Monday, August 24, 2009


Tuesday August 24, 2009

Last night Debbie and I had Sundowners on the balcony; Debbie with her glass of wine and me with my decaf coffee. We watched the rain move over the mountains toward the school. Cool late afternoon air, large birds circling above.

The school sits at the foot of a flat top almost iron shaped hill (mountain). We can just see the tops of the red tile roofs from where we sit on the opposite side of the valley. Behind “our” mountain and the school is a small valley with mountains rising up to the sky all around.

As we looked out over city we say a huge, broad, rainbow that slowly faded in to a brilliant full spectrum rainbow. It was about a quarter arc, the rest of the arc hiding in the dark cloud hanging over the mountain. It was hovering right over the school and what I now call “happy valley” behind the school.

I resisted the temptation to run for my camera, knowing that photographing rainbows is really difficult. So we just sat in awe as the colors grew in intensity.
It posed for us for almost five full minutes before it began to fade into the mist.

Then about ten minutes later it was back and it brought its twin…the other quarter of the arc hung over the neighboring hillside. Two lucky rainbows in one day, could I be any luckier? We soaked them up in silence until they slowly faded again into the mist.

I asked Debbie, if she saw rainbows here often, thinking that with the low hanging clouds and the frequent misting rains they must be frequent occurrences.
She said, “never, this is the first.” Then almost on cue a third rainbow faded in darker, brighter and more intense than the first two sightings. It too hung almost directly over the roofs of our school. The school was “standing in a rainbow”. A blessing or good omen if you prefer, I think this is going to be a good year.

Debbie and I sat quietly for a good while two Rainbow Gluttons full on a feast of color and magic.

(I did run and get my camera and snapped a picture just as it was fading. I am attaching it. Since it has been a long time since I have taken and sent pictures I am still working on remember the easiest way to move pictures into emails it may take some time to download. You may be able to see just a faint bit of color in the center of the picture. )


Journal Entry Saturday August 22, 2009 6:40 am

The cloudscape is different everyday. I guess like sunrise and sunset there will never be two alike. This morning there is a wide variety deep dark gray like a giant caterpillar sitting on top, the length of the mountain. The sun is blocked by a light smoky gray cloud bank and straight over my head is a large swath of bright sky-blue with bright white fluffies.

The clouds make huge shadows on the mountainside so the green varies from deep dark blue greens to an almost chartreuse yellow green with every green shade in between. If I were to paint them I would start with hookers green my favorite water color green. The valley and the mountains are inspiring but almost too much for me to think about painting.

Today I am hoping to get some school work done, some writing and some meal planning. Debbie’s dinner last night was a bowl of popcorn followed by a snickers bar and a large bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter and Chocolate cereal. I stuck with the popcorn and high fiber cereal. I don’t feel deprived but will shop for some better choices this weekend.

I think it will be a challenge to find a pool here and with transportation issues as well I have decided to try the treadmill downstairs in the little exercise room that is off of the parking garage below us. In addition to the treadmill it has a stationary bike and a “universal” with all configurations of weight work out “stuff”, some free weights and curiously a set of golf clubs. I will stick with the treadmill. The room has a large window across the wall facing the valley so I can walk with a view.

Sunday August 23
A good day Saturday. Got lots of school work done, laundry for the week and shopping with Debbie, Office Depot, Price Mart (ie Costco), a small bookstore where I bought another book in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency series, and lunch at the French bakery. I had a conch soup, a cheese panini, carrot cake and a latte. We sat outside and I saw my first Honduras hummingbird. Then we went to the grocery store. I finished the day with a bit of a read and as Emanuel used to say “The Good Nap”

When I woke up I found Debbie at the dining room table with a 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle spread out. I feel a bit like we are on vacation. I think it is all the balmy air and sun. Plus I have no garage to clean here and no weeds to pull. Maybe it is a vacation.

Later in the day Debbie surprised me with the sound track from Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat. We saw a production of it in Cape Town S.A. We sat and listened to the whole thing and then we watched Shirley Valentine.

I finished the day with a nice video chat with Johanna and Kevin. I am eager to be at school. It is great to feel that way again. It is a bit like teaching in 1968 when I started out.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

From the Balcony

Sunday August 16, 2009 6:05 am

I am sitting on the balcony overlooking this city of hills and mountains. Clouds veil the tops. I am told we are near a cloud forest and I am eager to learn more about what that means. Church bells and traffic noises float up from the valley.
A bird calls and another answers – they have a short conversation interrupted by barking dogs. At the lowest part of the valley from my vantage point you can see a main thoroughfare. From one end to the other large signs stand above the buildings – Chili’s, Burger King, Pizza hut, Ruby Tuesday’s, Applebee’s, Wendy’s and more.

From the balcony I look down on homes – the half blue half white house (painting interrupted by what I wonder) is empty. Next door for trees are pruned into perfect cylinder forms. I look straight down into the swimming pool of the home just below us. This home is also empty and the pool green. Next to this house I can see the top of a bright red-orange flame tree (like the ones I saw in Africa) it is in this tree the calling bird is perched.

It is a cool morning after a night of rain with a fine display of thunder and lightning. My clouds are lifting a bit and I can almost see the tops of the mountains across the way. I can see the red tiled roofs of the school across the valley and at the foot of a flat topped hill.

I brought my binoculars out with me so I am able to get a closer look at things. I am able to get a better look at the huge statue of Jesus that stands high atop the mountain to my left that overlooks downtown, the old city. I could see it at night well lit, arms lowered but reaching out. Well, my coffee has gone cold and it is time to make a shopping list. The clouds have retreated up into the very blue sky leaving just a wisp atop the highest one.

Away to Honduras

Journal Entry Sunday August 16
Written Sunday August 23, 2009
6:30 am

It has been a long time since I started one of these, too long. I am sitting at the desk in the “office”. That is the room between the two bedrooms of this apartment. From the window I look out onto the mountain side, lush green rising up to the sky and a few other homes perched on the side. I can look out onto the top of the fruit tree next door with granny smith apple-like fruits that look like I could reach out and pick them…except that I would have to climb and stand on our compound wall to reach them. It has been only 11 days since Debbie’s email offering me the art position at Discovery School.

What a wild ride, one I could not have managed without Johanna and Kevin’s support. Johanna, making all my travel arrangements, packing and supply coordinator and Chicago passport run driver. Kevin, getting my new computer up and running, warranted and orienting me to it so I can make best use of it. The passport delay gave me a couple of days to catch my breath and rest up before take off. We packed the car Friday night with my overweight luggage and got a few hours sleep before our 3:00 am wake up to get to the airport by 4:30am. Johanna and I left a sleeping Kevin and Freya and headed for the new airport. This was Johanna’s first drive to the new terminal. Neither one of us had been into the new terminal with all of its art installations, my eyes were full already. When we checked in at Continental I had the option of upgrading to first class for only $99. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. We had a sigh of relief. The extra luggage allowance for first class more than covered my bags. Then we relaxed with a Starbucks coffee until it was time to set me on my way.

The first leg of my flight went smoothly and I hiked across the Houston airport to the international terminal and my connecting flight to Tegucigalpa. I checked the gate number and my ticket and sat down for a forty minute wait. Then I noticed people lining up with their tickets in hand and decided I had better do the same. Standing in line I noticed the destination on the board behind the desk was not Tegucigalpa – don’t know what it was but it did not start with a T – I decided I better check the departures board…oops! Gate change! Wrong gate! It was a fast hike to the opposite end of the terminal and then a short 10 minute wait to board. So glad I had upgraded. That was the only drama of my flight until we approached Honduras and I could look down on emerald green wrapped in wisps of clouds and edged with white surf from the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, a couple of wing tilting turns and a quick drop and stop onto the shortest airport runway in the world.

Another perk for first class is to be first off the plane, first in line at immigration and first baggage off the plane, a helpful porter put my luggage onto a cart.
He plunged ahead through customs and without a pause or blink I was out the door looking at the sea of faces waiting to greet passengers. There was Debbie front and center in bright pink calypso pants and top and close on her heals was Reynaldo who commandeered the bags while Debbie and I laughed and hugged. She whipped out some lempira to pay the porter – he waved her away since I had already paid him in dollars. A short walk to the waiting van and we were off.
It felt a bit like Toad’s Wild Ride, weaving along narrow curved roads and up and down steep hills. Tegucigalpa is “set in the mountains at 1,000 meters. It is an old mining settlement that…grew out to take over an entire valley”. Right above Tegucigalpa is the cloud forest LaTigra. Everything is terraced onto the mountains that surround the valley. I have not seen downtown (old town) yet. Maybe it has some flat spaces. Ahhh, we pull up to Debbie’s apartment building (six units) and I am in my new home for the year.

The apartment is on the first floor we walk down a flight to get to it and down another flight to get to the car park. It has three bedrooms two baths, living room/dining room, kitchen, laundry room (washer and dryer) and a balcony full of large potted tropical plants. From the balcony you look down and over the city to the school perched high on the mountainside across the valley. You can just make out the red tiled roof in the surrounding green. My room has a very comfortable bed with a table on one side and a bamboo bookshelf on the other side. A rattan settee and a very large double door closet along one wall. There is a large window that opens onto the mountain side and over looks a small patio with large potted plants. My bath is just across the hall, blue and white tile and a large shower.

We fix a bite to eat and chat a bit and then we are off to visit the school and see a bit of the city. The school is fairly new construction. There are four terrace levels. You enter at the top. Fortunately my room is on the ground floor of the first building. That means I walk down a flight to get to my room and up two flights to get to the copy machine and mailboxes. Stairs are good for me.
The art room (as expected) is very poorly equipped. Worse than school 55 but with no paper! It is a bit of a mess. The teacher taking leave made his decision at the last minute…I would like to think he would have cleaned it up a bit but really doubt it. Hundreds of small paint bottles mostly empty or dried out. A large stack of once crumpled packing paper from the library book shipment – six pairs of scissors (three are left handed), bits and pieces of pastels and oil pastels, lots and lots of plastic bowls (all sizes, all dirty) and a sink encrusted with acrylic paint.
No construction paper, no drawing paper of any kind. There is a roll of brown paper and a package of very thin almost tissue-like brown paper.

Back at home I spend the rest of the day unpacking and settling in, sitting on the balcony and chatting. The day ends with rain with lots of thunder and lightning. Debbie keeps all of the windows and patio doors open all of the time. They all have screens and the overhang is such that rain would rarely come in. A gentle breeze drifts through the apartment almost all the time. I cannot remember the last time I slept with windows wide open with a complete sense of safety and security. It was a good first day in Honduras.