Friday, February 14, 2014

A Visit From the Vendors of Joy

“It’s pretty melted but we came all the way from Zambrano,” said the men with the beat-up plastic cooler full of orange/yellow/white swirl ice cream. I peeked into the container and it looked a bit gnarly, not properly separated like a sunrise Neopolitan, but the message was clear: it was creamy, icy, sugary goodness sitting on the back of that motorcycle.

No matter that we had just eaten lunch, which was exceptionally decadent with small beef chunk sitting on vegetable and rice soup. (Beef? What is that?) No matter that I was getting ready for a hike. A teacher burst into the living room spouting “I think…there’s ice cream…5 lempiras…by the classrooms…” 

Five lempiras is twenty-five cents. Five lempiras is also a fairly useful bill denomination to have. You can buy five small coconut candies with five lempiras. You can buy half a baleada at the market with five lempiras. These two gentlemen, smiling but exhausted having just motorcycled an hour up the bouldered, rutted, rivered road (one smiling more than the other – the one scooping the ice cream was bashful, and most likely didn’t appreciate how much of his product was dripping down his hands), made that trip for five lempiras a cone.

The cone was handed to me with shaking hands and it was already dripping. I licked the miniature cone and I was in heaven. What can I do to keep this from melting? How can I make this last? I thought. But then I knew: this wasn't for saving. This was for here an now, one minute of wonder. Here and now, I didn't imagine it any different, only as the heartfelt delicious mess it was. 
Now, go out and get yourself some lovin'!

If we’re going to put this under an economic microscope, it made absolutely no sense for the ice cream to come to campus. At best they sold forty tiny cones of ice cream to the volunteers, students, staff and Honduran workers. Twenty dollars to spend all day hauling half-melted product up an unpleasant mountain path.

But let’s not put this anywhere near a microscope, because it isn’t science. This is joy. Joy for us, with a tiny ball of melted Creamsicle –flavored icy cream that we have to eat like thirty camels in the heat of the day. Joy for the men, who turn a tiny profit but get permission to visit a school of beautiful women who rarely receive visitors. They fill their day with purpose, and we enhance ours with muddled mid-day dessert.

The tiny things are worth loving here, there, and everywhere, and sometimes they drive out of the woods on a Thursday. Happy Valentines Day, to al the tiny things worth loving!

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