HOLA!

Time to brush up on my Spanish, as we leave for the Choluteca region of southern Honduras on February 5th.  This will be the 8th time (I have lost count) I have been to this area to work on various projects.  Although each year is different, each year is the same in so many ways.  Although I will miss welcoming our new buyers into their brand new homes in the Nashville area, it will be a great time to reflect on just how fortunate we are to live in Middle Tennessee.

We will arrive in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the capital city around lunch time.

Arriving at Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Arriving at Tegucigalpa, Honduras

It will be warm and we will probably stop at KFC for a bite before beginning the 4-hour drive to Choluteca, where we will rendezvous with others and drive another 1.5 hours to our home for the week, Hotel Barcelona, in San Marcos de Colon, Honduras, very close to the border with Nicaragua. The first floor of the hotel is a department store chain operated by WalMart.

This is our home for the week!

This is our home for the week!

We will pick up our rental trucks and trek down the Pan American Highway, where you see something different every time.  Landslides are very common, and so are the ways they are fixed.

This is actually one of the neater road repairs you will see along the Pan American Highway in Honduras

This is actually one of the neater road repairs you will see along the Pan American Highway in Honduras

Along the road less traveled is where you will find the homes we will be working in.

Along the road less traveled is where you will find the homes we will be working in.

This year, our group will be installing electricity into the homes of 21 families.  During the week, we will spend time with many old friends, and make a lot of new friends.  More details to come when we return!

If you would like to read about our other trips to Honduras, click the ‘Life In Honduras” tab on this site.

See you again soon!

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee and Vice-President of Sales for Tennessee’s largest home builder, OleSouth.com, specializing in new homes in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Gallatin, Clarksville, Fairview, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

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Honduras – Let’s go again!

The highlight of each new year is returning to Honduras with Rotarians from District 6760 and friends. We will spend one week in the Choluteca region of southern Honduras. We will visit many friends we have come to know over the years, and meet many more!

This year, our group will bring electricity to a total of 68 families. In the Las Delicias village near San Marcos De Colon, we will complete service for 22 homes. During this time, we will stay at one of our favorite hotels – The Hotel Barcelona in San Marcos De Colon.

After the work is finished there, we will move to the Rivera Hotel in Choluteca and complete the wiring for 46 homes in the village of Tapaci, just outside of El Jocote, which we “electrified” in 2008.

Last year, our project was to build a home for the family of Mario Sandoval and Dania Osorto. Windows and doors have been installed since we were there and I look forward to posting those pictures when we return.

Here is Mario, Dania, Daniela, and Mario Jr. in front of their new home.

OsortoFamilyHome

Honduras is a place where everything makes a difference in someone’s life.  Every minute spent, every penny collected, every tear shed, every dollar donated.

Many that are unable to visit in person have made generous donations to our club for humanitarian efforts while we are there.  Needs are plentiful there, but resources are scarce.  We may not be able to help everyone at one time, but we have helped many – one at a time.

Back in 2007, a co-worker and friend Rob Calk slipped me $200 cash a few days before we left.  He said “do something cool with it” and left it at that.   On the way to our project each day, we passed a very “run-down” house, bound together with plastic tarps and cardboard.  Adjoining this “house” was a foundation for a new home similar to above, and that work had been abandoned.

We stopped and learned that the single mom and 4 kids were all alone.  Their Dad had been killed earlier in the year.  He had started a new home for them, and those hopes left with his death, until she could save the money to continue construction.  In our best attempt at Spanish, we asked the mother what it would cost to finish the house.  She knew exactly the cost of the supplies she needed, and said she had neighbors that would help her with volunteer labor.

She answered with the figure in Lempira, Honduras currency unit.  After running a few calculations, she needed $200 USD.  Unbeknownst to Rob, he had just financed the completion of a home in Honduras!

That evening back at the hotel, some of the others learned of what we did with Rob’s money and laughed at us.  They said we should have given it to an organization, or someone responsible to oversee.  They predicted Rob’s money would be used to throw a party.  I just looked and said – “Right now, a party might be more important than the house – whichever they decide to do is fine with us!”

The following year, we rode down this path….a completed house stood where the abandoned foundation had been just one year before.  The former house was now being used for storage and chickens.  The house had obviously won out over the party.  I do have before and after pictures, but just cannot find them to post.  Rob did get to see both, by the way!  The family was most appreciative too, and yes they remembered us immediately!

This year will identify more needs that we will address.  If you would like to donate a few discretionary bucks, just let me know as we leave Friday morning, February 1, 2013.   We promise that donations will not be spent on beer!

I can’t wait to document this year’s trip when we return, and also to share the news of another amazing story – a story how a young child from Honduras will be admitted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for major surgery upon our return – thanks to the efforts of Middle Tennesseans involved in our projects!  As of today, he and his mom have received their medical visas for the trip.  More to follow.

Until then, we’ll be down there doing what we can to help – one family at a time!

2012 – Back to Honduras – Part 2 – Getting there, Getting around.

Humanitarian Aid is a major factor in the Honduran economy, and Middle Tennessee has a great presence there.  Churches, Rotary Clubs, Medical Brigades, and Educators all have an active presence.  Every time we have been, the plane is full of volunteers headed to Honduras.

Almost everyone on the Nashville – Miami flight was headed for a Honduras mission of some kind.  My dentist was on the same flight too!  He was traveling with his church to visit Mission Lazarus, a working ranch that houses many needy children and provides educational, spiritual, and medical support throughout southern Honduras.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Landing in Tegucigalpa is always an experience, no matter how many times you have been.  It used to be rated the most dangerous airport in the world.  Now it is #2.  The runway was extended.

After exiting the plane, going through immigration is a breeze.

Just outside the terminal building is Frederico at Friendship Car Rental.  Every year, we rent small diesel trucks for our journey at approximately $70/day.

These Nissan and Toyota diesel trucks are really neat!  It is a shame they are not available in the US or I would have one!

Tegucigalpa has everything you would expect to see in a capital city.  Even a Kentucky Fried Chicken, where we usually grab a meal before the ride to Choluteca.  We didn’t this year.  Chuck Payne wasn’t with us!

To reach Choluteca, we follow the Tegucigalpa Highway to the port city San Lorenzo and then take the Pan-American Highway to Choluteca, and onward to San Marcos de Colon, our final destination.

In October 2011, Honduras was devastated by heavy rains and flooding.  CLICK HERE for the story.  Landslides were frequent along the way, adding a lot of extra drive time… and sore spots from the many potholes!

It will be a long time before these highways are restored, and there are many other weak areas that might not withstand another heavy rainy season.  And there are always slide areas that just don’t ever get fixed!

These roads are dangerous enough and fatal accidents are very common.  Here is a memorial built alongside a bluff on the Pan American Highway in memory of the 35 children that died when their bus left the road in 1965.  CLICK HERE for the original article.  This memorial is 100 yards away from the home we built this year.

We arrived at Choluteca to meet Jim Johnston with the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club.  It was there that we learned we would not be staying at the Barcelona Hotel in San Marcos de Colon, as they were full.  A new place had opened up, El Potrillo, near Jayacayan.  They were expecting us.  I already knew where it was…so off we went.

We arrived at El Potrillo and got checked into our rooms, which were actually brand new cabins!  Although more pricey ($30 per person per night) than the Barcelona ($15), the accomodations were fantastic.  Breakfast was included in the rate as well, and it too was fabulous!

El Potrillo is a new weekend playground for residents of Choluteca to escape the heat.  It’s higher elevation features cooler nights (60’s) and days (low 80’s).  They have just completed (12) 3-bedroom cabins, and have a full restaurant and bar, swimming pool, fishing lake, horseback riding, event arena, and karaoke club.  We just used the cabins and the restaurant.  Every meal we had there was fantastic and the cabins were super nice, complete with rocking chair porches!

On Sunday morning, we ventured into San Marcos de Colon for church.  I didn’t understand all the words, but something was different about this service.  There was a box at the front of the church that appeared to be a casket.  Well, it was.  We were attending a funeral.

We then ventured to the Barcelona Hotel, knowing they would let us use their clean restrooms!  And what a surprise… the downstairs of Barcelona was now a full variety store, a mini-Wal-Mart.  It turns out it was actually owned by Wal Mart too.

Every year, the circle of friends gets bigger.  Many great relationships have formed over the years, and new ones created each year!   Stay tuned for Part 3!

Trey Lewis is VP Sales & Marketing for Ole South Properties Inc, Tennessee’s largest independent home builder,  615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340 or email TLewis@olesouth.com.  Specializing in new homes in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Clarksville, Gallatin, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Nashville New Homes: Shine on Honduras – Part 4 – Always something to do!

Over the past years of visiting Honduras, we have met many friends.  Each year, the circle gets larger and it is hard to manage the time to work productively and see our great friends during the same week we are there.  This trip everything fell into place quite nicely!

The District Representive Ulysses Corrales, the Honduran equivalent to Jim Cooper or Marsha Blackburn, joined us for dinner one evening to thank us for our efforts.  Also joining us that evening was our great friend Sergio Salinas, who was President of the Choluteca Rotary the same year I was in Spring Hill.

Representative Corrales was a cool guy.  We told him of a family on the highest hill of Jayacayan, whose house we were planning to wire but found out there were no poles slated to bring power up that hill.  Mr. Corrales promised us he would get the poles and asked us to proceed with the wiring.  Well guess what?  The politician delivered on his promise and poles were delivered before week’s end!   How refreshing!

I had no idea that the new I-pad thingy had a piano feature and travelled all the way to Honduras to find this out:

On Friday night, we had a scheduling conflict!  The village of Jayacayan wanted to celebrate (party) with us.  It was also meeting night for the Choluteca Rotary Club miles away.   Both events had to be attended, so we split up the group and did just that. 

 

It was great seeing our great friend Juan Carlos Cerrato, who visited us in Tennessee along with Sergio back in 2008.  The last time I saw Juan Carlos, we both made a pact.  He would learn more English and I would learn more Spanish.  Juan Carlos did much better than I did!  On top of that, I even forgot to bring my pocket translator and Spanish-English dictionary.   They stayed behind in Nashville.  Like I have said earlier, there is nothing that cannot be communicated with a smile.  Add a cold beer to that also!

After the Rotary Meeting, we dropped by the Osorto family home to see MaMa, Esther, Carolina, and their family.

David Hartley introduced Chuck Payne and myself to this family back on our first Honduras visit in 2006.  The youngest daughter, Carolina, is now 18 and attending the university there.  She is the only daughter that does not have a child.  Below is Carolina taking the “no boy” (or hombre – no) pledge:

After a visit to Wendy’s with the Osorto family, we proceded back to the Barcelona Hotel in San Marcos de Colon to join the rest of our group.  They had just returned from the Jayacayan village party at Margarite’s home and had a great time singing and dancing.  I have not seen any pictures from the party yet, so will just have to take their word for it.  (Just kidding)

Every day was filled with amazing sites, but this one takes the cake…..  just what part is the rock and what part is the tree?

Below are more scenes from our last official work day in Jayacayan.  At the end of this day, Huntly Gordon graciously gave Douglas, a great helper from the village, a set of tools and workbelt worth over $500.  We gave our helper Evan a screwdriver set, tool belt and pair of pliers.  He will probably lose them.  LOL

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With all of our wiring work completed, it was then time to plan something neat for Saturday…. being a tourist!  Check back for Part 5!

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Spring Hill, Tennessee

Nashville New Homes: Shine on Honduras – Part 1

Before writing this recap of our recent trip to Honduras, I was reminded of this amusing quote:

“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero, philosopher and statesman

Rather than spending time writing a shorter story, this week’s blog will break our trip into parts.  In a previous blog post, the history of how our projects in Honduras started was discussed:    https://nashvillehomesblog.com/2011/01/19/nashville-new-homes-assafartay-is-going-to-honduras/

About this year’s project:  Lawrenceburg Rotary Club coordinated the effort and did an exemplary job of putting everything together.  Between their own funds, acquiring grants from Rotary International, funds from the Honduran government, and contributions from other District 6760 clubs, monies were raised for the installation of utility poles and power lines to the village and to purchase all of the supplies needed to provide electrical service in each home.   Without the organizational and planning efforts of Jim Johnston, this year’s project would not have happened.

It was also great to have the “grandaddy” of our Honduras involvement, Ronnie Strickland, back with us in Jayacayan.  Ronnie has devoted years to improving the lives of Hondurans and has had a great impact on the entire region.  Just mention “Senor Ronnie” anywhere in Honduras and doors will open! 

  

Six of us representing Spring Hill Rotary and two representing Franklin Noon Rotary departed Nashville International at 6:00 am on Sunday, February 6, 2011 for our assigned week in the “Jayacayan” community of Southern Honduras, consisting of approximately 55 homes.  Our part of the project was to finish installing electrical services and wiring in the remainder of the homes, which numbered approximately 25 or so.   We arrived, laden with tools, in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras, shortly after noon.

We picked up our baggage, went through customs, and walked over to Friendship Car Rentals, where Frederico had two 4×4 trucks waiting for us.  It was now time to negotiate the traffic of the Tegucigalpa Highway to the PanAmerican Highway on our 4 hour ride to San Marcos de Colon, where we would be staying for the week.

I will never forget my first visit, arriving in Tegucigalpa.  Hondurans never get in a hurry…. until they get behind the wheel of a car.  Two-lane roads are actually 3-lane roads and the double-yellow lines don’t mean a thing.  They should have saved the paint.

We have been very fortunate over the years to have escaped incident on the roads of Honduras.   There is no such thing as defensive driving here.  Below is a common sight along the highway from Tegucigalpa to Choluteca.

Along the route, you see things that make you laugh.  You see things that make you cry.  You see things that are simply amazing.

It has been said that Honduras is where old school buses come to die.  Not true, they come here for a new life and you will see them everywhere!

After following the Tegucigalpa Highway to San Lorenzo, the Pacific Ocean Port of Honduras, we then pick up the Pan American Highway into Choluteca, continuing to our destination of San Marcos de Colon, a quaint village in the mountains shown below:

Watching the Super Bowl was a concern to a few in our group.  Personally, I could have given a rat’s ass this year.  Not knowing one way or the other, I gambled and said our hotel would have it so we could keep moving.   Although the play-by-play was in Spanish and no funny commericals, our Hotel Barcelona did have the Super Bowl playing when we arrived.  Here is home for the next week:

We were very pleased with our new home away from home!  We were initially concerned about what $15 USD, including tax and breakfast, would get us.  The Hotel Barcelona was a highlight of the trip and I would recommend it to anyone!

Thats it for today.  In the next part, you’ll see about life in Jayacayan!

Nashville New Homes: 2011 – The Year of the New Home.

For the past several years, those bearing bad news have held a firm grip on the microphone.   After all, they had a lot of negative things to report, so lets not blame them.   Bad news does sell.  And people do buy it…that is, until they have heard enough!

Since the first of January, I have been asking prospective home buyers a question…. “If you had purchased 60 days ago, you could have saved a little bit more money.  Interest rates have edged up slightly, even though they are still at record lows.  Just what has made you come out to explore now?”  (Please keep in mind that these prospective buyers are among the NINETY PERCENT of people that still have jobs in this country.)

 The responses are very much the same across the board.  “I’m hearing more positive news, I feel good about my job, and I know my rent will probably go up next year.”   OR …  “We’re getting closer to retirement and probably won’t have another chance to buy with interest rates this low.”

Folks, the “bearers of good news” are now getting their time at the microphone!   And the message is getting across.  It is certain, and sad, that many Americans are still without work.  The NINETY PERCENT that still work will be the ones that turn this economy around, and help put those unfortunate ones back to work.  If we truly want that to happen, we’ve got to communicate positive news whenever possible.

Let’s take a look at the good news that is now circulating…..

http://www.inman.com/news/2011/01/27/real-estate-sales-rebound-in-2011-prices-nearly-flat

We all know that the price of things are a simple result of “supply and demand.”  We all know that there is a finite supply of land… there’s just not any more of it being made.  Here’s another opinion of why now is the time to buy:

http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=23505825

I can tell you that our sales have picked up dramatically and our inventory of completed homes is being snatched up quickly in many areas.  WE ARE BUILDING MORE!  Please visit www.OleSouth.com for information on all of our new home neighborhoods in Middle Tennessee.

No two pieces of property are the same, and no two areas are alike.   You have got to weigh the “risk vs. reward” and at the same time keep in mind that you are buying a home first, and investment second.  And the most important part…. you will one day own it, something you cannot say for your apartment. 

Things are looking better for the housing industry, but at the same time we also have to be realistic, as you can read here:

  http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2011/01/new-home-sales-increase-in-december.html

From a person that specializes in selling new homes, there is a good chance you will always hear … “now is the time to buy.”   We are not trying to be intentionally misleading.  In most cases, compared to renting, “anytime is a good time to buy, but some times are better than others.”  Feel free to quote me on that!

How things are really does depend how you choose to look at things.  I prefer optimism over pessimism anyday.

One thing I can say factually, there is a small village in southern Honduras, near Choluteca, that will soon be looking at their homes in a totally different light….actual light…. at night!  They will also have access to filtered drinking water for their homes, and a more healthy cooking stoves thanks to District 6760 of Rotary International.

Read more about our upcoming trip here:

https://nashvillehomesblog.com/2011/01/19/nashville-new-homes-assafartay-is-going-to-honduras/

There will more than likely not be any blog posts until I return, but you can count on quite a few recaps then!  Many people warn about posting travel information online, and for very valid reasons.  I have a few valid reasons not to worry about that:  A great home security system, a wife that is proficient with guns, and good insurance.  Bring it on!

Happy Buying & Selling in 2011.  It really can be the “Year of the New Home.”  YOURS!

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Spring Hill, Tennessee

Nashville New Homes: Assafartay is going to Honduras.

Don’t you just hate it when people call you by a name that you don’t like?   I certainly do. 

On my first mission trip to Honduras many years ago, we were introducing ourselves to a local family, one that has since  become very close to each of us.   Everyone was saying their names slowly and basically playing panamines to get the name across.   Being “Trey”, I picked up the closest food tray and pointed to it.  Little did I know that food tray was an “assafartay” in Choluteca, Honduras.  Damn.  I should have started with “uno, dos ….”

But I didn’t, and that name is used regularly for me in Honduras.  That’s okay, it is great to see the Hondurans get a good laugh!   They are wonderful people and a joy to be around.  I cannot wait to be there again!

About our involvement in the area…. Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras in 1998.  Friend and fellow Rotarian, Ronnie Strickland, went there on a mission trip and saw where Rotary International could greatly help in the region’s recovery.  Through his Rotary Club in Franklin, TN, he solicited support of Rotary International along with other clubs in Middle Tennessee and Northern Alabama.  The primary focus has been to bring electricity and clean drinking water to remote villages. 

The project has grown every year, and is currently coordinated by the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club.  Each year, we focus on a new village consisting of 50-80 homes, or approximately 500 residents.   Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on these projects, all through donations and matching grants from Rotary International.   Different clubs send volunteers for a week until the project is complete.  Our week is February 6th.

As the projects have grown, we have also expanded into dental clinics, opening school libraries, and clothing drives.  Although there is most definitely a language barrier, there is no message that cannot be communicated with a smile.  Allow me to ramble on another minute for a laugh…. The same word can mean many different things, and is differentiated only by the way you “roll your r’s.” 

One day, a woman asked me when we were leaving, in Spanish.  I pulled out the pocket dictionary, figured out what she was asking, and replied… with a best attempt in Spanish.  I didn’t roll my “r” just right.  Instead of saying “Airport on Saturday,” one of the bi-lingual guys told me I had just called her a “Saturday Whore.”  Everyone laughed.  Thank God.

Lets move on to some scenes of our past trips to Honduras.  If anyone would like to donate funds to a great cause, please send your donation to Spring Hill Rotary Club, PO Box 865, Spring Hill, TN 37174…attention Honduras mission.  Or, call me and we will make other arrangements.  I promise it will not be spent on beer.  :0)

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Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, www.OleSouth.com, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Spring Hill, Tennessee