From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
It's the first day of school. Esperanza walks Isabel to the bus stop, while Isabel gives her last-minute instructions on how to take care of the babies.
At home, Esperanza watches the twins and puts on the stove a big pot of beans that Hortensia had prepared. Next up, she feeds the babies plums for lunch and then puts them down for a nap. Looks like she's got everything under control.
Or not. When the babies wake up, they have diarrhea. Eww.
While Esperanza is trying to deal with all the dirty diapers, the beans on the stove start to burn. This is very quickly turning into a disaster.
What would Hortensia do? When Esperanza had a tummy-ache, Hortensia always used to give her rice water... jackpot.
Somehow, Esperanza figures out how to make rice water by herself. Then she feeds it to the babies and waits for Isabel to come home to help her deal.
When Isabel gets home, she congratulates Esperanza on the rice water strategy. That was exactly the right thing to do. Booya.
That night, no one mentions all the diapers hanging out to dry or the fact that the beans are a little burnt.
Esperanza goes to bed early. It's been a rough day.
The grownups have to work every day now, because the grapes need to be harvested. That means it's go time.
Esperanza gets used to the whole housekeeping thing after a while. The babies adore her, and Esperanza knows how to wash diapers like a pro.
One day, Melina and Irene come over. They sit outside, talking about the strike that is supposed to go down that day, when suddenly the weather gets really crazy.
A hot blast of wind hits them, and the sky in the east looks brown. It's a bird! It's a plane! Nope. It's a dust storm.
The women run inside with the babies and shut all the windows.
All the dirt in the air makes it impossible to see out the window. Dirt and sand fly against the windows, and dust seeps in under the doors.
Man, if it's this bad inside the house, things must be terrible for all the poor people in the sheds and fields.
Esperanza hears a meowing at the door, and opens it to find Isabel's orange kitten covered in brown dirt.
When the wind stops, Irene and Melina run home with Melina's baby covered by a blanket. The air is still full of dust.
Isabel gets home from school, worried about her cat.
Then the women get home from the sheds. Mama is coughing, and the women have so much dirt on their faces, they look like raccoons.
As it turns out, the trucks couldn't get to the workers in the sheds or the fields. When the men get home, they are completely caked in dirt.
Alfonso tells the family that the strike failed because of the storm. All the cotton is now buried in dirt. Tomorrow, none of the strikers will have a job.
The grapes, on the other hand, are higher off the ground and still in need of picking. That means Esperanza's family will go back to work.
The next day, everyone goes about their business as if nothing unusual had happened.
The only thing that seems to have changed is Mama. She never stops coughing.
A month later, Mama still isn't better. She's pale, and she has lost weight. Hortensia thinks she should go to the doctor, but Mama refuses—after all, doctors are expensive.
Mama lies down to rest, but when Esperanza tries to wake her, she's burning up with fever.
They call a doctor for Mama. He's blond and American, but he speaks perfect Spanish. The doctor says that Mama has Valley Fever, a disease of the lungs caused by dust spores. If Mama survives, it might be six months before she's well again.
That really freaks out Esperanza. She's already lost Papa, and Abuelita is still so far away—she doesn't know what she'd do if she lost Mama.