Saturday evening, as I painted the sunset 100 yards away, I got neighbors on either side of me to camp. One group was quite together with their tents and other gear, to include the inflatable kayak I coveted. There were three families. I learned later that the teenaged girl had been here 3.5y from Honduras. Like most of the campers throughout the campground, they were Latin.
I had been enjoying the loud Latin music for almost two days by then. The owner of the campground asked me Saturday morning as I painted from this property if the other campers had been too loud for me. I did not admit that I doubled up on my sleeping med (ahh, the bliss), but I knew they'd turned down the music by midnight and I found that reasonable.
Besides, I replied, I like Latin music. If it had been Acid Rock, it'd have been a different story.
Besides the nice Hondurans to one side, where my car had been parked the day before as a point of reference, I got new neighbors up the berm, next to my tent. These were four guys who created a very large fire. I could tell they were drinking, as they began singing before I knew it. Their camping gear consisted of the top half of a dome grill and some remnants of carpet padding. Plus a dreaded white panel van.
The next morning, I decided to paint from my campsite and this drew the attention of both groups. I learned that one Honduran man used to work in oils, but now does acrylics. He wanted to show me his work and to paint outside for the first time, so we're meeting up in two weekends. What a great connection!
From the other group, I drew an admirer. He revealed himself by walking by my site a few times to wash his hands in the river. Finally he spoke in broken English that he'd done charactictures until he was in a car accident two years ago and now has a shake. Oh, I could relate to the shakes, but there was no real way to tell him.
Like the girl on the other side of me, he'd been in the US for 2.5y, but her schooling has done wonders for her English. He's illegal; I don't know about her or her family/friends. He does not have a driver's license. When he was in the wreck, the other car ran a stop light and he didn't have a driver's license either. He lamented that he had a $175 fine for driving without a license and the other party, who was Black, only had to pay $125.
This fellow, Ricardo, has two children: an 8yo boy and a 2yo girl, who he has not met. I hesitate to use the word, but he deserted them for the big bucks before the girl was born. I asked if he sends them money and he said occasionally, but it is quite expensive to live around here, too. And work has been hard to come by.
I am torn with having sympathy for a different way of life and judging him for the way he lives. As a person of relative privilege, I have no right to judge. However, I have many Central American neighbors who have done well for themselves.
It always cracks me up to hear someone from Guatemala talk. It's Whatamala they're from. I begin saying Whatamala back and try to keep a straight face.
As I painted, something which should have taken two hours frustratingly stretched into five, Ricardo brought me a lunch of a small, thick tortilla and some thinly sliced, grilled steak, as well as a large hunk of watermelon later. He talked and spoke of how crazy I was for him. Without making him angry, as he is a pretty jovial fellow, I told him that I am nice to everybody, but I could not convey how he should not take that personally. I told him that I am not interested in dating right now. This conversation went on for probably an hour, as I was entirely too patient, as usual.
I am not fooled. He's a guy, not smitten with me, but rather smitten with a Green Card.
Knowing him and his charm, though, I see where weaker of my species might fall for the attention, only to wind up with a bigamist who reeked of beer at every unemployed turn.
Horizons, expanding horizons, my watchwords for the year.
Not that expanded, though.