Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Good Life

You wake up to the cry of the golden-mantled howler monkeys amidst the roosters, trot up the road for a breakfast of gallo pinto (rice and beans), negotiate a taxi and take a Nicaraguan marimba lesson, learning two pieces that will become part of your ever-expanding repertoire. You return with some time before lunch to lie in a hammock and read a book. After lunch, you hike straight up a large hill with 10 kids to plant a tree and marvel at the view of the lake, which awaits your hands covered with dirt and body glistening with sweat. You arrive and jump in to the lake’s perfect temperature, lie on your back and marvel at your good fortune to be floating in refreshing waters surrounded by beauty at 3:30 in the afternoon instead of sitting in a staff meeting. Back to your room for a cleansing shower and dress up for the evening dinner. A simple meal just right for a well-earned hunger, followed by an evening walk to see bats captured for tracking. You are struck by the strangeness of 14-year old girls with glittery eye-liner so happy to be stroking and holding fruit bats. On the way back, you hear the electronic pings and pongs of video games, only to discover that a small frog is actually making that noise.

Now it’s time for the party and your memories of 8th grade dances kick in and you briefly wonder why you signed up for this trip. But the adults huddle over to the side and let the kids alone and it’s not too painful and even fun when they start to limbo under a broomstick. The party reaches its natural conclusion and the cooks bring out surprise ice cream for everyone. Then you sit in a circle on the porch with the 31 kids while one of your students who you have taught for eleven years plays a harp and sings so beautifully. You grab the ukelele and lead some songs, from Swing Low Sweet Chariot to Side by Side and Que Sera and the kids sing along—and in tune at that. A younger colleague sings a more contemporary repertoire and though you’ve wondered if you’re getting too old to mean something to these kids watching how they gravitate to his 26-year old energy, you don’t feel jealous and instead so happy that the spirit will continue on whether you’re there or not. Then off to the boys cabin and the third night of back-porch storytelling, this time the ambitious Parsival and the Holy Grail. Pindrop silence from these energetic adolescent boys backed by the crickets warming up. And then you sit down to write about the day while they sleep soundlessly nearby.

A day where the body hungered and was fed, got dirty and got cleansed, got exercise and got rest. A day where stories were read, sung, told and listened to. A day with music from the birds and frogs and the ukeleles, harps and marimbas and the voices of the next generation. A day of socializing and solitude, of involvement and reflection, of work and play, of study and leisure. Almost every minute of it outside under blue or clouded skies, in company with animals, plants and waters. The last of our eight-day adventure, everyone’s compass pointing to the true north of our familiar home and eager for the things we’ve missed, from the people to the place to the machines, but a moment’s reflection and you think, “Would that every day be as lovely as this.” May it be so!


No comments:

Post a Comment