This morning I awakened before the sun, and it was not because I wanted to. I came out of a deep sleep to the sounds of some strange bird tweeting right by our bedroom window. Putting my pillow over my head only half-suffocated me, (that never works). Finally I just yelled in the direction of the window, “SHUT UP!” but that didn’t work either. I laid in bed hating that stupid bird which reminded me so much of my nemesis in El Salvador, the Pichichi.
The Pichichi is some sort of duck, in English it’s called the “Black-bellied Whistling Duck“, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that the noise that bird makes sounds like a really loud and demented doggy squeak toy from hell and it nearly drove me to insanity.
Most of our time in El Salvador was spent in the city of San Salvador at my husband’s childhood home, but we spent a couple nights in Chalatenango at the house of a Tio and the Abuelos. It was at the Tio’s house where I met the Pichichi. I’ll admit that at first I thought he was cute, but that all changed after the sun went down. I climbed into my hammock with my tired, sweaty baby on my chest. My oldest son was a year old at the time and still very fussy. It was difficult to get him to sleep, especially without the comforts of home, and he’d become so exhausted and overwhelmed that he would cry for hours at a time. I wrapped him in a blanket to shield him from the mosquitoes which feasted on me instead, and tried to get comfortable. I woke often, itching from the mosquito bites and unaccustomed to the swinging motion of the hammock, feeling like I was falling, worried I’d drop the baby. The baby would cry out in protest each time I moved and so I tried my best to hold still.
It wasn’t just the hammock and the mosquitoes though. Right out the window in the adjacent courtyard lived a Pichichi, and that stupid duck made its torturous noises almost all night. Every once in awhile I yelled, “SHUT UP!” towards the window, but it was no use. When I thought he had finally given in to my demands, the sunlight started to filter in through the curtain and the rooster started his shift.
The next day my Suegra had scheduled our son’s baptism at the church. At the time I was devoutly Protestant and I was upset that this had been arranged without my permission. I was feeling rather emotional, and the lack of sleep did nothing to help matters. The day of the baptism was incredibly hot. The sun beat down unrelenting, and in the small, windowless church, we all sweated through our clothes. The baby began to cry, and so I began to cry as well. No one quite knew what to make of it.
At one point in the ceremony, the Padre addresses the parents and the padrinos saying, “Do you believe in the Catholic church?” … I’ve never been one to lie, and I had no idea my husband had intended for me to just silently go along with things. “I’m Protestant!” I blurted out through my tears. Everyone was silent for a moment as the Padre seemed to wonder what to do, and then the ceremony went on as usual.
I probably didn’t make the best first impression on a lot of my in-laws when we went to visit El Salvador, but for some reason, they seemed to understand me, even if I didn’t totally understand myself.