Cleanliness is relative. Fresh out of a bucket shower because I didn’t have time to fill the solar shower before my run to town, I feel clean though the bottoms of my feet and fingernails may lead you to think otherwise. I spent the afternoon sitting in the dirt talking Latin American politics, relationships, and sharks with my mechanic’s brother while he meticulously cleaned and dried his bicycle. He likes Daniel Ortega. He’s afraid of sharks. His girlfriend of three years likes clean bicycles.
A symptom of the suspension problem that led to the mechanic visit.
When the 13 year old neighbor kid named Carlo asks me my name, I tell him Holly. He can’t quite get it and asks again so I say Olga, the name my mechanic gave me since Holly is hard in Spanish. To which he nods and smiles, then produces a ball made of electrical tape the perfect size to be hit by a bat which starts with a game of catch, then I hit it out of the park on his second pitch. The ball irretrievable, I pitch cashew fruits and baby mangoes that explode on impact, sending pieces of fruit flying everywhere followed by laughter and the search for more fallen fruit. When the second ball, this time a small stuffed toy dressed as a baseball is hit into a tall mango tree by my mechanic’s brother, Carlo produces a flat and heavy soccer ball to demonstrate his moves. We take turns playing goalie in front of a concrete and corrugated aluminum wall and he blocks all my shots but one. Lester the mechanic has still not returned.
At last, in the car, 30 minutes before dark with nearly a two hour drive between me and the dogs I love, I drive off assuring Lester it’s ok he couldn’t fix the horn. The suspension feels great, the tires are new, that back window rolls up without a prayer, and the cold air from the AC vents feels amazing. A smile and a wave and I’m on my way. AC off, windows down, music up, savoring the now familiar smells of burning trash, road kill, and rain.
The rain is coming early this year. Last year it hardly fell at all in the rainy season and after six months of official dryness, my trees are thirsty. Thunder clouds gather and make noise but aren’t quite ready for the full act tonight. Just another dress rehearsal.
My favorite dog Ducha wimpers in welcoming joy when I step out of the car. Her 5 month old puppies Ardilla and Cola jump up and scratch my legs with their nails on their way to licking my face, then turn to sniffing the grocery bags for signs of meat. Even our caretaker’s dog Medy who has somehow worked her way into the pack follows me up onto the porch wagging her tail wildly.
Headlamp in place I shuffle buckets around, put groceries away, fill bowls to reward sits and stays, then settle into a plastic chair for a few big deep breaths.
It’s good to be home.
I don’t want to leave.