2012: Back to Honduras – Part 4 – The Long Ending!

One thing that we look forward to each year is interacting with the families we come in contact with each day.  Each morning we visit the local store to purchase our needs for the day, and we always purchase containers of rice, beans, sardines, and snacks for families that need a little break.  This year, our great friend Sid Neuhoff gave our “food fund” a great send-off and because of Sid, many added families were helped.  We look for Sid to visit Honduras with us one year!

This year, we did not come in contact with as many different families as we have in past years.  Our work this year was concentrated on one family in particular.  If you want to find a family in need, you don’t have to look very far.  David Hartley has a special “knack” for finding those that need it the most.

One evening, on the way back from the jobsite, David yells, “STOP RIGHT HERE!”  

After their home was demolished from flooding, the family assembled a structure to keep them out of the elements. One day, they will hopefully have something more substantial.

Inside, David found three children, with the oldest being four years old.  Mom and Dad were still working in the fields.  In this economy, you work whenever work is available.  We left what we had that evening, and stopped by again the next evening with more!

Hopefully we will be able to help this family even more on our next visit.  Their original home was washed away in October 2011, during the severe rains that resulted in catastrophic flooding of southern Honduras.  Many families were affected by flooding and have yet to recover.  If we all help a little bit, we can make a lot of difference.

As stated earlier, each year the circle of friends gets larger and we would like to visit everyone we know as well as our past projects each year, which can’t always happen.  This year, our friends from the Rotary Club of Choluteca joined us for dinner one evening at El Potrillo.  The staff at El Potrillo was excellent, as was the breakfasts and dinners we had there.

The Staff of El Potrillo. This is an excellent place to dine and a great place to stay while in Honduras.

We also enjoyed dinner several evenings with Teresa and her great staff at the Barcelona Hotel in San Marcos de Colon.  Their fried chicken is known all over southern Honduras!

Staff of the Barcelona Hotel in San Marcos de Colon, Honduras.

Ann and Sharon were able to visit Jayacayan, the site of last year’s project.  Jeremy and I were able to attend the Choluteca Rotary Club meeting Friday evening.  Our Tennessee District Governor, Dick Bowers, was also there as was the others representing Lawrenceburg Rotary Club, who coordinated this year’s effort.  

Meeting of the Choluteca Rotary Club.

By sneaking out of the Rotary meeting early, I was able to catch up with David Hartley and Keith Clodfelter who were having dinner with the Osotro family, that we have known for years.

The Osotro Family. Esther, MaMa, Carolina, Jose, and Michelle.

Each year, we look forward to taking a day off to explore.  Friday started off with a visit to downtown Choluteca and its many streetside vendors.

The streets of Choluteca Honduras

Ever wonder what happened to all of the Datsun B-210’s?  They are now taxi cabs in Choluteca.

At the straw market, you can find just about anything you would want, especially fresh fruit.

After a few hours in Choluteca, we headed to Coyolito, where we would catch a boat over to the island of Amapala, also known as “Isla de Tigre.” 

Supplies delivered to Coyolito for the ride over to Amapala.

We visited this island on last year’s trip and felt the need to see it again.  I have always said Amapala would be a great cruise ship port and I just learned that representatives from NCL, Carnival, and Princess Cruise Lines were on the island exploring that possibility the day before we were there!

We boarded the boat at Coyolito with Romario and who we will call Captain Smiley.  He never stopped smiling the entire day!

Coyolito, where you catch a water taxi to Amapala Island, shown in the distance.

The boat ride to the fishing village and restaurant is about 45 minutes.  I am not sure what the exact charge per person normally is, but we paid $100 US for all eight of us for the boat for the entire day. 

The fishing village and restaurant as seen from the Gulf of Fonseca.

I cannot remember, nor could pronouce the name of the beachside restaurant, but here it is.

Beachside Restaurant on Amapala Island, Honduras

The food was awesome!  Not only cooked to order, but caught to order.  Very possibly the best shrimp I have ever had.

Cleaning the day's catch on Amapala Island. From the boat to the skillet!

Huge portions too!

Fish and Shrimp combo, freshly caught and cooked while you wait.

Early Saturday morning, we left Choluteca for Tegucigalpa, anticipating extra traffic on Saturday morning.  The traffic was even worse than anticipated.  There was still time to enjoy a Big Mac inside the Tegucigalpa airport before our flight to Miami.

Mc Donalds inside Tegucigalpa airport

A long, great day seeing the sunrise in Choluteca, and the sunset in Miami.

It is truly amazing how many of the same places and same scenes can create different, yet wonderful memories year after year.  We will be returning to southern Honduras again next February, and who knows…maybe before.  If you would like to join us, or just participate financially, lending a helping hand in Honduras is a truly rewarding experience.

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.

2012 – Back to Honduras – Part 3 – The Work

After the brief visit to San Marcos de Colon, we arrived at this year’s job site mid-morning on Sunday, February 5th to find piles of rock, stacks of concrete block, and several mounds of sand and gravel to be used to construct the new home for Dania, Mario, and their family in El Carazal.

We were greeted by the two youngest children, standing at the door of the house we were going to replace.

Trenches for the foundation of the new home had already been dug, along with post holes for the re-bar supports.  Step one was to build the “footers” of the foundation with a mixture of large rocks and concrete.

In America, if we need something, we go to the local store and buy it.  Not so in Honduras…if you need something, you use what you have, or what is laying nearby on the ground.  For that reason, a local stone mason was hired to assist us this week for the sum of 300 lps each day, the equivalent of $15 US Dollars.  We called him “El Hefe,”  which can be translated as “boss.”

We also had the help of Evan, who is 13 and lives nearby.  Evan has never attended school and works every day to help meet his family’s needs.  Every morning and afternoon, he was seen carrying large bags of produce on his shoulders from the fields to a warehouse down the road.

Ann and Sharon spent the days teaching at school, which ends at 12:00 noon, allowing the older children to work in the fields.  After school, they kept the children at the jobsite occupied learning new things.

After the “footers” were complete, the foundation began to rise from the ground.

We kept waiting all week for the cement truck to show up.  It never did and all of the mortar was hand mixed.  A shovel-ready job!

Need more sand or gravel?   Just ask.  The sand and gravel for this job came from a nearby streambed on property belonging to Margarite – who we met on last year’s electrical project in Jayacayan.

Ronnie Strickland, the “grand-daddy” of our Honduran involvement, stopped by to lend a hand also.  When we leave, Ronnie will make certain the home gets totally completed.  By now, it is obvious we will only be able to complete the necessary block work during our time there.

We had many visitors during the week.  Leonardo, our friend from the Choluteca Rotary Club, was one of them.  It was great to see him again!

We also had some other distinguished guests drop by.  The batteries were dead on my camera so you will have to take my word for it.  Our current Rotary District Governor, Dick Bowers, along with Past District Governors Jimmy Couch and Jim Johnston visited our jobsite and offered much needed encouragement!  Because of their visit this year, we hope to see the return of larger Rotary projects in the future!

We also met Jonathan from Virginia, who has spent two years in Honduras teaching, and will be there another year.  He jumped in and helped us the entire week.

Building a house using concrete block is very hard work.  Thank goodness you have to stop and allow the mortar to dry every now and then!

By Thursday evening, ALL of the interior and exterior concrete block walls are in place!

Although we were not able to physically complete the entire home during our stay, we did leave Dania, Mario, and the family all of the materials they would need to finish their new home, and left enough money to pay Mr. “El Hefe” to assist in finishing the job.

Here are some more scenes from the job site:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the next part, we managed to visit with many friends and returned to places we had visited on previous trips.  Again, thanks for reading!

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.

Election 2012: NO MAS! (at least for a little while)

That’s right, NO MORE blog posts about politics…. at least not for a little while!   Well, maybe just one more thing…..

I am really sick of hearing about how bad Warren Buffett feels about not paying enough taxes.  If he really wants to pay more, he should.  He does everything else that he wants to do.

What makes me madder is the comparison projected to world that his secretary pays a higher percentage of her income in taxes than he does.  I am sure without a doubt that is the truth.

I also am sure of something else.  If she wanted to open her own business and risk her own capital, she too could pay a lesser percentage.  Considering the braintrust she is surrounded by, I am certain she has many opportunities to take chances.

She makes the choice to pay more percentage in taxes.  Don’t feel sorry for her.  By the way, everyone has that opportunity as well!

OK, I’m done now.

For the next week, I’ll be in southern Honduras with other Middle Tennessee Rotarians from District 6760 on our annual “mission” trip.  This year, in addition to bringing electricity to remote villages, we will be helping families build back homes that were lost in last year’s hurricane season.

This will be my sixth year to participate in the project.  This year, eight of us will be going on behalf of the Rotary Club of Spring Hill.  Two of us are representing Ole South Properties also.  We’ll even get to watch the Super Bowl broadcasted in Spanish again.  Oh joy!

To read of last year’s trip, CLICK HERE 

Several have criticized me for posting a blog about being out of town and leaving Beth vulnerable.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  She has a gun, and this year, a vicious dog.  “Ain’t nothin gonna happen!”

P.S.  I hope it is cold and snows while we are gone.   :0)

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)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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