The last days are the hardest days
Exactly one year ago today, I was standing in a bus stop in Comayaguela (the city across the river from Tegucigalpa), greasy from traveling, too nervous to be nervous. I remember that first day vividly: Elizabeth meeting us at the bus stop, eating enchiladas and drinking pineapple licuados in a Mediterranean restaurant, rushing through the crowded streets of Tegus, backpacks clutched to our chests, cramming ourselves onto a bus, driving 45 minutes into what seemed like nowhere, walking up the dusty road of the Ranch, thinking what the hell am I doing and how am I going to do it?
Well, friends, somehow I did it. Today, I celebrate what is, for me, a huge accomplishment. I have been living here in Honduras, on Rancho Santa Fe for an entire year. A year! Those words make me want to open my door and scream it into the mountains. I never thought I could do it. I had told my father, only a month before I applied to NPH, that there was absolutely no way I could live abroad for a year. I don’t know what changed, I don’t know how I did it, but I did it.
This morning, I looked back in my journal to see what I had written during my first days here on the Ranch. My attitude then was much as it is today, one of amazement and gratitude. On those first pages of my now-filled journal, I found this poem I had written based on Poem in Thanks by Thomas Lux.
Poema de Gracias
Lord Whoever, thank you for the bus
that takes everyone, these bricks
and banana trees, the bananas in
the wind–both the cruel and the warm
of bamboo, mountains, and faraway sea.
For Wilco playing a few doors away,
the compost bin,
the brownish water
brownish: thank you.
Thank you, Lord, coming for to
carry me to Honduras, where I’ll
cry it out, Lord, where I will
listen and teach, Lord, thank you
for the vultures in my yard.
The first days on the Ranch were beautiful, filled with clear, cold nights and sunny afternoons. I remember being filled with joy, a joy that was so real I could feel it in my muscles and bones. It was thrilling to be beginnning an adventure.
That thrill ebbed and flowed during my year. Sometimes, it hid and I doubted I would ever see it again, but I always did, it always came back. The thrill is back again and in so many ways I feel I have come full circle; the beginning of 2006 is an ending of something very important and dear to me, but at the same time, a beginning of the next adventure, whatever that may be.
I am excited for what's to come, but I am also facing something very sad. 4 weeks from today, I will be gone from the Ranch. The new batch of volunteers are already here, experiencing breakfasts of beans and boiled plantains for the first time, braving the cold showers, learning how to wash clothes in the deep cement sinks. They will be the ones who fill our jobs and hogars. They will be the ones to build bonfires and who will walk across the dam to La Venta in the dark to drink warm beer and carve their names in the table. They will be the ones to tuck my children into bed and to pick them up when they have fallen and to go home every night with smudges on their blue jeans from little arroz-con-leche-covered hands.
The thrill of adventure is back, but that doesn’t make it any easier to leave.