This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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We met at the airport on that Monday and had uneventful flights to Mexico and then to Veracruz. Everyone was tired from the trip and not looking forward to the two hour bus ride to San Pedro. I then sprung my surprise and told them I had rented an SUV for the six weeks we would be there. They were all elated and thanked me profusely. We went to the local car rental place and picked up a large Hummer. This was the one with the tandem axles on the back, so we had plenty of room and no one was crowded even after purchasing a number of cases of bottled water. We loaded up and I kidded Padre Juan asking him if he thought he could find the village as he was our navigator. He laughed and we took off arriving in the village of San Pedro in about an hour and fifteen minutes. Much better than a two hour bus ride.
It seems the entire village, all 150 of them, were there to meet us. Padre Juan first introduced us to Padre Miguel. He thanked us for coming to help "his" village and then we just went around shaking everyone's hands. It seemed like it took forever. All of the village children were as cute as could be. The little boys bowed to us and the girls curtsied.
Most of the people started to drift away and go about their work in the fields as most were farmers. The few that stayed turned out to be our "hosts." Of course Padre Juan was staying with Padre Miguel at the church rectory. Jerry, Carl and Tommy were introduced to three young couples with whom each would be staying. John and Teresa were paired up with an older couple. This left a couple with three children whom I assumed I would be staying with. I was right. They were José Gomez and his wife Mercedes. The three children were, in order of age, Pablo, Carlos and Maria Theresa. I later found out they were 9, 7 and 5 years old. I was introduced as Mr. Jones.
The three children were beautiful. Dark hair and eyes and a perfect complexion, average in size for their ages and looking like little angels. They were dressed in typical clothing for Mexican children, the boys in a white shirt and pants and the little girl in a white dress. I immediately centered on Pablo and started to tease him.
Trying out my Spanish I said, "You can't be Pablo."
He got a blank look on his face and turned to his father and mother. He then turned back to me and said, "Why"?
I said, "Because my name is Pablo, or Paul in English, and I was born first."
Everyone started laughing except for Pablo.
I said, "I guess you will have to be Pablo Poco and I'll be Pablo Grande." Translated as Little Paul and Big Paul.
With that he got a big grin on his face and rushed over to give me a big hug. His brother, Carlos, did the same thing. Maria Theresa, at 5, was still a little shy and turned and buried her face in her mother's skirt. I figured she would warm up to me soon enough.
They took me in tow and we went off to their house. It was typical of all the small houses in the village, one room across the front which was used for a living area, dining and kitchen. The back was divided into two rooms with curtains hanging over the doorways. One room was José and Mercedes and the other was for the children. The children's room had two built-in beds about 3/4 size; little Pablo had one and Carlos and Maria Theresa shared the other. I was told that I would have one of the beds and Pablo and Carlos would share the other. José had placed a pallet on the floor in their room and Maria Theresa would sleep in there. Right behind the house was an outhouse.
Mercedes busied herself over the wood cook stove and soon we had a nice dinner of tacos. They were delicious and not like the ones we get in the States. The kids, particularly the two boys were very inquisitive about what kind of house I lived in and the surrounding area. Maria Theresa started to come out of her shell and also asked a few simple questions. I played it down and did not go into a lot of detail about the size. That seemed to satisfy them. I did tell them about shopping, going out to dinner and what kind of food I liked. I guess my Spanish was working okay and they seemed to be able to understand me.
It was getting to be about 8:30 PM and José told the kids to go to the outhouse then get washed up and ready for bed as the boys had school in the morning. While they were preparing for bed I took my luggage in the bedroom and started unpacking, putting my clothes and other articles on built-in shelves above the bed. The boys came in and said they were going to bed, proceeded to strip and climbed into bed butt naked. I went over and kissed both of them on the forehead and told them good night. They seemed pleased that I did that as they both reached up and gave me a hug. I then went back into the living area.
Maria Theresa was sitting naked on her mother's lap. I assumed all the kids slept that way. I asked her if I could get a hug as she headed off to bed. She smiled, hung her head, but did come over and give me a quick hug.
José said he had an early morning and soon he and Mercedes headed for bed themselves. It was then almost 9:00 PM. I said I was also tired from the long trip, but was going to read for a few minutes and then go to bed myself. Shortly thereafter my eyes started to get heavy so I took my flashlight, went out to the outhouse, came back in and got ready for bed. I usually sleep naked myself but was a little hesitant to do so while sharing a bedroom with the two boys. I slept in my boxers.
The next few days went rather quickly. The others in our party began finishing up the sewer project. Padre Juan suggested that he, Tommy and I get together with Padre Miguel and discuss the plans and site for the school. Tommy and I had worked on some rough plans and picked out a site right next to the church. Padre Miguel was pleased with the plans and the site we had picked out for the school. With all the other work, providing water and electricity to all the homes I knew we would be hard pressed to build a school. I asked him if he knew of any builders or contractors in Veracruz that might be willing to take on the job. He had grown up in Veracruz and gave me the names of two. I said I would drive up to Veracruz the next day and talk to both of them and get some estimates and some kind of time schedule for the work.
That evening when little Pablo found out I was going to Veracruz the next day he beg to go with me and ride in that "big truck." I told him I didn't think so as it was a school day. He informed me that there was no school the next day as it was some kind of religious holiday. I gave José a questioning look and he said it would be okay for little Pablo to accompany me, but gave him strict instructions not to be a nuisance as I was going on business and to obey me. He was elated that he could go and emphatically stated he would be good.
I then got with Mercedes and asked about any groceries she might need. At first she didn't seem to want anything, but I said that was part of the deal for me staying with them. That is, we were to help out with the food. She then loosened up and named a few things she could use.