Work to Get Home:
Sappoto-san, the volunteer, and I all came to the group at the end of the dock. They all looked up and saw us. The leader clapped his hands together.
"Good!" he said in English. "Everyone's all here." Sappoto-san and I merged into the group. I turned to her to translate when he said to everyone.
"Now," the leader said. "I understand that you might have some damage to your boats. We are here to help you go on your way. It might take you a few days, but please bear with us a little bit longer." Sappoto-san held onto my arm.
"In the mean time," the leader said. "We will need your help to help out the locals here." The travelers looked desperate and confused. The leader put up his hand.
"Hold on," he said. "It won't be hard. In fact, this will double as payment to get your boats repaired." We all looked at him still puzzled.
"Consider it a thanks from us to you," he said. "Please?" We all thought about it for a moment. Naturally, it sounded like a strange bargain. Yet, most of wanted to go home at this point, so…
One by one, they all agreed to help out. Sappoto-san looked me in the eye.
"You sure this is a good idea?" she asked. I nodded at her.
"You want to go home and find your family, don't you?" I whispered.
"Well… yes…" she mumbled.
"So, let's get to it," I said. Sappoto-san lowered her head.
"Alright," she mumbled. I shook my head to myself. She needs to learn how to stand up for herself more. I can't work with this.
The volunteers gave all of the travelers easy work. We basically just had to check on the locals with them and help them out with anything that they needed. Sappoto-san refused to leave me side. She still had her doubts. I tried to shake her off my arm.
"Let go," I said. "You won't put the locals at ease like that." She refused to do so. I sighed aloud.
"Look," I said. "You don't even know how to speak proper English. So, let go and let me do the talking."
"But what if they don't know any English themselves?" she asked. I shrugged at her.
"Well," I said. "We'll let the guide talk to them." We came to the first house. I knocked on the door.
"Hello?" I called in English. "We're here to check on you. Are you alright in there?" I didn't get a verbal response. However, I did notice a couple of people peeking out the curtains. The guide gave me a reassuring smile.
"It's okay," he said. "Some of them aren't used to foreigners in these parts." I nodded a bit.
"I see," I replied. I came over to the window and tapped on the glass. The little faces quickly backed away. I turned to the guide.
"Be patient with them," he said. "They might not even understand English really well." I raised an eyebrow at him.
"How long it will it take?" I asked.
"Let me try it," our guide said. He walked up to the door and knocked on it. He basically repeated what I said in Taiwanese. The door opened up a small crack. I saw an old lady peeking out. Our guide stood up straight and smiled. He introduced himself, Sappoto-san, and me in Taiwanese. The old lady stepped outside. I smiled and gave her a little wave. Sappoto-san clung onto my arm again.
"Hello," I said slowly. "Do you speak English?" The old lady looked at me, confused. The guide repeated my question in Taiwanese. The old woman shook her head.
"No," he said. "But, I'll translate for you."
"Thank you," I said. I turned to the old lady.
"Is there anything you need?" I asked in English. The guide repeated my question back to her. She took a moment to think about it. Then, she spoke to the guide. He nodded at her. I looked on, curious.
"What did she say?" I asked.
"She saying that she would like some water and to fix the hole in her ceiling," he replied. I blinked at him.
"Huh?" I asked.
"I'll handle the ceiling," he said. "Just go get the water."
"From where?" I asked.
"The shelter," he said. "Get going."
"Right!" I said with a nod. I dragged Sappoto-san along with me all the way back to the shelter. In forty-five minutes, we came back to the house. A little boy sat on the steps waiting from us. I slowly approached him.
"Hello," I said slowly. "Like some water?" I managed to get one of the bottles out of my arms and lower it down to him. He perked up and walked over to me. The boy took the bottle and drank it up. I smiled at him.
"Good," I mumbled. "Glad you like it." I looked over my shoulder.
"Let's go, Sappoto-san!" I commanded. She struggled to keep all of the bottles in her arms.
"Okay!" she said.
"Careful not to drop a single one!" I said.
"Yes!" she shouted. That little goofball struggled to keep all of the bottles in her arms. I smiled and shook my head.
"Hello!" I called inside. "We've brought the water!"
"In here!" the guide yelled. We followed his voice in the living room. I looked up at the gaping hole in the ceiling.
"Crap!" I yelled. The guide looked down at us.
"Yes," he said. "Good, you brought the water."
"Yes," I said. "Where do we put these?"
"Just set them in the kitchen," he said.
"Okay!" I said. I motioned with my head for Sappoto-san to follow me into the kitchen with the water. This went on for twenty-nine houses in our assigned area. Sappoto-san and I ended up making about the same amount of trips back and forth to the shelter. My feet were sore at the end of our shift. Sappoto-san didn't complain one bit. I looked at her with new fascination.
"I don't understand how you do it," I said. She turned to me, smiling.
"I work hard and daily just to see my family again," she said with a perked up voice. I breathed a heavy sigh.
"I'll salute you on that one, girl," I said. "I wish I had your drive in life." Sappoto-san gave me a little smile.
"Thanks," she said. I smiled and looked out at the calm waters from the dock.
By five days, our boat was fixed up like new. Yet, somehow we felt that we just kept leave right away without a proper send off.