Honduras – Day 7, June 22, 2017

Once again we were up for breakfast at 6:15AM, then afterward, we were given a talk on animal husbandry and agriculture by the agriculture manager for the Ranch. They keep 85 head of cattle and use artificial insemination. They teach good practices throughout the valley. They have found that the Brahma cross does not help with the milk production, but it is more for beef cattle. They are working to produce more Holstein-type or Jersey-type cattle. They can’t just import them because they do not do well in the conditions in the valley. They have to cross-breed a valley cow with a milk-producing bull or cow. It was a very interesting talk. After returning back to our dorms, we did find that Gerald had shingles. He did not sleep well last night and did not feel well enough to join our devotional. We left for La Esperanza without him.  
We were greeted as always by the children and many of the villagers. The VBS continued today in the morning as always and the workers heard that there were 3 floors to pour. Me, Danny and Johnny were put on one detail and we found that we were going to do Orlando’s house. We had plenty of help, but it was a big job – 10 bags of concrete. We had Edwin, who is Orlando’s son as our mason and we had Franklin Fabian as our mason and worker. He can flat make some concrete. Orlando had told us that he had just built the house, so the mud had dried and looked like tiles. We were told that they would come behind and fill it in again. The interior was 2 bedrooms and a hallway, as well as a living room. The entire house was to be concrete, except the living room. The Cucina or kitchen would be on the open porch. We tried to talk him into doing a latrine inside in the hallway, but we are not sure if he will do that. We had 11 workers total — the 3 of us, Orlando, Edwin, Franklin Fabian, Carina, Nora, Dixieanna, Jose and Tao. I butchered the spelling of the names, but this is the best that I could do.

We finished the house at noon and Orlando gave us a ride in the back of his truck to lunch. It was like being a kid again when we used to ride in the back of the neighbor’s pickup truck in Atlanta. Before we left, though, Nora gave me a beautiful little vase.
We ate lunch, then headed backwards to the school for our fiesta. The music was loud and we played outside with the children. They had all their gifts and were running everywhere. It was a happy day for all of us. We went inside the school and everyone danced for quite a long time. It poured down rain so hard that it was hard to hear anyone. They sang their national anthem and we sang ours. We exchanged gifts, then left. We went down to the house that had hosted us for every lunch – “grandma’s ” house and thanked her for our hospitality. We found out that she was 97 years old, but was getting around very well. She spoke to me in rapid Spanish and I was happy that Marta was there to translate. We left about 3:45PM and came back to the ranch.  

Honduras – Day 6, June 21, 2017

Again, we were up and eating breakfast at 6:15AM. We left the Ranch about 7:00 or 7:30 and went to the elementary school to visit. The children gave us a singing program, then we visited them in their classrooms. I noticed that the bathrooms had been re-done since March and that there was soap at the sink and toilet paper for the bathroom. We walked across the pedestrian bridge to the middle school and Angela and Virginia met their student. We also met with Myladis for a few minutes and I told them the story of the computers installed 5 years ago. I was able to go behind the school to see the basketball court. They have built quite a bit more and the plan is to put in a goal at one end, so they can at least practice their shooting. I also noticed that there were some volley ball poles out there, so they may be playing volleyball on the court as well.
We left the schools and headed back to the work and VBS site at La Esperanza. The children and adults were literally jumping up and down waiting to see us. We wondered how long they had been waiting. After a song from them and then all of us singing Jesus Loves Me in English and Spanish, we dispersed to our various work sites, including VBS.
Teresa and I were put at a home on the side of a mountain. We had to walk up a steep hill to get to the house. It was Nora’s home, who was a widow and had 3 children. She was 29 years old. We had Franklin again, which we found out was Orlando’s son, and __________. Hilo was our brick mason. We spent the entire morning shoveling gravel, which was more like dirt, and then taking it by 5 gallon buckets into the house. As the mason got closer to the door, one of the Hondurans were able to shovel it through the door directly to the floor. We needed some more gravel and one of the neighbors brought 4 sacks of gravel, which was draped across his two horses. We were able to finish that morning and there was some cement left over, so Nora asked that we use it for the back of her house. When we walked back there, we saw that her adobe house was being eroded away by the rain. The mason got a 1×12 board to make a form and used the extra cement to build it up from the bottom. We left La Esperanza and headed back to the Ranch. Our pastor, Gerald, had a rash on his chi, neck and under his arm. We gave him some Benadryl and cortisone cream, but we are worried he may have shingles.

Honduras – Day 5, June 20, 2017

We began the day as always at 6:15AM having breakfast. We had already put our bags on the bus, so that we could take a tour of the clinic. I will never miss another tour again because I learned something new. I was surprised at the number of clinics in the valley, which I had never raised before. We now have a physical therapist, a dentist (female) and, of course, a doctor and nurses. We loaded the bus and headed out to La Esperanza – a 50 minute bus ride. We arrived at the village and, again, the villagers greeted us with smiles and hugs. They sung a song for us and we sang “The Whole World in his Hands” and “Deep and Wide”. Our team added Campbell, a young man that did not want to stop working. He’d take a shovel from one of the Hondurans and start shoveling. We were to put in a floor in 3 rooms that day. We had 3 Hondurans with us and we were working on a tiny porch, which was mostly covered by sand and cement. With a lot of help from our 2 teenage boys and Franklin, our 22 year old Honduran helper, we were able to nearly finish the 3 rooms before noon. We had a picnic lunch and returned to work at 1:00PM. We passed by our original Pila and they had accomplished quite a lot of that. Mike remarked that they had a door. Hmmmmmm.  I found out later that they were adding a shower to the Pila.  Anyway, we walked on down the road and then turned right down a long dirt road to get to our next project. We knew we would have too many workers. I was put on roofing detail because there were too many on muddling detail. Fortunately, we were not to get on the roof, but only had to hand the tin up to the man on top. I was not needed as we had others that were taller that were able to get it up to the roofer. I tried to do a little mud, but again, there were too many. I was only able to do a little bit. The Hondurans mixed up the mud (yes, real mud) inside the room with lots of dirt and water. They would shovel a load onto a canvas bag and then bring it out to the people outside to put on the wall. The wall was made of their Honduran studs and then bamboo strips on the horizontal. They made their strips by ripping the bamboo with a machete. We left about 3:20PM and then headed back to the Ranch. Many wanted to go to their village that they had worked in for the last 3 years, so a van took them (and me) back there. As we were coming into town, I saw 2 girls running across the field to meet us. It was very heartwarming. I took movies of the children playing and then played it back to them with my IPad. They loved it. We returned about 6:40PM and ate dinner, then took a shower and had our devotional time. All in all, a good day. 

Honduras – Day 4, June 19, 2017

Day 4 brought clouds, which we were thankful for. We ate breakfast at 6:15AM, then had a devotional with the staff at 7:00AM. We then loaded up the bus for the 50 minute ride to La Esperanza, where we would be working with the villagers. We were greeted at the highway by all the children and villagers. They sang us some songs and we responded with a couple of songs ourselves. We then divided into teams to go to VBS or a house in the village. Mike, Jack and I went with a lady to help them build a Pila in her yard. We walked down the highway and crossed over to get to her house where we were greeted with sand, bags of concrete and cinder block. The Pila, which will look like a cement trough when we are finished, had been dug out and we were to place stones and build a footing first. We mixed concrete and filled in the footings with stones and concrete. Another gentleman came by, which we later found out his name was Orlando, and it was obvious that we had forgotten something — the drains. So we cut out two areas for those and then the discussion began as to how to do it. During this discussion, a truck with a load of green bananas drove by and wanted to sell us some. He said he’d take 50 limperas for them, but I only had 40. He took the 40 and brought back 2 bushels of bananas. We were shocked as 40 limps are worth less that $2.00 and I had no idea what we were going to do with them.  I thought we might get 5-6 bananas. We left one bushel at the house and sent the other back to the ranch. Fortunately, we saw some of our group headed towards lunch, so we took our leave and followed them to lunch. We all ate lunch at the school, then returned to our work. The VBS was over for the day, so we had additional workers. We continued working throughout the afternoon until the rain came. It started slowly, but then grew so intense that we had to come onto the porch. The covered the Pila as well as they could with plastic and sheet metal. Just about the time that the rain let up enough to go back outside, we saw our group heading to the bus, so we said our goodbyes and went back to the bus. On the way back, we stopped at the hardware store to get some supplies and then a small grocery store to get some snacks. We got back to the ranch and took showers and then had dinner. After dinner, we sat outside and discussed the day, then sang songs with the two Jacks playing guitar.

Honduras – Day 3, June 18, 2017

We began our day early with coffee and breakfast, then were bused to the city center where the towns people and the Catholic Church were celebrating Corpus Christi.  ?????  They had decorated the street with flowers, leaves and lime in front of the Church. There were pictorials of Christian symbols throughout. They were beginning to sweep them up when we arrived. We wandered the square for a while enjoying the locals and their beautiful square, then headed to the store for provisions – Jutecalpa’s answer to Walmart.  The last time I was here, we went to the regular grocery store.  When our trip leader said we were going to Walmart, I thought she was kidding, but we passed the regular grocery store and then stopped at a huge grocery store, that was much like Walmart.  We spent a little bit of time there, then headed to the Ranch where we were greeted by the staff. We had lunch immediately, then tried to get settled in. We have 14 women in our group and 9 men. Our ladies’ group worked out the vacation bible school supplieswithout 4 of their bags and then we went to bed early as we were pretty tired.

Honduras – Day 2, June 17.

We met downstairs for breakfast and then went across the street to do a little shopping before the shuttle to the airport came, We boarded the shuttle with all our bags and traveled to the airport to meet the rest of our group. They came through customs and immigration, but had lost 4 bags. We did the necessary paperwork, then had lunch and boarded our bus for the long drive to Jutecalpa. The drive was just as easy as it was in March. We got a snack at the Mennonite Bakery and drove on in to Jutecalpa. Several of us had some room issues — bugs or dirty sheets, but they were soon resolved. We met for dinner, had some instructions and went to bed early. I roomed with 2 wonderful women, who were very easy to be with. Thank you, Angela and Teresa.

Honduras – Day 1 – June 16, 2017

5 of us left Atlanta headed for Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We landed without incident and were met at the airport by our hotel shuttle. Once we were settled into our rooms at the Maya, we met downstairs and visited for quite awhile. We could not decide on a restaurant, but we finally went to a restaurant called Roja Verde something, which we were able to walk to. We arrived early and did not have trouble getting a table.  Sea Bass seemed to be the meal of choice and we really enjoyed it. We went to bed early in order to meet our group early the next morning.

Guanaja – Day 8, Saturday

Our Lanhsa flight was to leave at 8:30AM, so Derick and Marvick picked us up at 7:30AM, so we could get checked in.  When we arrived the airport was closed up tight, so we wondered if we had read the ticket wrong — NOPE!  Finally, about 8:10AM, a lady came up with the keys and talked about turning on the air conditioning.  We went in the airport and waited around on some red plastic chairs.  Then Derick suggested we go ahead and get our bags checked, which meant that they looked through everything in our bags.  The airplane arrived and we took off about 10:10AM.  It was hard leaving our friend, Derick, but it is also good to think about home.  We paid our $40 airport tax, then boarded the plane, which did not have an extra seat available.  We didn’t know it, but we were flying into La Cieba, where we paid another $40 tax.  We arrived in Roatan about 11:30AM.  It took quite a long time to get our bags and when we went to check-in at Delta, there was a line a mile long and no separate line for Medallion travelers.  After awhile, they did open another line and we found that a our flight would be delayed for 3 hours.  Then they decided that maybe it wouldn’t be delayed that long.  Boarding time would be at 3:30PM, so we are waiting in a little bar at the Roatan airport called Larry and Luey’s having pizza and a final cocktail.  

We had a wonderful time on our island that anyone would call paradise.  The weather was good and only varied a couple of degrees every day — hovering around 80 degrees.  Some clouds most of the week, which worked for our early season skin.  After our first adventure with the scorpion, we saw no more of those.  Everyone was surprised about the scorpion and they believe that it must have come in while they were installing the new door, as it was highly unusual to have one in the house. We did have to protect ourselves from mosquitos and the sun, but so enjoyed the birds and the fish while there.  The reef was as colorful as we have always heard and the fish were abundant.  We should be home tonight around 10:00PM.

Guanaja – Day 7, Friday

Sitting on the porch this morning, knowing that tomorrow will be hectic trying to get to the little airport Erving this island before 8:00AM, when our flight departs, feels a little tragic.  As we brought little on the trip, we continue to wear the same clothes over and over, but the relaxed nature of this beautiful island encourages you to just be yourself — not worrying whether you wear out something you like because you want to wear it all the time.  Bare feet, bathing suits and gym shorts are the order for the day once again.  As I sit on this porch waiting for the day to open, I can see the reef that we will dive today — just a line of white in a sea of aquamarine, as the small waves break over the reef.  The colors of the reef and the fish that swim in and around it are impossible to photograph, even if we had brought a camera.  It will forever be scorched in my memory and indescribable to those who have never had this opportunity.  Tomorrow is a travel day and will be a long day with a long layover in Roatan, so I have time to once more enjoy this peaceful view from our front porch.

When we come back tonight, I will share the adventures of the day, but find it best to post when I have a few minutes to write, as sometimes my drafts disappear for some reason.  More to come later.

Later:  What a wonderful last day.  The sky was as clear as it has been the entire week.  The seas were so calm that we rode over to an island right around the corner.  It was pretty clear and there were TONS of tiny jelly fish there — the kind that wont hurt you, but float around.  They definitely feel like jelly when you hold them and they are so slippery that it is impossible to give one to someone else, as we found out.  I wanted Cindy to hold one, but I couldn’t get it to her hand.   Made the unfortunate mistake of feeling so comfortable that I tried to make a dive to the bottom.  Although I had cleared my ears, the pressure was too great on my sinuses and I ended up with a screaming headache.  We came back to the house and I walked up the long path to the house to pick up some sinus medication and ibuprofen.  

I still had the blinding headache, so we decided to take the time and eat some lunch on the beach.  We went to the other side of the island and found a secluded beach (not hard) and beached the boat.  We ate our same old PB&Js, while Derick looked for a coconut for each of us.  He was successful and cut the ends off them and punched a hole in one side.  They were delicious.  We put a couple of cubes of ice from the ice chest in the hole, which made the coconut juice cool to drink.  W had our box of nuts and plantains from dinner with us, so we snacked on those, too.  Cindy and I swam in the crystal clear aquamarine water for an hour or so and tried to capture the image of that area in our minds for when the daily stresses of our work lives take over.  

We motored over to a reef that we had wanted to dive yesterday and we found out why he wanted us to dive there.  We saw a puffer fish, a lion fish and a barracuda that followed us for awhile.  It was pretty clear and a beautiful reef that ran in a circle.  We swam around and inside of it for quite a long time. 

We needed to get to the store to purchase some replacement items for the house, so we went back to Bonacca and then I decided I wanted one last dive.  The water on our side of the island was very choppy and we had to look for an area that wouldn’t be too difficult.  We tried a couple of areas, but the water was too choppy.  We finally went on back to the house, but right in front of the house, it seemed to be a little smoother.  Cindy had gotten some pretty good burns on the back of her legs and decided that the last dive was so perfect that she didn’t want to end on a less than perfect dive.  I didn’t blame her, but decided I needed one more.  I had gotten progressively stronger each day and was not ready to quit.  The current was pretty swift, but not terrible.  There were loads of neon tetra on this reef and a different type of whispy vegetation that ebbed and flowed with the tide more.  It wasn’t perfectly clear, but it was good enough to see where the reef went, which was good enough for me.  Maybe I snorkeled for 30 minutes, but it was a nice finish to the day.  We are drinking our Cuba Libres and having pepper jelly and cream cheese with crackers.  I am sure I won’t eat all of my dinner tonight.

This morning from our porch.