It all started in Wisconsin at my Aunt and Uncle’s cottage along the serene shores of Lake Michigan. After breakfast, I would explain to my mom that I was going out to explore, climb trees, throw rocks, build forts, jump in the icy cold water, etc. As you may or may not know, though, I love to find shorter, more interesting ways of relaying information (delicious sandwiches crammed into our pockets and snuck into concerts=sandiddy a la Bret Labadie for example) and usually gave only the brief explanation that I was going to go on an adventure. “What kind of adventure?” she always asked with a smile knowing full well what the answer would be (anybody catch that line from a TWO song?). “You know…a regular adventure.”
When my friends, Morlin and Santos, said they wanted to take me to explore the river last Friday, they should have just asked if I wanted to go on a regular adventure. We took off early in the morning to avoid the midday swelter equipped with slingshots, a machete, and a backpack full of rocks. The machete is like the Honduran spork, it can be used for anything. But that day it was brought along with the specific purpose of cutting off a jícaro branch to make a new slingshot for myself. We followed the curve of the river all the way up into the hills that flank El Tular shooting doves, catching iguanas (later used to make a delicious soup- I’m not sure if the sarcasm of that “delicious” will actually get across in digital form), avoiding beehives, shooting down mangoes from an enormous tree, swimming, and pausing our platoon in silence every other minute to discover that the rustling in the bushes was just a lazy cow and not another chance for a prized catch. I’m no Dennis the Menace, but the other guys are deadly with the ole’ Goliath slayer. I was already feeling a lot better about my site in general. I had made new friends, work was picking up, and most of the stares had turned into smiles and waves. But this ordinary every-day expedition shed a whole new light on how beautiful the community really is once you dig a little. Over the weekend, I had a friend come to visit my site and I got to show someone else my life for the first time. We spent one of the days on the beach with another volunteer that lives nearby and my good friend Graham, a Scottish giant who works for a NGO in Choluteca. Graham is a character and I plan to devote an entire blog entry to our escapades. We found a cave with an outlet to the ocean and decided to swim through the darkness to see what would eat us. Nothing did but there were thousands of bats and it was incredible. If/when you come to visit; we will go see that again. A new comer to El Tular caused a bit of a stir and plenty of people came by that night to greet/stare through the fence at the new stranger in town. It was a blast to show someone else all the cool stuff and it helped give it some perspective in my own mind. On Sunday, we went into Tegucigalpa where I expected to be mugged immediately upon entering the city limits. It actually turned out to be a really amazing couple of days and I learned to love the grittiness and chaos of that enormous mess of a Capital. If/when you come to visit; we will also see some of the gems of Tegucigalpa (mostly great restaurants). Maybe pump some iron a bit before so nobody will want to mess with you (See the Brian Seward workout manual How to be a Buff Hip Dude, it will change your life).
I spent Thanksgiving with 15 other volunteers who also call Southern Honduras their home. The city of San Marcos de Colon was chosen as the gathering point with good reason. As I departed my sun-baked valley and ascended the mountains up into the little town, I felt the air temperature drop by about 15 degrees and I muttered some words that I wouldn’t repeat to my mother in regards to the luck that these volunteers fell into. San Marcos is a beautiful town and the volunteer that lives there has a house to match. The smell of Turkey, gravy, stuffing, and all the other goodies emanating from the kitchen turned the house into the good ole USA and I settled into a day of rubbing my belly. I stuffed my face and it…was….good.
If you are interested in hearing the detailed story of a very fun weekend I had recently, please send me an email saying so and I will personally send it along to you as it is too long and too funny for this very concise and serious blog.
If you are wondering why I almost never post pictures, it is because the internet is painfully slow and I am too impatient. Dont be like me. Be patient while I search out a solution. I promise pictures sometime soon. We are getting closer and closer to Christmas, and I am missing the people close to me more and more. I will not be able to come home and plan to spend Christmas here in El Tular. It should be a very fun and interesting experience but I know already that it will be very hard to wake up on a steamy Christmas morning far from my family and friends. Thank you to all of you for being so dear to me and I can assure you that I am thinking about you at some point on any given day and wishing we could share the holidays.