The sun and exposure to the weather shown in his face and made him look older than his true age; years of hard work had chiseled his body into a machine perfectly suited for labor. He wore no gloves; his calloused hands were now immune to blisters produced by the crude farming implements he used daily for six decades. The early morning journey to his plot of land where he grew his food was an hour long walk on a rocky uphill trail. There in the midst of the tropical forest he cultivated corn, melon, squash and beans.
I learned a lot about myself and the world from that wise old man. Although he was a man of few words, when he spoke the message resonated to the depths of my soul. He told me of personal tragedies he had endured---the loss of four children to diseases, his wife’s death from childbirth at an early age, and recently an accident which had left him unable to work the land alone for a while. I was humbled as he spoke about how he still felt blessed to be able to walk, have friends, food on his table, a home (grass hut), and love in his heart for his fellow man. Our friendship grew strong as his body mended that summer in the isolated and tranquil Mayan village. Tears were shed when the time came for me to say my goodbyes and return to Louisiana.
I guess I never looked at life the same after that experience. All of the blessings of living in such an abundant and creature comfort country became crystal clear to me. It has been 25 years since I shared those precious six weeks as a student of life under the tutelage of Hildardo, a man who didn’t just “talk the talk” but “walked the walk” of a man who proceeded him by a couple of thousand years. I am not the smartest person on this planet but, I believe that the meek shall inherit the earth. Love everybody and have fun; life is short!
A.k.a. Cajun Karl