Friday, August 20, 2010

Don David

The only word I've heard my 16 month old host sister say is, "David." This makes me feel all cozy inside since it is the name I go by in Spanish. I'm sure it wasn't her first word and that she probably speaks many others with her family, but I will admit it feels pretty nice. Today, I played my guitar for all the kids for the first time. Something I have been admittedly avoiding since my last host family constantly requested my lyrically butchered version of "La Bamba" (which I indeed had to play three times in a row today). They absolutely loved it.

Recently, I feel like I have been making tiny breakthroughs almost daily with my host family. My Spanish is getting better, which has led to me talking to them more, which has been improving my Spanish. A never-ending cycle if you will. We have grown very comfortable with each other, and for the first time since my first host-family, I am starting to feel like I "belong." My host-mom, Cecilia, is 5 1/2 months pregnant with child number 10. At 36, she has already had four boys and five girls. She assured me that this would be her last child, and although it breaks my heart to see my family struggle to put food on their table, and despite the fact that the machismo here is overwhelmingly dominant, I am very excited to welcome a new member to the family.

We have had a few difficulties since my arrival, especially in the first few months. I feel obliged not to go into details here, out of their respect. I am more focused on moving forward, but I will say that I was afraid I'd never be able to cross a few barriers. I credit my host-mom for the turn around. She might possibly be the sweetest person I've ever met. She is always wearing an enormous genuine smile. She is always happy to see me, and she worries about me like my own mother would. "Oh, Don David, be careful on your bike." "You should go rest now, or your cold will get worse." Like a mother, she compliments me too much, "Don David, what wonderful work your doing." "You're handsome, Don David." She tries to embarrass me in front of my friends. "I just love it when Don David's friends come to visit, it makes him happy." I unabashedly admit that she is right. She has taken me in as one of her own, not because I pay rent, or because once every couple of weeks I meet with her group, but because she really cares. Every day when I come home, I look for Dona Cecilia, if even just to say good afternoon after a long day. Any day dreams I had before of finding my own place, with more space and privacy, perhaps running water, and a shorter commute, have all vanished. I am falling in love with my family here: my host-mom, my sweet sisters, my diligent brothers, and my rapidly spoken host-dad (I say rapidly spoken because not only does he speak the fastest Cumbre Spanish I have yet heard, but he is always straight to the point, which I rather appreciate at the end of the day in this long-winded country).

Tomorrow morning, I will put the finishing touches on my rabbit cages, with Joe's help (he's been a great volunteer and friend, check his blog too and make a donation to his bathroom project, he's still short and 600+ kids are really looking forward to it). These rabbit cages I am splitting with the family. They already had one and a half cages so we have turned it into three. They currently have one rabbit and next week I am going to find it's mate. I consider it the gift that keeps on giving, and believe that this will make our bond stronger, which I have felt is long overdue. I am excited about the coming months, the progress that is seeming to pick up speed (with my family and my work (some days)), and preparing to welcome a new member to the family, which brings us to a large baker's dozen when you add in the freshly welcomed, Don David.


  1. It seems like your patience and diligence have started to pay off, Barrett. I'm feeling the same way in my job right now. Isn't it encouraging to see positive change?! So proud of you for sticking in there and staying upbeat. I miss your smiling face, and can't wait to see you again. Love you, bro.

  2. I feel so much better knowing that you have another mom watching over you. I bet they do love your "La Bamba"... I wish I could hear it right now too! Love ya lots, Mom P.S. You be careful on that bike!

  3. Hi.In case you have 3 messages from me, is I always have trouble sending my messages.Glad you have another MOM to remind you of things?So proud of you and all of your work. You are so patient and passionate. Miss you and can't wait to see you soon. Love you,MEME

  4. Hey Barrett,
    I feel ya on the host family thing. Sometimes it's a pain, feeling like they watch everything that you do (mostly because they do), yet in the end it is SO worth it. Hearing my 3 yr old host sister say "Alli vienes, Leeby" whenever I leave the house...sure makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside:)

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