I graduated high school when I was seventeen. It’s not because I was any smarter than anyone else. It’s because I was born under the wrong sign of the Zodiac. Had I been born a month earlier, I would have been “big man on campus.” After all, I would have been driving to school as a sophomore like most others in my class. But so go the cosmos and the stars that align and the uncontrollable universe that makes up who you are and who you will become as you go prodding along proudly gaining the knowledge of a steadfast student of life. It’s an imagination beyond the truth that lies hidden beneath your fake journal to guide you through your intrepid encounters with the oddballs (famous and infamous) in life you will meet who will shape your character or lack there of and all that is to become steadfastly replacing the innocence of youthful exuberance. I say all that to say this; I was never fooled by curveballs in baseball and life has certainly thrown some sliders at me, but I’ve taken it all in stride and lived one heck of a journey.
Let’s talk about it. I feel so dirty… like you are reading my personal journal and yet I shouldn’t worry… for I have led an average life just like anyone else who is 40 years old.It may seem I was an oddball of my generation when as a Gen-X’er I joined the Peace Corps in 1988. While the other “dudes" were on their way to college and enjoying the scenery of “bleach blond” “big” hair down at the mall, I was off to a place called
The town sits right on the border of
Basilica of Esquipulas houses the Shrine of the Cristo Negro (“Black Christ”). Founded by the Spaniards in the 1560’s, the image of the Black Christ dates back to March of 1595, when the Portuguese sculptor Quirio Cataño presented it to the city. The mayor probably said, “neato”- in Portuguese, or Spanish or some language that was there long before the Spaniards. It’s basically a dark wooden image of the crucified Christ, AND it’s the most revered Catholic shrine in the region. There’s a pilgrimage site in
You know why my skinny 6’6’’ frame felt comfortable in my new “two year” Peace Corps home of Esquipulas? There was a treaty signed in
We also had magic dirt to keep us safe. People even bathed in it. If you bath in Holy dirt, then you’re “invisible” like the Sioux at the battle of Little Big Horn. Everyone knows the town is famous for its Tierra Santa (Holy Earth) clay tablets. Everyone knows that!
AND, that soil must be Holy because it is excellent for the economy. The local clay (dirt) is pressed into tablets (or clay cake) and sold to pilgrims; thousands who come from the
So here’s the history. As far as Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites go in the Western Hemisphere, Esquipulas is closely tied to
I too am the proud builder of a small, unfinished and as of yet, undesignated basilica near Nameless,
But I digress. The largest basilica/church in
The reason I say all this is simply to inform you that I felt safe while serving in the Peace Corps. And I met some interesting folks down there near the equator… which, by the way, splits Ecuador into two parts- the equator that is, which is an imaginary line that runs through the country of Ecuador. We can’t see imaginary line but we know it's real because toilets flush backwards in
If the equator were a real boundary with signs there would be a north and south
Logic and history tells us that there is always conflict between
My point is simple. The Peace Corps was a good time had by all. After meeting and falling in love with a Guatemalan drug lord’s daughter, her kind and gentle father informed me it was time to relieve myself of my duties with the Peace Corps. So I definitely relieved myself- on more than one occasion I might add. I left a little piece of my heart in that foreign land and I almost left a little piece of my finger. There is no logic to this sorted story because common sense and good judgment played a larger role in my return to the states. The abrupt end! - For now...