Today Brother and I walked up to the neighborhood park. There are some small ponds and fountains where a few turtles and, as I found out, about a zillion tadpoles hoping to make it to adult froghood live. The pond was being cleaned by some hired locals that come to take care of the grounds and they also cut lawns too and do a pretty good job.
The dirty work today was to drain the ponds, roll up their pants and wade in the man made ponds and clean them out. There is a lot of muck that builds up in there. Brother was terribly excited to watch them clean things out so he could try and get a close up view of a turtle.
As it turned out, one of the guys cleaning the pond was mute. I didn't know this at first. When we first got there, I asked the two young guys where the turtle was. I don't expect people to talk much to me because I'm sure they aren't sure if I speak Spanish. It's like a wait and see if this gringa will talk. The mute man, who I'm guessing is about 19 or 20 years old pointed to a 2-3 foot deep debris trap at the bottom of the pond that the turtle was hiding in until that too needed to be cleaned out. We sat and watched the hole to see if we could see the turtle moving beneath the dark water. It was then that I noticed the bazillion little tadpoles swimming around. I looked at the mute man again, still not knowing he was mute, and asked him in my horrible Spanish if those little things swimming were little frogs. He nodded.
We watched them clean and work a little while. Brother was fascinated and I was a little too. Things are done so simply in Honduras. No special tools or machines.
It only took just a few more minutes and I realized the young man that showed me where the turtle was hiding couldn't speak. He made sounds when he wanted to talk or get his companions attention. All that came out was scratchy noises with inflections in the sounds. After watching them for a while I began to notice that when the other men needed to talk to him, they didn't use words. They would use hand gestures or point, but used very little words to communicate.
How strange, I thought to myself, that this man seems to understand when he is spoken to, yet could it be that because he cannot speak himself that others treat him as if he doesn't understand and stop using words to communicate with him? It made me think about what his life was like without a voice. This young man didn't seem physically impaired. He was skinny, but looked to be healthy. His eyes were bright and cheery and he smiled a lot, especially when Brother laughed and squealed in delight to see the turtles.
Maybe he could be a little deaf and I didn't realize it. But when I spoke he heard me. Or maybe he learned to read lips. Which, if that is true, I think would make him a very bright person. Either way, it left me curious as to why those he was with didn't speak to him with words.