Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Island, entire of itself

I spend large amounts of time on an island.

Roatan, Honduras to be more specific.

45 miles long, 2 miles wide, perched in the western most part of the Caribbean Sea. A former hideout to Blackbeard the pirate.
Home to the Garifuna, an African tribe that found themselves there after over-throwing their Spanish captors.

A beautiful place to say the least, and trust me that is the least I could say. A visual candy store of colors and life. Crystal oceans that feel like heated pools, and creatures that challenge the atheists dogma.

God simply had to have made this.

I work here.

I'm the financial administrator for a development. A great time to develop, no matter what they say.

A group of Stanford students/missionaries recently came to our property. They came to build houses, because this is the third world. I once knew how the third world got its name but I don't care anymore. All I know is this place makes grown men cry. They cry because they see beauty that is unequaled by anything they're eyes have had the pleasure to absorb, then they keep driving.

They drive past the west end teeming with Bars and hotels full with Americans, Italians and Canadians, spending... spending... spending...

They drive past world class resorts. Places like Nikki Beach that will soon have rooms that fetch $15,000 a night. Places well secured and entirely self contained, nestled flush against the most pristine white beaches and turquoise waters you could imagine.

They drive until the road is no longer paved.

They drive until they can no longer drive.

And here they build a house.

They build a house for Ms Dena. Because hers is falling down. A widow and mother of three, it is only a matter of time before one her children fall through the rotting floor into the ocean/sewage below.

They cry because of the juxtaposition of depravity and beauty. A disparity not easily untangled by the American mind. Our world is a comfortable one.

We are certainly no strangers to poor. But we do not know depravity. We do not know the world of those live with nothing, truly nothing.

Even our poor have freeways.

Even our poor have water.

Our poor are entitled to the basic infrastructures and social safety nets that we have long since taken for granted. The third world is a reminder that such things are not entitlements, they are blessings. They are the fruit of development. The fruit of freedom. That moment is difficult. Torn between thanksgiving and lament. No longer ignorant to blessings, but now in full knowledge of depravity. Tears of equal parts joy and sorrow.

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