First of all, if you fly to honduras you have 90 days to visit without a visa. If you come without the visa like that, you MUST have an onward flight out of honduras booked so they know you wont overstay the 90 days. That’s what we dealt with in san fran before we could leave. So we bought refundable tickets before we could even check in to leave. We had a red eye flight and arrived in roatan friday at noon. We unloaded on the tarmac with teal ocean on both sides of us and it was glorious. The humidity is high obviously but with a breeze it’s totally workable. Emily, the girl we are living with, picked us up in the school vehicle. The vehicles here are all pretty bad with rust and really full of rattles. The driving isn’t as bad as it was in Rome, but only because there aren’t as many people. There are mostly little motos that people drive crazily around and Emily says there are wrecks every day because people are bad drivers here.We stopped at the grocery store, Eldon’s, and picked up stuff for breakfast and supper for a couple days. The store mostly has everything we’ll need to live but some is super expensive. Cereal is easy so we wanted that but a box of Capn Crunch was 300 lempira or about 12 USD so we passed. Then we stopped at a gas station for lunch. The gas stations here have medicine and cosmetics and are like a tiny walmart basically. They also have made to order “island food” and that consists of meat empanadas and baleadas. Baleadas are floppy flour tortillas with beans and crema and salty cheese in them and they are honestly insane. Three of them and a coke cost $3 USD so that’s definitely going to be a regular! We met a native islander man named Alex who has lived in Quebec and San Diego. He thinks the Quebec French are snobs and is interested with the name Cheyenne, as are other islanders we’ve met. They’ve never heard that name and several have commented on it. Driving back to the compound was rough curvy road and honking motos and green tropical trees and brush beside the road with glimpses of water. There was also smoke which Emily says comes from their island dump that’s been on fire for a couple weeks. They burn it because what else can they do so the smoke stinks terribly and honestly the environmental hazard it causes is crazy. Luckily we dont live near it.We are living with Emily who is from Leduc, Alberta, and has been here 3 years. She’s my age I think. There are 3 houses that make up the compound and are all painted bright colors and joined by wooden deck. Our house has 2 little rooms, a bathroom, a tiny kitchen with a stove and tiny fridge and no cupboards, a cat named Shadow who’s adopted my suitcase as home, and three geckos that sit on the livingroom wall and chatter. There is no AC anywhere here except Eldons Grocery so I may get a job there. Our room has a little fan at least. Valerie, the director who’s probable early 60s, lives in another house with 1 of 14 of her adopted children, and Jane, Valerie’s daughter is in the third house with her 2 children. Valerie is the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. I will write about her more later. Morgan and I slept for abit outside with our chairs facing the water and the breeze. We met two other girls from Nebraska who are here for 3 weeks volunteering as well. Every Friday night here at the compound is potluck so Valerie made vegetarian lasagna and I made cucumber tomato salad and the girls brought fried squash so we had a good supper and made new friends. A thunderstorm came through that sent us inside and valerie told us a bunch about the school kids and different situations. Oh my. As I listened I wondered what we’d got ourselves into. It’s honestly overwhelming. The 60 children in this school are picked by valerie as the children who are the most in need whether it be because of AIDS, a no income family, or sexual and physical abuse. There are 180 on the waiting list for the school. Most of the children have lost at least one parent or sibling to AIDS and many live with another family member, mostly a grandma, etc. because of the effects of cocaine on their moms or dads. Many of them have had terrible abuse sexually or physically so Valerie is super excited that Morgan is here to be a positive male figure in the school and these childrens lives. Some of the children have watched a family member get killed while they hid behind a couch. It is just so hard to hear. We just feel so inadequate to be here to help these children so please pray that we can shine for Jesus and they can see Him in us.
This school runs only on the goodwill donations of random people. It costs $200 a week to feed the 60 students breakfast, oatmeal or cereal, and lunch, baleadas, spaghetti, etc. They rely on donations for books, supplies, etc. so we brought a suitcase full of notebooks, a wall clock, etc. that they needed. Some of the kids dont eat over the weekend and their meals come strictly from the school. Each of the children is also sponsored and if they cant be paid for by someone they just cant come to school so they are constantly looking for donations and ways for the kids to make money. If any of you are still in Vacation Bible School, valerie has a paypal account that money can be sent too for food for the kids! She herself gives all her money to the cause and lives on so little its astounding. It’s a very good place to give where you would actually see the money at work which is one of the reasons we came here is so we would be directly involved and not just for show, if that makes sense. Headed to bed. Slept amazingly in spite of the chattering geckos. Fell asleep to the sound of rain on the tin roof.I thought I’d do a first day post just to get some of the main stuff written down.
At 10 this morning Valerie took faith, alicia, and us on a tour of the east end of the island. The island from Coxen Hole (named for pirate John Coxen. Most of the towns on the island are named for the pirates that lived here in the 1700s. There were around 5,000 pirates here in the 1700s) east is mostly green jungle on hills with tiny villages here and there. While we drove valerie told us where different of the kids or women she helps live. She is a doula as well as taking care of everything else! Over half of the school children were born at Valerie’s house and lots of them have lived with her for varying amounts of time while stuff was sorted at their homes. We may get a baby at the compound at 2 am or a woman delivering or children. You never know. We had iced coffees at the “mall” and went to Megapaca which is a giant place where they get shipments from Value Village and Goodwill and sell it here super cheap. I scored a pair of basically new Birkenstocks for 10 bucks. Then we went to an iguana farm where they come and go as they please but there are over 4,000 iguanas on 12 acres. They grow to five feet long and I’m very proud to say we all held a smaller one. It sat on morgans head.
We ate at a little chicken place for lunch and stopped at one of Valerie’s clients and looked at jewelry she makes to make money. We got home and napped because humidity is tiring, and had spaghetti for supper outside on the deck. Our house is usually warmer than outside so I think we’ll eat out there lots. The cicadas are in the trees and stray dogs wander in and Jane’s beautiful children come say hi. I like it.