Corrida de Toros

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In Honduras the bull at the bullfight is not killed nor hurt in any way. There were nine bulls on the program, each bout lasting approximately 20 minutes. A great way to spend an Independence Day afternoon. Especially since my friend Celeste’s grandmother lives right across the street from the bull ring in the municipalidad of San Sebastian about half an hour from La Paz. Viva México! Viva Honduras!

Music Festival

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At the beginning of the year Sister Edith enrolled all the children at the Hogar in a music program conducted by musicians of the Tegucigalpa Symphony Orchestra in a joint music program with the Municipalidad de Cane ten miles from La Paz for the immediate region’s children. Our children are learning to play musical instuments and to sing in a choir along with many others. The season’s final concert demonstrated their virtuosity. Another continuing months-long training period begins in October. When provided the opportunity and encouraged by patient, caring professionals all children can learn. Their curiosity expands, their self-esteem is positively reinforced and amplified, and dreams form in their receptive minds.

Jerusalén

001003002That’s my garden above. It’s growing. And so am I. But I want to talk about Jerusalem. La Paz is situated on sloping hills that rise up gradually to high mountains from the Comayagua Valley floor. On its upper outskirts, on steep hillsides and arroyos, rock-impregnated dirt streets meander among simple adobe and concrete-block homes of many poor people: what most westerners would call classic third-world conditions. Donkeys, cows, pigs and chickens roam free and few folks own a vehicle. I have been accompanying my friend Celeste on Sunday mornings after church and sitting in as she teaches catechism classes to several children. They’re preparing for their First Communion. I was, however, struck by an epiphany last Sunday. I have volunteered with Sister Edith’s Fundación for at-risk children for the past seven years and helped to raise their level of existence. At Celeste’s side I have melded into the poverty-stricken Barrio Jerusalén at its most basic level. For now, I will devote my energies to these poor children and their families. My heart breaks every time I walk into Jerusalem.

Impasse

Bureaucratic intransigence in a third-world country is quite like bureaucratic intransigence in a supposedly first-world country. My US archaeology professor resource-person has counseled me to seek Honduran university professors in order to iniciate further study of local ancient sites due to the country’s violence-prone reputation preventing foreign experts from becoming involved. My contact with these local academics, however, reveals a lack of money to pursue the most basic efforts. Instead, officials want me to reveal my sources in order to hunt down illegal possession of artifacts and possibly confiscate the ancient objects. In Honduras, excavating antiquities is prohibited, even on private property. The populace has no confidence in government officials: they avoid them like the plague.

Museo de Antropología e Historia

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Yesterday I met with the director of the Comayagua regional office of the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología E Historia. I had emailed her Friday with photos of the ancient indigenous ollas recently discovered in the municipality of La Paz. We discussed the possibility of initiating an archaeological survey and possible dig at one of the most promising sites. Perhaps involving university students from Tegucigalpa. The museum has many antiquities, including a replica of the Giant Cave located in the mountains about 40 miles above La Paz. Human occupation has been documented there by archaeologists dating to 9,480 BCE. It is perhaps the oldest site of human habitation in Central America: precursors of the local Lenca culture. I have also included two photos of a recent visit with my friend Celeste to the thermal hot springs a few miles from La Paz. It is a natural hot spring made comfortable with a nice adjacent swimming pool one can jump into from hot to cold. There are many hot springs in surrounding areas of the Comayagua Valley, most undeveloped. That may change with construction of a new international airport.

Potpourri

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Time passes quickly when one is having fun and living life to the max. I have been so busy with the children at the Home, with my friend Celeste and her family, and with my gardening that the weeks just slide away and before you know it another month has passed. My work trying to inspire an archaeological interest in the ancient buried indigenous riches is at an impasse. No one from the university in Tegucigalpa has contacted me. The students annual summer solstice journey to the nearby El Chircal pyramids did not materialize. The bureaucratic inertia is maddening but I will not be discouraged. Meanwhile I will continue to enjoy. My motto is: Do what you love with the folks who you love. See the baby corn above? I have squash, tomatoes, green beans, and corn growing. There’s more to come.

Coordinating History

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On a grassy plateau in the rolling foothills above La Paz lies a 42-acre plot of land where a friend was digging holes on his property to plant banana trees. The Valley of Comayagua is not known as the Valley of Rocks for nothing: the area where Mr X chose to dig, however, has a different type of soil. I reached down to pick up a handful of dark, moist earth similar to compost, loamy and soft. The gentleman thinks this area where he found the 1,500-year-old Lenca ollas was an ancient cemetery because he also unearthed human bones that were buried with the ollas. I have contacted a University of California anthropologist, she who dated the ollas, and she provided me with contact information for a Honduran archaeologist. We have communicated and I hope an arrangement can be made to initiate further government-sanctioned exploration of the site. In the foothills surrounding the plateau can be seen terraces carved into the hillsides indicating a possible ancient human settlement.

Lenca Ollas

A University of California, Berkeley anthropology professor has advised that the four ollas in previous posts are of the Santa Rita class of Ulua Polychrome tradition, 550 – 650 A.D., but never in association with human burials.

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A friend excavated these ancient Lenca ollas from his property along with the bones of a long-buried skeleton: his wife made him get rid of the bones. This is the second site in the municipality of La Paz that I know of from which artifacts thousands of years old have been dug out of the ground. I haven’t yet visited the first site from which the other olla pictures which I posted earlier were discovered at a construction project. But tomorrow I will be visiting the excavation site that produced these two excellent pieces of ancient pottery, one completely intact. I will take pictures to help establish provenance.