Amigos de las Americas had a tremendous impact on my life. I worked with the nonprofit as a Volunteer in Azuay, Ecuador (1990), in Lempira, Honduras as a Field Supervisor (1993), as an Assistant Project Director in El Oro, Ecuador (1996), and as a Project Director in Villarrica, Paraguay (1998).
The summer of 1990 I lived and worked in the Andes Mountains near Cuenca, Ecuador. The main focus was building latrines and planting trees, but we also taught baseball to the local kids. The bat was made of bamboo, and the ball was a rock, both wrapped in duct tape.
We sit in this white bucket, usually once a year to
rest on the counter near lottery tickets and cash
register. In warm water, spayed, our thorns are gone,
left somewhere in Ecuador, swept off the floor,
before they packed us tight to fly far away, then taken
in trucks all over paved roads into rectangular buildings
where fluorescent lights are always on. We watch them
buy beer, cigarettes, some stare at us in wonder that we
have petals, red color, were once alive. They touch,
fondle, rustle our leaves, remembering a moment
with us, that wasn’t us. Others grab us, a dozen at a time,
the number of true love, when money doesn’t matter at all.
Days go by and we start to droop, no one smiles anymore,
wilted, jilted, until one day, they just throw us away.