Things have been going well here, in fact, more like flying together faster than we imagined possible. We thought we would just be teaching this year, while doing research on the side for starting the children’s home. We have been teaching full-time, yet also working almost as much getting ready to start a children’s home here.
It’s been exciting to get a vehicle, to look at more properties, and to begin the legal work to get established here.
We’ve just finished our exams for the first quarter. And now comes all the grading and report cards. We’ve both enjoyed teaching this year. It’s been great to get to know new students and to teach kids that are excited to learn.
This past week we had the privilege of having two friends visit from Minnesota. We hung out together, they helped us at the school for the week, and for the weekend we visited an orphanage and had an afternoon at the beach. We enjoyed having you Olivia and Sasha!
We’ve spent a lot of time looking for property the past couple of months, where we can build the children’s home. This is quite different than what we think of with real estate agents and neat for-sale-signs in manicured lawns. Here it means talking to person after person, each with their own connections about who is selling. And here looking for property means hiking, crossing rivers on foot, walking through cow pastures, and getting ticks. Every place we’ve been has included these things (but don’t worry those of you who dislike ticks, ‘cause once the cows are gone, the ticks will go too).
It’s funny when our big concerns for buying land are whether the previous “owners” really have the deed, whether the land will get washed away in the next big hurricane, how many days we’ll blocked off from civilization due to flooded rivers every year, how we can get a car to the property, and how soon we’ll get cell phone reception.
While we still want to look around other places in northern Honduras, we’ve decided that we’d love to be in the Congrejal River Valley. After living there for several months, we’ve decided being an hour from the city is just fine with us. We like the “vida tranquilla,” even if our own schedule stays busy. Some big incentives though are the school, Instituto el Rey, and the soon-coming medical clinic in the area.
Some of you may ask whether we’re crazy to want a location way out there, but don’t worry, our sanity is in tact. We’ve found out that we’ll be able to take in kids from all over the country, even the biggest cities, where there’s the most needs. It’s actually a great thing for the kids to be away from the cities, whether to get away from negative influences or from an abusive family. We want to give them a country life where they can get a good education, learn a good work ethic by having some farm chores, and where they can go swimming in the river or go build forts in the woods.
On Friday we headed down to the city as soon as school was over. We were told we could use the van from our church to go visit an orphanage a little ways outside of La Ceiba. But when we showed up at our church we found out that the van was being used by somebody else for a week. We were disappointed about our plans changing, but the only practical thing to do was to take the last bus home, back up the mountain. We took a taxi to the bus terminal, but our bus was already headed through town. The only way to catch it then was to take the taxi to the one side of a broken bridge and walk across, meeting the bus at the bottom of the mountain.
Yes, we have a broken bridge in La Ceiba. A couple of months ago there was a big storm that knocked out one of the massive cement pillars. It’s safe to walk across, but the four inch gap in the bridge discourages vehicles from crossing. The bad part is that there’s only two bridges that cross this river, so all the traffic has to crawl through town over the other one now, which is why we hoped to catch the bus in time. So, as we were halfway across we saw the bus come and wait for people. Jason started running ahead (it was raining and my sandals had no traction on the wet pavement) and just as he got to the corner the bus zoomed away. The bus headed up five minutes early unfortunately for us.
See, we were planning on driving the van home, as we had a morning hiking appointment to go look at some property, which was an hour and a half trek one-way. Now it was four-twenty-five, the last bus for the day was gone and we have no change of clothes, toothbrush, or otherwise. Plan C was to get a cheap hotel room, hang out in town for the evening, and then take buses to visit the orphanage in the morning.
Plan C worked (and we got a shower and bought a toothbrush and toothpaste) except that we woke up to a rainstorm, which has continued for two days now. Rain makes travel by bus and foot and taxi quite a bit damper, but we made it to visit the orphanage. It was a great time for us to ask questions and get advice. Every time we meet with someone more of the pieces fall in place for us and our plan.
After lunch we headed back to La Ceiba by bus, went to the mall, bought a cell phone, and ran into my second cousin Julie, who’s here with her boyfriend, who’s helping out with a feeding center in the slums. It’s a small world after all….
Then we went back to the bus terminal to catch an afternoon bus up the mountain. We should have made it in time for the three-thirty bus, but due to the bridge being out, everything is a little uncertain, and there was no bus. So, we tried out our new cell phone by calling our parents, finally got some lunch, and waited. And then waited some more, along with a crowd also trying to get up this mountain. Finally, an hour later we discovered that there was no last bus. Tough for us. We considered night two in the hotel and day three with the clothes – not a pretty picture. So we hid around the corner while one of our students and his family haggled for a taxi to come up (prices head skyward when there’s a gringo).
I think the poor taxi-driver had no idea what he was in for. Not only where there six adults and three children in the little car, but the day of rain had made our bad road worse. In some places the mud was five inches deep and we were going uphill. And we bottomed-out on some big rocks in the mud. He wasn’t too pleased, so he finally called it quits about two miles from our village, dropped us off, and turned around.
Now we were two miles from home, with half of our way hairpin turns headed up, in the jungle, at dusk. So we started walking, carrying all our groceries and such, trying to avoid the deep mud.
And the good news was that we made it home and we were able to get cleaned up to head back down to the city for church the next day. It was definitely a crazy weekend, but it was a fun adventure nonetheless.