At 5:59, there’s nothing but silence.
At precisely 6:00, as if on cue, the house seems to shake itself awake. A rooster croaks from the backyard, blankets rustle, and within minutes, the day begins. Spanish dance anthems pulse through the house, followed by the excited squeals of my siblings greeting the new day.
After a breakfast of strangely assorted foods, usually potatoes, boiled bananas, and an extremely sweet instant coffee, my host mom and I head out to milk the cow.
We wind through the bumpy streets across town. Narrowly avoiding people and stray dogs with careful precision. Mothers with babies on their backs, children in school uniforms, banana trucks, and various animals rush past on their own pursuits. As we make our way higher and higher into the mountain, our roadside companions dwindle, and lambs, cows and horses appear in their absence. Finally we arrive, park the truck, and head down the zig-zag path toward the small plot of land. This walk is, without fail, the greatest challenge of my day. The fresh early morning dew and the steep path’s tiny width, accompanied by my ridiculously clumsy nature, make for quite the adventure. Each time I descend, I set myself the goal of not slipping. I have yet to succeed. The way back up makes the trip down look easy. We haul huge bundles of broccoli, celery and radishes on our backs, the extra weight adding a whole new level of difficulty to the climb. Reaching the top, breathless, I feel a sense of accomplishment new to me.
On our way home, I silently observe the bumpy views passing by my window. I am constantly struck by the complexities involved in living in a so-called third-world” country. I don’t like that term. It suggests that this is a world