Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A Nod to Victor

Victor has perfected the art of the Latin American male head nod. The little tilt of the head that is supposed to get the attention of women. Without saying a word, he is able to command attention from every female within a mile radius. While the head nod should be insulting, somehow it's made cute and enduring by Victor. I mean this guy is so cool that he doesn't even bother to utter a single syllable to command everyone's attention. Of course his infectious, broad smile doesn't hurt either. The girls are in constant state of swooning in his presence and he does an excellent job of pretending not to notice while still managing to convince each one that she has his admiration.

We first met Victor last year on our first visit to El Sembrador, but it wasn't ladies in our group who were charmed by his quiet but confident demeanor. The men were immediately taken with Victor's tremendous work ethic. Always with his Uncle Ruben, Victor is a tireless worker who takes obvious pride in every project. Unlike most of the boys who will make any excuse or take advantage of any drop of rain to stop and sit under the gathering tree, Victor rarely takes a break even when scheduled. He performs his duties with the care of a brain surgeon. Now that I've gotten to know him a little better, I've realized that this is a very curious personality trait indeed. Not only is Victor's dedication to his work counter to the relaxed Honduran culture, it's also a stark contrast to his cocky, ladies man, soccer star image. I find this to be the most intriguing thing about Victor. He is an instantly likable kid despite his frequent brushes with insubordination and unruliness. He will spend hour laboring in the hot sun sanding down a picnic table without complaint. But in class, he's the first to refuse instruction or to chime in with snide comments to disrupt the class. The funny thing is, you can't be mad at him. Literally, this kid can get away with anything. Everyone just understands that beneath the rebellious, superstar facade he is someone who is genuinely passionate about making something of himself. 

As for me, nothing brightens my day like that little nod from Victor as he passes me in his crazy pajama pants and paint-splattered t-shirt on his way to pour concrete or fix a broken door. I think that Victor's playful nature, work ethic and leadership qualities means he doesn't really need El Sembrador in order to succeed. But somehow it feels like El Sembrador might need Victor. 

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