I say that because it's currently....3:09am. And normally I would be sleeping. I was sleeping. Very happily, I might add. Until I heard my neighbor screaming.
Anyone who has stayed with us knows that across the street lives two kids. Older high school aged kids. They can drive. It's sort of weird to have two teenagers living in a huge house all by themselves and I'm still not sure why they do but, hey, they do. And when one of them comes home, particularly the kid with the blue hatchback, his music is really loud until he pulls into the garage and sometimes he wakes our daughter up from a nap and it's one of those annoying things served up to us occasionally because we have neighbors.
He was the one who woke me. It's weird how you wake up sometimes, incorporating reality into a dream. Well, I wasn't dreaming and he kept screaming at someone so I stopped hoping he would stop yelling so loudly so I could return to my cozy slumber and I got up to peek out the window. I thought maybe he was just playing.
But when I looked out my bedroom window across the street and saw his car on fire in the garage I knew he wasn't just being youthful.
So I got dressed and got the fire extinguisher from the kitchen and wished I had woken up a little sooner and I ran outside. They had taken the hose from in front of my house but in their haste broke the screw-on end off and had no way to get water to the fire. I had a small home-sized extinguisher. Now, the car was parked hood first in a garage and very much on fire the I'm not about to put myself between a burning car and the corner of a concrete box so I sneaked up as close as I could (about even with the driver door) and began to put out the fire, thinking, "These crazy kids...they need an adult around."
It's amazing how quickly a fire can get too big to handle with extinguishers and garden hoses.
It's also shocking how little white stuff is actually inside those red extinguishers. In the movies it seems like more. You're supposed to be 6 feet from the fire and I think if I would have been in front of the car and could have hit the bulk of the flames, maybe I could have gotten it, but that wasn't an option. And about 4 seconds later, I was running to get the hose from the back yard (you'll remember the kids popped the nozzle off mine) and hook it up to their house. Well, the kid-who-owns-the-blue-hatchback tried spraying the car while I stood at a safe distance. I didn't really want to get blown up. I didn't. But the car kept burning. There were other neighbors out then and someone had called the fire department. But those guys were either really far away or asleep or I don't' know, but it took them a long time to get here while we all just stood back and watched the car burn and pop. There were a few small explosions but the tank never blew.
It was then that I was thankful they don't build houses here out of wood. Had it been a wood frame house, the whole thing would have burned down and most of the neighbors before the brave firemen arrived. I asked the kid how it started and he said he was in the house and smelled smoke and his car lights were on fire. I have no idea what happened, but however it started, it was cooking pretty good.
Well, I thought it best to move my car to a safer distance, so I pull the minivan out and parked it and as I'm walking back the firetruck pulls in. Those guys just hop off the truck and run in hosing things down. Much braver and better equipped and trained than I, it took them 5 full minutes to get the flames out and I felt a little better about my lack of extinguisher skills. They brought this really cool gas powered fan to blow out the smoke so they could finish up all the hot spots and I began to gather my hoses and bring them back home.
I haven't seen the car yet, but it burned like a yule log for about 15 minutes so I'm sure it's completely ruined. But I realized how little I know my neighbors and how nice it is to have other people around when things are on fire. I also realized a little more how much of a foreigner I am and how much I will always feel that way no matter how long I live here because I simply will never be a native Guatemalan. Sure I speak Spanish, but it's different. I'm not from here. They know it and I know it. But when your car is on fire none of that really matters. It's only afterward when things have calmed down a bit and everyone but you is standing and chatting in little groups that you realize you still don't quite belong.
I'm going to get another couple fire extinguishers soon. I might just buy a big one. I'm getting one for each car as well. You may want to invest in something similar.
Well, it's close to 4:00 and I have to get up in two hours. I just couldn't get back to sleep but I'll go try again. I get to preach again later this morning to some pastors and I'm still pretty nervous. We're going over Romans 12:1-2. I can't think how a car fire applies, but at least I'll have a good story.