When I tell friends and family the title of the book I’m writing, they invariably reach the wrong conclusion. The children, I say. For more than eight years the children of the Fundación Señor San José have been my focus. The book I am writing is a biographical memoir elucidating on my experiences helping the growth of the amazing home for at-risk children Sister Edith initiated in 2006, three years before I arrived in Honduras as a Peace Corps Volunteer Trainee. I subsequently decided to remain in Honduras after my two-year tour of duty. I’m still here, and I’m writing. With my equally amazing computer tech daughter Andrea’s help I will be posting, chapter by chapter, as I sweep the cobwebs from my brain, sharing my remembrances. Join me on my web page for an unforgettable journey. A genuine Peace Corps adventure.
I just today regained my internet connection after 10 days without ISP service. I have been skipping from wifi place to wifi place to keep scarce pace with my life, difficult when one has no electricity service as well: the perils of living in a third world country. My grandson 2LT Travis Alan Morgado was killed in action 5 years ago, May 23, 2012, in Afghanistan. I belong to a family of warriors who has served and fought for our country. We are a family of guerreros. Myself, my brothers, uncles, and cousins have served in all the military services: WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Travis was the first to have been killed in action. I, however, take no pride in war and death and killing. Since February 2009 I have devoted my life to a Home for at-risk children in Honduras. After two years of Peace Corps service, I decided to remain and help change our planet by helping the poorest of our fellow travelers pursue a life of peace.
The Hogar has several chickens, guinea hens, two rabbits, two turkeys, a goat, two parakeets and had two pigs that transformed into tamales a few weeks ago. The cows were in my back yard and the pig was one of many at a farm we visited a few weeks ago. Life is an adventure at the Hogar San José.
The temperature last weekend reached 41 degrees C or about 104 degrees F. When one of the children’s extended family invited the Home’s residents to swim in an irrigation canal in the nearby municipality of Flores the decision was unanimous: YES! I didn’t join in the swim but the kids swam until evening and after it finally cooled down we trekked back to La Paz, the children soaked to the skin, happy, tired and hungry.
Santa Lucía is a beautiful mountain community with cobble-stoned streets situated above Tegucigalpa. The cathedral was built in 1572 by the Spanish invaders who enslaved the indigenous folk and mined and stole their silver and gold before being expelled from the country after 300 years of subjugation. My friend Celeste accompanied me there last weekend to visit the host family who provided me room and board when I arrived for training as a Peace Corps Vounteer in February 2009. I have remained in contact with my host family visiting every few months and consider them actual family for their kindness and generosity over the years.
It is rare for a home to be constructed of wood in La Paz, La Paz, Honduras. In years past most homes were constructed of adobe brick. Generations of families still live in long-standing adobe homes. In our modern era most homes are now constructed of cement block or brick. These three homes are in the modest neighborhood across the street from where I live. The sturdy residences will last for additional generations. Compared to the sawdust glueboard homes built in the US one can wonder which is the most advanced home builder. All these residences will have ceramic tile floors throughout including in kitchens and bathrooms. Cheap linoleum, prefab plastic showers, flimsy hollow doors and bacteria-collecting wall to wall carpet do not exist here. Honduras is in a modernization phase that will soon connect the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean with a modern four-lane highway twisting safely through beautiful wooded mountains from seashore to seashore. Our new international airport will be the wonder of Central America. Eat your heart out world.
On the Caribbean littoral, a narrow coastal plain with rich fertile soil, grow vast banana plantations, along with thousands of acres of pineapple, palm oil and coconut trees that flourish along with a wide variety of food crops. Inland, immediately adjacent to communities dependent on this verdant wealth rises a steep tropical mountain chain covered with thick forest and jungle growth. It is the home of jaguars, a threatened species. This unfortunate beautiful creature was killed near the river resort weeks before where my goddaughter’s quinceaniera was held last October. It had taken a liking to domestic food sources. After my Honda Hybrid’s 6-month maintenance service I spent the week visiting friends and just relaxing in paradise. The shell I bought for my lady friend in La Paz with whom I will spend the Semana Santa Easter holiday.
Last month the bulldozers started moving earth and reshaping the landscape at the Palmerola site selected for the country’s new international airport. A site where both the Honduran Air Force trains its flight cadets and the US military maintains a presence. Visible from the front porch of my new home at night the Comayagua Valley floor reflects a long string of city and highway lights flanking the present airplane landing runway, a beautiful view indeed. Once the new airport is operational I will be able to board international flights 20 minutes from where I live. Quite nice indeed.
On the second day I was ready to throw in the towel. Besides the cost, painting the interior of a house is hard work. But better to paint it before you move in rather than afterward. My friend kept urging me on; for three weeks we toiled. Moving all my stuff took another four days. All the backbreaking suffering, however, was worth it. A totally purple house inside and outside does not induce creativity. On this Valentines Day I am taking my time rearranging and discarding. There’s no hurry. As a consolation prize I have booked hotels in La Ceiba and Tela to lounge on the Caribbean beaches for a week. I leave March 9th, a much happier man.
She died holding the dinner plate in her hand when she answered a knock at the door. The cowards fired seventeen bullets into her body then jumped onto their moto for a clean escape. The sub-directora of a high school in Comayagua, preparing to move into a new house with her four children, had been assassinated in cold blood the night before: that was the news on everyone’s lips as we arrived in San Sebastian for my friend’s grandmother’s birthday. It was also Feria Week and a three-day holiday, featuring a bullfight, had attracted thousands. Carnival rides, fireworks and food stands stood crowded by happy, hungry clients. A nonstop party prepared to unfold.