Since my parents are coming to visit this weekend, I thought it was fitting to put up a photo Wednesday shot of a different parent visit. This one is Chile and they were put to work!
I have been studying for a Spanish test recently. Over the weekend, I feel back into my old study habits. I listened to CDs and immersed myself in music.
In high school, I would do the same. Granted, this only works for language learning. But, on tests, I could come up with lyrics that had the same grammatical phrasing and check to make sure verb tense was correct. It also improved my vocabulary.
Some music, however, is better than others. My Spanish music of choice— for grammatical complexity— includes Ricardo Arjona. While the following song is not to complex, it is one of my favorites.
Arriving home from work, I was about a block away when I could see the fire trucks–plural. As I got closer, I could see the people from the apartment amassed outside with their dogs. The pit of my stomach told me S was not in the crowd. A single phone call confirmed it.
I started to move faster, toward the door, toward the apartment employee and fireman ushering people out of the building. They yelled that I couldn’t come near and I yelled back that my husband was inside. They told me he wasn’t, but I said I just hung up the phone with him. They asked what floor. Twelve. And someone took off to get him. I called. Said “get the dog and get out”. I hung up.
After I hung up, I was chastised by management and by the firemen for my husband not leaving. I had to explain that he must not know what is going on. He must not recognize the fire alarm.
It was true—he didn’t.
It wasn’t until after this that the fireman came and said it was a false alarm. They had to check out the building a bit more, but believed it was safe. I was ushered back into the crowd, waiting for my husband to emerge from the doors, waiting for him to walk the dog down 12 flights of stairs, waiting to explain fire alarms.
Six firemen in full suits and gas masks exited the building before he got down. Three, less suited up, went back in.
He finally emerged at the point where I had already re-dialed the number to ask what was taking so long. Apparently in Chile, fire alarms are high pitched and constant, ringing like an annoying school bell. Apparently, from our side of the building he couldn’t hear the two fire engines roaring up the block and stopping at the entrance. Apparently he used the key hole to look out the door to see if it was an alarm going off, to see if there were robbers with guns roaming the hallway.
The head maintenanceman told me that if it had been a real emergency, living on the 12th floor, I would have been a widow. A widow without a dog. My husband told me it was a cultural moment. I told my husband that I loved him. Well, that I loved him and that next time he needed to leave the building.
When Harley was a little pup, she was run over by a big, bad tractor. I put her in a shoe box. When she was better. She climbed out of the shoebox and re-learned to walk. This is her journey.
**Video credits to Jason. Thank you! Harley was actually born under the woodshed in the back of Jason’s host family’s house. She absolutely loved him. Then she didn’t see him for a long time and when we saw him last week– she either didn’t remember him or did and was mad that he left her– either way, she wouldn’t stop barking at him and snapping at him. Harley seemed to be okay with his wife though.**
(When I started blogging, Jason teased me. Then he started blogging. I can’t link to his blog here though because he stopped blogging. At least he doesn’t tease me about it anymore– and his wife reads the blog. Plus, he agreed to put the video to music.)
Doinita’s mother was the nurse at Centru Renastere, the kids center where all these photos were taken. It was her job to help the kids as they first arrived get diagnosed and then treated. She found kids glasses if they couldn’t see. She treated intestinal worms. She taught them about toilet paper and hygine. She brought her two daughters to the center to share with these kids; to play; to make friends. I believe Doina will grow up without a lot of the prejudices and classist teachings of her social peers.
Victor, at 14, was the oldest boy in the shelter. He was soft spoken and gentle. We had one large bike and would take the little kids on rides around the block. Today he would be 19. He might have voted. I hope he did.
Here is a three for one. Sveta, the girl in front, was always up for anything. Irina, on the left, sold sunflower seeds at the market and the street corner to raise money for her family. Ecaterina, the one in back, was also my student at school. The glasses were a gift to her from the center.
I am pretty sure that this little boy’s name is Vasile– but I could be wrong. I didn’t write it down and there were so many of them who passed through the center. I think the hardest, part for me, is not knowing. Not knowing where they are. Not knowing if we made a difference. Not knowing if they are ok.
This photos is in a continuation of a series that I took in 2003-2004 when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nisporeni, Moldova working at Centru Renastere.