Later that day, I was taking more photos of one of our orientations in a remote community. My team was talking in Spanish about hygiene. So, yeah, neither the Spanish nor the subject of hygiene made any sense to me. Though I did notice when my boss mentioned my name at the end of the presentation.
I waved and greeted the community, “Yep, I’m Gustavo. Hey, folks.”
That’s weird. It looks like you want me to come up front.
I pretended to keep taking pictures.
And there it is again. That signal that you want me to come and talk in front of this group of farmers that pull out their own teeth for dice. Really, is this necessary to use me as an example of how not to be hygienic?
I was introduced again, “Yes, a few words from our volunteer…”
That’s funny, see, no joke, I actually only know a few words in Spanish. What the hell do you want me to say about hygiene?
“Okay, um, look…it’s best to cook with clean water. For example, ah, oh right, once I ate some dirty Chinese food in Nicaragua…”
The farmers confirmed, “Chinese Food in Nicaragua!”
Then the hee-hawing started.
Oh, they loved this. It was like I had missed out on a local colloquial cliché that everyone was using. For example, one could say, that movie was totally Chinese food in Nicaragua.
Oh, wait--duh. Obviously, the adventures of my blog had already spread to these rural UNICEF subsidized communities.
My story of how the tainted Chinese food caused me to produce more vomit than I actually weighed seemed to bring the community together. I watched feuding farmers slapping each other's knees listening to my story while they finished their enemy’s sentence with glee.
“He ate Chinese Food—“
“—in Nicaragua! I know! I know!”
I ignored the chuckling commotion and went on…
“So, like I was saying, clean water is way important and we like sell subsidized filters that totally aren’t Chinese food in Nicaragua.”
“Good work, Gustavo.”
With that, we jumped into the work truck to head home.
Of course, on the way back, the ocean fell from the sky. We had questionable visibility, steep inclines that made your ears pop, and cliffs on either side of a sloppy clay road where if we lost control I’d fall back into Nicaragua.
But, regardless of the conditions, the music in the truck was always sacred. Because Freddy the driver was busy text messaging, I was obviously in charge of the music. And, to be fair, DJ Caucasian would alternate MP3 players. It was an international musical exchange program between Freddy’s Amor Muzak and my cultural presentation of the The Locusts.
The really exciting part was the copper wire Freddy had fashioned to connect an MP3 player to the car radio. The cord almost worked. You had to hold the wire in just the right way. 98% percent of the time I was composing Sonic Youth ballads with the loud short in the copper cord. But, there were these rare moments where through the buzz, hiss and static of the bad cord, we heard real music.
It was glorious. I’d never heard jams from a single left speaker with a cardboard woofer sound so good. At the exact moment when I wiggled the wire in just the right way seducing music to play, I would go catatonic and actualize all that I once read about biofeedback to try and hold the sweet little copper wire in place.
Whenever music came out of the paper towel tube speaker, we were transformed. We’d forget the dangers surrounding us, all my bug bites would stop itching, and Freddy would actually stop texting to beam a smile as he drove just a little faster.
Lightning Bolt song.
“Yar, yar, yar, racka, racka, kah!!”
“Cemento, cemento…amorlolo, te, vida me donde suenos!!!”
Neither of us were singing the correct lyrics and neither of us cared.
Driving over truck-warranty-invalidating bumps, I was ignoring my horribly itching eye. I was hesitant to scratch my itchy eye lest I jam a digit in the logical node of my brain. While pondering my options, the rosemary hanging from the rear-view mirror, manically kept whipping my other functioning eye. Still, overall I was quite proud of how effective I was balancing death and zen while keeping the sacred cooper wire steady. What could possible make this challenge any harder?
Of course, at this moment the truck then pulled over. Freddy rolled down his window. The truck immediately filled up with 3-inches of rainwater as Freddy, without a word, handed me a sleeping baby.
Freddy put the truck back in gear and I understood that I had just been upgraded to a new level in this 3rd world amazing race challenge. Though, that’s where my understanding of what was going on stopped. Freddy and I both obviously knew what was more important between this stowaway baby and our theme song jams. But, before we got pulled over, I had some questions about the newest and weakest link in our karaoke trio.
Was this baby a gift?
Did Freddy visit this community 9 months ago?
Were we baby smuggling?
Though I have to admit, it was a relief to finally meet some who I spoke more Spanish than.
I was trying to figure out how I would explain to the farm help kids that this baby was not dinner, when we finally arrived back in Trojes. The truck window was rolled down and Freddy handed my baby away.
Confidently, I nodded back to Freddy as if I knew exactly what had just happened.