A Weekly Journal Chronicling My Life
As It Intersects With The Garbage Dump Community Near La Ceiba, Honduras

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Unwanted Adventure

This past Sunday the older youth (16-20) of Los Laureles were invited to distant Olanchito to participate in a 4 team tournament with the winner receiving $100. We were given a little over a week's notice via a youth from Laureles that used to live in Olanchito; and thus it fell to me to organize the event. We decided to rent a bus and open the event to anyone that wanted to come so long as they were willing to pay $5 towards the cost of the rental. We were told that the tournament would begin at 9 am and so we decided to have everyone ready and waiting at the entrance to the community at 5:30 am and for the bus to pass by a little before 6:00. Much to my surprise 35 people and more than enough players showed up, we had uniforms loaned to us, extra balls just in case...but no bus - it never showed. Thus we had to flag down a passing bus on it's normal route from La Ceiba to Olanchito and ask that they be willing to squeeze 35 extra people onto their bus in addition to their regular passengers...for the right price they were willing. After nearly 2 hours on a rickety school bus from Jackson County Florida, driven by a portly, foul-mouthed man who felt it incumbent to stop for and squeeze on every yayhoo and bumpkin standing alongside the road, we arrived....did I mention it was raining? Yeah, that made things much more pleasant. So, we arrived in Olanchito a little after 9 am (the tournament was supposed to start at 9), we pulled into the terminal and the bus driver turned to us and said "Where to now?" We turned to our native of Olanchito and he threw up his hands and acted as though this were the first time he'd ever laid eyes on this town. After a few phone calls we got the name of the field figured out and off we went. I assumed we'd be playing in the center of lovely, colonial Olanchito; a quick 5 minute jaunt from the terminal...
Instead we played here, just beyond this field of beans and that first line of trees, Olanchito is off in the distance and to the left of that mountain. We were in the middle of nowhere, we had to trespass through someone's farm just to reach the field and when we got there....nothing. There was noone to be found. We almost slayed our supposed native of Olanchito. He got wise though and ran off to find the other 3 teams while the rest of us sat down under the trees. I mentioned already that it was raining right?...

Finally around 11 the other 3 teams began to show up and just about at noon on the dot the first of the 3 games commenced...we won handily. The second was played by the other 2 teams and the final game was between us and the winner of the second. We should have won the final...really we should have but the older players felt it important to give the younger players a chance on the field as well and while they played well and did their best they just couldn't come up with a goal and we ended up tying the game 0-0. Which meant that it came down to penalty shots...and in that we lost. Which isn't the worst way to lose I suppose, we came in second place and won $40...which went towards paying for that bus from hell. After traisping back through the bean field we grabbed the same bus that had brought us and arrived without incident in Laureles at around 7:00 pm. I was tired.

colocho there on the left is the supposed former resident of olanchito and our person that organized this mess

juan winding up

and letting lose
he's an incredible player...his secret?
a cigarette before each half.
micho with a shot on goal

pulga all akimbo

one of our up and coming youth

acrobatics

breakaway

pulga again
kind of intentional there kid

pulga again...with no ball to be seen

lauro the hunchback visited us as well

bani's one heck of a goalie but he just couldn't fend off the penalty kicks and we lost...it was a perfect end to an awful day

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve Eve

what am I doing up at 2:42 in the morning?
why is cesar posing in front of a fake christmas tree?

why do i look like a punk rocker?

who invited michael jackson?

why is manuel wearing my favorite sweater?

why are we drinking coffee at 2:42 in the morning?

???

we're waiting to kill a pig

and it eat right quick
My neighbors, a lot of families here in Laureles really, have been raising a pig all this past year so that come Christmas there is pork to eat. The early morning of December 23rd is the day most families here slaughter their pigs and mine was no exception. In that we did the axing at 3 am we decided not to sleep and instead pass the night drinking coffee, playing dominos and Dutch Blitz (they're really good at Dutch Blitz by the by). After eating the traditional post-slaughter breakfast of fat back and yuca at 5 am Manuel and I headed for the house where we slept till nigh on noon. I know it may not strike most of you out there as terribly Christmas-y but I assure you this has become one of my favorite Christmas customs here in Honduras.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm Still Alive

Really I am...it's been more than 10 days since last I've posted and I'm beginning to feel that anxious sense of guilt that I know so well. I've been moving and organizing and cleaning for over a week now and I'm still not all done. I apologize and hope to post something proper tomorrow. peace.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Juan Carlos Turns 10

don't let the smile fool you, this kid is a handful and willfull too.
i love him though, he comes from such a humble family and it's so hard to say no to him.
happy birthday juan.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Casualty of the New Garbage Dump

Oder (14), one of the kinder and more respectful boys in laureles took quite a tumble last night...


He was running down that thar hill (which would be the newest addition to our landfill monstrosity) when he tripped and came down with all of his weight on a piece of glass that sliced his knee wide open...

I got a call from his mother and rushed to the hospital where I found him with 10 stitches in his knee and in a lot of pain. This shot is from this morning...

His one-room, one-bed home was filled with attendant cousins and friends waiting on his every need and hanging on his every word. His best friend (Chihua) didn't sleep last night, he cried the whole night through and at 6:00 am this morning he was at Oder's bedside playing cards with him and sharing coffee. I love these people.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa's Little Helper

Those of you out there that may have checked the blog in the past few hours would have noticed that the most recent post, the one immediately succeeding this one, makes no sense. There's only one incomplete sentence followed by a host of poorly-spaced and captionless photos. It was a work in progress and not meant to be published as-was. I had worked on downloading photos most of the morning and then stepped out briefly to run an errand, I left Duke and Manuel playing the Wii (thanks again Konrad) much in the same position that we find them in this photo. When I returned though my post was published, it had a label marked Duk (that's how Duke spells his nickname) and everything else that I had been working on was closed as well...yet I found them both in practically the same position I had left them. Sorry for the confusion then, I too was confused at first; fortunately the little trickster labeled his work with his own name so it wasn't too hard to figure out what had happened. I'm gonna make the changes to the original post here shortly. peace.

University Bound

It's become our custom here, we happy folk of Los Laureles, to help out those unfortunate university co-eds that have found it possible to fail their physical education class for the term. How they manage such a feat is beyond me, this is class that anyone, even my Grandmother could pass. Regardless we here in Laureles are ready and willing to help. My connection with this rabble band of misfits and curmudgeons is this; their professor/slave driver is a member of my church and absolutely loves the children of Los Laureles. Thus when the university flunkies came to her and begged a reprieve she gave them an out; they would pass the class if they hosted a fun day for the children of the garbage dump. They of course jumped at the opportunity and so this past Friday we loaded up my car and a small van with 30 of Laureles' finest and off we went to the university for a day of games, food, cake and a pinata. It rained, which made the kids that much happier because they were able to get all good and muddy whilst playing soccer...all in all it was a good day. More than just being fun trips, I see these outings to university as a chance to expose the kids to a wider world of education and opportunity. I want them to see that there is more to life than picking garbage and selling bananas, that there is hope for a better life beyond what they know...and thanks to the Gym Class Dropouts I'm able to do that. That would make a good band name by the by.

presenting the kids to the university students just before the games began

juan carlos throwing up a shot

chita looking for a pass

jubilation

darwin, one of the quieter and more pleasant children that can be found in laureles

chiro fell in love with volleyball and begged to know when we'd be coming back so he could play again

his form could use a little work though

pepe too enjoyed the volleyball but lost some of his dignity in the process

putting himself back together

some of the older kids being "taught" soccer by the college students. they're smiling because they know that they're going to play circles around their would be teachers. turns out they did.

manuel came along for the ride and really took to basketball. he is one of the older and more recent additions to our crew. someday, though not now, i'll have to introduce him properly; his story is fascinating and saddening all at once.

he's also a pure athlete, anything he sets his mind to athletically he excels at. for example twirling a basketball on his index finger. here he's trying it for the first time after having seen a college kid showing off.

the show-off college kid

i remember my aunt judy trying to teach me when i was a kid...unfortunately i'm no manuel, in fact i'm no aunt judy either.

chino seems to have found the version of basketball that i excel at

final group shot
juan carlos seems to have lost himself in the news of the day

there he is

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cristian Turns 11

You want to talk about stubborn - here's a kid who refused to talk to me for nearly 6 months because I had to enforce a rule laid down by the soccer coach. Instead of getting angry with the coach he took it out on me and refused me even a single word until 3 weeks ago when he showed up to play soccer with us. Since then he's been his cheery, normal self and today...well, we cleberated his birthday. This kid has a tough life, his mom works on a garbage truck, he has no father and he's surrounded by bad influences, please pray for him.

the requisite birthday shot

cutting the cake

Monday, December 6, 2010

Laureles Football Redux

Although our kids ended their League-play in early October they've maintained that drive and passion for the sport and kind of by accident we were able to program 3 different days of games with 3 teams that don't participate in our league. One was in Club de Leones (those faithful readers out there may remember that I briefly worked with the youth there when I was with the Peace & Justice Project and still have contacts there), one wa in a very wealthy residential neighborhood and the last was in Sambo Creek, one of the Garifuna Villages outside of La Ceiba. I'm happy to report that we either won or tied all of our games and more than that, it was an opportunity to bring more kids into our team and establish leaders amongst the older youth. I allowed the older youth to organize the game dates, choose the players and manage the games...I simply provided the uniforms, transportation and water. It was a good week last week and it bodes well for our future as the Soccer Club of Los Laureles.

jimmy, a tiny but powerful defender

i love watching chamu play...just wish he were bigger

the older kids waiting for their game

chamu again

goal

the older youth...these kids didn't actually lay with us last year because they were too old for the teams we had in the league...this coming year, assuming the funds come in, we'll submit 2 more teams so that these kids can play as well.

goal by blas, an incredible player and the main organizer of this past week's activities

cristian, struggling a bit as he learns to play with the older youth

another one of my favorites to watch play, duke

the older youth pose for a photo
front l-r: abel (not an older youth), jimmy, cuesta, cristian, eddy, mario, chihua
back l-r: colocho, blas, hector, oscar, makika, chele, pepa, jeta