First cool snap in the air; the sweetness of apples and honey. Hurry through dinner for shul at 8:00. Best clothes; break out the fancy jewelry. Hugs and air kisses for twice a year friends. Upholstered seats, floral carpet, special red prayerbooks. Listening to the strange cadences of the right-to-left language, catching familiar phrases here and there: Baruch atah Adonai. The sound of the shofar, loud and commanding. Watching the clock, eagerly awaiting the end, the drive home, to sleep.
Closest coolness is an ocean away. Temperature 100, humidity 110. Glasses fog up, sticky sweat appears instantly. Cotton pants, conservative t-shirts, scrubs if you have them. Bouncing on an open air truck sandwiched between boxes of supplies and medications. Listening to the strange rapid cadences, picking out words here and there: Gracios, buenos dias, de nada. Bear hugs and real kisses for cooperadores, newfound friends and colleagues. Bedsheet and tablecloth-defined exam rooms in the shelter of a stifling cinderblock church. Practicing tikkun olam one soul at a time, laboriously translated word for word. Streets of dirt turned to mud, unimaginable squalor at every turn. The sound of the rain pummeling the tin roof, loud and commanding. Ignoring the clock — stuck on noon anyway; seeking out the stray breeze as welcome as a swallow of water in the desert. Reverse the loading process as the sun dips low, the open air truck a vertable limousine. No shower ever felt better, no dinner more savory, no company more jolly. Sleeping the sleep that follows the hard work of mitzvot.