I believe in Ernesto. The first time I heard about Ernesto I did not believe in him at all. I was in Peru on a school trip doing community service. We helped people with disabilities at a place called La Victoria outside of Lima. As I was playing with the kids, I heard Hannah crying hysterically in one of the boy’s rooms. I went to ask what happened and she told me she saw a man who looked just like her friend Efren who died in a car accident a few months ago. I thought she was over exaggerating and being dramatic.
The next day she told me she wanted to confront him and she asked me to go with her. He was in a wheelchair in the courtyard. As we approached him, he immediately stretched his arm out to Hannah and said, “This is for you,” in Spanish. He gave her a green handmade beaded bracelet. Hannah and I exchanged looks of confusion because we didn’t know how he knew to give it to her and not me. Why did he have it ready for her if he didn’t know we were going to talk to him?
We learned his name was Ernesto. Hannah told him that his face looked like her friends face in Spanish. It was the closest thing she could say to “you remind me of my friend.” He knew what she meant. We couldn’t get past small talk, so our teacher came over to translate. She told Ernesto about Hannah’s friend Efren who had passed away in a car accident and how he looked just like him. Ernesto told our teacher a story of his own.
Ernesto told us that he used to make and sell jewelry at markets before he came to La Victoria. He worked with a girl who was his best friend. One day he fell and hurt his knee. With their extreme poverty, that means he will never walk again. He told us that his best friend left the country when he got hurt and hasn’t heard from her since then. Halfway through his story he gave Hannah a pair of green beaded earrings. Then he told her that she reminded him exactly of his best friend who he lost contact with. At this moment Hannah, our teacher, and I started crying.
I am not religious and hardly spiritual at all. What I felt this day was something very new to me. I can’t really explain what I felt but it was the most intense sentiment I’ve ever had. I imagine it felt the way it would feel if Hannah was truly reunited with Efren, and if Ernesto was truly reunited with his lost friend. In a way, I do believe that is what happened. Things happen for a reason, and their reason for meeting was to get closure from their lost friends.
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