Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Some Photos of Where We Live

Tilapia to be sold or donated to the orphanage

These are the ones that grow slowly or are spotted or are too dark.

The first lamb that was born since we arrived, Capitán was born on Halloween.

Anita y Juanita followed shortly there after. There are now 8 lambs, Miguel, Yaxson, Bambino, Javier y Danilo.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I´d just like to share how I spent upwards of 8 hours a week.

Pimienta, our little town, resides a brisk 25 minute car ride from the bus terminal in San Pedro Sula. In a car it is a quick drive along a 4 lane highway with factories blanketing each side of the road. Vendors with their wares can be seen peddling fruits, pirated movies and various dishes to eat. A plume of dark smoke, horns beeping and taxis flying in and out of lanes sometimes can make the trip a bit less than desirable... but these are all luxuries if you have your own transportation.

Our experience, as well as the majority of Hondurans is limited to two options, the school bus I rode when I was in first grade...not the same type, literally THE SAME BUS from 1987 that says Fairport Central School district on the side or a 1994 rapidito minivan varying in sizes, but guaranteed to be full. The bus is rarely useful because it stops for anyone who wants to get on at any point. Imagine those same 1987 bus rides with everyone being picked up at their house and getting off at any other house. So the lesser of two evils is the frequent mode... the rapidito.

So with 3 rows of seats and then the driver and bench up front one may assume that 15 seatbelts, if existed, would be appropriate for this car. Well, if you ever have 15 people in the car, you are either one of the last people getting out or stumbled upon a miracle. Instead you are bound to atleast 4 in the rows, and people sit backwards on the small bench that sits back to back to the driver´s row. So basically the car will not leave unless it is occupied by 22+ pèople. Not only because they are accustomed to it, but because their frames allow it a bit, Hondurans are quite accepting of these busitos. The sad thing, I have almost become so as well. With 181 centimeters I tower over the majority of the population by atleast 5 inches. Well, these same 5 inches have to be crammed into the same space on these rapiditos. There is a good chance that I will return to the USA shorter, smaller, and able to be put into a nice box to fit under a Christmas tree. Sometimes eating my knees, others sitting on just one cheek, I have stood for the majority of the trip with my neck scrunched against the ceiling but for some reason I still find myself boarding these mobile sardine tins.

My favorite so far is that at one point we had over 25 people and I was one of the last people. The ayudante who someone squeezes in and around and collects the money was hanging out of the bus while I was standing with my BACK bracing me on the ceiling. This busito was so short that if the bus rolled I would have to do was push a little harder on my tippee toes and I would have been wedged in their so tightly I would have just rolled as the ceiling would have rolled. An absolute rarity and ridiculous sight for even Honduran standards, I got laughs and quite a few comments to what normally are dead silent rides.

I can confidently say I will enjoy the change back to comfort and no back pain when I drive in the states, but I can´t help but appreciate how the needs of transportation are met and the effort these buses try to get people to and from as quickly as possible. And I know not how many hours I will be spending to transport myself to and fro in the states, but something tells me the memory of my travels from Pimienta to San Pedro Sula will stay with me for some time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

´100% Talangueno´

I´m not going to say my mouth hurt because I was smiling the entire time, nor am I going to define my time by the fact I was offered coffee, banano, and coca cola at the first three houses we visited, however, it was the jubilant steps I took as we walked from house to house and heartfelt gratitude I felt as I feel asleep in Talanga the past two nights to define my trip back to my second home.

And the words I used above still fail to come remotely close to how wonderful it was to see all the people that made our year as Passionists so great. I used the 25 of the 33 hours I had to spend, with the people of Talanga. We drank cinnamon tea with Chico, and Isabel, had lunch with my new hermanita Jean at Efemia´s, watched futbolito, ate baleadas, visited Esperanza, walked the streets where the students from Duarte lived, hiked to the cross, ate in the market donde Reina, bought fruit from Chevalita, listen to Angelita tell us how much Angel missed Tyler, laughed with Luis, listened to the problems of Honduras from Prof Daniel, shared memories with Prof Olma, played vball in the park, was warmly introduced at mass by Padre Daniel, surprised Padre Miguel at the end of the 7am mass, IF ONLY I COULD HAVE DANCED WITH DONA AMELIA!

And as I fail to adequately articulate my experiences over these past two days, it was the two extremes of feeling disgusted at the gaudiness of our first stop at the house of the Mayor´s (our rides had business to do) to the final night at Chico´s drinking cinnamon tea that really allowed me to appreciate our experience with the community. I love the people of Talanga, and know that the welcome I received was something I will never forget and something I feel is beyond the capability of something I could ever offer someone. I remember returning home to Fairport and that was quite an emotional experience as well. Although different, and I struggle to articulate how, both experiences included the people I need to be sharing my life. I look forward to hearing the experiences of Amy, Alice and Tyler as they, God willing, return to our little town of mud.

And about half of the people we shared time with were curious as to whether or not their would be a wedding celebration in the United States as well as in Honduras...

Failing to get to Rio Dulce, Terrero, Corralitos, Camalotal, the Casa Pasionista and seeing other people in the community demands a return sometime in November or December. Something tells me the wonderful feelings that accompanied this trip will guarantee that return.

The final thought is from the 2008 Expoventa (big community cookoff) where they sold shirts with a little short pudgy man with a sombrero and a machete and mustache with the letters 100% Talangeno. I need to get my hands on one!

Friday, October 23, 2009

What a wonderful world this can be

So first I will start off with what is most pressing to the people of Honduras... and the link above has nothing to do with it. THEY ARE GOING TO THE WORLD CUP!! And boy oh boy did the US go from zero to hero. After blowing a PK in the 86th minute and falling to the US 3 to 2 Honduras rallied the following WEdnesday with a sweet header (same guy who missed the pk Pavon) and was then sent packing for South Africa with a goal in the 90th minute by the US which tied Costa Rica and allowed Honduras to pass Costa Rica. QUE MACIZO!

We are doing well and although we were cheering for Honduras on Saturday we were thrilled that things played out the way they did and both the US and HOnduras will be heading to Africa in 2010 to represent North America, Central American and the Carribean.

But prior to 2010 a big political event at the end of November will hopefully take place which will allow Honduras to have a new leader. After having many discussions it is still not obvious to me the current situation and although I feel completely safe and in good hands the reality is anything could happen at anytime. Like at 500 in the morning a huge electricity tower could be unbolted and collapse! Of course people are blaming it on Mel´s backers but who really knows. The people we are surrounded by in the community are just looking for work and a way to maintain their lives.

Speaking of our lives in addition to the culebras (snakes) we had a very nice gift of a 5 inch tarantula one morning. I think it was a gift from the dog, because it was stunned enough that we could easily kill it, but nonetheless those and the cockroaches are still present. We will try to get pictures of our home and the training center uploaded as soon as possible but without transportation we are limited.

We had a new and exciting week spending the majority of the time with Linda and Carlos and the operations of CEPUDO in San Pedro Sula. After having been given a brief tour my Montse (the director of the Adopt a Grandparent Program) earlier in our stay we got the full experience of the warehouse (which has since been relocated from when I was in Talanga). We helped package the necessities of clothes, towels, sanitary products shoes, and food(the staples being rice, beans, and peeps of course) to go with different community organizations. We were able to even deliver a few of the bags to workers who clean the streets of the city but are waiting for backpay of up to 3 months!! How they get by I have no idea, I´m guessing the generosity of friends, neighbors and organizations like CEPUDO.

The ladies at the bodega are a hoot and the leader Ruth, I refer to as my grandmother. She is a strong leader and has a great sense of humor. The other ladies have great personalities and really enjoy being at work. We have experienced the cooking of the women and development projects, buying both bread and lunch while we were there. They laugh and have the ability to get stuff done in a healthy balance.

Wednesday we were able to meet up with Linda (the president of CEPUDO) and hear about the organization. Jess lit up like a christmas tree when finding out the opportunities to be in both hospitals and a local clinic whenever she wanted. I on the other hand have a few decisions to make. I have been given a plot of land to use at my leisure should I choose to start a project there, I have volunteered to work on their website and will most likely continue to learn how to infiltrate my knowledge and desires to make systems more efficient (especially the warehouse).

We are off to Talanga today and I am beyond jubilant as I am looking forward to seeing all of the people that we volunteers called family for a year. I have already spoken with Tio Puri (the director of the AIDS hospice) and (Prof) Daniel our neighbor and advisor. But no man gives me greater joy then speaking to our neighbor Chico! How blessed am I to return so soon and reunite with those I think of daily.

Jess and I are doing swell. It is a very unique experience and thrilled to be sharing it with her. We are doing a fair job expressing all the joys and pains of our experience (including each other) but almost always find a way to go to bed smiling. For that I am grateful.

Know you are constantly in my prayers.

All my blessings and love,


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Understanding CEPUDO...

So there are now at least 2 (not one) six foot long snakes inhabiting the overgrown fields of the training center we call home. The offensive has already begun, with 4 machete-weilding muskateers (Hector, Carlos, Antonio, and Ricardo - the four awesome gentlemen that work here) demolishing the fields poco a poco. It is outside of my normal inclination to resist the temptation to pick up a machete myself and join the party, but I have recently discovered I really don´t like snakes very much - go figure- and the idea of one sneaking up behind me is about the worst thing I can imagine....

How´s that for a nice little intro....

HELLO!!! So other than snakes, which have really not affected us at all but are just fun to joke about with the guys at the center, life in Pimienta is great. The first two weeks we pretty much kept to the center, getting our bearings around the little town we live in, and learning as much as we can about Tilapia, Sheep, and Greenhouses. Our days were pretty rutinely rising at 6 or 7, working til lunch, food and a midday card game in the house, more work til four, soccer or trips to the store in the little remaining sunlight, dinner, more cards (probably not healthy), prayer, reading, and in bed by about 9. Through in a periodic guitar session, washing clothes, and keeping the ants out of our food - and that´s life in Pimienta!

This has come with its own joys and struggles. I´ve felt a sense of joy at returning to physical labor. It is humbling experience, as I battle my own impatience and frustrations at inefficient systems. I enjoy being a student again, and learning how to tend the habichuela plants, the process of raising the tilapia, and even just the Honduran vocabulary which is eluding my Ecuadorian habits. I´ve really enjoyed slowing down - sharing the simple daily tasks at home with Matt, having time to read and to pray, and sitting in conversations with Carlos and Ricardo in the shade for an uninterupted period of time. This hasn´t been without its frustrations, however - and I find myself yearning for more action and responsibility (luxuries I am used to perhaps). The isolation is hard, having to be in by 6 because of sundown and being mindful of safety concerns. It´s been a slow process of getting to know the neighbors too, as we are somewhat set apart (both by being gringos as well as living at the center). Such a different process than as a volunteer in Ecuador, where your identification as a catholic volunteer with an orgnization the town is already familiar with allows you to get to know people very quickly. Here, it is slow work. Daily trips to the store go far, as well as soccer games with the kids whenever we can. We´re beginning to get to know a few families, but if it wasn´t for the US-Honduras soccer game (and subsequent games), we´d be a lot worse off. God Bless Futbol! Best relationship builder I´ve witnessed thus far.

This week we´ve finally broken out of our Pimienta shell and have been in San Pedro getting to know the other projects CEPUDO works with. Some of the best days we´ve had by far! (Matt might be better at updating that part) I myself am excited at the possibility of helping out at the Maternity Hospitals a couple days, and beginning to work at the clinic here in Pimienta while they finish up the women´s center. Things are kind of just beginning to fall into place, so the next week or so might dictate a lot...

Before I end, just some highlights thus far:

- our weekend in OMOA on the North Coast, including my first swim in the Caribbean and an awesome hike up through a river to a waterfall
- making my first tortillas (not very pretty, but tasted good!)
- watching the US-Honduras futbol game at Lucio´s
- the children in the neighborhood, and being sought out to play soccer daily
- my impressive cribbage record
- spending time tith Carlos and his wife Nora who also live at the center
- jumping in the tilapia ponds to larvear and weed, a great escape from the heat
- the awesome castaño (chestnut?) tree off off the end of the property. it breathtaking.
- the sunsets
- the garden! (greenhouse)
- The daily reminders of Ecuador - power outages, women loudly disciplining their children, sketchy buses, cat calls, corner stores, the catholic vs. evangelical faceoff, soccer jerseys, etc...
- nightly prayer and guitar time
- the sheep will be birthing any day now..BABIES!

Love to you all - we´ll try to update more often!

Con un fuerte abrazo,

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ya llegamos

We are here!! In the past 20 hours we have landed after taking the lowest most banked turn in airplane history. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL to almost touch the trees. And I thought Tegucigalpa was supposed to be the worst. Lies!

So after customs and baggage claim we walk out and lo and behold we have someone holding a sign with my name...humbling. I reach out and introduce myself to Mario who is a bodyguard of Montse who had picked us up in her VW SUV. A little bit of an abrupt reality hit as I remember the resources available to the people who are in charge of CEPUDO. Regardless she is full of life and shared her role of the organization with vigor and animation, while driving.

After arriving to our litte house with a small refri stocked with American goods (we are hoping for arroz y friojles con tortillas) we throw our stuff down and introduce ourselves to the grounds keeper and one of four employees. His name is Carlos, he has a wife Nora and they both used to work in the factory in town. He is happier in his new role and pleased with how Dona Linda treats him compared to his older bosses. That makes me happy. We meandered amongst the sheep and fish hatcheries and learn how the tilapia project progresses from little larva and given or sold to other places where they are raised and eaten or sold. The big fish here are given to the orphans project of CEPUDO. I LIKE WHAT I HEAR!

Sunday is the day off and Jess and I have used it to catch up after our 2 hours of sleep the night before and explore Pimienta. You can find it on google maps. Follow the main road south and we live just beyond the dirty river before the zoom cuts out.

We are currently recruiting for Thanksgiving...All are welcome!

We are excited at the newness and although I miss being a Pasionista and all the community benefits that came with it. I´m exciting for the new challenge that will be the next few weeks.

All my best,


Friday, October 2, 2009

Final saludos from the US!

We are currently sitting in the beautiful abode of miss Maria Conroy in Queens, NY - an old convent turned Mercy Volunteer Core home. In these final hours before our journey to Honduras tomorrow morning, I thought it fitting to document the first leg our our journey - the unexpected 10-day stay in Boston.

After our original flight was delayed due to airport closures in Honduras, we had a few extra days in Boston. Those days were quickly filled with doctors visits, however, as the obnoxious lower back/abdominal pain I had been feeling became all too familiar to the kidney stone incident I had in Ecuador almost two years ago now. I was given lots of pain meds and orders to drink my body weight in water, but with a 4 mm friend somewhere between my kidney and bladder, wasn't quite feeling ready to head off on our adventure. We delayed our flight indefinitely until we would check in with the urologist again 5 days later and see how things looked.

Those days were filled with rest, further mental/spiritual/logistical preparations, and finally a little bit of fun! The pain from the kidney stone mysteriously disappeared by Sunday evening, and as we waited to visit the doctor on Wednesday, we were able to spend time with some wonderful friends and fit in some Bostonian culture - finally visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Mapparium, and spending some time at Copley and in the peaceful courtyard of the Boston Library.

Through random run-ins, embraces in the street, and evening shenanigans, we were reminded of the wonderful community we have in Boston, and the beautiful people this city has brought into both of our lives. What a hidden blessing to get a bonus week to spend with such wonderful people. We love you all! Mark December 16th on the calendar!

So now, after an affirming doctors visit, a quickly re-booked flight with the help of our friends at Rostro de Cristo, and the gracious hospitality of many, we are finally on our way!

I am not sure when we will get to a computer next, but the next time you hear from us will be from somewhere near San Pedro Sula.

Blessings and hugs to all of you!