Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Swimming with the happy angels

It's been a stretch without posting, and I'm not sure why.
But today I headed to the piscina to help Jody on an outing with the orphans.
That meant four hours of Spanish school in the morning - I'm back for a two-week stint - then finishing up a report on a security survey of volunteers for Cuso Honduras. (Mostly, they feel pretty safe, despite the country's crime problems. The biggest concerns are around travel, because the roads are dangerous and buses iffy.)
Then I headed out in the very hot midday with a plastic bag of newly purchased towels and banana chips in one hand and a five-litre bottle of some sort of powdered juice in the other. Jody - or Dr. Jody as I now call her - had left earlier to head up the steep hill to the orphanage, or group home, or whatever you want to call it. As it happened, her procession - five kids, plus a woman who lives at the orphanage and her two children - came down the avenue as I emerged from Calle Independencia, our street. They looked a little like orphans because Sunday was haircut day, and the three boys had prison-style buzz cuts.
The pool is nice. We go one day most weekends. It's the pool for one of the hotels, but located about 800 metres away from town, past cantina row, in a little garden with palm trees and hammocks and lounge chairs. Hardly anyone uses it. At night, there's a disco - Papa Changa's - but except for the Bob Marley CDs, it's quiet in the daytime.
Jody had arranged for the orphans to swim for free, but of course the guy at the pool knew nothing about that. So we paid, and they swam with wild enthusiasm. They ranged from one to 12, and some could swim and some were a little freaked by the big pool.
But they were all responsible and no trouble. I had wondered if I would have to rescue someone, but no. I supposed looking after yourself becomes a habit. And they hung in the water for a long time, getting us to toss them around and showing off for each other. Then they ate the banana chips and gulped the powdered drink and the rain came. We waited for a while, then trudged back as torrents ran down the streets.
We'll be back. There are about 25 kids old enough to swim, but you can only take five or six at a time.
I've sure spent a lot of time in swimming pools with kids over the years.

Jody's recent post on the orphanage, worth reading, is here.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely, vivid scene. It sounds like you are settling in. That must be a great treat for the kids.

RossK said...

To mangle Yogi, badly....

"You can do a lot just by doing a little."

Great story Paul - thanks.


paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
paul said...

Thank you, Ross K. The best part for me was Alex, a crazy little dude who, as soon as we sorted out the payment problems, did a front flip into the shallow end of the pool - he's an impressive gymnast, even in cheap cowboy boots - but scared himself and retreated to the little kid pool. I talked him back into the big pool and he called out to all the other kids, hey, look at me, I'm in.
He also does quite a good, 'Helloooo, hoow are yoou,' in English, although he has no idea what he is saying.
Really, I'm not sure you do much. But it's nice to swim, and go back to the orphanage smelling of chlorine and feeling a little like there's a world out there, even if you don't touch it very often.