Fire, plague, pestilence

June 1, 2007 at 6:55 pm (June)

  I was just thinking a few weeks ago how lucky our family has been in terms of getting sick.  We have barely had a cold all year and our intestines have even adjusted to the water fairly well.  All was well and fine until the plague hit us.  It started with fevers a few weeks ago around the time of the big fire, and we have been sick with some intestinal malady for almost three weeks.  Every time each of us is feeling better we think we can eat something normal again…wrong!  It leads to yet more diarrhea, painful cramps, and for Lucas, more vomiting.  When is it going to end?  Henry does not have an ounce of fat left on him.  The poor guy looks like a concentration camp victim. 

Then, we were having dinner last night with two boys from the hogar, when pestilence hit.  It had just rained which triggered some massive termite migration.  Millions of them started pouring into our house through every crack and crevice.  It was like something from a bad horror movie. There was nothing we could do except swat at the winged little bastards.  They were falling in our food and from the ceilings all over the house.  We spent several hours trying to kill them all to no avail. Several ranch kids said, “Oh, those are palomillas (termites).  Be careful, they like to crawl in your ears and they make you go deaf.”  Oh great! That’s just what we needed to hear before bed, even if we didn’t believe them.  The boys would never go to sleep.  Our house was crawling with them.  Then, to top it off, the electricity went out for the 25th time this month, so we could no longer see where all their little

squiggling bodies were.   This morning there were little carcasses all over the floors and counter tops, not to mention our beds. Today, wings continue to fall from the ceiling every time a breeze blows.  Scream!!!!!!!!!!!  Its time to go home!

termites.jpgtermite wings and bodies all over the kitchen

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gang violence

May 29, 2007 at 2:41 pm (May)

A new orphan family arrived a few weeks ago.  One of the boys is in Lucas’s class and one of the sisters is in seventh grade and often stops by my classroom to chat.  She is very friendly and apparently extremely bright. Apparently, the dad had been involved in a gang and must have upset some other gang badly.  The family received a note that said all the family members would be killed.  It was not an empty threat.  First, the father was murdered, and then the mother.  Yesterday, one of the older brothers, who works here on the ranch, went into
Tegucigalpa to buy his sister a birthday present.  He was shot dead on a bus.  I fear for the other children, and hopefully the gang doesn’t know where they are.  It’s pretty scary.  How do the children in this family ever come to grips with what just happened?

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Latest Posa pictures

May 29, 2007 at 2:40 pm (May)

Again, thanks all who have donated to the project.  It is coming along great and finishig in time won’t be a problem. The children are very excited about it.

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This shows the pavilion and concrete court in background.

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brick work to control erosion

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Matthew-A coral snake!

May 19, 2007 at 5:10 pm (May)

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Well, we thought it was, but it turns out to be a mimic!

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A tarantula on our door!

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Fire on the rancho!

May 19, 2007 at 4:42 pm (May)

It has been quite a week here between illness wreaking havoc through the rancho, and the BIG fire.  It started on Tuesday back in the hills behind the ranch. The fire fighting boys (ages 12 and up) were sent out to battle it Tuesday night.  It was never extinguished and continued to burn through the night.  By noon the next day 100’s of acres had burned, and the fire was moving towards our end of the ranch.  We knew something was up when smoke was wafting in to the school on Wednesday morning.  In fact, the whole ranch was blanketed in smoke as the fire crept closer and closer.  Everyone was called out to battle it, including fire fighters from
Tegucigalpa and the local army battalion, and boys as young as nine.  It just about reached some buildings, but was put out there in time.  The blaze continued on into the night.  I went up to investigate and to find out how all the boys were doing.  It was crazy.  An orange glow filled the sky and you could see the flames working their way down the mountain behind where we live.  Up in the hills it was like I imagine a war zone to be.  Various fires were burning all around and smoke filled the air.  You could hear various people shouting through the valley as they worked their area.  The only thing missing was the mortar fire. The boys worked well into the early hours of the morning getting it under control and had to miss school the following day to follow up in some areas that were still burning (only in Honduras do young boys miss school so they put out a fire!). In fact, on the way to work the next morning one of the volunteers came across several of the boys sleeping in the middle of a path, just passed out from exhaustion. All in all, thousands of acres were burned on the ranch and neighboring forests, but no dwellings on the ranch were affected.  I’m still waiting to recover from the virus that is sweeping the ranch, so I can run out to Tomale Queso, a local village, to see what the damage was there.  It was quite a bit of excitement!

see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dII4v6tUEC8

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The pointlessness of lifting weights.

May 12, 2007 at 5:16 pm (May)

So many boys back home spend so much time and energy lifting weights to make themselves look buff.  What a waste of energy!  If that energy could be put to useful work, they would still get strong, and get something done at the same time!  For exampe, look at our Arca boys.  They have never lifted a weight in their lives, yet they are totally buff.  Why? Because they spend at at least two hours everyday working.  Lately, they have been helping us with the posa project by loading up truck loads of gravel and unloading it to fill in our foundation.  They love to show how strong they are by flexing their muscles for us, and they take great pride in the compliments we give them about their strength.

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Elmer loading dirt into the truck.

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On the evolution of the cat in Honduras

May 7, 2007 at 5:40 pm (May)

We’ve noticed the behavior of the Honduran cat is quite a bit different than its cousins in the
United States. I’m convinced that the selective pressures on the house cat here in
Honduras have created a more skittish, and of course skinny animal in comparison.  It makes complete sense if you think about it.  The typical American house cat is usually neutered or spade, lies around the house all day watching TV, and snacking on kibbles and bits.  Occasionally, it looks out the window at the birds and fantasizes about its ancestors’ wild bird hunts.  After a few minutes, it’s time for another nap.  The resulting obese animals are lazy, confident, big princes (and princesses).

 

Here in
Honduras there are so many dangers.  Wild dogs roam around, snakes and scorpions are all over the place, its difficult to find food, and of course there are bitter battles for dominance with other cats.  In fact, our youngest cat, Nacho, has been regularly hunted by a large tom cat in the area.  His response is like no other I have seen before in my extensive experience with house cats.  When attacked, he releases his bowels all over the place.  During the last attack, he tried to crawl up between our window and the window bars.  The hunter followed him and our dear Nacho let loose an explosion of cat poop all over the window. It is either an ingenious defense mechanism, or he is literally having the shit scared out of him.  Whatever it is, it sure is does create quite a scene. We thought this was a one time occurrence, but it has happened on every occasion of a fight.  Now when we hear Nacho howling in another fight, we yell “Oh Shit!” We are concerned about Nacho, but we may be more concerned about where we’ll find the poop splatter.

 

We are going to try to smuggle little Nacho to the States with us.  Right now we are working on a counterfeit passport.  We think it will be fun to have a little illegal alien in our household. Just wait until those American cats meet their Hondureño cousin.  It will be a blast (or possibly a splatter)!

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Nacho poses for his passport picture.

 

 

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Posa project underway

April 29, 2007 at 2:46 pm (April)

Thanks to everyone who donated to the Posa project!  Carl has hired some masons and the contruction of the pavilion is underway.

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Heading out with the hogar to load sand for the project

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Unloading sand at the pavilion site

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Even more frustrations

April 25, 2007 at 10:31 pm (April)

Oh my gosh I got so mad today.  A series of frustrating events put me in a bad mood.  First I wasn’t sure if there were classes this morning due to various rumors that the tias were meeting with the teachers to discuss grades.  Of course no one tells us volunteers anything, ever.  I thought there were no classes, but it turned out that there were.  I started my first class only to be interrupted.  “You need to come and talk to the tias and tios!.” So, we had classes, but were also expected to talk to the tios and tias…hmmmm. Volunteers are ALWAYS the last to know what’s going on.  Then, my last class of the very busy morning was the fifth graders(ages 11-14)…they are always very difficult (hormones raging, emotional problems, etc).  They were taking a test and were totally off the wall as usual.  It was difficult to get them settled down. I caught one kid cheating which is pretty standard. I am convinced that other teachers do not care if they cheat, because some of the kids always try to cheat. After the test they were working in groups practicing for a play tomorrow.  They were wild.  After class was over, I noticed the pile of tests on my desk was missing.  Furthermore, my bag of prizes was missing from my drawer.  I was ready to quit. I was furious.  Later, I come to find out that Roberto, my colleague, had put the tests way back in a drawer, because he noticed kids around the desk.  I was so relieved.  The bag of prizes…that’s another story…gone.

Anyway, I was feeling particularly non-giving after all the things that we have had stolen lately, and we had two boys coming over for dinner…now I had to cook for THEM.  One of the boys, who is extremely shy, is new to our hogar, and we learned at dinner that his mom abandoned him. She went to the market one day and never returned. She called several months later from LA. He seemed so sad talking about her.  Being left by your mom has to be worse than her dying. He must think that he isn’t good enough for her to stay with him. I stopped being mad at all the kids after hearing that…sigh.

 

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This is what happens when I put some popcorn out for the boys.  Its a 30 second feeding frenzy!

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frustrations in a developing country

April 24, 2007 at 6:36 pm (April)

Just finished moving into a new house on the ranch.  Its is larger house built for volunteer families with several children.  We moved there so another new family could move into our house.  The house was just finished…well, not really. It’s sort of finished.  Our move has been delayed weekly since January because the carpenters never seem to be able to finish it. The house was a total mess. The carpenters didn’t pickup after themselves at all. There was a 1/2 of dust everywhere.  We spent Friday evening and Saturday afternoon just cleaning out the house.  Sunday morning we moved our stuff, and cleaned our house, and washed all the sheets, blankets, etc by hand.  The workmanship in Honduras is so shoddy.  They put in these white tile floors, but when the carpenters painted and varnished, they never put down a drop cloth so there is paint and varnish all over the tile floors.  Its SO annoying.  Then they put the varnish and paint cans on the brand new table and there are big varnish rings on the table. For a detail man like Carl, its pure torture.  We’re still waiting for shelves and places to out stuff. Right now all our stuff is in piles on the floor.

 

We also went to the boy’s soccer game Saturday.  We were told the game was at 10, so we brought the team at 9:30.  Of course the game wasn’t until 11:30, and the referee didn’t arrive until 12.  Mind you, the field has no shade and it was in the 90’s!  It must have been pushing 100 by noon. The kids were parched before the game even began.  Someone from Talanga stole one of the brand new pairs of shin pads.  That’s another frustration here.  If it isn’t tied down or locked, it disappears.  At least the boys won the game: 5-0.  We figure the boys on the ranch have an advantage in the heat, since they spend so much time outside working under the harsh sun.

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The starting team

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