Hello mis amigos from lands near and far, Christmas is upon us and so is the sweltering humid heat that I've always associated with the Yuletide. It's been funny here as of late, last week I was downright chilled, I was donning my Northface fleece and loving every minute of it and today we're back with hot, humid and sweaty...I don't get it, such is the life I suppose of Honduras. I suppose the upside of this heat is that I get to enjoy the beach year-round; last Sunday after church Suzie's parents loaned me their truck and off we went collecting our various friends and then headed off for an afternoon at the beach. It was spectacular actually, perfect weather and perfect water. In the late afternoon some Garifuna boys were headed up the beach and stopped off to chat with us and quickly realized that they knew me from my translating work with the American doctors. We had a good old time yucking it up; they asked me about the turtle that I'd bought from them and I had to hang my head in shame and tell them that he had escaped...they seemed delighted by this and offered to sell me another that was located just down the beach. I declined even after they insisted that he'd be a soup by dinnertime if I didn't come to his rescue...I told them that I don't bargain with terrorists and huffed off. They did however manage to sell me a massive Conch Shell that I can blow when I want to call a meeting of the local, stranded, English adolescents that are threatening to kill each other and the lone adult that can save them from abandoning all sense of propriety and landed aristocracy and succumbing to outright barbarism. Just kidding, there aren't any murderous British youth about (what a sad story that was, I still can't get over the death of Simon and that was 13 years ago that I read that)...but the Garifuna (who had there own run-in with the British by the by, some 300 years back) did sell me a blowable Conch Shell...so just in case. So those that know me well know my almost Doolittle-like affection for all things animalian. I've raised ducklings...twice, I had rabbits when I was younger, tried to rescue a a rabid Chipmunk when I was 11 until my father shot it, begged my mother to turn our yard into a pasture for a blind horse, used my friend Justin Penfield in the first year of our friendship (we were 8) almost exclusively for access to his barn which housed sheep and geese and have always been a fan of German Shepherd Dogs. When I was a young child, while most of my peers imagined their future careers as professional athletes or princesses I would fall asleep at night, or in my 3rd grade math class with visions of being an Amish farmer dancing in my head (and still look with longing and blinded sentimentality upon such a life). Thus, it was only logical that given my solitude, my virtual independence, that eventually I would become a bit of a yeoman dabbler in husbandry. As I previously mentioned, I started small and by all accounts in dismal failure by trying to keep a 10 pound snapping turtle in my yard. That sounds ridiculous now that I write it and I must say that I'm not sure what I was thinking - turtles, especially the snapping variety give absolutely no affection whatsoever, they're reptilian and cantankerous and make walking barefoot in the yard a potentially painful gamble. So by all accounts I'm quite pleased that he managed to escape...or be eaten by the local opossums that live in my roof. The saga grinds on however and 3 weeks ago as I was walking to the bank by a different route I happened by a pet store and noticed they were selling bunnies for $3...memories from my childhood came flooding back and I was suddenly struck with the desire to fulfill a lifelong goal of having a free-range rabbit live in my kitchen - I know, I really set the bar high. The story is this: When we were little there were a period of years where it seemed we were hit repeatedly with nasty blizzards the likes of which are usually seen in Alberta, Canada. In that same period we seemed to have a veritable cornucopia of rabbits living in cages outside of our house (the reason we had so many rabbits can be laid entirely on a neighbor boy who, in the Summer previous, had thought it a real lark to let nature take it's course with the lone male and female rabbits that we had whilst we were away on vacation). Thus, by the time Winter rolled around that year, we as a family were blessed with in upwards of 10 rabbits living in 3 massive cages constructed by my father and cared for by the 4 kids. During one particular nasty storm the 2 juvenile males got into a fight and the one received really awful wounds. My father, much to the delight of his children, practically decreed that we would allow this particular rabbit to live in our kitchen the duration of his convalescence. I think he was angling, and we were hoping for a House Rabbit but my mother would have none of it - the moment the wounds healed that poor Jack that had grown to love the cast-iron radiator in our kitchen was back out into nature's fury were he lived out his days for the next 3 years. This little episode of course instilled in me a desire to have my own Kitchen Rabbit someday and I then vowed that at the first available opportunity I would welcome into my home a bunny of my own. So back to the pet store...it was with great glee and some mixed-up, Freudian feelings of getting to stick it to my mother that I bought an all black baby bunny and brought him home. He doesn't actually live entirely free-range, when I'm out or asleep I put him in his cage but usually he hops about the house at will and much to my delight (and with feelings of I told-you-so) he restricts his bathroom behaviour almost exclusively to one corner of the kitchen. Although he does have one habit that concerns me, he likes to eat paint chips off the wall...mother, in her usual dour way told me that he's likely to go mad and attack me but we'll wait to see. I haven't yet named him but am leaning towards Captain Gingersnap...I'll keep you posted. In other news, the PPYJ offices have closed down for the Christmas Season and will re-open on January 12th which means that in the mornings I spend my time in a little cafe next to my house and then in the afternoons head out to the local dump to work with the youth that we've made contacts with there. There is a lot to share with you about that work, it's so exciting and really taking off but I'm feeling pressed for time and really want to collect my thoughts so I think I'll wait till after Christmas to regal you with those stories. Two quick notes, Norman came home Christmas Break so I'm back to hanging out with people my own age - Juanjo did come over to my house last weekend to help me set up my 2 strands of Christmas lights. I put on Christmas Carols by the Ray Connif Singers (They're from the 60's) but he didn't really know and or enjoy any of them. The other not is that Nelson invited me long to work with him one day. He owns a shipping company that does business between the U.S. and Honduras - as the shipments come in he and his employees then personally drive them to their recipients spread out over the North of the country. So last Thursday Nelson and I took a load of goods over to Tocoa and ended up in the mountains in a tiny village that rarely if ever sees a car...it was a like another world. Nelson says the people there are what's left of the way all of Central America used to be; small, agrarian communities centered around the green and the local Catholic Church. It was fascinating to see. So this will be my first Christmas away from home and I think one of the hardest parts of being away is not being able to sing Christmas Carols in church - yeah we sing here but it's not the same and I really would just love to here some hymns a Capella. I am excited though to experience some new traditions so I'll keep you posted after Christmas about the similarities a differences and let you know about what I did. So that seems to be about it for this round, hope you enjoyed - it was varied and wandering I know. More importantly have a Happy Christmas and may you experience the blessings of being with family, friends and traditions as we celebrate the Miracle that is Jesus. Peace!
P.S. - Obama has a son in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and he works at the On The Run Mart