I will be traveling to Seattle next Monday and won’t return to La Paz until December 15th.
My goddaughter Yelsy turned 15 years old on the 25th of October. I drove to La Ceiba on the North Coast to help make her birthday a special one. Thanks to friends and family it was a great day for a beautiful young lady who wants to attend university. Another seed planted, another flower blooms.
My friend Celeste taught and ushered our catechism class’s four children from the Barrio Jerusalén into the sacrament of the First Communion at the Iglesia de Espiritu Santo. My gift to each of them will be the 40 photographs I took commemorating the event recorded onto a CD so that in the years to come they can pop the CD into the DVD player and the children can see themselves on the day they were accepted into the ancient traditions of the church. The same traditions I entered into so many years ago and which I have never forgotten. The sacrament of Confirmation is the next step. I will be there. To my late Mom, thank you. I owe you. Every week when I walk into church for mass I know you are at my side: Te amo.
There have been legends and oral history passed down by indigenous folk of five meters tall humans living in the western hemisphere centuries before the fifteenth-century European invasion: a fact also written in the historical record by the invading Spaniards. In the Cueva de Gigantes located above Marcala about 80 kilometers above La Paz the cave is thought to have been home to a tribe of giants 15 feet tall (La Tribuna Lunes 25 de julio, 2016. Tegucigalpa). A friend in La Paz recently showed me pictures of immense human bones he discovered in a cave while hunting high in the mountains above La Paz, along with other ancient relics. He has promised to take me there so that I might photograph the site and take measurement of the bones alongside a comparative object. It should be quite an enlightening adventure.
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!
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.
A picture is worth a thousand words. This is where my friend Celeste and I go Sundays after church to minister to several children. Weekly catechism and also movies and popcorn.
That’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.
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.
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.