Traveling the road back is an annual journey for us. Even finding the road back to our scholarship students is difficult because it bears little resemblance to the one we traveled last year. The main road is being widened and is filled with all the earth moving equipment necessary for that project. Even our driver who drove us last year asks his co-pilot in the front seat, “Is this the right turn?” It is hardly recognizable as its once simple turn is currently being re-configured into a wide intersection with a yield in the middle.
Our road back into the community where we provide scholarships to students, are engaged in a solar cell project, etc. remains the long, lonely road it has always been but with some notable changes. Unlike the other roads we’ve been on, this time it is wet despite this being the dry season. We meet many very full, very heavy, very loaded sugarcane trucks coming out of that same road and wonder if the sugar cane companies are watering down the road so that their trucks’ axles do not to sink into the thick dust that would otherwise consume their wheels.
Conditions on the road back are the worst we have experienced. Potholes, impossible to dodge because they run across the entire width of the “road,” nearly devastate our vehicle. They are filled with muddy water! There is no dodging them because there is no berm on either side. We guess the weight of those gigantic cane trucks contributes to the poor road conditions.
We observe men and boys using thin sticks to guide cattle along the road back as they change their grazing areas throughout the day. Women and children walk along the road to the local stream to wash their laundry.
No electrical, sanitation, or water services exist along the road back into this remote campesino community comprising 360 residents in 60 homes and an occasional church. Women still do their laundry in the stream at the edge of the road.
We stop at several homes along the way. At each home a makeshift fence or gate made of small pieces of gathered limb wood and wire must be opened to allow passage. At a couple of places a large V in the limb is barely wide enough for us to crawl through sideways to walk to the home we need to find off the road back.
After we arrive at our location along the road back, we are rewarded for our arduous journey with firm embraces, kisses on the cheek, “Buenos dios,” and sincere thank yous for coming once again to visit. The people of these rural communities warmly welcome our accompanying them in their reality and are eager to share their lives with us. They genuinely offer us whatever they have to make our visit comfortable.
These hard-working, gentle people erase the difficulties of driving the road back. We always look forward to being among the children.
It is soon time to leave our young friends behind. We never see the same scene twice. How can they possibly get one more plastic bag of corn on the back of this truck?
Along the paved road the little ones mimic the older children as vendors selling dried beans.