We have weathered the rainy season in Duran. Afternoons make you fear the sun. The sky may be blue, but I do not have the courage to look up. Evenings bring the rain and chill the air to about 80 degrees.
Instead of going out to the bars for my birthday weekend, me, Tom, and Wilfredo go out to the dark roads, to eat chicken and to watch a soccer game in our neighborhood. The Barcelona (Guayaquil's team) game is only on cable tonight, so theres one restaurant that has the game. On a 20 inch TV, there are about 70 men, all wearing the yellow jerseys watching the game. As I am eating a giant plate of rice, patacones, beans, and oven roasten chicken ($1.50 for everything with a coke), I am looking on the wall trying to follow the game. Then GOALLLLLLLLLLLL the place errupts, our team wins 1-0.
Then we walk back home on the dark streets. The dirt roads come alive in the darkness. Noise comes from everywhere, insects and birds, you cant see. Dogs stare territorially. Cats stalk rodents with patience. The puddles are birght as they are illuminated by the street lights. The frogs watch from beneath as you walk by. Crabs tippy toe from pond to puddle. In the rainy season, the roads are full of life.
I hear ¨Daniel!¨from the darkness and walk towards Winky and Negro (more formally, are rarely, called Javier and Andres) who are riding a bike together. Walking, we find about 5 more to their crew. Some siblings, some cousins, its all still confusing to me. There are no parents. No supervision. They are the kids who fight, throw rocks, sware, are wreak havoc at my afterschool program. They are the neglected, the ones in need of friendship and love. Tonight, they roam the streets taking turns riding their communal bicycle looking for something to do. They show me a store with the best choco-bananas. For a second, they are in guiding me. This is their home, their life.
The stars are out tonight, its rare this season and with this pollution. We sit on a some rocks, on the side of the dirt road, about 10 of us by now. When we sit, I look up to some of them, making me forget they are all under 10 years old and Im the adult. This is their home, this is their life. So another Saturday Night, my birthday weekend, looking up at the stars and looking into the puddles in my new home.