Monday, January 21, 2013

Tales of My Travels: The Boy With the Golden Coin

After spending a few days at a farm in the Department of Santander with friends, my husband, Jhonathan and I needed to get back to Medellin to spend New Year's Eve with his family. Our friends were staying at the farm for a few more days so Jhonathan and I used a service they recommended called "Puerta a Puerta" which means Door to Door. It is sorta like a long distance Taxi Service. Since we were in a 5 seat car there were two available spots for other passengers. One was an older gentleman and the other was a young boy, maybe 6 years old. The boy's father was following us on his motorbike. Motorbikes are really popular around here both for traffic and economic purposes. You will see some families transporting their kids and even moms with infants on one of these things. It is crazy to think of putting a baby on a motorcycle with such aggressive drivers on the road, but they don't know (or have) any other way. 

This particular family (the boy and his father) appeared to not be very wealthy. And many families in their circumstances would have had the boy travel the 3 hours of extremely windy roads on the motorbike. But the boy told Jhonny that he and his father had fallen off the bike one time, so the father didn't want to make that trip with his son. I can imagine that finding the money to get this boy a ride was challenging for them. It was equivalent to about $45 US dollars. But the devotion to his son's safety prevailed. This touched me immediately. 

The boy who went by the name of Juan Esteban was the last one we picked up. He sat in the back seat in the middle between Jhonny and the other gentleman. I was sitting in the front because I have a tendency to get car sick. When the boy entered the car, the driver asked him if he gets carsick. (Like I said, the road was really windy). The boy said that he would be fine because his dad had given him a coin to hold tightly so he wouldn't get sick. The driver seemed happy enough with that answer and we were off.

On the ride, Jhonny noticed that Juan Esteban was nodding off so he grabbed his sweatshirt and put it against his own side so the boy could lean against him to sleep. He managed to catch a little snooze before waking up when we were in a very windy part of the trip. Jhonny then saw that Juan Esteban has started to tremble. Jhonny asked what was wrong and the boy said he was frightened. "Why are you frightened?" Jhonny asked. He answered that he was worried about his dad because the road was so windy. Jhonny looked behind our car and saw his dad was still following us. He told the boy his father was fine and was right behind us. Seat belts are not required if you are in the back seat, so the boy was able to easily jump up and see his dad. With his hand in a fist as an expression of victory and relief the boy exclaimed "Si!" ("Yes!"). 

We were still on the windiest part of the trip so it wasn't long before his relief turned to carsickness. (I'm guessing he wasn't squeezing the coin hard enough.) Luckily there was a plastic bag on board so he didn't make a mess. Shortly after his mini explosion we were able to pull over to a roadside market so his father could get him a drink and we could all get some air. I must admit, I needed this break as well. That car ride left me feeling pretty woozy. 

At this point most of the really windy road was behind us and soon we were at a multi lane highway. The boy's father sped ahead of us to lead the way which proved to be a thrilling experience for young Juan Esteban. He was so excited, like he was cheering on his father at a Motocross race. He was yelling to his dad to be safe and was so happy when he thought his dad heard him, exclaiming "Si! Si!" repeatedly. His father led the car to the house they were staying. It was in one of the worst neighborhoods I had been in. Jhonny insisted I roll up my window because thieves will steal the sunglasses right off your face. The driver didn't seem to want to hang around much longer than he needed to either. While I understood the desire to get out of the neighborhood, I did not see darkness as much as I just saw a lot of people trying to live their life. They do not have a lot, but they are very social. Lots of people in the street, getting ready for the New Year celebrations. Jhonny said crime goes up around the holidays. He said it is not that the people are evil, they are just more desperate to have what they see. 

My thoughts can't help but go back to young Juan Esteban. My heart is so with that little boy. He is so sweet and so pure. I have found myself sending him blessings and prayers that he lives a good life. Even if he is in the poor neighborhoods his whole life, I prayer for his safety and happiness. The moment he got in the car with us that morning I knew that I was destined to meet him. Our souls were supposed to spend that time together.