When you get on a bus in Honduras one is often in for a unique experience. I have ridden buses all over Honduras and parts of Guatemala. In Honduras the local buses are mostly ´chicken´buses, big used orange school buses from the U.S. in various stages of repair and disrepair, often with the name of the school still stenciled on it. The long distance buses vary per price of ticket, service and route. Luxury buses like Hedman Alas are air conditioned and offer a meager food service and make few stops. But that´s rare for most poor folks like me and the rest of humanity who travel cheek by jowl with loud rap music blasting from a mounted TV screen or speakers that make the air resonate with skull-rattling sound. When I say cheek by jowl I mean literally cheek by jowl, every seat filled with two often three persons and the aisles standing room only as one could imagine a sardine-can filled Japanese commuter train. When the driver stops to pick up more passengers I wonder how in hell are they going to squeeze aboard. But they do. And he always stops to pick up passengers, even if he´s traveled only a block. I have even seen them back up to pick up a waving, running passenger. This morning I decided to go to Comayagua, the old colonial capital, 40 minutes away to buy gifts for my family. As usual on a Sunday morning the bus was packed leaving La Paz. It proceeded making stop after stop but even on the staightaway it just crawled along about 2 mph. After several lo-ong miles I understood why. The bus was almost out of gas and pulled into the nearest gas station. We finally made it and I made my purchases. The return bus was a different story. This driver must have thought he was driving the Indianapolis 500. A young guy, he raced along at top speed even in town skidding to stops when he decided to pick up a passenger. Weaving back and forth through highway traffic he almost collided with a semi-trailer. He passed cars on a curve and almost lost control of the bus. What´s the rush, I thought, wondering if I was going to live long enough to fly back to Seattle May 1st. Relieved to reach La Paz in one piece I thought back to another bus trip in the mountains when the driver almost lost control of his speeding, smoking bus on a high peak and I could see the valley way down below as the tires touched the gravel edge of the narrow roadway and I saw the driver yank hard and we lurched back to pavement … but that´s another story.
The carpetas or alfombras are constructed the night before Good Friday by skilled crafstmen. Similar to the Hopi sand paintings or Tibetan mandalas in their religious significance, these beautiful creations are made of colored sawdust and laid on a damp street surface ready for Friday morning´s procession around the city. I´ve put just one example of the stations of the cross but there are thirteen of them situated in a large square route around the central community core. Still, it takes three hours in the heat with a prayer stop at every station to finally finish the circuit again in front of the church. Afterward I put up the swimming pool I bought the kids to join a second one an absent parent had provided. This was our version of a holiday at the beach. Nonetheless the kids loved splashing in the water.
Well, here we are, the new governing body for the Fundación Señor San José. In office for a term of two years, we will oversee the construction of the new building and the subsequent establishment and expansion of the new home for at-risk children. Our benefactor from Virginia Hospital Center Medical Brigade is expected to attend our second meeting the last week of the month when he travels from the States for his quarterly inspection visit of the projects they currently support in Honduras. This weekend is the beginning of Semana Santa in Honduras. The country revels in a week-long holiday for the Easter celebration that culminates next weekend with the creation of the beautiful carpetas that will adorn the streets of the city as a large part of the population participates in a parade that celebrates the Stations of the Cross; you have to be Catholic to understand it. I´ll post photos of the event.