The Lenca people lived in peace for thousands of years until the arrival of the thieving, murdering Spaniards in the mid-1500s. These European invaders claiming to bring the word of their christian god proceeded to enslave the indigenous inhabitants and to steal their land, gold, silver, jade and ultimately tried to stifle their humanity. The criminals were finally forcibly expelled after 300 years of physical and psychological abuse. Within that time they superimposed their vicious superstitious religious dogma onto a captive native people’s equally superstitious supernatural belief system and claimed justification because it was for their salvation from pagan evil. It remains to be seen which belief system is more evil. The Lenca remain very spiritual and survived the abuse, many having escaped into high mountain villages. One such village is Guajiquiro from where many of the Hogar San José’s children originate. Three of our Lenca adolescents here celebrating their First Communion, one of the church’s sacraments.
When the Maya Civilization established their southernmost city-state, Copan, on Honduras’ northern frontier the Lenca civilization was already established. View the above archeolological sites of Maya cities in the present-day Yucatan, Guatemala and Belize alongside the Lenca sites in greater Honduras. Don Ruben lent me his horse and he rode in on his jackass to the El Chircal site near Yarumela. That’s me astride the horse on top the only excavated pyramid site near the river on 2 April 2009. And that’s me with the horse and the jackass on top of El Cerrito, the tallest mound that covers the tallest pyramid as seen on the map. The El Chircal Sitio Arqueológico today looks nothing like the above pics, five years later. The site is now overgrown with trees and bushes and weeds. When I took the Hogar’s children there several weeks ago one wouldn’t even know it existed.
The ProtoLenca Indigenous folks who occupied most of Honduras but especially the Comayagua Valley where I live were a PreMayan group of people. Their civilization was not as sophisticated as the Maya but their main cultural site near Yarumela, which is a colonia of the La Paz Municipalidad, known as El Chircal was the epicenter for the Honduras Lenca people more than 3,000 years ago. The Honduras Institute of Anthropology and History confirms that there are fifteen covered mounds with stone structures underneath in an area encompassing 30 hectares, the largest structure 20 meters high and 7,000 square meters at its base; structures as noted in an artist rendition above. Numerous smaller stone structures have been verified as well. The only stone pyramid at present partially visible is the top of one near the river onto which I rode my horse in 2009. I also rode to the top of the highest covered mound known as “El Cerrito.” Within 10 kilometers of where I live is an unexplored archeological treasure. As a Historian I yearn to explore further. A scientific coordinated university effort could result in a national archeological park instilling pride similar to Las Ruinas de Copan, the southernmost Maya city-state and now an archeological park on Honduras’ nothern border.
These ancient Lenca artifacts were recovered from an abandoned site known as El Chircal Zona Arqueológica near the colonia of Yarumela, La Paz, La Paz near where I live. They are in a private collection and were acquired many decades ago. Families have handed down the ancient treasures over generations. The artifacts are more than 3,000 years old, perhaps older. When the Maya Empire reached its southern expansion at Copán in northwestern Honduras, the Lenca were the dominant population group at numerous sites in what is now Honduras. They became trading partners. I will be researching El Chircal further in the days ahead to help formulate a development plan for further organized exploration.
La Paz is a municipalidad of 40 to 50,000 inhabitants and is the administrative seat of the departamento of La Paz. Working at my computer I look out my window and see students daily making their way to class. La Paz has a half dozen or so public escuelas (primary schools) and one public colegio or instituto (secondary school). The students walk by laughing and talking in their universal blue and white uniforms: white blouse and dark-blue skirt for girls and white shirt and dark-blue trousers for the boys. The public school students have three different jornadas (periods), AM, PM, and night so that there are students walking by all day and evening. Then there are three private bilingual schools with their own different colored uniforms, and a private evangelical school, and a private catholic school and colegio with their uniforms. There is also the police academy, an instituto with 500 students and their unique different uniforms, and a normal school that produces primary school teachers who wear uniforms of yellow blouses and dark brown skirts to class. A few kilometers out of town there is an instituto that teaches agricultural skills and animal husbandry to students from all over the country. And in the colonia of Yarumela, a suburb of La Paz, there is the Instituto Polyvalente that teaches construction skills like metalwork, carpentry, plumbing and electricians. A private school for Nursing Assistants also adds to the mix. On weekends people from aldeas in the surrounding mountains, buyers and sellers, crowd into the city’s vast open-air street market where every imaginable item is bought and sold. The market two blocks from my home, I often walk over to rub elbows with these wonderful folks.
When I returned from my trip to the North Coast Sister Edith told me she had started driving the Chevy pickup truck I donated to the Foundation. For the past several months she and I had gone out on sporadic weekly driving lesson trips in a rural part of town. While I was gone her brother and a family friend convinced her she was ready to solo. She is now the proud driver of a 1989 Chevy Silverado Stepsider pickup truck and daily and gaily transports the children to school and to church. I had been driving her and the children around but now my services are no longer necessary. She, however, does not yet have a driver’s license. So next week Sister Edith and I will drive to nearby Comayagua to obtain her license and she thereby becomes legal. How soon they become independent.
KI’BOK is an out-of-the-way treasure where I go have breakfast and excellent coffee in La Ceiba. It is located one block from the house my friend Dr. D has lent me for my two-week stay. KI’BOK is Mayan for aroma. The small, cozy café has good rich coffee, the food is fresh and tasty and most important it is air-conditioned and equipped with an eclectic library. There are books in many languages, surprisingly most in English. Its rule of thumb: bring a book, take a book. There is consequently a constant exchange of reading material. Everything imaginable is found in its stacks, none of the material cataloged. It’s a search and you will be surprised kind of quest. Sunday I travel to La Masica near La Ceiba to visit Yeltsi and plan for her 6th grade graduation the end of November.
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.