“Laura, put these in my ears.”

Ana handed me a pair of earrings.

“What?” I knew what she’d said but I was so surprised I couldn’t help but ask.

“Put them in my ears.” I thought about when Sarah Scott would let me put her earrings in when she was my baby-sitter. I hadn’t done it for someone else since.

It was six in the morning and I brought her over to the candle so that I could see.

We were waiting for the van to pass by. We were traveling to a town an hour away for the fourth anniversary of her father’s death. In the first year, every month the family has an hora santa on the anniversary of the death. After that it’s once a year for the next seven years. Ana’s brothers and sisters and their families all met up at her brother’s house to spend the day together.

Holy hour? More like holy hour and a half! That’s a bad joke. But the ceremony was longer than an hour.

Afterwards Yvonne, a health volunteer who lives near the brother found me and after they force fed us crackers and cheese and soda we walked down the road waiting for a pick up to pass by who would give us a ride; her to her site and me  to Julia’s site, where I would be spending the night.

The guy driving the pick-up who informed me that his name was Ari would frequently stop the truck to lean out the front window and hit on me (I was going to make a pun about the both pick-ups in this situation but I’m not good at English anymore and I give up).

Finally I saw Julia and hopped off the truck. It had only been a couple of weeks since we’d seen each other for New Year’s but I was giddy. We walked for a half an hour to her house stopping to buy bags of chips and dulce. Her town is so small that we wouldn’t be able to buy any food there. Good thing I had come prepared with a few bottles of wine.

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We ate dinner at her host family’s and then spent the night sitting on a sheet on the concrete floor listening to American music and talking non-stop until the early morning when we finally went to sleep.

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The next morning we ate a hearty breakfast and prepared to walk an hour or so to where I could catch the bus to meet up with my host mom who had spent the night at her brother’s.

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“Walk?! Are you crazy?” Her host mom sent me with one of her sons. Ari was there and he remembered me.

“Take a seat! I’m leaving in ten minutes.” I nodded and sat down. Five minutes passed and he waved me over to where he was sitting with men in front of a barbershop.

“Do you want something to drink?” he offered a suspicious brown paper bag to me. I raised an eyebrow. It was almost eight in the morning.

“…no. Thanks.” He shrugged and took a drink.

I was running on too little sleep to make conversation with these men. I pretended that they weren’t all staring at me and watched the road wistfully wondering if anyone passing would give me ride.

“When are we leaving?” I asked Ari, hoping my asking would encourage him to leave immediately.

“In ten minutes.”

“You told me that ten minutes ago.” I had a feeling that it’d be an hour before I left. My desperation must have been clear because Ari found me a bola.

Yoel took me the last 30 minutes out of his way in order to drop me off at the front door.

“You’re too elegant to have to walk anywhere,” he told me. Which I believe was his way of saying that I’m white.

I was glad to get back to Bananas but seeing Julia and Yvonne for those few precious hours was worth it.

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