beneath the guava tree


LUIS MIGUEL PAUSED just long enough to make sure I was following him before he dashed off. A few seconds later I stood next to the young boy in front of a tree.


Nov. 2015. Luis Miguel plays with one of the accompaniers from the Presbyterian Church (USA).

¿Qué es?” I pointed to one of the green fruits dangling on the low-hanging limbs. I thought I heard aguacate before he disappeared into the tree.

I stayed where I was, thinking about all the bugs that lived down there. Luis Miguel’s head poked back out from under the branches. “¡Ven!” he insisted.

It was such a simple phrase, one I’d heard consistently since the day I started living with my host family – so much so that I had come to detest it.

But this time was different. When Luis Miguel said, “Come!” it was not a command. It was an invitation. An invitation to play, to share a moment, to enjoy each other’s company.

Luis Miguel’s face lit up when I crouched down to follow him. It felt like we had entered another world. Never before had I seen the “interior” of a tree. The branches were so short that they were touching my head even as I squatted. I did my best to ignore my aching knees while Luis Miguel poked the dirt and talked to me.

I did not understand a single word he said, but the way he moved about in that space made me think that he’d found refuge under these branches many times before. I felt like a friend getting in on a secret, like an honored guest getting shown a favorite room of my host’s house.

That moment is forever etched into my memory. It’s the first one that comes to mind when I think about Luis Miguel and his family, who were displaced in December 2015 along with their neighbors in El Tamarindo. I don’t know where they live now.

Every time I visit some of the relocated families from El Tamarindo, I feel a little sad that little Luis Miguel isn’t there. I miss his endless energy, his lust for adventure, his wild imagination, and his charm. Wherever he is, I hope he is safe and finding new friends to explore nature with.

Arbol de Guayaba.jpg

Árbol de guayaba. It turned out to be a guava tree.


2 thoughts on “beneath the guava tree

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