A La Frontera

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One of our friends just emailed us, slightly concerned because I have been remiss in updating the blog.  I have been aware of this and feeling somewhat guilty.  I can assure you that we are both fine.  I do have to say that it has been a challenging month for me while recuperating and healing after my fall.  Everything we had read on the web informed us that healing from broken ribs takes from 4 – 6 weeks.  Still, those for whom it applies don’t want to imagine that ‘they’ must have said that so as to avoid giving anyone false hope, and in reality healing must take a much shorter course.  For me, however, celebrating four weeks today, webmd.com seems to be right on the money.  I am at the eighty-five percent phase and suspect that I will take the full six weeks.  Last week I was able to get to work every day, but mostly I left early.  I would like to say that I was either in too much pain or too tired to write the blog, but that would be misleading.  I have been doing a lot of reading and downloading movies, so sometime after the severe pain from the first week and a half lessened, I certainly could have written.  In fact, mostly staying at home, I had very little inspiration.  You would think with all the time in recent years that I have spent in recovery of some sort, that I would have become rather good at it.  But I am a lousy patient, tremendously self-centered and needy, most certainly driving Laura crazy.  The four walls have simply not become my bosom friends.  I needed an adventure.

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So we took one this last weekend.  We really wanted to get more of a feel for the rural department of Intibucá.  We had recently made a contact with a young woman working for a health and education NGO, Hombro a Hombro / Shoulder to Shoulder, in the southern section of Intibucá.  She had given us a general invitation to come down and visit.  We sort of forced a long weekend out of last weekend and took her up on her offer.  It is, after all, Labor Day, and all of you are enjoying picnics as I write this.  My birthday is coming up this week, and Honduras is entering its independence month.  We had plenty of reasons, and excuses, to treat ourselves to a mini-holiday.  We have seen some of the North, East, and West of Intibucá, but we had not experienced the South.  It’s called La Frontera (the frontier) partly because it extends to the border of El Salvador and partly because it is unimaginably rural.  The trip all the way to the “municipality” (truly an overstatement) of Santa Lucia is about 40 kilometers or 24 miles.  It took four hours by bus with very few stops as there is little to stop for.  It’s almost entirely an unpaved journey which at various points appears more like a river bed than a road.  In that forty kilometers we dropped about 5000 feet (gratefully not all at once, but at times that seemed a little too likely).  Ah, but such incredible beauty!

There were vistas, unadorned, uncelebrated, and uncommercialized, that challenged the majesty of the Grand Canyon.  There is a sense of purity to the geography and the people who live here that witness a sacredness that we felt privileged to experience.  Santa Lucia and the two other towns we visited, Concepción and Camasca, are built into the hilly landscape.  The houses and the few small businesses are knitted closely together, either because of the challenging topography or the social need to huddle securely together, or both.  The small in-town roads are all cobblestoned, and quickly end a few hundred yards from the central square.  The bright colors and intricate designs of the buildings, reminiscent of the ginger bread houses of Martha’s Vineyard, betray the pride of the people.  The people themselves are sincerely amicable and literally go out of their way to welcome you.  So pastorally idyllic, it would be easy to forget the hardship of what it means to live there.

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But it would be truly arrogant not to notice.  Outside of the quaint towns and beyond the breathtaking vistas, people live in some of the most extreme poverty that exists in our world.  Lack of clean water supplies, lack of adequate nutrition, no electricity, exposure to extreme heat and torrential rains, no access to medical care, little or no education, and a host of other unmet basic needs mean that life is a constant battle for survival.  That is of course why Shoulder to Shoulder is there.  We were impressed with the little we saw of dedicated service.  They have a large staff of doctors, nurses, nurses aides, health promoters, and teachers.  Unlike other NGOs, they have only one non-Honduran employee on the ground in Honduras.  They are committed to sustainability and empowerment in a very visceral way.  They care about the people they serve.  For some families it could be as long as ten hours to the nearest hospital.  The clinic, gratefully, can be reached in one or two hours.  As awed as we were by the beauty and privilege of visiting the place and the people, we were spiritually moved by the service.  Would not our world truly reflect the inner beauty of our humanity if we took greater consciousness of caring?

It was good to arrive back in La Esperanza:  civilization and coolness.  We hope that we also can reflect the same generosity of Spirit that we encountered on our journey through the frontier.

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2 thoughts on “A La Frontera

  1. julia polansky says:

    Hi Paul, Thank goodness you are back writing–with prose that is poetic and lyrical and DID do justice to the beauty you were witnessing. Thank you deeply. My apologies for not accounting for your recent injury (having no experience with broken ribs myself!) Thank goodness that your convalence seemed to result in heightened awareness and a hunger to express your recent travels through the countryside (though it is hard to imagine 23 miles taking 4 hrs…akin to travelling by wagon from Northampton to Greenfield long before there was even a dirt Route 5)!! Your entry was worth the wait. So glad you are almost all mended. Thank you!! Namaste Julie

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