Ginger's Trip Journal

NY/HELP Honduras
February 2006

Saturday, Feb 18

We were up very early (3AM) to have breakfast and be ready for Jeff Mason to collect us at 4AM. It was snowing and slow driving until we passed Holland, where it cleared up. We arrived at the airport about 5:15, plenty of time for our 6:45 flight. Except it was crowded with travelers due to school vacation this week. There was a long line at the counter and through security, though no problems getting through. We got to our gate five minutes before they called the flight! No reading the paper before boarding! We had no problem with the change in Charlotte. It was rainy as we left but cleared as we flew South; we could see the ground most of the way to Miami. The flight to Honduras on TACA was fine. I noticed music was playing in the plane from the time we got on - something not noticed on other flights.

Our Honduras coordinator, Jimmy Alvarado, did not meet us at the airport. (Our bags were inspected and the only thing they checked was the dates on the medicines to be sure they were not expired.) We eventually called Jimmy to find he was in class. We took a taxi to the Hotel Terraza and did fine. Jimmy came shortly after we got there and took us to an Internet café where we called Bruce and Linda Hanson, the UCC medical missionaries who took Dr Joyce Baker's place when she retired. They said they'd meet us and go to dinner. They were a bit late - they had trouble finding the Terraza - but then we all (Hanson's & their daughter Kesia, and Jimmy & Gordon & me) went out to dinner at the "Power Chicken."

We learned from the Hansons that AIEH has said they can no longer support them - AIEH was supplying mileage and supplies. It seems AIEH is more interested in converting people than running clinics or supporting better nutrition. Bruce & Linda are moving to Tegucigalpa in March and will be with CCD (the Christian Commission on Development) . They are sorry for this development. Jimmy reported that the clinic in El Filón used to be supported by AIEH as well, but it is not now.

Sunday, Feb 19

After a "plato típico" breakfast (frijoles, queso, huevos, pan, jugo de naranja, and café) at the Terraza, Jimmy came to meet us. We went to the bus park and caught the directo to El Progreso. There Jimmy bought food for lunch and arranged for a truck to take us to El Filón where Wualdi has her clinic. The first part of the road was highway. Then the truck was put in 4-wheel drive and we started up the dirt and rock road. In places it was all rocks with two tracks. In places it was muddy ruts, some shallow, some deep. There was a ford across the river where a bridge used to be. There were places where there had been land-slides. Gordon said this road is better than the one to La Laguna! Wualdi was at the clinic when we arrived. She was very happy to see us and gave us a tour - the pharmacy, the consulting room, a room for a dentist, storage rooms. It is quite large. Then we walked to Jimmy's house, by way of a pulpería so Jimmy could buy sugar. He introduced us to the people there who were all very friendly. Jimmy's house is quite large and beautiful, with a great view of the surrounding area. Pictures fail to do it justice. There are four bedrooms, kitchen, living/dining room, a solar panel on the roof, a water system collecting water from the roof which is used for the toilet, the baño (shower) and the kitchen. The house has tile floors, wood paneled walls, nicely decorated with pictures. Wualdi and her son Emilko (age 3) live there and Jimmy comes on some weekends. El Filón has 1800 - 2000 people, 6 churches and a Catholic church, and Jimmy says it's a safe community.

Wualdi cooked us a delicious lunch, and we visited while we ate. She sent greetings to all the NY/HELPers she knows. She questioned me about my Spanish and learning more. Shortly after lunch we had to leave to return to San Pedro Sula, but first our truck driver took one of the wheels apart to "adjust" the brake so it would work better! Then it was back down the road to the main road where we caught a bus to El Progreso and then the directo to San Pedro Sula.

We invited Jimmy to dinner with us and went to the Hotel Gran Sula where we ate at their outdoor patio by the pool. Then we caught the end of a marimba concert in the Parque Central. There were two marimbas and about 6-8 men playing them. A number of couples were dancing to the rhumba music they were playing. It was great fun for us and for the others who gathered to watch listen or join in. A fast hard rain caught us as we left after the concert. We took refuge under the over-hang of a building for the five minutes or so it took the rain to pass. Then we continued back to the Terraza where Jimmy left us to make his way home.

Monday, Feb 20

We ate our free breakfast at the Terraza while we made plans for grocery shopping, buying medicines at the pharmacy where we would meet Jimmy and then going to the bank to change money.

We first checked out the "Dispensaría Familiar" to see if they had what we needed and update our list. Then we met Jimmy. He arranged for medicines to be delivered to the Terraza and helped us change money at the bank. Jimmy said Gordon could go to the head of the line, as he is "of the third age"and that is the custom. They said they could only change $500, so each of us changed that amount. Then we went to another bank where Gordon changed $480 and I changed $100 of our personal money. (The $1480 was group money.)

We went to the Foundation Ecolostica, where the secretary called Yovany for us. We also discovered they had a nice natural-history museum, but it was almost noon and the museum closed from 12-1. We found a little corner lunch place close to the Terraza for lunch. We ordered the soup of the day and were brought an enormous bowl chocked full of vegetables and a beef bone. It was served with a side of rice and tortillas. Gordon asked the man at the next table for the hot sauce, since our table didn't have any. The man said, in English, "You're not from here." He asked where we were from. We had a nice conversation as he wanted to practice his English. He said he has two bosses, one American, one Honduran, who both speak English and he picked it up, but never took classes. His English was good and as long as we spoke slowly, he understood us well.

After lunch we went back to the museum for a tour, which we enjoyed. Then we spent a fair amount of time buying grocery and paper supplies at the Dispensaría Familiar. We ended up with so many bags Gordon talked the store security guard into letting us take the shopping cart to the hotel - about 3 or 4 blocks. There were 8 or 10 plastic bags - too full and too heavy to carry. Gordon had to leave his ID (he left his NY State Physician ID), but otherwise there was no problem. After pushing the cart back to the hotel, some in the street and some on the crowded sidewalk, Gordon said he felt a new sympathy for street people who push their belongings in such grocery carts. It was hard work!

We then went to the school supply store and bought about $40 in supplies - pencils, erasers, sharpeners, crayons, colored pencils. The store was very crowded with students and parents getting their supplies also.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped by a bakery and bought some pineapple fruit pies and a bag of cookies, then some soda which we took to our room.

At 6:30 the large van Jimmy had arranged for came to take us to the airport to meet the rest of the group. We got there just before they came out through Customs. All were glad to see us waiting for them. There was only one glitch - Judy's bags hadn't made the connection and were not on the plane. She was promised they would be there on tomorrow's plane. The van fit all 9 of us and all the luggage and we talked all the way back to the hotel.

Back at the Terraza everyone got checked in and rooms assigned to them (one quadruple room, one triple and one double). Then we all had dinner and Jimmy came and joined us.

Tuesday, February 21

We were up by six and ready for breakfast at seven - plato típico for all. We were to meet with Yovany at nine and we tried to do errands before that - Internet café for David hijo, Judy, Brian and Doug, more groceries for Rich, Dick, Gordon and me. David went back to meet Yovany and talk with him before we all got back. Lots of details were ironed out. The plan was for Yovany to take six of our group to the bus station to catch the 11:30 bus to Yoro, then come back to the Terraza to collect Gordon, Judy, and me and all the luggage. Our first stop was to be the airport so Judy could pick up the luggage that only got as far as Miami yesterday. Between 11 and 1 we went first to the bank so Gordon could change another $500 of group money. Then we walked through many streets in San Pedro and Judy took pictures of the streets full of street venders and booths selling their wares. Judy bought a hat to keep the sun off her head. We took her to the same little corner lunch place we went to yesterday and had soup - this time chicken. Judy agreed it was delicious soup.

We worked to get all the bags of food, the duffels and medicines down to the lobby by the time Yovany got back. He had to park in the lot across the street, so we had to carry everything over while he stayed by the truck and I mostly stayed by the things in the hotel lobby. It took a long while to secure it all on the back of the pick-up - and we still had the two bags of Judy's to pick up at the airport! It took a while at the airport as the plane had just arrived and Judy had to get a special visitor pass and wait for the luggage to be offloaded. While we were there we (Gordon and Ginger) re-confirmed our return tickets for March 4 - as TACA requires.

We finally left for Yoro, but had to stop now and then to tighten the ropes or re-arrange things on the truck. We stopped in Santa Rita for sodas - most welcome as it was quite warm. When we got to La Habana we unloaded much of the truck and left many things at the SHI office. By the time we got to Yoro it was around seven and had been dark for an hour. The road is not really good with pot holes and washed out spots here and there and is really difficult after dark. We were glad when we got to the Hotel Marquéz in Yoro.

The others were all there, had gotten rooms for us and were waiting for us before having dinner. They had already been to the Boarding House and Doug has taken pictures of all the students individually.

Dinner was a long time coming. We'd heard the service was slow but... It was over an hour after we ordered it that it finally came. It was, however, quite good when it arrived. We decided, though, we'd go somewhere else for breakfast!

Wednesday, February 22

We (or some of us) were up by about six and ready for breakfast by about seven. Yovany took us to a place down the street from the hotel which was like a cafeteria - plato típico on a steam table ready to be served. Wonderful. We had ours "sin carne" - we weren't quite sure what the meat was or how long it had been there, but everything else was good. Then we piled into Yovany's truck, Dick drove and we went to visit the Boarding House. Tonita (the house mother) and Olman were there. The rest were in class, but Olman is taking afternoon classes. (There is a split day with morning, afternoon, and evening classes). We got a tour of the house and Tonita showed us her list of all the children who had been in the house from the beginning and their years of start and finish. We took pictures of the lists. Then she produced a list of everyone at the house now and said she would add parents' names and then give it to us. Next we went to the hospital to drop off some medicines Gordon had for them. We gave it to the Doctor who is the hospital administrator.

After that it was time to go back to the hotel to pack the truck. Yovany took Gordon, David hijo and me to La Habana in the truck. The rest caught the bus from Yoro to La Habana. After dividing up the food into three equal portions and figuring out which bags should go with which group, the first group was ready to go up to El Calichal. Yovany drove Brian, David hijo and Dick, with David papá going along for the ride. Then the next two groups packed up - one for La Laguna and one for La Fortuna (which is farther along the same road past La Laguna). Yovany said it would take him about 1 hours to make the round trip to El Calichal.

While he was gone we went to a small pulpería and had sodas and showed the others where the walking trail to La Laguna starts.

When Yovany got back we loaded most of the rest of the supplies and eight people into the truck for the trip to La Laguna and then La Fortuna. A few bags were left at Sustainable Harvest office and Yovany will bring them up when he comes back on Saturday.

The truck road up the hill had recently been graded by the lumber company and so wasn't bad at all. We arrived just before supper time and our cook, Aracely, fixed us spaghetti, cheese and some eggs, tortillas and café. Then we visited Juan's family on the other side of La Laguna's soccer field. We talked with his brother-in-law and then went to his home where we saw Freddie briefly and talked with his sister Lorgia who is teaching in San José, where Bill Brigg's Honduras HOPE group is working. She just finished a teaching seminar and was home briefly before her elementary classes start again. We also had a tour of Juan's farm - pineapple, coffee (both indio and oro), patastía, bananas. Before we left we talked with Hilda, his mother. By the time we got back it was dark and hard to see to unlock the clinic where we were sleeping. Eventually we got settled down - Judy in the Pharmacy and Gordon and I in the Consulta. Our guards are Juan and Onán (who is a constable for the village). It felt very late, but was only about 8:30 when we went to bed. With no electricity and only the light from candles and our flashlights, it is dark quickly and seems later than it is.

Thursday, February 23

The sun came up about six and we got up soon after. We had to clean up our bedding to prepare for patients being here. Aracely came and made us café, beans and eggs for breakfast.

When Mirtila came, about eight, she and Gordon started seeing patients right away, as they had already started to arrive. Judy and I helped Mirtila - I took blood pressures and Judy weighed patients. The scales sometimes worked and sometimes refused to move! Frequently you had to stamp your foot on it, or even pick it up and shake it before it would work. When Yovany came by on his way back from La Fortuna, Judy gave him money to buy new scales which he said he'd bring back on Saturday.

We finally broke for lunch about 12:45 and it was welcome. It felt funny to leave a room full of patients who had been there most of the morning, but it was necessary. Lunch was soup with rice and vegetables, including cabbage, tortillas and lemonade - yum. Gordon had seen 14 patients in the morning. After about a half an hour break we started the afternoon. All the blood pressures and weights had been taken in the morning, so we helped by filling the prescriptions Gordon wrote for the patients. This helped Mirtila, but she needed to help us also. Sometimes I couldn't read what the prescription said. I could usually read the name of the medicine, but sometimes not the directions. After a while we learned where the various medicines were on the shelves of the pharmacy. After counting the pills I had to write the directions out in Spanish for the patient. We sometimes felt we weren't helping much as we stood around a lot while Gordon and Mirtila saw the patient and then got into action when Mirtila came out with a prescription to be filled. Gordon assured us it helped as it freed up Mirtila to be in the room with him and not to have to guard the pharmacy. All told, 32 patients were seen today.

In the late afternoon Judy got out some bi-lingual children's books. Two were board books and she held up each page and persuaded some of the kids to read the word for the animal or food pictured on the page. Then she tried to say it too - producing gales of laughter. She persuaded one of the young adult women to read aloud one of the children's books. She had quite a crowd around while reading. Then Judy tried reading one of the books with the young women correcting her Spanish every third word. It was fun and everyone got a laugh and Judy learned a lot from it as well.

For dinner we had beans, rice and egg with tortillas. We sat and talked much after dinner. Juan and Onán were interested in Judy's pictures from home of the school children picking out books to send and also her Sunday School class, her family, etc. during the conversation Juan told Gordon, "Su esposa bastante Español." I took that as a compliment.

Friday, February 24

This morning we were able to wash up at the water pipe as Yovany got a faucet and Juan installed it with a new piece of pipe yesterday.

Breakfast was a fried bread made with flour and/or the rest of the pancake mix. It was quite good, especially with honey or guava jelly.

This morning Gordon and Judy did grounds clean-up before breakfast as I had done yesterday. I worked on writing some more post cards to send home.

After breakfast Zinnia came by to say she would be our "laundry lady." She is in the Boarding House - a senior in the Agricultural program along with Olman. She hopes to come back to La Laguna and help with agriculture and nutrition, including more fruit trees, etc. she lives just down from the clinic past the water faucet.

The morning was full of patients - taking blood pressure and weights and dispensing medicine. As time went on Mirtila more often gave us the prescriptions to fill by ourselves while she went back in the consulting room, or took in the next patient. Sometimes we had to ask for help - if we couldn't read the prescription or it was liquid. All medicines are dispensed in small plastic bags - even liquid medicines - and it's a learned skill to measure out the liquid and pour it into the bag and then get it twisted so it stays shut.

Today Gordon saw 27 or 28 patients, including two after the last one! The very last one was the young girl of Florinda's, Evelyn. Florinda asked me about Beverly, who was on the trip when I came in 2001.

We tried to get some pictures of Gordon seeing patients and I managed one. It was a two-year-old with pneumonia he had seen yesterday and had wanted to see again today. I got a picture of a child being weighed in the sling. Gordon got one later also. I also got a picture of Lorgia in the pharmacy with Mirtila. I didn't feel comfortable knocking on the door when Gordon was examining a patient to get a picture and he was busy and didn't think to call me in. We'll try to do better about it. It would be good for programs to show more pictures of seeing patients if we can get them.

Judy has a way with the children, even without much Spanish, which is good. They love to have their pictures taken and then see them afterward.

After all was cleaned up and dinner was ready and it was almost dark, Judy closed the Pharmacy door - which locked - and the keys were inside! The only set! That delayed dinner just a bit more while we worried about how to get in. Finally Aracely called us to dinner and Mirtila said Freddy would be able to get it open. Shortly she came back to say it was open. Juan came and did it with his machete and then walked Mirtila and Aracely home as it was quite dark by then.

We discussed buying more food as Aracely said there would not be enough to last. There are several small pulperías where we can get rice, beans, corn, maseca and vegetables. Zinnia brought our laundry just before dinner and Gordon paid her L21 for 36 pieces of wash. As soon as she got here she helped Mirtila finish filing the patients' charts.

After Onán arrived and Juan got back, Judy shared chocolates with everyone and then got out a pack of cards and she and Juan played Rummy (cierto juego de cartas). They had fun, but she said later that Juan played by different rules than she was familiar with.

Saturday, February 25

We again were up at six and put away our bedding. Judy had been up with diarrhea and Gordon gave her Imodium. She thought it was from the cabbage in the soup. Gordon talked with Juan before he left and asked about a mule to take our bags down the hill if we don't heave here until Wednesday. Yovany is leaving the mountain on Tuesday and will take out whoever is going then. We will talk with the rest of the group tomorrow.

Breakfast was again fry bread and café which was good.

Before the clinic started Judy and I went to the room where we had the school supplies and divided all into six piles - five elementary schools and the new colegio in Mataderos. Judy divided up the books and we put some with each bag. It didn't take too long. By the time we finished the clinic was well started and we got to work with blood pressures and weights and dispensing medicines. There were 27 patients on the list for today so far.

We broke for lunch earlier than usual - only 12:15! One of the patients in late morning was Isabel, who is Mirtila's mother. Gordon introduced us. She sat down next to Judy and said something - asking her if this was her first visit. Then she said something about this being my second visit. I think she also said our cook, Aracely, is her daughter too. She is the midwife for La Laguna and when she got up to leave, all the other patients spoke to her. She is well liked.

Our lunch today was soup with rice, some beans, and plantain, and lemonade.

About two in the afternoon Yovany came by and brought the bags that had been left in La Habana and more bottles of water. He also brought T-shirts for the three of us - which have Sustainable Harvest logo on them as well as saying "Volunteer" SHI/NY HELP and Feb 2006. We will wear them tomorrow for our meeting and the soccer tournament in Calichal. Yovany took the school supplies for La Fortuna. Gordon made a list with his help of schools and teachers and we found we forgot one. There are seven total counting the new colegio. So we will have to re-divide the supplies that are left and have decided to give the colegio only the middle school books we set aside for them. The school supplies will go to the extra school and we'll divide the remaining elementary books among the five remaining schools. Yovany brought the new scales Judy had given him money for. Several people happily tried out the new scales, including Yovany.

Yovany took a family from the clinic and drove off to La Fortuna. He'll be back at nine tomorrow for a meeting here with all nine of us.

There were a lot of patients in the afternoon - about 31 for the day. One man decided to help Judy with her pronunciation. He would say a number, slowly and have her repeat it and say it in syllables. Pretty soon others in the waiting room were chiming in. They especially found it amusing when she tried to say perro (there were lots around in and out of the clinic) because she has trouble with the rolled "r."

The last patient of the day needed her foot stitched up. She was about 10 and had a bad cut on the top of her foot. This was just about six. Dinner was ready and it was getting dark. I went in to take pictures. Judy told our cook about the one more patient, then came and held a candle. She also lent Gordon her very bright head-lamp which helped a lot. I got several pictures. We finished about seven. Juan walked Aracely and Mirtila home while we ate.

After dinner Judy got out her cards and again played Rummy with Juan.

Sunday February 26

We were up early, re-divided the books for the schools and labeled the bags. We were ready to go for a walk to the waterfall when Yovany showed up with the three from La Fortuna at eight am. We did go, with them as well, before the meeting at nine which was held at Elio and Eda's house. There were representatives from eight of the 10 villages of the tribe. Eda is the secretary of the group. The president is from Calichal. They presented a proposal for the Tribal Committee taking over the running of the clinic to help maintain it, increase security, and have it modernized and better serve all the communities. There was much discussion all the way around.

They also presented a request for funds to build a building to house the new colegio in Mataderos - within the next year - or the start of next year's class. Their more immediate need is for furnishings for the school (which is to start tomorrow). They said there are to be 80 students and they have 80 chairs/desks ordered and ready, but need the money to pay for them ($6/desk). David suggested the building was a good project for Rotary Club to take on and we'd talk to them and do a presentation.

The meeting broke up about 11 as we had to get to Calichal for the soccer tournament. Yovany took some in his truck. We and others walked - up and down and up and down - about two miles and a bit over an hour. When we got there the first game had finished and the second was in progress.

We were fed by the family where the group is staying and quite well too! Then we watched the rest of the games and took pictures of the awards presentations. All four teams got different prizes.

First - El Pariso; Second - El Calichal; Third - La Laguna; Fourth - Mataderos.

Then Yovany presented the NY/HELP group with a plaque commemorating our help on this project. We all stood together for the presentation. Hopefully someone got pictures of it.

We came back to La Laguna in Yovany's truck with six inside and about a dozen in and on the truck bed. We stopped by La Habana to pick up fresh vegetables for La Laguna and then he drove us up the mountain. We got back a little after five. Aracely was there and made us coffee and gave us some galletas, but we refused dinner as we'd been fed very well and late.

Tomorrow afternoon Yovany will take Judy and me to El Calichal where we will help with a garden project and come back on Tuesday about noon. David Sr will come to La Laguna, take school supplies to the schools, and sort and buy dolls. The current plan is for us to give Yovany our duffel bags to take to San Pedro when he leaves on Tuesday. We'll keep our back packs and walk down on Wednesday and take a bus to Yoro.

Monday, February 27

We were all cold last night and found extra layers to put on. It was under 60 when we got up - inside the clinic. When the sun came up it warmed up quickly outside, but took longer inside. We packed everything we will be taking to Calichal and secured everything else before breakfast. Breakfast was beans with green peppers, eggs with onion and cheese, and café - yum. I tried washing out Gordon and Judy's Sustainable Harvest shirts at the water faucet near the clinic. We sent out the rest of our laundry but wanted to be gentle with those shirts.

In the morning patients were several very young children who were being cute (they're all cute!). One was walking pretty well and almost up to running - the other was almost up to walking on her own, but not quite. The little one was afraid of the camera, and probably us as well. Judy would take a picture and show it to the other patients and the little girl would cry and look away. We did get a picture when the two came fact to face and patted each other's faces.

Before lunch Aracely's daughter passed around a plate of papaya to all of the patients. At lunch we were served papaya for desert, after a very delicious (and awfully filling) soup with patastía, yucca, malenga, tomato and other vegetables in it. I could only finish about half of it, but had several pieces of papaya.

Sometime after lunch the teachers were at the school straightening and getting ready for tomorrow's start of classes. Judy took up the books and school supplies and I went with her. The teachers, Patricia and Eduar, were happy to get the supplies and tolerant of our hesitant Spanish. Judy looked up the words she wanted to say or asked me and I'd tell her the words or how to pronounce them. Patricia asked me if I had much Spanish and I said poquito. Eduar said I was Judy's interpreter! We all had a good laugh. Eduar showed us his classroom too - he teaches the first two grades and Patricia the older four.

We went back to the clinic and filling prescriptions until Yovany arrived sometime after two, bringing David. He will talk with the teachers tomorrow and will buy dolls later today.

We went with Yovany on a "tour" as he had several stops to make, the first being in Mataderos. Yovany talked with one of the teachers of the new colegio. We got a picture of the new colegio. Then we stopped on the main road and picked up a gate which we took to Punta Ocote (along with a passenger). Then he picked up cement and supplies for the Calichal project. While we were stopped and Yovany was loading supplies two boys stopped by to talk to us. One of the boys said he'd been in Calichal for the fútbol and asked where our compatriots were. I told him some were in La Laguna and five in Calichal. He said he was in CEVER and asked for Profesor Jeff. He said his name was Ariel, but I'm not entirely sure I have it right. Then we were off to Calichal. We got there about 4:30 and changed places with Doug, Rich and David hijo, who were going to la Habana for the night.

Dick showed us the work they had done on the fence around the school and also the garden plot they had prepared for us to plant tomorrow. There were chickens scratching and nesting in it. We're afraid the chickens will dig up or eat any seeds we manage to plant!

Both Judy and I had bath/showers before dinner - half sponge bath and half shower. Next to the outhouse was another building. There was a basin to fill with water from a large container in a stall and soap to wash with. Then you get a fresh basin and either dip the washcloth to rinse or pour water over you from it. It was cold and very refreshing!

Then it was time for dinner - frijoles, eggs with cut up hot dogs, cheese and tortillas, and water to drink - except Dick got his café. It was quite good. We sat around the table and talked for quite a while afterwards - Dick, Brian, Judy and I. The family in this house is better off than the families we know of in La Laguna. They have a fairly large house, with kitchen, dining/living room and several bedrooms. They also have a generator so they can use electricity when they want to. Just after Brian went off to his room (he and Dick sleep in a separate building - we have a bedroom in the main house) it started to rain. It really came down hard! Hopefully it will stop before morning so we can actually do the planting.

Tuesday, February 28

What a beautiful day it is after the rain - sunny and bright. It turned out, however, that we were not able to plant the garden. The school fence must be finished first to keep the chickens from ruining it. Someone will plant it next week after the fence work is complete.

Our breakfast this morning was frijoles, cheese and scrambled hamburger, and tortillas. It was delicious. About eight o'clock Yovany came up bringing David hijo, Doug and Rich, who had spent the night in La Habana at the Sustainable Harvest office.

David went with Judy to all three classrooms of the elementary school to translate for her. I went to take pictures. Judy showed pictures of the Spanish class in her high school who had chosen and donated the books. She - through David - asked if the teacher or the class would write a Thank You note that she could take back to her school. Before we left after lunch she had her note to take with her.

Since we could not plant seeds we spent time taking pictures of the men working on stretching cyclone fence to go around the school. When they got the rest of the front and once side finished, they started setting block on the back side for a base and cemented the blocks.

Part way through the morning Rich took us up a trail away from the village to a high spot where they had been able to see Yoro the day before. It was too hazy in the valley for us to see it today, but the view in all directions was very beautiful.

We got back to the work site almost in time for morning coffee break. We were called back to the house for a snack of café, saltines, jam and Tang. Then it was back to work for the men. Yovany said they would feed us an early lunch as he was leaving by noon or so to take us back to La Laguna. Judy wasn't sure she could eat much so soon after our "snack." Lunch, however, was wonderful - fried chicken, frijoles, rice and salad (which I didn't eat). Judy asked how the chicken was done and Doña Chica (Francesca Sosa) showed us - barbeque sauce and mustard - which she pointed on the chicken before frying. It was quite delicious.

After lunch Yovany loaded the truck with our back packs and the duffels the other guys wanted transported to San Pedro. Then we, along with Rigo, climbed into the truck. The road was only a little the worse for wear from last night's rain. On the way down, Yovany stopped several times so we could get pictures. We stopped in La Habana to drop off the duffels and went on to La Laguna.

When we got there we found the possibility of a change of plans. It was suggested we could go with Yovany and David down to La Habana and get a bus to Yoro - or - we could stay another day in the clinic with Gordon and walk down with him the next day. David was going down in any case. The others were walking down from Calichal to get the Yoro bus. After some discussion we decided we'd go with Yovany as it would give us a chance to visit the Boarding House, the Colegio, and maybe even CEVER before getting the bus to San Pedro Wednesday in the afternoon. Gordon said that would be fine with him and he'd still plan to walk down on Wednesday. We hurried and re-arranged duffel bags and gathered those things Yovany would take to San Pedro and were ready. Judy gave her Salamanca sweat shirt to Aracely and I gave my Arcade T-shirt to Mirtila.

On the way down the mountain we stopped in Mataderos to talk with the colegio teacher. it had not opened as there were no chairs yet. 36 students wee registered and David promised to pay for 40 chairs.

When we got to La Habana we barely had time to say goodbye to Yovany as the bus was coming. As we got on, we found the other five on the bus! They had walked down from Calichal and caught the bus at the bottom of the hill. When we got to Yoro and checked in to the Marquéz, the first thing we did was go up to our rooms for showers. It had been a while and it really felt good! Then Judy and I and David hijo went to the Internet café across the street from the hotel to send messages home.

Around six David and David, Rich, Brian, Judy and I walked to the Boarding House. All but one of the students were there. David talked to each of them and asked each which grade and which class they were in. They all talked about what they're doing. I asked David hijo to tell them I was giving each a pencil from my library and put them on the table so they could pick out the color they wanted.

After we walked back we had dinner at the Marquéz - service was much better this time. Judy and I watched a little CNN en Español before going to sleep.

Wednesday, March 1

We had breakfast at the same place Yovany took us last week. Then we walked to the bus stop as four of our group were planning to take an early bus to San Pedro Sula. David papá, Judy, Doug and I walked to the colegio. David went into each class room where we had a student from the Boarding House. He explained who we were, introduced "our" student and talked about NY/HELP.

We then walked back to town, very pleased by our visit and the kids' reaction to it. In two of the three classes the kids stood as we entered the room. They listened politely and asked a couple of questions. Outside the classrooms a few tried out an English phrase or two.

We checked out of the hotel and caught a taxi to CEVER and visited several classrooms there as well. In the computer classroom I noticed our student had one of the new pencils in his shirt pocket. We also saw the carpentry classroom. Auto mechanics was closed today as someone (the teacher or a family member) was sick and had to go to the hospital. We talked with the administrator and several teachers. It's quite a campus with a different building for each specialty. NY/HELP helped pay for the land where this campus is built. A number of the buildings have the Rotary International logo on them, indicating they received funding from Rotary.

The bus stop was right outside CEVER and we waited there for the bus to La Habana. At La Habana we settled down for something to drink and lunch at a little pulpería at the base of the walking trail to La Laguna. As we finished lunch, Gordon, accompanied by Juan and a couple others came along. They all had something to drink with us and Gordon ate my last two tortillas that I hadn't eaten. There were some more dolls to buy (from the sewing group in El Pairaiso) and David and Gordon did that negotiation. Then we went across the road to wait for the directo for San Pedro. The others waited with us and we visited until it came.

The bus ride was about three hours, but not really a bad one and the scenery was great. We took a taxi from the bus station to the Terraza as it was a bit of a walk and we all had our packs. As we were checking in Rich and Brian came into the hotel. They said Dick was in the room and David hijo was at an Internet café. Gordon and I went with Judy to a different, closer Internet café, so she could look for a message from her son, who is hoping to be able to meet us for a short visit. Then there was a meeting about finances before we went to dinner - a somewhat expensive Mexican restaurant. The food was good and we all enjoyed it. Dick, especially, appreciated a meal without beans!

When we got back David contacted Yovany who is meeting him and Gordon at 9:30 in the morning to go open a dollar account at the bank to make funds transfer easier. Gordon tried to call Jimmy and left a message for him. We need to know the name of the driver who brought everyone in from the airport and arrange for a trip to Copán Friday for five of us. After the bank tomorrow we plan to go to the craft market to get souvenirs.

Thursday, March 2

We went for breakfast about seven (actually most were already eating when Judy and I got downstairs) and discussed the day's plans. Rich, Dick, David hijo and Brian left for Omoa. David, Doug, Gordon, Judy and I are here for the morning. Yovany is to come at 9:30 so they can go to the bank.

We walked to the Sula to check on prices for a tour to Copán. It listed $79/person but also mentioned group rates without any info.

Judy, Doug and I stopped at an Internet café by the square and David and Gordon walked back to the Terraza to meet Yovany. They were gone to the bank by the time we got back. We wrote in journals and I wrote more post cards for a while. Then Doug went with me to the Dispensaría Familiar to get catsup and hot sauce to take home. David and Gordon arrived shortly before I could check out. Gordon stayed with me and Doug and David went off to the artisan market.

We waited at the Terraza for Judy's son Jamie to come in from the airport where his helicopter had landed. As soon as he arrived he went up to Judy's room to change out of his army uniform and into shorts and T-shirt. We all went to lunch at the little corner place that serves such good soup. Then we went to the artisan's market to buy gifts. Jamie helped with the bargaining. When it was time for Jamie to leave for the airport we walked back to the Terraza so he could change back into his uniform. We got pictures all around then he got a taxi back to the airport.

We went back to the market and got varius things - a wood puzzle cat for Maggie, a cross with a painted Honduran scene I plan to give to the Sunday School, and a wooden bowl made in Tegucigalpa for Kit for a wedding present.

That took much of the afternoon and then we walked to where Gordon remembered Totos pizza restaurant being, but it was no longer there. So after taking our purchases back to the hotel we went to the Sula for dinner. As we finished Jimmy came in and we bought his dinner. He had not yet arranged for our trip to Copán - said his friend had his phone off. As Gordon was paying for dinner, an employee of the Sula greeted Jimmy and Jimmy went with him to negotiate the trip to Copán at a good price ($50 each rather than the advertised $79/person).

Brian and Rich, who had gone to Omoa with Dick, David and the others, came back tonight so they can go to Copán with us in the morning.

Friday, March 3

After breakfast the large van that will take us to Copán picked us up at the Terraza. The driver, Luís Cruz, introduced us to the woman who took care of the fare and she accepted credit cards, gave us receipts, and then left. We drove to the Holiday Inn to pick up two more passengers - a man and his son from Atlanta. They came on Delta's inaugural flight from Atlanta to San Pedro, as the father's wife had just retired from Delta - it was a free trip for them. The Holiday Inn was also free for them as they had enough "points" to qualify.

The trip to Copán was between 2 and 3 hours. The Copán Ruins is before you get to the pueblo itself. Our guide started us out at the central building which had a model of the area laid out so we could get a perspective of the size and what we would be seeing. Since Gordon was last here in 1989, there has been quite a bit of excavation and our guide estimated there was about 150 years worth still to go! We had quite an extensive tour and got a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, I wasn't taking notes and so don't have the details and can't really write about what we saw. Things I remember range from the Macaws hanging around in the trees and on the ground at the main gate, to the statue of a leopard without a head, to the hieroglyphic stairs, and the intricate stone carvings.

After we were done with the tour, our guide took us to a restaurant for lunch - Llama del Bosque. It was a very nice little place with good food. I had chicken fajita and Salva Vida. This was in the small village of Copán Ruínas, a very picturesque village with cobblestone streets. After lunch he stopped on a narrow street at a place we could shop, which we did. Brian got a hammock. I got four T-shirts. The prices weren't bad. The drive back was tiring - we'd had a long day, walked a lot, and ate lunch late. Also, our guide seemed in a hurry to get back and his driving was a bit rougher. All in all, it was a very good day! We got our guide's card and would happily go with him elsewhere - Copán is not the only drive he does. He is very knowledgeable, friendly and speaks four languages.

When the others returned from Omoa, we met with Yovany and then went to the Sula for dinner. My insides weren't feeling quite right and I wasn't hungry, so I only had Sprite and papas fritas. Jimmy came as our dinners were served and we bought him dinner also. Then Gordon, David and Jimmy met around finances and new arrangements that had been made with Yovany. We walked back to the Terraza and David and Gordon continued their discussion, but I went up to bed as we needed to be up for 4:30. Everyone except Gordon and me had an early flight.

Saturday, March 4

Judy and I had set the alarm for 4:20. The large van Jimmy had arranged for was coming to pick up the seven of them at 5:30 as they had an 8:10 flight. Gordon's and my flight isn't until 11:20. When we got up, I suggested to Gordon that we go out to the airport with the others. We'd have a while to wait, but it would only be one taxi fare, we could visit more, and we wouldn't be able to go back to sleep anyway.

So that's what we did. We all checked in at our different airlines - us at TACA, the other seven at American. Then we visited after going through security. We talked about having a NY/HELP meeting soon and how very successful this trip has been. After they all left, we visited with the man and his father who'd been on our Copán trip yesterday. They were waiting for their flight on Delta back to Atlanta.

Our flights were fairly uneventful. We had about a four hour layover in Miami, which gave us a chance to get something to eat (we'd gone off before the Terraza was open for breakfast) and make some phone calls. When we arrived back in Buffalo, Jeff Mason was there to meet us and, thankfully, our luggage made it with no problems.

Ginger K. Comstock
Arcade UCC
April 5, 2006