more cost-efficient in this climate than keeping your entire house an icebox 24/7. The transformers on the units that were intitially installed blew out with the island's erratic electricity production. We've sweated through the hottest months of the year with no functional air conditioning, though we've already paid for it and have the holes in the walls to prove it.)
Anyway, three Spanish-only speaking young men worked all day and installed the first unit -- in our bedroom, halleluia -- and the magic moment came when we pushed the remote. And -- oh no -- nothing happened. We swore, scratched our heads, consulted our Spanish dictionary and finally understood, there was no freon. "Maybe on the boat," the young men said, "manana."
Again on Wednesday, we tried to start my car. This time Mike used his key, not mine. And sure enough! It started. The key I used yesterday had been "reprogrammed" and no longer worked.
(Backstory: in the first few months of moving here, I lost my keys. Amidst the 300+ boxes that had moved with us. Mike swore, scratched his head, and paid out hundreds of lempiras to get a replacement. Which only ever worked if you pointed it one way up, not the other way down. Then to our surprise the mechanics apparently found my missing keys in the car while baby-sitting it at the garage for the last seven weeks.) Hmmm. Wish they had told us when they returned the keys yesterday that THEY WEREN'T EVER GOING TO WORK.
So off to school we went.
But home from school we came, and I drove right into the doghouse.
I drove up the gravel-rutted road, down the neighboring hill, up our hill, up our driveway and right off the driveway, which was the equivalent of driving my newly fixed car into a ditch. The driveway sits eight inches or so off the ground (why? not sure. see picture below of driveway installation).
And I just drove up it, and over it. Guess I was thinking about something else, like what am I going to do with two babies for the rest of the day?
Mike swore, scratched his head, consulted our Spanish-speaking gardener and started shoveling dirt. He and Senor Gomez shoveled dirt under the wheels, tied the Xtrail to the Truck, and eventually pulled it out of my homemade ditch.
Is this week over yet?
In defense of my Tropic Air Conditioning gents, the freon did arrive today and for the first time since we moved in TEN MONTHS AGO we will have a cool, humidity-free night's sleep. So will Delaney and Hayden. We tucked them in with blankets, since this will truly be a shock to their systems. And I'm hoping it will cool off my husband, who's been hopping mad for one reason or another since the week began. Welcome to paradise.
So says his father, who is amazed by Hayden's desire to push anything in front of him. His favorite push-toy is a double doll-stroller, a gift at my baby shower. He pushes this stroller round and round the house. Down the driveway. Down the gravel path. Up the gravel path. Through the grass. Into the sand. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. Into the dog. Into his sister.
Hayden's other obsession is cooking. He wants to see everything that's happening above-his-eye-level on the stove, on the counter, inside the refrigerator. He wants the blow-by-blow of scrambling eggs, stirring brownies, or chopping parsley. Not easy to hold a 20-plus pound kid while using your Sandoku. In the market, he'll point to which fruits and vegetables he wants to cook with. Well, I guess maybe he's just pointing to the things he wouldn't mind eating. But I'll pretend that he's planning his challenge as the Next Food Network Star.
Delaney and Hayden went with us, marking the start of their 18-plus-year routine at the ripe old age of 18 months. We never imagined we'd initiate them into the world of recess, snack time, and "what do I wear?" while they were still babies. We never imagined we'd be sitting next to them at Circle Time singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" -- in Spanish.
Today, Friday, offered another milestone in this week of milestones. Mike accompanied the babies to school alone, leaving me to kiss them goodbye as they drove away but leaving him to be the one-that-she-clings-to. And leaving me with three blissful hours to myself. Perhaps this is the payoff for the midnight wake ups. A few hours to myself while they get muddy in someone else's yard.