Monday, July 31, 2006

Andrew and Laura's Office

The SP office in San Pedro Sula consists of two duplexes joined by a passageway. Andrew works on one side

and Laura works on the other. They keep in touch by phone or Skype chat.

I snuck down the stairs during Andrew's staff meeting and grabbed this shot.

Gary's office wasn't nearly as nice, but he did have internet access and a book to sit his laptop on. We had a little computer crisis when Gary put his computer in the same workgroup as the woman who was entering data for his project, but a phone call to our Dallas office saved the day.

On Friday afternoon there was a farewell party for a staff person who was leaving. The taco cart came and made yummy tacos and "gringas" in the back yard.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Andrew and Laura's House

Andrew and Laura are fortunate to only live 5 minutes from their office in a nice section of town. Almost all houses and many businesses have big fences topped with razor wire, and many have guards 24 hours a day. Security is an issue, apparently. There is a secure place to park the Land Cruiser.

Their house is a quite new, built on three levels on the side of a steep hill. Laura has decorated it nicely inside with bold paint and artwork from Ethiopia.

The kitchen was big and there is plenty of storage space since they can use the empty live-in maid's quarters for storage too.

The only thing I didn't like about their place was the hard ceramic tile on cement floors. They were beautiful floors, but hard on my feet (my feet have issues). They have cable TV and hope to get internet in the house soon too.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Trip to Copan Part 3 - Mayan Ruins

You know, I enjoy taking photos of places I visit. But if you really want to see good photos of the actual Mayan ruins at Copan, you'd do better to look up "mayan ruins copan" under Google images. I've just chose a few "we were there" photos from the many David and I took.

When we got there there were no more English-speaking guides available, so we hired a Spanish-speaking one and Laura translated. This gentleman had actually worked as an archeologist in his younger days. At the end of our tour we got him to take this group photo for us.

The place is huge, and they claimed it would take 300 more years of digging to dig it all up.
Do you notice any resemblance?

If you look hard enough, you'll see David being an oaf.

We weren't the only ones there. This flute choir showed up.

There were large stand-alone carvings, huge houses, a stadium, and this convenient place to slit people's throats, complete with gutters to drain the blood away.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Trip to Copan Part 2 - La Hacienda San Lucas

Laura had already made reservations for us to spend the night in Copan, so we drove to Hacienda San Lucas, an old set of dwellings converted into an ecolodge. It was rustic, naturally, but completely adequate. They claimed to have solar lighting, which I think they did, but they also had other electricity, I'm pretty sure, since they were running a coffee maker down in the cocina.

The rooms were screened and had wooden shutters, and each had its own bathroom. The room was filled with burning candles when we arrived, and we left a couple of them on through the night. Somebody spent way too much time fixing the toilet paper.

The veranda had hammocks all along it, so we all took a little snooze. There was a dog there that must have had pica, because it kept chewing on wood, rattan, banana leaves, and plastic cups. At 8pm we had a lovely 5-course candlelight dinner (well, it really had to be by candlelight, since there were hardly any other lights, except for the coffee maker).

The next morning we got off to a bit of a late start since breakfast wasn't ready at the time advertised, but it gave me a chance for some birdwatching. It took only a few minutes to find a bunch of white-throated magpie jays up in the trees. If you looked out instead of up from this location, you could also see some of the Mayan ruins on the other side of the river. But that will be my next post.

Off to the airport in about an hour or so. I've been able to use Gary's computer to make this post today since he is busy consulting instead of programming.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Trip to Copan Part I - Macaw Mountain

On Saturday morning we slept in a little, then took off for a city in western Honduras called Copan. It was a good road, but I got carsick the last 50 km because the road was so curvy. We landed in a little town with very steep, VERY narrow cobblestone roads. I have to say that Andrew has pretty well mastered the skills of driving a huge Land Cruiser here--not an easy thing.

Upon arrival we called the ecolodge and the person gave us some recommendations for things to do and where to eat. We headed out to Macaw Mountain which is a bird park and nature reserve. I just loved it there! We started with a yummy lunch, reasonably priced (I had shrimp kebobs).

The first thing we saw were these huge weird tree worms which we thought were caterpillars, but the tour guide said no, just worms.

There were many large parrots and macaws there, some in large walk-through aviaries, others just on perches. These are all birds that were once pets and people wanted to get rid of them. They can live up to 100 years in captivity.

We got caught in a late afternoon tropical downpour which was actually kind of cool. We had been given umbrellas by our 10-year old guide, so we just carried on with the tour. We ended at a little coffee shop where they made coffee from the beans they grew right there.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Trip to Rio Tinto - Part 2: In the Village

Cell phones have been a wonderful thing for third world countries. They get connectivity without all the infrastructure that land lines require. But it does seem kind of funny to be so many miles away from a road, but still talking on the cell phone.
The beach was both beautiful

and ugly with trash.

David nor I did any real work here, but the others did. 40 people were voluntarily tested for HIV infection.

One of those was positive.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Trip to Rio Tinto - Part 1: Getting There

On Wednesday morning Gary started working on his database project at the office, but David and I joined the Samaritan's Purse team who were heading out for a time of working in a Garifuna village called Rio Tinto on the northern coast of Honduras. This project is one where they offer free HIV testing along with counseling both before and after the test. They use what is called a "rapid HIV test" where the results are known after only 15 minutes.

But getting to this village is no simple matter. We left the house before 6am, loaded up two four-wheel drive vehicles, and drove for about three hours. First good roads, then bumpy roads, then through a river.

Then we got lost on rutted trails inside a palm oil plantation, then driving on an abandoned railroad track, then on a railroad track bridge. That's when we got to phase two, the river cruise.

The river bank was extremely muddy, so it proved easier to load up the launch by lowering the cargo over the side of the bridge with a rope.

The twelve of us rode in the fiberglass launch for just under an hour. This was the time for sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses. It was also a time for birdwatching, but of course the sound of the outboard motor scared a lot of the birds.

Once we arrived at the ocean, we got out of the launch and walked about a mile to Rio Tinto but this fine specimen of a horse brought its cart along to the river and picked up the stuff--plastic chairs and table, coolers, other equipment.

The staff set up shop and immediately started taking names of people who wanted HIV testing. At first it was only young women; later, the men showed up. About 40 people were tested over the next 3-4 hours. While they were busy working, David and I entertained ourselves by waling on the beach and riding a horse.

Tomorrow, more photos of our time at Rio Tinto.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

We're in Honduras

We left the house early, early Tuesday morning for the airport. We shared a egg bagel for breakfast. We got to Miami OK, with a sizable layover, then on to San Pedro Sula. Andrew, Laura, and David were all waiting for us and all our bags arrived. We immediately drove to two large warehouses where SP stores 2000 metric tons of food from America's breadbasket for distribution via SP child feeding program which is carried out through 100 schools. There was a wall of vegetable oil, and mountains of flour, soy, beans.

After that, we stopped at a place for a sample of the country's typical fast food called baleada. A baleada is pretty much like an overgrown soft taco, but the tortilla tastes a little bit different. The filling can vary, but refried beans,scrambled eggs, and flavored meats are standard. I added avocado to mine. They were yummy, but very filling. We also had glasses of passionfruit juice to go with them.

Then we went to Andrew and Laura's rented house. It is a lovely place in three levels, built on the side of a big hill. We have a nice big bedroom and private bath, and an air conditioner and ceiling fan. We turned on the a/c only long enough to cool it off, then the fan was enough for the rest of the night. I exchanged some US dollars for Honduran Lempiras, about 20 to the dollar.

I had a big adventure on Wednesday, but I'll save that blog for tomorrow. And today (Thursday) I've just sat around the office and used David's computer and the office internet. I got an email from Rachel--sounds like she and Doro are getting started on the painting. Gary's project is going well too.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

We're Off Soon

Lord willing, my next post will be from Honduras.

Pray for Rachel and Doro while we are away.

Time for a few hours of sleep before we leave for the airport at 5am.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I'm Still Going to Honduras--I Think

Today we had a little worry that my trip to Honduras was not going to happen. I opened my American Airlines online account to make a copy of the itinerary, and it said my trip had been canceled. So I called customer service to see what the problem was. They said, "Yes, you called yesterday afternoon and canceled." Yikes! I, of course, had done no such thing but it took talking to them for ONE AND A HALF HOURS to convince them to put me back on the flight!

I really don't know why that happened, but I suspect it had something to do with the way the original booking was made. I had, actually, had two reservations at one point, and had cancelled one of them. I ended up speaking to a customer service rep at that point, and I suspect something she did caused the mixup.

Anyway, I HOPE I get to go to Honduras with Gary on Tuesday.

In other news, Doro is away for the weekend with friends, Rachel has a babysitting job tonight, and Gary is busy completing a project to submit to the National Science Foundation and trying to write the program he needs to do for going to Honduras.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Ugly and the Beautiful

David sent us this very scary photo today of him and Andrew in Honduras.

Then Andrew sent me this photo he took of a page from a bridal magazine from the Dominican Republic (next time he should take the shot without flash). Anyway, you can see they had one of the "weddings of the year." Wow, that was almost a year ago aready!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


(Yet Another Job Application)

Rachel still doesn't have a job, but she really needs one. She filled out another lengthy application for a teacher aide position at Duncanville today. She has been waiting to hear from Trinity who said they would contact her even if she didn't get the job, but we've about given up hope to still hear from them. Pray that God will soon provide some kind of full time job for her.

I haven't heard any more from David or Andrew and Laura, so I don't have any thing to report about David's work there.

Doro is calling up all her old friends and making plans. Today I got her back to her old job of emptying the dishwasher.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Doro Arrived

Her plane was delayed, but she did arrive safely. Her luggage, on the other hand, decided to stay a while in Houston. Maybe it will arrive tomorrow. We stopped at Ton's on the way home--it had been two years since Doro had been there, you know.

Rachel donated some pajamas and clothes to Doro for tomorrow, and I found her a new toothbrush.

We looked a photos she brought and we showed her the DVD of Andrew and Laura's wedding.

Then she brought out a special box of chocolates called the Ritter Sport Fan Pack that converts itself into a soccer game after you take the chocolate out. Cool.

We kept her awake until 10, so she really needs to sleep now.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

David Has Landed--I Think.

This is the full content of an email I just read:

my plane crashed and i did not make it. so sad.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Is David There?

Today David was to have flown to San Pedro Sula to join Andrew and Laura for almost three weeks. There was a blank message on my answering machine when we got in this evening--maybe they tried to phone?

We spent quite a bit of time preparing for our upcoming trip (July 18-27)to Honduras today. I printed out and filled in a bunch of paperwork for Samaritan's Purse which they require for Gary. He's missing three of the immunizations they asked dates for; I hope that doesn't matter.

I also packed two hardside suitcases full of more of those children's books. We will take them to Andrew and then Andrew will take them to Ethiopia when he returns there in the upcoming months to orient his replacement (whom they still haven't found, sad to say).

And now Gary is beginning his database work in earnest. Today I translated (with help from Babelfish) the Spanish questionnaire that they use to interview people wanting an HIV test. Gary used that to make the table names in his database.

In other news, we are soon expecting Doro to join us for six weeks. I think she's coming on Monday, but I don't know if I even have her exact flight info.

Dinner Party

Rachel invited me and Gary for dinner at her place tonight.

But I got suspicious that she mainly wanted somebody to help her with the dishes.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Candelight Barbeque

Yesterday we had great plans for a 4th of July party. Our Sunday night Bible study group, with most of their kids, were coming over. I decided to forego the usual burgers and hotdogs fare and try something a bit more exotic--kabobs.
This is what it looked like getting my friends to assemble the kabobs. But did you notice the candles?

This is what it really looked like (the previous photo was taken with flash.) We had a storm come through just about the time to start the charcoal, so my Plan B was to use the broiler. But then the power went out, so we were back to Plan A even if it was still raining.

It took quite an effort to get the charcoal going in the rain, and you can see from Dave's shirt, that it wasn't too fun for him to be the cook. The power came back on in the middle of the meal.

In other news, I had a nice long free talk with Andrew over Skype today. He seemed discouraged with too many details to deal with, so we should pray for him. He said Laura was trying to learn to drive a stick shift--good for her!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Time at the Lake

Last night we decided to make a short visit to our urban state park, to get some use out of the annual pass we bought. We got there in time for a lecture about reptiles and we all got to pet a snake.

Then we decided on a picnic at lunch time today. It was kind of hot, but we found a reasonably shady picnic table. Rachel's friend spied an Eastern Bluebird and later I noticed its mate. The pair of them kept coming back to the same branch with their mouths full of fat green caterpillars and bugs. Then I noticed how they seemed to disappear, so that made me suspicious there was a nest somewhere. Sure enough, there was a tree hollow with the opening facing away from our vantage point.

So we just had to check it out. By climbing up on the ice chest, and using the little flashlight on Rachel's key chain,we were able to see 3-4 tiny birds inside.

Even Gary tried to see with his monocular. We didn't spend too much time by the nest since we didn't want mama and daddy bluebirds to come and peck our eyes out.