Saturday, August 23, 2008

Revisiting Nicaragua: Part 3

Saturday 16 August 2008

Rob said I would regret it if I didn’t go out to the forest again. He said he would go with me. So we got up at 5:45am and went out. We found the North Group very low, around point 13, where I thought I had heard them yesterday. I know it was them because the first one I saw was Medio. I wandered back into the brush and found some more. One of the females that I saw was missing her right eye. She had a juvenile though. It must have been a tough dry season.

In total, we saw 6 or 7 females, 4 juveniles, and 3 males. Wrinkle Belly was not among them. I’m not totally convinced that he’s gone from this world though. He might just be on one of his constitutionals.

video

Adult female eating Acacia

We continued up aways and found the South Group around point 17. I saw Uno, eating Leucaena. Couldn’t get a count on the South Group because it started raining and they were all howling and moving around. There were at least 4 males though, a couple of juveniles, and a ventral infant.

It poured for about 2 hours. We kept walking farther and farther up the volcano, to over 200m of elevation. It was interesting to see it up there. We saw at least 1 more troop of monkeys.

Finally we came back down. I was really happy we had gone out to the forest again. I felt much better in the forest today and it was really good to locate both of my study groups.

We came back, showered, and fell into an exhausted sleep. Had lunch and then later in the afternoon I washed our clothes, talked some more to Reina and Argentina. Rob swam out to Monkey Island (1km away). While he was doing so, I ended up finding our old dog Scott Fargus. He came into our room (for old times sake) and I gave him some crackers. He waited at the dock with me for Rob, but after a while he got tired of it and left. Finally Rob got back from his swim at about the same time that Byron (a hacienda employee) and some of the boys (Horatio, Eugenio, and Darwin) arrived in Al’s new sailboat from some sort of fishing expedition. The cheered Rob in and pronounced him a good swimmer (buen nadador).

Ometepe sunset

Around 5pm, I couldn’t wait any longer to see if Milena had really gone to Pul, and I went back to her house. Her little son Angel Gabriel (Eduardo’s half brother) was outside and told me that she was not home, she would be back later. I don’t know if this means she went to Pul to tell Eduardo we’re here or not. I’m not sure what to do. I think I will go to see her tomorrow. If she didn’t go or Eduardo doesn’t show up, I want to head to Altagracia on Monday, get a place to stay, and then go look for him in Pul. I’m not sure how much of this Rob is on board for. He doesn’t think Eduardo is as good as I think he is, or that even if he once was, he is no longer. I’m trying not to think about it too much: whether we find him or don’t, whether he is as good as gold or not.

*****

It was almost 9pm when out of the darkness a small figure approached, saying, “Melíssa!” It was Eduardo. He had a shy little smile on his face. I hugged him and kissed his cheek. He sat down beside me. He said he had come back on the bus from Altagracia with his mom.



I tried to ask him questions that would be friendly and not too prying. Things like, “Do you like living in Altagracia?” (Yes, he said he did). I asked him how long he had been living there and he said since February—the same time his emails to me had stopped. His voice was very small and his face so solemn. After his first little smile, there was nothing to match it. I told him to come with me because I had a present for him. He was hesitant but eventually followed. I dug out the shirt from my bag and held it up to him. I explained that “Urbana” was my town and that the “Market in the Square” was a place where you could buy all sorts of lovely fruits and vegetables. “Okay, gracias,” he said. The shirt was going to be way too big for him.

We walked back to the others and I asked him if he was okay. He said yes. I was unconvinced, so I asked him if he was sad and he said no. Then I asked if he was shy and I think he may have nodded a little.

We went back to the hammocks in the main area. Rob and I kept trying to think of things to say: asking questions about his school, his friends, where he lived with his grandma and uncles in Pul. He sat on the hammock, twisting his t-shirt and answering our questions but without any of the joyful Eduardo energy that I’d once known him to have.

After a while his mom walked in. I was surprised to see her, but also very glad that she hadn’t just sent him out in the dark alone. She looked cleaned up, so much better than the day before. “I told him you were here and he didn’t believe me. He thought I was lying,” she said. Eduardo did not look happy that she had arrived.

A bunch of the kids in the English class (the class that Eduardo had once been a part of) were hanging around. When a jovial boy named Junior walked past, he and Eduardo looked at each other and exchanged words that seemed a little tense.

I just didn’t know what to make of it all. Was he just shy and overwhelmed? Had he forgotten about me? Could he have cared less? About the most he said to me was to ask me why I had come back and then something that translated literally as, “Are you a nurse to the monkeys?”

There was really only so much that could be said. Eventually, he looked at his mom and whispered, “Vamos.” They got up to leave. I hugged him and watched them walking away, thinking that I would never see him again.

I went back to the room and stared at the wall for a while. When Rob came in to go to bed, I went back out to the main area, where we’d been sitting with Eduardo. So much had happened in his little life. He didn’t look any bigger after one year, but his eyes were more severe and his demeanor was serious and joyless. I wondered if he is always like that these days, or if it was just because his mom had made him take a long, hot bus ride to go back to a place he’d been sent away from, to see a strange white woman he only vaguely remembered from a long time ago.

He just seems lost to me now. Not like I even want to take him home with me and enroll him in Urbana Middle School and fix his breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. When I left him a year ago, I told him, “Stay gold, Eduardo,” just like in the book The Outsiders. I know this is exactly why Rob thought it was a bad idea for me to go looking for him: because nothing gold can stay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I LOVED THE PICTURE OF THE MONKEY EATING and THE SOUNDS OF THE BIRDIES!!!!!! Felt like I was out there in the forest with you........ AWESOME PHOTO of the sunset on OMETEPE-- and the touching picture of you with Eduardo!!!!!!!made me cry!!! so happy you got to see him, but so sorry there are so many unanswered questions. Maybe living in another town with relatives is good for him, and his future will be better than if he had stayed on Ometepe!!!!! Have to think happy thoughts, for both him AND W/B!!!!!!! Thanks for the journey, and sharing in your memories!!! Luv you, foxymama