This parade will last until one or two pm. It started at 7:30 and I left after four hours when it was still going strong. They don’t do Independence Day fireworks in Honduras: they do parades with all the kids whose parents can afford it participating. The parades started Friday and will continue for 4 days until Monday. Different grade levels march each day; preschool, elementary, secondary, vocational. That is why I postponed my trip to La Ceiba. The entire country: hamlets; aldeas; municipalities; cities; and its roads and highways will be inundated with parades that last hours and block traffic. Tuesday I leave for La Ceiba … parade-free.
This may be one of a pair watching over a nest outside my window. There’s also an iguana lurking in those same trees who would like nothing better than to sample a bit of colorful fare. Nuff ’bout that. Sunday I leave for La Ceiba on the North Coast. Yeltsi, the young lady I help with her school expenses, is graduating 6th grade in November. That will end her escuela studies: Primary school. She graduates into colegio: Secondary school, where she will study for five years and receive her Bachillerato diploma: High School. Yeltsi has always earned good grades since kindergarten above the 90th percentile. My goal is to motivate her to attend university. While in La Ceiba I also plan to visit Roatan Island for a few days. I am familiar with Cayos Cochinos and Utila of the Bay Islands. But I have never been to Roatan. It will be a treat to spend a few days on one of Honduras’s world-famous Caribbean treasures.
Early last Saturday a couple of buddies and I drove into Tegucigalpa’s junkyard world in the Hogar’s ’89 Chevy looking for a rear window glass for the cab; one with small sliding windows for direct personal voice access to the pickup’s usual rear bed full of kids. The trip into the city’s depths proved an unforgettable adventure. We drove through several dangerous areas bumping along streets of dirt and large navigable rocks in residential nooks and crannies in the center of the 1.5 million citizen metropolis looking for and finding junkyards in the midst of a wealthy modern city. So incredible it was: the presence of graffiti, and the influence of Salvatrucha gangs and Mareros visible in many colonias and barrios who charge residents a “war tax” to live in their own neighborhood. A day trip was okay: the bad guys come out at night, we were told. Barricaded steets with pistol-toting watchmen protect more affluent residencial areas because armed gangs control so many of the colonias and barrios. One does not walk in those places after dark. Al fin, en búsqueda todo el día, regresamos a casa con el sol ocultando y con las manos vacías.
Much has been written the past few days about a horde of disease-laden Honduran children fleeing gang violence and abject poverty swarming illegally into the US. To be sure, the gangs and poverty are real. I, however, have lived in Honduras for more than five years; an ex-pat, ex-Peace Corps Volunteer, Registered Nurse and I know that all those children have been vaccinated against every childhood disease the same as a US child, a requirement to enroll in school same as in the US. As far as I know there have been no La Paz children leaving home. The Hogar children tell me they are receiving classes in school addressing the refugee problem. The fire department, police department, and the cadets at the local police academy paraded through the community yesterday, sirens blaring, and gathered at the central park to publicize the problem and the dangers involved. The 99% of folks in Honduras living lives same as citizens in the US continue their daily routines same as always. We are aware of the media circus fueled by racist US citizens via newpapers, radio, television and the internet but the average Honduran has no way to influence US ignorance, stupidity and political machinations of all the countries involved. La Paz, Honduras is a beautiful and peaceful place filled with friendly, wonderful citizens where I have chosen to make my home to escape the omnipresent norteamericano systemic racism that thrives and drives repugnant gringo attitudes.
A few of the kids asked me today for the millionth time when English classes will begin again. When the school year is out, I reply. Summer vacation here is December thru February. I have been so busy with personal and fundación stuff that I … “don Fortunato, can you help me with this homework about the United Nations?” I was at the Foundation to take Neli for a driving lesson in the pickup. “When is this due Seidi?” I asked: her class three hours away. “Today.” Every day is an adventure at the Fundación Señor San José. The Foundation has a well-built abandoned cottage left over from construction days in its rear corner farthest from the main buildings. It was used as a “bodega” or a storage place. I aim to turn the building into a hands-on teaching center for the children.
I am not a very spiritual person. Since learning to read I plunged into the scientific world to which I have dedicated my life, never looking back. But today I considered a very different interpretation of my surroundings. Sitting there in church with the children and Sister Edith I experienced such a feeling of closeness and welcome, a bond joining with many of the community’s Catholics in a weekly gathering of family spirit that was almost palpable and made me think and hope for a mutual common sense existence that could be preserved and shared with the world, absent petty competitions and recriminations, based on respect for each others beliefs. If we love one another we are safe and never alone. Our children are loved and in a safe place and never alone. And that’s what’s most important.
It’s a long way from Seattle to Fayetteville, Arkansas. A week on the road 8 hours a day; then another two days to Houston. Stops in between. All of it along our country’s interstate highway system. Leaving Seattle early the Saturday morning after Travis’s eulogy I drove through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas. I’m here in Houston to put my car aboard a boat for transport to Honduras. After arriving home in La Paz I’ll wait for the phone call announcing my car’s arrival at Puerto Cortez. Next week I continue my work with the foundation.