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 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.

Nashville New Homes: Shine on Honduras – Part 2

One of the highlights of our stay was having breakfast each morning at Hotel Barcelona.  Shown here is Teresa and Nicole, who made certain everything about our stay was enjoyable:

This was our breakfast spread each morning.  The buffet consisted of pancakes with sugar cane syrup, fresh cheese, cantaloupe, watermelon, platanos (I still don’t know what they are, but they are good), bananas, pineapple, scrambled eggs, coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice.  The food at Barcelona was great and no one ever suffered from “Montezuma’s Revenge.”

After breakfast at 7:00 am each morning, we proceed past the local church to the local market, where we bought bottled water, lunch for the day, and sardines, rice, and beans for the residents of each house we worked in.

At every project, the village provides us with a secure place to store our tools and supplies, which saves a whole lot of time.  Shown below is the “bodega”  (aka warehouse) where we loaded up for work each morning.  This hacienda belongs to Margarite, a very influential, and nice lady in Jayacayan, and has been in her family for 100+ years.  It is currently used as a community gathering spot and is part of her farming operation.

Here, you will see Margarite’s workers planting tomato seeds that will eventually be placed in the soil once they sprout.  A large part of our produce in the US comes from Honduras.

The man above was a produce buyer for Dole, that had just purchased 300,000 lbs of tomatoes for approximately 25 cents per pound.  Sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn’t when it has to feed such a large number of workers and their families.

Although Jayacayan is home to many less-fortunate people, there are also those that are better off.  By offering our services “for hire” to certain families, we were able to subsidize the cost for others.  We did not know of this detail when we met Mr. Martinez at our first stop, below.  He was extremely pissed off that he received pull string lights instead of wall switches.  It is a damn good thing that he didn’t understand English and we didn’t understand Spanish…although I have a feeling we were both saying the same thing!  (After learning that he paid for all of his work and supplies, we did go back and installed the switches and parted as friends forever.)

In Honduras, most of the small villages are located way off of main highways.  The roads to the villages are rough and primitive, and the trails to the homes are even rougher.  And you never know just what you will see.  Take a look:

The end of the road…. which fork do you take?   Neither is wide enough for the truck and our helper is points up the hill.  Turns out it was 1/4 mile walk up that damn hill to the house we needed to work on.  Seemed a lot further than that to me.

The cows have better road manners than many drivers.  Shown below is a corral where we saw a bull getting his underparts cut off.  Not a good day for him.

There is also wool in Honduras.

Rest Rooms are plentiful.  These little Toyota diesels are amazing in adverse conditions.  At $350/week they are a deal.

Each evening on the drive back, we saw some amazing sunsets.

In Part 3, we will take a look at the families we encountered over the week.  These people were so gracious and appreciative.  We were welcomed into their homes as complete strangers and departed as dear friends. 

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!