Along the Dirt Road

10 Mar

I swear that the second I tasted the sweet humidity of the Honduran air I knew I wouldn’t be able to get enough of it. They told us we’d fall in love with the country, that we’d leave a piece of our hearts with the people there, and in return take a piece of theirs home with us. I thought I understood, having been on outreach trips before, but nothing they said could ever adequately explain the feeling.

The craziest part about it was that it continued to grow with every day we were there, with each person we met, and every community we traveled to. This it, this feeling of unimaginable connection with people from another world, sharing the same hopes and dreams and purpose–it all clicked for me on our final medical brigade at Las Animas.

Las Animas was one of the smaller communities we saw, and after everyone made it through our clinic, we got to relax and get to know the people on a deeper level. While people played soccer with the kids, took photos, and hiked the hills, I noticed one older woman leaning against a tree just watching. Curious, I walked up to her and started a conversation, fairly basic at first, just a simple “Hola, como esta?,” but for some reason I was fascinated by her. She wore a baggy blue sweater paired with a white skirt and flip flops, and her short hair was pulled away from her face, revealing tired eyes filled with concern. As if she were grateful that someone had asked, she began fervently telling me that Las Animas is very poor, and that they needed help. She was overwhelmingly gracious for our aid, but emphasized the need for more. Noticing my age, she asked if I was a doctor, and when I said no, not yet, but I was considering going to medical school, she smiled. Her wrinkled hands grabbed mine and she told me to go back to California, become a doctor, then return to help her friends and family. She looked straight into my eyes as she told me she believed I would do great things for them, and that she looked forward to seeing me soon.

As I sat in the bed of a white Ford truck on our way back from the brigade, I looked at the mountains behind us and the dirt road ahead and breathed in the air that tossed my hair every which way, and realized I couldn’t believe I had somehow gone 20 years of my life without it. I found my direction, my niche, and a meaning and purpose that is so much greater than I am. From that day on, everything I have done and will do has become just another piece of the dirt road ahead, potholes and hairpin turns and all, eventually leading me to Las Animas and beyond.


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