Thursday, October 20, 2011

Things Are Going to Be All Right

On Saturday last children who never dreamed of going to a jail visited their father.  My scheme worked and the two, Denis and Astrid, readily agreed to go with their previously unknown "step-mother," her sister and their half-sister.  The ride was very quiet needless to say.  The jail is in the middle of nowhere down a long and treacherous dirt road.  I felt physically ill at the sight of the grim, gray place and struggled to understand how it would feel to be confined there.  Vinicio, the driver, was clearly uncomfortable and more so when I got out of the car to help unload the bags of food, water, newspapers.  He told me it was a very dangerous place.  Jackie said "cuidado." Vinicio and I left fairly quickly leaving the group to stand in line for 3 or more hours in order to spend two hours with Alex.

Only time will tell whether Alex has actually learned anything or whether he remains caught up in his own, really quite stellar, performance.  If he has learned anything it may be a bit too late.  The children report that he has been to confession for the first time in his adult life (no reports on how many days it took for him to empty his conscience) and then attended mass and took communion.  While not wanting offend any believers I remain skeptical of this path as it only seems to give some  permission to do it all over again. 

Yet another letter from Alex describes his being overwhelmed with emotion seeing his older children enter the jail with "mi esposa" as he refers to the mother of his two youngest children.  All the reports indicate that it was a good encounter for all.  Denis and Jackie got to see and talk to their father for the first time since he was arrested.  Perhaps more importantly they seem to appreciate the trumped up meeting of their father's second "esposa" and, Marielos reports that Jackie entertained little Michelle the entire day.  Even Estela seemed to get over her anger in about 15 minutes.  Alex had gifts that he had made in a workshop where the  "residents" learn how to make gift items for family members out of empty chip bags.  I suppose it is a good thing that they are being entertained on some level.  

Denis and his mother ordering school uniforms.

With or without (more likely) Alex, life will go on.  Denis and Astrid went to their new school for uniform fittings.  They are very excited about the opportunities that the Antigua International School ( will give them.  Late yesterday I attended a Dr. Seuss production of the "Cat in the Hat" for the school year end at Christopher and Michelle's pre-school. Marielos and her sister coveted the printed "diplomas" that each child received as neither one was able to go to school past the second grade.

Life in the market was never like this.

Michelle "graduates"at 3 from pre-school but forgets
her diploma.

Estela reports that Denis and Jackie want to go again to see their father.  I trust that they have figured out that they can meet up with Marielos and her sister and gain access to the jail with them as the sponsoring adults.  Alex has shown interest in my idea that he should write his life story in his leisure time.  He does seem to have access to paper and pen which is considered an unnecessary luxury in most poor homes.  I have promised him "fame and fortune" if he writes it all down.  I am quite certain that if he stars in his own life story that he will win an Oscar for his acting ability.

Yesterday as I was walking towards an ATM I saw a taxi then heard someone say "Hola, Tia Joan." It was one of Alex's friends, one who had been on last year's soccer team.  He gave me a lift to the ATM and questioned like all the rest of us how Alex could have been so stupid.

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