Friday, April 9, 2010

Alta Pacuare (aka Ronald's house)

Last week we went to Ronald's house.

Ronald is a friend that we made way back at the wedding (remember it?). His sister was married that day and he, Ronald, didn't have anywhere to stay.

So he stayed with us... Which was the start of a very touching friendship. That day he learned we were offering English conversation classes. He was very interested.

Ronald is from an indigenous reserve. Not in the same Chirripo reserves that we've visited in the past, but from another. Ever since the wedding, Ronald would walk to our house from his house, up to twice a week, for English lessons. The walk between the houses is about 6 hours.

Over the past few months we've grown a friendship with this 27 year old man. His mother tongue is Cabecar, but he learned Spanish in school and on the streets of Turrialba when we went to town. Now he really wants to learn English, and has this incredible ability to reproduce syllables to replicate words without an accent. It amazes me all the time. All he needs is to hear, then he can say it.

Over the past few months he has learned a lot about Canadian culture from staying with us. He graciously ate my crazy Canadian cooking (vegetarian?? Lasagna?? Let's remember there is only fire cooking out there...), he even laughed at our jokes. We learned an immense amount from him. About his culture, his language (remember our 'English' classes where we learned Cabecar?)

and his aspirations. Ronald is a very forward thinker, and not only is he bi-lingual, but also bi-cultural. He lives on the reserve, but he owns a cell phone. That kind of thing.

Tom and Ronald would often talk into the night, long past my bedtime, about the way of life on the indigenous reserves. Tom learned that having a cell phone is a huge blessing. And I think anyone can appreciate that. A cell phone means communication in emergencies, not having to walk 6 hours to make a doctor's appointment, etc. However, powering a cell phone in a land of no electricity is a little bit trickier.

But not too tricky for my husband.

Last week we had the amazing opportunity to travel to Ronald's house. We took a cab from our house to the trail head (end of the road) and began on an incredible 3.5 hour hike to his home.

We past over mountains, crossed over streams, and waded through a waist-deep rushing river to climb the last hill that lead to his house. During the hike Ronald carried a tape-recorded to tape words he wanted to learn knowing we were going home soon.

The length of the cab ride (which he usually walks), the intensity of the hike, the views, the time, the energy, the heat of the sun, the effort, the soaked clothes after the river, the soaked clothes after the whole hike.... All if it struck me like a brick: He does this every week. Sometimes twice a week. For. Our. English. Classes.

Did you get that?!

A few times a week. 6 hours a direction. And he has figured out some way to stay clean, dry, and show up on our doorstep smiling, and ready to learn.

The commitment to learning was incredible.

While we were walking to his house, I was drafting a blog post in my head for all of you. The post would grip the reader and have them understand this overwhelming feelings I had, but I can't even come to write what I experienced. What I realized.

When we arrived the men got to work. LEC-CR sponsored a low-cost electricity source... Hydro-energy! If there is one thing this country has, it's water.

Tom designed a water wheel that used a used bicycle tire and a few random parts. We've always joked that he can turn a coconut into a radio; this came close. The idea is similar to those bicycle powered lights that you stick onto the front of your bike. But instead, the energy is shunted towards a 'plug in', and instead of peddling, the wheel is turned via water (like a water-wheel).

Cool, eh?

And this is the moment when the phone was plugged in, the wheel was turned by hand, and the phone made a beepity-beep-beep signifying a charging phone. The joy in the air!!! The wheel was also able to power a an LED lantern that lite the house at night! What a blessing!

We also did a few hours of English. Knowing it was going to be our last time together, we filled tapes of English words, common phrases, and conversations from his books.

When we parted ways the next morning at the trail head, I cried. This man has been a huge blessing in our lives here.

The experience of going to his home?


The joy of providing electricity to light a home or charge a phone without having to walk hours?





Sonya said...

Wow! Very cool. :)

Q&L said...

you guys have been a huge blessing to people and communities, i sense you've been blessed in return. beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

That is so so cool! I am so happy for you guys.