The Chubby Mermaid and the Scarecrow

As a pisces, I have always been attracted to water. There is something altogether peaceful and soothing about immersing myself into the ocean. I always ended up close to water, be it the pond by my Grandparent’s house, the ocean that is 20 minutes away from my mother’s house, the still swan and lake in Chertsey. Feeling water around me helps me to submerge into my surroundings. The sound of the water, the feel of it in my toes and the smells transport me away. Most of . my memories were with water.

As a child I was also quite fearless, disappearing into busy streets and going off into malls by myself. It was no surprise that I took to water quickly and learned how to swim. Even when water can become deadly, like the time I twisted into a whirlpool in the ocean in Tenerife, water has never been anything that I feared. When I am without it, I feel desolate and dry.  I was convinced, therefore, when I was seven that I truly was born a mermaid but somehow I had been stranded on bare land. I dreamed of going back in the ocean and my favorite story was that of the Little Mermaid, even if the fairy tale was quite sad.

My parent’s friends Carol and Andrew came to live in El Salvador a year after we moved. They were larger than life, but their son was tiny and skinny with large tufts of hair never quite placed in the right way. He reminded me of a scarecrow, and we spent some time in our childhood making up stories of my cat being sent to the moon. However, I was independent and thought boys were annoying so I often ditched him to explore on my own.

One day, we went to the beach. The beach in Atami is riddled with rocks and black sand. There is a huge drop to the beach as the resort is placed far above it and one of the most popular things to do was to frequent the water slide.

Another interesting part of the beach in El Salvador was a rocky salt water pool. The giant rock stood high above the beach but when high tide came the water would change. This pool changed it’s depth anytime high tide came making it go from a shallow pool to a deeper one in a matter of seconds. It was more than a little dangerous, being that you could easily be swept up to your death with the tide reaching the beach and falling to your death. There wasn’t any lifeguards or anyone safeguarding them, which in retrospect is more than a little baffling.

Carol was watching us from the pier as we went into the pool and neither Jason nor Carol could swim. But Jason insisted on going where I was going, and me being a chubby mermaid and him being a tiny scarecrow it was hardly a good idea.  At first the pool was great, the salt water and the slippery rocks and warm water was extremely relaxing.  You couldn’t even see the shore, as Atami rock pool was almost going past the tide.

Atami Escape Resort

I grew bored of the pool so eventually  I walked away from it. I was sort of far away when I heard a commotion. Jason, who was tiny and skinny and white was flailing in the water. The waves had come in making the pool far deeper. His little stick arms were flailing desperately back and forth yet everyone was just standing around looking and not helping.  I ran past them figuring at least someone would help but Carol could only try and go in somewhat. Without thinking, I jumped into the water. I remember seeing Jason fall into the deep, his white form like a ghost , I remember the force of the tides and I remember grabbing him out of there. Luckily he was lucid enough that he didn’t require CPR.

It seems interesting this story, because it was the closest I came to death but I also remember it clearly for everyone was waiting for someone else to save him.

 

The Boy Who Chose to Change the World

On Valentine’s Day I am reflecting on the meaning of love.  For many, love means giving other people jewelry , a fancy dinner, a reflection of love to that one person you love most in the world.  I do yearn for this sometimes, but I reflect on love in the broader sense, in ways we ourselves do not necessarily follow. I reflect on the need to love humanity and want to make it a better. place.

 

Yesterday I walked into the community of La Cruz in El Salvador. It’s a unique community, in the middle of the city is a community that started out as war refugees in the early eighties. A series of families were given asylum in a plot of land and they set up camp. Four generations later they still remain, a community of 150 people in a series of shacks the size of one large living room.  There are no personal toilets but a shared toilet for 150 people.  The shacks are made of metal and cardboard. The floors are dirt roads and a dirty soapy water flows through it. You can smell detergent , and roosters and ducks peck through the ground.  It’s an odd thing, a shanty town in the middle of a bustling city. Women have children young- as young as 15 years old- as they walk through the town barefoot carrying large tubs of Corn precariously balanced on their head.

In the middle of the slums live a couple youth. Two boys, brothers dreamed of bettering their community. One of them already has a scholarship to one of the most prestigious universities. On their own intitiative, they set out to do literacy classes for those who were not educated. They set up a recycling program, and gathered all the youth together tp try and make a positive difference in their communities.

The community is not without problems : Teenage pregnancy, gangs, illiteracy yet here is a boy who had virtually nothing , who could be angry but chose to love and embrace serving others. Here is . a series of teenagers and young university students who have an idealism, a love for others despite having every reason to hate or to be bitter.

 

They humble me by their idealism, and I want to be like them when I grow up.