Friday, October 24, 2008

Juarez Reflection: Like a Bullhorn in a Library

Her swollen eyes rolled toward me in salutation, and I could see that the anguish which they expounded was not from any sort of physical pain but rather from her intense psychological distress; from the breaking of her spirit.

Hermana Jenny said hello to me quietly as I brushed past the hordes of people to enter the kitchen of “El Comedor.” Every word spoken by Jenny was tightened by her quivering lips, and her eyes rolled and swayed from side to side as if she were intensely checking some list or roster for a missing item. In reality, one could tell that she was probably going through her recent purchases trying to figure out what thing she could have scrimped on – what luxury or extra dessert or fashionable article of clothing or ice cold venti latte had lead her empty handed to a place of need.

Over the clatter of talking folks and the banging of dishes in the kitchen, Jenny’s desperation screamed out like a bull horn in a library. She hadn’t brought enough food. There were so many hungry mouths and too many empty spoons. She knew in her heart that, like the multitudes on only crumbs and a prayer, her flock would be fed this day – even if it meant there would be a screeching metal sound as the spoons brush the bottom of the pan. The pantry, however...

There wasn’t enough.

She couldn’t give them their meager portion of rice and beans.

Some would walk away downtrodden and worried about tomorrow.

In that clamorous kitchen, she sat alone in her dark subjective prison, panting and sweating under the weight of her cross.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Juarez Reflection: Becasue I Was Enticed...

 As it is, bug stories are far too frequent in Mexico to be of any great value, however, since I have been enticed to relate such a gruesome tale, I will share one of the more recent events involving one of these grotesque creatures:

One evening as the interns return to their barrio home set cozily in one of the hillsides of the Colonia Fronteriza Baja, they notice that there is a copious amount of water dribbling down the hillside and spilling onto the street. As they ascend, toward their house, they realize that the water is coming from their home. Curious as to why, they rush toward the door to see that the copper piping, actually being of great trade value – especially to someone with an addiction or a hungry family, had been torn out of the wall and taken from the spicket and the hot water heater.

The water, though pouring out like a river raging, was being rightly blocked by a well placed stick which jammed most of the flow keeping the gushing stream from spilling out. As the two lady interns, head inside to put away the groceries, as well begin organizing and cleaning the roach infested kitchen, the male intern as well as the Area Director stay outside to see if they can temporarily fix the problem. As the male intern readjusts the casing that was supposed to help protect the piping, he sees the stick neatly placed in the bowels of the copper tube. As he is leaning down to examine the scene in the dimly lit area, something becomes jostled. Water by the buckets full, by the gallons, comes flying out onto the intern and the patio.

Soon after, as the male intern, soaked to the bone, rushes to turn off the main water line, an emphatic and terror filled scream erupts from inside…

While the male intern begins his inquiry of the running water, the two lady interns enter their simple home on the hillside, set on their mission: the eradication of cockroaches. Armed with bleach, cleaning solution, aerosol cans, and if need be bug bombs, they set to work trying to make the kitchen and living space in their small abode safe for the storing of groceries. After taking all the dishes out of the cupboards to be sanitized, it becomes evident that the task before them would be a daunting one. Every cupboard opened and every drawer emptied, revealed even more creatures scurrying from the light, but the two ladies knew that the biggest mystery would be the small crack of darkness that separated the sink cupboards and the food cupboard right next to it. What ominous creeping thing could possibly be dwelling there? What darkness of life could live to seek an abode in that shadow? What mystery, with dark blinking eyes, would be watching them at that very moment?

The girls set their faces toward finishing this great work. Raising their cans of aerosol, they doused the small crack with a mighty spray in anticipation of the mythic battle about to take place with this creature of the night. And though their hearts were stout, no amount of bravery could prepare them for the onslaught they were about to face. As the smog from the deadly gas slowly dissipated from inside the crack, a slight scurrying sound accompanied the hordes of cockroaches that rushed out from the crevice, crawling and pining over each other, the floor, and the counter tops like a teeming cauldron of some black witch concoction. They zagged in every direction toward any shadow they could find, and chaos erupted as the panicked interns began hopping about in terror and resolve. One by one, the interns began their slaughter of these creatures, and the continuous sounds of spraying and crunching intermingled with each other as of some sharp violin in a horror movie as they gassed or crush each and every one. The ladies screeched and yelped and screeched and yelped as their hearts raced ever faster, and the battle raged on in a cloud of noxious fumes and deafening splats.

Having had to lay flat in the dirt to shut the water main off, and having had many attempts to "ghetto rig" the water system so that everyone could have showers that night, the male intern enters the home to see why there had been so much ruckus. He stands in the doorway to the kitchen dripping from his entire body, and there is mud caked to his face and side. He is barefoot, having shed his shoes in order to keep them from getting dirty. The lady interns stand there bewildered. Each of them is holding a half-empty can of insecticide with a multitude of oozing cockroach exoskeletons lying at their feet; the corpses of their victorious battle field.

They all connect eyes. They are blinking fast and breathing heavy. They laugh.