Thursday, October 29, 2009

Honduras Update Number 4—Two Friends

In order to illustrate who we spend time with I will describe the life situations of two of our friends —Felipe and Julio.

On the one hand, Felipe is a thirty-four year old dark-skinned "watchyman" or guard of the area where we are staying. He is a skinny but strong man with striking facial features; if you look him in the eye you know he is not one to cross. Deep wrinkles and sun damage also highlight his personal story--a narrative of struggle, of working in the fields, of survival.

He has lived his entire life, except for a two-year undocumented stint in the U.S., in the Valle de Amarateca in a town called Rio Frio. His family consists of four kids (though the oldest lives with his first wife in another town), is married to a twenty-three year old women from the same town and works a full-time 12 hours a day seven day a week job as the guard and picks up occasional work making shovel handles from pine branches. In this second job he receives a total of nine dollars for eight hours of work.

Felipe spends his free time playing soccer with his friends and relatives in Rio Frio, attending an evangelical church, raising his kids and caring for his wife. He almost never leaves the Valle as it costs too much and perhaps does not have a reason to do so. Although he does own a house made of brick and mud, he has little savings and when his youngest son was recently ill the family had to go without their normal luxury of soda and the dog had to scrounge around the community as there were not the usual scraps of food to feed him.

Although not well-educated, I believe he has a sixth grade education, Felipe is very aware of the current political situation and has no problem explaining the details of the state of affairs with unusual clarity. He is also absolutely un-intimated by me and my education or by Elizabeth and her occupation as a nurse. Recently, we had a friendly argument about the causes of poverty in Honduras and though I know he respects my opinion, he was utterly unconvinced by my comments. In addition, when his son was sick and Elizabeth was offering Felipe and his wife some advice, he interrupted her and explained to her what he knew to be the problem.


On the other hand, Julio is a thirty-four year old lighter-skinned engineer who works for the NGO that built the community. He is a bit overweight with an omnipresent smile and a joke or two at the ready. He is always well-dressed with ironed pants and collared shirts and a clean short haircut. University-educated and the son of a nurse and topographer, his time in the fields has consisted of managing the work others.

Julio is from Tegucigalpa, has traveled throughout Central America, and commutes in his Toyota 4-Runner. He is married to Ceidy, a thirty-year-old dentist from Otoro, and they have been trying for five years to get pregnant (and now are!). Although he leaves his house around 8am, he usually arrives at work around 9:30am due to traffic, leaves around 4 and arrives home around 6pm. He does not work on the weekends but takes English classes and is extremely involved the Catholic Church where he was married.

Julio and Ceidy own a two-story house in a good part of Tegucigalpa and have recently purchased a second car. They spend almost all of their free time either with family or friends from the church and Julio is an avid soccer player and fan. Almost every Sunday he organizes a 4-on-4 soccer game with friends at a local university where they rent a field for about $15 an hour. Money is much less of an issue for him than for Felipe.

Julio is also very politically involved and can argue his point with the best of them. We often discuss numerous social issues and come to a general agreement about the way the world is. His viewpoint is often based in fact and hard evidence and when in doubt we check our facts using reliable sources on the internet.

So it is. I enjoy spending time (in conversation and on the soccer field) with both men and have learned much from each.

No comments: