The Why of the What (Mud P6)

Understand, on the back roads we were all neighbors. Familiarity was the default setting.
Those you passed along the road, whether you gave them a ride or not, always shouted a friendly, dios! (deeyos – a version of “adios,” meaning “hi!”).

And that brings me to the “why” – why were we trekking around in our muddy Rover?

To get their story. My dad is a photojournalist. To capture their voices on an old tape recorder. Render them in two dimensions through a typewriter. Submit them to the heavy metal clang and the rhythmic whoosh of the linotype machine. Feed them to the mammoth printing press hungry with thick rolls of blankness.

…And eventually settle those voices in the black ink of the daily paper. Then folk in other places, in pulperías (corner shops), on radio shows, in barber shops, read the words aloud. They populate the air with their neighbors’ stories reawakened. Add their own opinions, use their own voices. And the beat goes on.

Don’t you love the process? Words are world travelers. Think about it!

Make Room (Mud P5)

Those bumps, jolts and swerves were mood music. I trusted that my dad knew where he was taking us, and how he would get us there… I enjoyed the passing scenery, the people that waved to us… I wondered about the lives of whomever might live in the colorful homes, with the fading paint and beautiful veraneras (bougainvilleas) swaying at us over rusted barbed wired fences…

And the not-knowingness of it all. As in, not knowing whom we were going to pick up along the road. A campesino with his machete and the ripe smell of a long day of work? Two freshly showered ladies making the long trek to the bus stop? Some kids on errands, with a sack or two in tow?

And always from my dad, “Mijita, córrase.” “Sweetheart, move over.” In other words, make room. Make room.

Sit on each other’s laps if you have to, but Make Room.

Count Ike – a Child’s View

Happened this morning 7:25
Out the Door:
The three of us huddled under a huge umbrella, bowed against the fierce wind and sheets of rain, shuffling to the car.
Faith: “We’re a three chambered heart!”

Minutes Later, Driving to School:
: “That was a feeder band from hurricane Ike.”
Faith: “It was a minion, from Count Ike!”
Ben: “Yeah, you know Mike and Ike? Ike was the unpaid intern! He got tired of always being the unpaid intern and decided to take revenge on all of humanity!”

Note: Mike and Ike is a brand of candy in the States.

Heart Maggots

I love love LOVE to grow things! So… my friend Michele gave me some papaya seedlings, and voila! That’s one of our two papaya trees.

Problem is, fruit wasps love to plant their eggs deep inside the flesh, when the fruit is still small. Maggots grow unseen in the belly of the fruit, and you don’t discover them until you slice them open to eat the fruit…

IF you inspect the fruit, you can see the tiny puncture whereby the pests inserted the eggs. I go out periodically and check on them… but, once the wasp has snuck in, it is already too late.

All I can do is get rid of the rotten fruit, so the maggots don’t grow to adulthood and continue the cycle.

Got any maggots inside you? What I mean is – have any little pests snuck up and managed to inject bitterness, anger, fear, discouragement, self-loathing or any other debilitating worm in your heart? I sure have to keep an eye on my own heart. Let’s pluck that fruit early, and chuck it far far away!

(PS any actual papaya experts out there who have advice on getting rid of the wasps, let me know! Brasileiros, help me out!).

Head vs. Ceiling (Mud P4)

My head suffered a few knocks as we navigated the back roads. When deep muddy ruts dry, they become major speed bumps. My dad often chose not to slow down much. It was a challenge to quickly and skillfully zig-zag across the dirt, looking for the track which offered least resistance.

We kids were usually in the very back, in one of the two-seaters that faced each other. We would brace ourselves – our feet against the opposite bench, one of our hands between our heads and the ceiling, the other gripping the seatback. You could never predict the sudden jolt that might propel your bottom off the seat and your head into the ceiling!

Some people only just endure rides like that; some people are exhilarated by them. I wonder what the difference is between us? Are those of us that enjoy that just a little bit weird?

Stuck in It (Mud P3)

Have you ever planted yourself ankle deep in mud, behind a jeep which is most seriously stuck, and been told to Push! whilst the driver revs the engine and wills the car loose?

Talk about raining sludge!
Even more stimulating was when we were in convoy, and more than one vehicle got stuck! The drivers would confer, like generals planning an assault.

Those predicaments required teamwork.

Teamwork is often the very best way to get unstuck. Can you think of a time a team helped you out of a sticky place – whether figuratively or literally?

September – Homage to Mud Month (P1)

I like mud. A lot. Don’t ask me why. Maybe because I grew up bouncing around in the back of an old-school Land Rover (the real kind)… way back when. My dad took us to every nook and cranny, every small outpost of Costa Rica, navigating foot-deep ruts made by other intrepid vehicles, or forging our own channels through the soggy, sticky stretches of muck.