One time our host mom was gone all day. When she finally did show up that night, she wasn’t looking too happy. Apparently, her friend’s son had died in a motorcycle accident the night before. Our host mom had spent the whole day with her grieving friend. A few days later, she starts telling us all about how when there is a funeral in the community, everybody pulls together and helps out. Some people give animals, some make food, and everybody pitches in to pay for the funeral.
So after she tells this, I naturally assume this has to do with the guy who died just a few days ago. When I asked her, though, she got this really confused look on her face. “Remember,” I said, “the guy who crashed his motorcycle? The day you spent consoling your friend?” (Although, I should note, in my attempted Spanish it probably translated more literally to, “Remember, sad friend’s motorcycle kills son?”)
“Oh yea,” she remembered, “he’s fine now.” Apparently – and she told us this so casually – they thought that the guy was dead, but he woke up in the morgue after a day or two. Joannah and I just stared at each other, definitely thinking the same exact thing: holy shit, if we get into some sort of accident, and we’re not exactly responsive in the hospitals, they’re going to drop us off in the morgue! How long would they wait for us to revive before they start asking our neighbors to chip in for a coffin?
The guy actually wound up dying a little more than a week later in Guayaquil, (Ecuador’s largest city, about five hours from us.) There was another day of grieving. Then our host mom started the collection to pay for the funeral. True to her word, they raised enough to haul the body back to the community and to cover all the expenses. After the funeral she spent the whole day in the graveyard with her friend.
That night at dinner I asked if the mom was very upset. Yes, it was a ridiculous question to ask. It’s like asking the parents of a newborn baby if they are happy now that the baby’s born. But my Spanish is not all that great, so sometimes it’s either say completely ridiculous things or just sit there and stare. Anyway, the answer was no. The mother wasn’t upset at all. In fact, things are much better this way. Everybody’s happy. Apparently the son was a drunk (that’s how he got into both of his motorcycle accidents) who would steal from his mom and beat her up too. I’m not sure if this is a happy or sad ending, but the moral of the story remains unchanged: if you get into some sort of an accident here, and you can’t wake up, they’re sending you to the f´n morgue!