Friday, February 15, 2013

Dia De Amor: February 14

Valentine’s Day is a big deal in Honduras.  The town square is busier.  The daily newspaper is heavy with additional ads.  People, especially young men and women, are more dressed up.  This morning, as Becky, Darrel, and I were walking across the square with Dana and Jenna, a mother and daughter from Bemidji, we passed a stand where two women were selling red roses.

“If my wife were here with me this morning,” Darrel announced loudly enough for everyone on the entire square to hear, “I would definitely buy her a rose.”

“That was good!” Dana and Jenna both commented.

It took me a moment to get the message, but I eventually turned around and bought Becky a Valentine rose.
A Valentine Rose for Becky

“You see,” Darrel boasted to the two women, “I’m a pro at making people feel guilty.”

Darrel is a pro, and the Ashland Rotary Club looks forward to the results of his practiced skills when we have our annual Rotary Rose Sale next fall.  He probably could “persuade” thirty husbands or wives each to buy a dozen roses in one morning’s walk down Main Street.

In the evening the town square was packed.  A DJ had a sound system and LCD projector and screen set up in the center of the square, and about sixty residents sitting in rows of plastic lawn chairs were watching a Hispanic version of Barry Manilow on the screen singing a love song before a huge audience.  As our group started to cross the square on our way from dinner to our hotel, two men jumped up and brought back additional chairs for us.  It was a very gracious gesture for a group of obvious strangers in town.  I hope we would be as welcoming if eleven Hondurans happened to walk by a concert at the Band Shell next summer.

We soon discovered that the music was simply a prelude to the main event: a showing of a Honduran-made movie about the rich Mayan culture that preceded the European conquest of this area.  The movie took place among the nearby Mayan ruins at Copán.  The event was not simply for Valentine’s Day but also was to commemorate the grand opening of the recently completed space for the “Farmer’s Market” on Friday.

The Kindergarten Construction Funds Arrived!

We learned on Wednesday afternoon that the wire transfer of funds from our LARA account in the USA to the LARA account in Santa Barbara had come through.  This process reflects an interesting clash of technologies.  It took nearly a week to transfer funds between banks successfully, and we learned of the transfer by a cell phone call to us while we were working in a remote mountain village with no electricity and no running water.  With two, day-long projects now in the works and three days left in our time here, we are working with the Santa Barbara Rotarians to get the construction project lined up.  We decided that we will divide our group on Friday morning.  Some will go to the Colonia Las Brisas del Pinal to meet with community members.  Others will head up to start replacing a roof on a little school near San Nicholas northwest of Santa Barbara. We hope to have a plan in place by the time we join the Santa Barbara Rotarians for their weekly dinner meeting on Friday evening.

Santa Barbara Rotarians
Brayan, a Santa Barbara Rotarian, assists with
repairing the school at Pueblo Nuevo.

The Santa Barbara Rotary Club has about the same number of members as the Ashland Rotary Club.  Like the Ashland club each of the members brings his or her expertise to serve the community.  Their level of commitment is admirable.  Every day of our time here at least one club member has taken a day from their normal work to guide us and assist us on the projects.  Of course, they also had already taken the time to scope out the needs of the Departmento de Santa Barbara in identifying projects where our assistance would do the most good.  Their club will provide the bulk of the labor for the kindergarten construction project.  I had hoped that our group would at least be able to start construction alongside their members, but the time remaining in our time here is too short relative to ordering the necessary materials and getting them to the project site.  Even without our labor in construction, the local Rotarians are thrilled that this ambitious project can get underway.

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