Thursday, September 16, 2010

Night in the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes

Amongst the other volunteers I am an anomaly. My tendency to stay up late leaves me as the sole person clinging to consciousness seemingly every night. I sit at the communal table reading or clicking away at my computer while the others retire to their respective rooms.
Nightly silence flows in and I can hear the distant chirp of bugs and the chatter of geckos. Most nights the rain has come and lent it's voice to the night sounds. Drumming on the roof and occasionally knocking debris free from the trees above us, which collide against the tin with the heavy reverberations of impacted metal.

Last night I found myself unexpectedly roused from my slumber. The night symphony was much livelier than it is currently. The songs of the insects mingled with the slow murmur of the fan by my bed and in the distance I could hear thunder pummeling the air as an inconsistent percussion. Preceding each beat was a flash of light that illuminate the whole of my room in a dull white light.

None of this is what had woken me up. I have grown accustom to the rumble of thunder, and can even find sleep when the storm is above me, pounding down upon the roof and splitting the sky. What pulled me back into consciousness was the short, wretched cries of a child in the distance.

All the sounds swirled together and mixed over me as I lay in my bed. I felt helpless and immobile. I wanted to find this child and do something to stop it's crying but knew the impossibility of my desire. Fear and logic kept me from moving.

I could not discern the cause of the crying, perhaps the child is sick, maybe it is simply upset because it was woken up late at night. It could be in danger, it could be morning the unexpected death of it's mother. Maybe it is just temperamental. I excused my inaction by telling myself that it was not my problem, that a gringo with shaky Spanish could do very little good by wandering around the streets of Ciudad Sandino late at night trying to find a crying child. That there are other people, more capable of dealing with the child, already out there and probably trying to help it. Logic kept me off my feet and in my bed. Safe in the locked dorm, in the walled compound, listening to the periodic whistles of the night security. I tell myself that maybe one of them will seek out the child and comfort it.

Eventually the child ceases it's wailing, leaving the chorus of noises conversing with my mind. In the distant lightning bludgeons the landscape. I hope that the child has found a joyful resolution. Listening to the susurrations of the artificial breeze I convinced my consciousness to relinquish it's grip and slip back into sleep.

I dreamed that I was in a familiar place. It was the first time I had set my eyes upon the scenery but it was not the first time I dug my feet into it's soil. Once again I walked through the landscape of my dreams and smelled the scent of dirt and pine on the breeze. It had changed. A massive tree I had expected has died, it remained as a large stump. Easily twice my height, there was a small group of people sitting on it. Concentric circles spread out under them, betraying a life incomprehensible in it's length. There were others around and I demanded an explanation for the giant's demise. It was a natural occurance but that did little to alleviate the wound. Looking at the forest around me I wondered how many more could rival the age of deceased ancient.

Descending into the final destination of consciousness is a bumpy landing. I skid in and out of the waking world, my thoughts slowly picking up with purpose and meaning. A jumble of the previous nights events. The last few minutes before the inevitable stretch into an eternity that ends far too soon. Flickering views of my dreams churn through my awakening mind, the corroded end of a film reel.

I lurch into the vertical world and with the excepting of a brief greeting move silently through my morning routine. I try and grasp the strands of my night and pull them together so that they will not escape into the rising sun. Already they have begun to slip away and I wage a mental battle to contain them. My dreams seem important, significant in ways I can't quite understand. Something that I should strive to hold onto. Many have wriggled free, but I have capture some with my pen, though I cannot fully describe them I can contain some of their essence and through that I can start to recall the dream.

I could not tell if the crying child that visited me in the night was real. The time I spent listening in silence is as surreal as the following dream and I wonder if the child's was ever actually distressed.

The thunder has once again returned, flashes of white illuminate the distance. Now that I have finished capturing the events of my last night (and finally put an update on the blog) I am headed toward sleep. Tonight I can hear dogs barking and people yelling jovially. I wonder what it is that I will dream of, and what I will hold onto as I wake up once again in the land of Lakes and Volcanoes.

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