When I first looked for Nueva Mercedes in Maps I ended up with a big
interrogation sign on my screen. But Nueva Mercedes exists, and it exists since
long. One arrives to the village without rush, slowly but surely, like the
women making corn tortillas. It was like a back through trip, where every mean
of transportation was smaller and slower than the previous one. A plane which
flies at I don’t know how many feet and almost thousand kilometres per hour
brought me to City of Guatemala’s airport, Guate
as the locals call it.
me to San Julián. After some hours we dropped off and took a smaller bus which
droved us to Telemán through a pretty bad conditions road for which the money
to asphalt never comess. The driver tells us he is from La Tinta, a village
nearby connected with the same road, and that he’s asking for subsidies and
grants for sport equipment for the school, computers and other stuff. He said
he does it for free, because it’s the right thing to do, because it’s for the
community. For a moment I saw my own effort growing smaller, when comparing it
to the willingness of a man who spends the time he is not driving a bus through
dusty roads under a cracking stones sun, helping others. Chatting about this and
that we arrived to Telemán. No more pick-ups on Sunday afternoon, so the last
stretch was finally done on a tuc-tuc, which engine moaned at every slope of
the road to Nueva Mercedes. With my backpack on my shoulders I arrived to the
house feeling like climbing a Maya pyramid, mainly because of the tiredness.
There was Hugo waiting, the one that together with Filipa was going to be my
partner during my stay in Nueva Mercedes.
Little by little the darkness of the night and its sounds fade and the birds‘
trill welcomes us to a new day. On the way to the school we comment about this
and that; sometimes simply engrossed, silently, each one in our morning
shoulder carried and the impish or shy smiles they bring with them. They put
their head out the door, asking for permission to come in:
good morning schoolmates!
in the reflected in her satisfied face when a student answer a question
properly. Miss Marta is the third grade teacher, the grade I support, most of times, in the morning. To teach those kids is sort of an art, maybe not understood by
everyone, but if one gets from a piece of mud something beautiful by patiently
moulding with patient and determination, I can’t imagine a greater contentment.
all resemble the one we are used to. It’s hot. It’s very hot, and that the
classes begin early in the morning is only partly helpful. It won’t be long
until the sun collapses upon the sheet metal roof and the air becomes thick
as the heat seizes the classrooms. This doesn’t make it any easier for the kids to
keep properly sit and pay attention. Often they stand up, they may be visited
by schoolmates from other grades, or become self-absorbed on their wooden desks
and scream, they scream a lot. Generally kids like to scream and make noise,
all over the world. In Nueva Mercedes they are not different; they are
enthusiastic about sharing their feeling very loudly, whether is joy or sorrow.
So after some days, I got used to hear the quiet voice of Miss Marta sneaking
among the shouts, onomatopoeias and thuds on the tables of the kids. When I
first meet that scenario I thought that chaos was ruling and nothing is
working. But I realised later that it’s not exactly like this. The kids, as any
other worldwide, they have in their inside the blaze of the curiosity, burning
within them much more than any other. So when I stopped and started observing
more thoroughly that apparent chaos, I realised that in between whistles they
all shut up to listen what the teacher brought new today.
most unconcerned wants to understand what his or her schoolmate already did.
Because what we understand is best learned and once you start enjoying learning is
almost impossible to stop wanting to learn more. This is at least what
encourages me on my way to school.
delivering seeds, listening to Edwin explaining how and how not to plant radish
and at what distance in the earth. Some women get discouraged, as productive
gardens require time and care. But many other don’t; they keep the enthusiasm
despite some failures, and this also can be seen in their faces when we praise
their well done work, they reflect pride and this satisfaction is contagious.
Well, those women welcome the sunrise already working, they take care of the
children, the food, the house and they do tortillas for all the family
surrounded by wood smoke. That’s why when I see a clean garden or when they ask
for more seeds and advices to plant them, when they are not embarrassed to ask
for help, then I think that something it’s going well and it is worth to keep
on fighting for what I believe in. Maybe sometimes I am even too thrilled, but I
confess in my head I imagine huge gardens occupying the surrounding of the
houses, full of vegetables to feed the families… dreaming is for free.
will leave. But Li Chu’tam will be here to remember…..above all, everything that has
been learned, what they learned and what I will learn, that will also stay.
Because knowledge is nothing but that, a seed, which is almost nothing without
some help, but if someone sows it and take care of it, it will grow and even
put roots down, roots that will remain. We are working on it…