“Cuantas personas viven aqui?” A question such as this typically has a straightforward answer, but when you’re on your last day of brigading, at your last house to survey, the fates would never provide the answer you’re looking for.
We were at the house of the resident abuelo, a toothless man in his 80s living in a house chock full of people with no access to water. There were several children playing nearby but there was no telling who belonged there and who was just trying to get in on the fun. Six other people in our group were putting on the final touches to that week’s water project—pila building—while the rest of us began asking the abuelo our questions.
“Cuantas personas viven aqui?” We expected to hear a simple “siete” or “ocho” , maybe even “once” but the eager abuelo ignored our question and began to tell the story of how he was hitchhiking to Tegucigalpa and blind drivers kept picking him up—three to be exact. Driving in Honduras is treacherous enough. The speeding around blind turns and cows in the middle of the road bring back feelings of a person’s first roller coaster ride. But imagine the person operating the roller coaster didn’t see a break (or cow) in the track or (by some freak accident) an oncoming roller coaster. Not okay.
So anyways, this abuelo has a blind roller coaster driver and he somehow came out alive. He met several other people along the way, mainly women, and after a 20-minute oration we still did not have the answer to our question but we knew exactly what happened on the his hitchhiking misadventure and, because of that, we felt like we knew the abuelo better than if he simply allowed us to conduct our survey.
Our drive home that last day was filled with can’t-catch-your-breath laughter, as we imagined ourselves hitting the potholes and navigating the tight turns with a driver whose sight was non-existent.
(Disclaimer: all brigade bus drivers have their sight)