Life in El Pital by Heather Clark

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As I sit pondering what to write about, I am consumed with the view from my make-shift outdoors office. The Cangrejal River sprawls beneath me, winding its way through the mountainous jungle landscape to eventually pour out into the Caribbean. Being here in El Pital, far removed from the city of La Ceiba, at times I feel like I have been dropped into another world. Especially, of late we have had problems with thunderstorms and a loss of power. One minute we’ll be chugging along, working in the office and the next, no power. At my home at night, in the center of the community, I have experienced a type of darkness that is completely new to me without electricity. It’s a beautiful thing to sit and read by candlelight. Even in the midst of the problems with electricity and weather, I have never felt more a part of a community in my life. I feel like I took for granted many things in the States, one of those being neighbors. At home in the States, I barely ever spoke to my neighbors, maybe I knew their first names and said hello in passing. In this tiny community, set in this beautiful backdrop, I have come to know more about my neighbors and them about me than I have ever experienced before. My neighbors care for me, watch over my house, worry about me if I don’t feel well, and give me encouragement as I struggle with learning the language. I am invited to dinners, always offered coffee, a place to sit, and given the happenings of the day. These simple things have become the cornerstone of my happiness here. I love the feeling of having caring people around me that are always up for a chat and a laugh or kids that could not be more ecstatic that I want to play with them. While I continue to have questions about my role at Un Mundo, with the women’s group, and in El Pital. I find myself answering my questions with one answer; love. Love is pervasive in this community and within the tiny group of us at Un Mundo. This is an atmosphere of support, friendship, and respect which has been bred in El Pital and bleeds over into our everyday lives at the office. Without the love that we have for our community and them for us, I doubt that we would be here. I don’t think I will even realize how much this experience has changed me until I back home, sitting with my Dad and friends in Florida. Right now, I am learning that there many things a person can live without; electricity, showers, television, and washing machines, to name a few. However, the one thing that none of us can live without is love and this has been my greatest lesson learned thus far.

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