How interesting. This year the annual four-hour Good Friday procession around the city pausing at the 12 stations of the cross went counter-clockwise on its route. Every year since 2009 it has gone clockwise. The country is so dry one can see the marchers through the trees in my back yard from my third-floor patio roof. The rainy season and winter begin in May and lasts until November. Then the thirsty land will turn luscious and green as Mother Nature bares her fecund soul.
After five years volunteering at the Hogar San José I feel a milestone has been reached. Back then, as we struggled in the dirt and dust and garbage, the nun and the children and volunteers working to establish a semblance of a living space in a neighborhood dump, I would have never dreamed the children would today be living in a brand-new, modern state of the art home. The driving force and unquestionable dedication has been that of Sister Edith herself moving the project forward. I told myself I would remain until I could someday see her dream come true. It has happened. I will no longer be actively involved as a volunteer. My dream has also come true: I will now be dedicating my time writing a memoir detailing the birth and development of the Fundación Señor San José. In addition, I will be setting up an Education Fund for the children. In my close classroom work with my students I have observed a motivation and a desire for learning as we have interacted in our English classes. After each of the children finishes their secondary education they will have the opportunity to pursue the university career for which they are interested and qualified. I am not ashamed to ask any reader of this post to contribute money to the Fondo Educativo Lic. Fortunato Velásquez para la Educación de los Niños de la Fundación Señor San José. This topic will be discussed in further postings. From this we have arisen: http://www.andreavelasquez.com/foggypark/hogar2012/
There will always be technical problems opening a new building for habitation. A few still need to be resolved but the children are finally moving into their new home. This is the first load. There will be many more. I will be leaving my pickup truck with Sister Edith when I leave May 3rd for Seattle; in five weeks. My step-sider is my donation to the Fundación Señor San José. Meanwhile we’ll keep moving stuff and the buildings’ operating problems will be addressed. In Seattle I will take my 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid out of storage where it’s been for five years. It’s got 15,000 miles on the odometer. When I leave Seattle on a cross-country trip points south and east visiting numerous family en route my last stop will be Houston, Tejas where my Honda will board a ship for transport to Honduras. Me and my Honda will finally be home the middle of June. It will have been a long journey: Literally and figuratively.
Do not drive at night. Reasons: potholes; bandits; livestock. Honduras has a fairly extensive network of paved roads that connect the major cities. But the country has no organized maintenance of those roads. On my recent trip from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba on the main two-lane road that skirts the Caribbean out of sight of the water except for Tela, the highway is so full of potholes that one must be on constant alert to avoid severe damage to one’s vehicle. Then there’s the danger of cars from the opposite direction swerving into your lane avoiding potholes so that one must be on constant alert to avoid the potholes and swerving vehicles. And the potholes are often not small. One I avoided was a meter across and half a meter deep. Livestock often wander free feeding on the grass at the side of the road. They have been known to cross the roadway to feed on the other side. Bandits are more prevalent nights. There are no police on the roadways, day or night. It is literally every person for theirselves. Be safe. Travel by day and keep your eyes wide open. The scenery is beautiful.
After eight days in La Ceiba and La Masica I decided to stop in Tela for a night on my way home to La Paz. I stayed four days. Tela is a favorite of mine with its clean, sandy white beaches and my excellent hotel room looking out over the water hearing the waves rushing in day and night made it an irresistible detour. And as always, seafood, seafood, seafood. Irresistible indeed.
It is always a heart-warming experience for me to return to La Masica where I lived for three months in 2009 and made many friends. In the above far left corner is the bloodthirsty porton that attacked me three months ago. It may not look large but it weighs a ton. When I arrived to visit Yelsi, my god-daughter, it by coincidence was near the day the new pool was to be inaugurated at the Ramon Rosa school where I hurt my leg. My contraparte from five years ago, the school’s director, invited Yelsi and me to attend (Yelsi used to be a student there but when her caregiver died she moved to another municipio) It was Valentines Day. Appropriately a labor of love for my dear friend the directora. It is the only public elementary school in Honduras to have a piscina (swimming pool).
Exactly three months ago today a heavy metal porton (gate) fell on my left leg at La Masica. I had gone there from La Ceiba to visit my former contraparte who is director of an elementary school, and to visit other friends. There was no bone fracture but there was considerable damage to muscle tissue and ligaments. I wore an ace bandage for two months and I am now 95% back to normal. So I will be returning to La Ceiba next Saturday to finish my vacation and visit the two very poor young ladies whom I help with their school expenses. Yelsi is starting the 5th grade and Iris the 7th. One big difference will be my mode of transportation. This will be my first long excursion driving in Honduras, to La Ceiba from La Paz. A five-hour trip in my own 1989 Chevy step-side pickup truck. If I remember I will take a picture of the offending porton that felled my previous journey.
Leaving the old run-down Hogar San José behind in four days will also result in so many poignant memories remaining behind as well. My students’ have been practicing their presentation to the new building’s inauguration audience for the past two weeks. It will be an all-star event: the old and new municipal alcaldes will be there, television coverage, leading community members and other luminaries. The children are so excited. They are eager and well-prepared and I am so proud of them. They will be speaking English; the English I have taught them and will continue to teach them. I am so privileged to be allowed to be here for them. They inspire me. Gracias, niñas, por darme vida.
The last time I saw Jonas was 9 February 2011, the night I broke my right elbow in La Paz. Wednesday evenings I had an English class back then with five adults at Dr L’s house that lasted until 7:30 pm or so. Jonas was a foreign exchange student boarding at Dr L’s for a year. We had our weekly English conversation and reading class and would have a great time laughing and exploring new ideas. Jonas is from Germany and like most European students is multi-lingual. He spoke German, of course, English, Spanish and is now learning Georgian. He flew to Honduras to visit with Dr L and her family from Tbilisi, Georgia (a former Soviet Socialist Republic) where he is posted as a Volunteer until next August and we met for breakfast. I have met many foreign exchange students and other country’s Volunteers in La Paz from Germany, Belgium, Holland, Japan, Cuba and, from Canada, my good friend Bob, who recently obtained work in Costa Rica and who I am going to visit soon. I wasn’t able to visit with Jonas the night before he left the country. He and Dr L had just returned from El Salvador where they spent the holiday with Dr L’s daughter. I was invited to dinner but my bum leg had been hurting more than usual. Yup, still a problem. I told Jonas on the phone I would dedicate a web note to him. So: to Jonas! Saludos, Amigo!! My fellow world citizen, I admire your commitment and dedication to the betterment of Humanity!!! Mucha suerte en su vida siempre. Live long and prosper.