Last in Line Part 2

Safe and secure in good ole America once again, we have had our time of reunion… sharing our stories with friends and family alike. The reflections become even more clear and vividly etched into our simple little minds. On Saturday morning as we gather in the mess hall for our last meal together, the emotions were high, the thoughts of saying good bye are the most difficult part of this or any trip. Each one of the team members experience emotions of various levels and reasons. For one I think mine were the dread of the long day of travel.

The actual time spent in the Condor is only 20% of our actual travel time. The time spend on the 4 wide highway of Doom is certainly entertaining… as we watched an 18 wheeler pass another large truck in a blind corner over a hill…. my lord calling out the over zealous driver to ‘Chill out’. There is the awful experience of have to do electronic declarations to exit the country, Multiple security check points as we make our way to the gate of destiny. Finally boarding the Condor and settling in for our journey across the pond. All this is just part of the process that not only we face… but every weary traveler on board as well… we are not alone. Arriving at Greensboro nearly 12 hours later then facing the drive home and arriving at almost midnight after the journey began at 7:30 that morning. Long day to say the least.

The final destination is not the goal for this writer, it is the moments of joy and emotion along the path. We had several moments that have been documented for the past several days, items to include unreliable transportation, and not to say that in a negative context, they are doing the best that they can. Battling heat, humidity, bugs and critters, which is what you have to expect in Central America. There is the culture adjustments, seeing poverty on a greater scale than could be imagined in the USA, but through it all we came with a purpose, to serve, and yet we were served in a greater context.

This trip has been planned, discussed and expected since the spring of 2020 when the world we all knew changed…. 4 years has been along time since we visited our friends south of the boarder, we were not disappointed in the overwhelming joy that we experience over the last 10 days either. Certainly I think each of us was humbled by the experience in a new and meaningful way. Traveling to a third world country to give just a little assistance is just the tip of the iceberg… if taken in the right context, it is not a vacation, workcation or time away, but it is a spiritual experience that, at least for me has refocused my personal ministry.

I have many things to say and yet a limited time to do so from here, so I want to say my parting words with words of thanks and praise to everyone involved with making this trip possible.

Senor Jefe, AKA Chris Lakey for your dedication and leadership. Even though you pick on you all of the time, thank you for your work behind the scenes and planning this adventure.

Senor Mater AKA Jerry Kilby for your friendship over the last 25 years, the adventures, the laughs and just your spirit, that is a joy to be around, and for always being there to help form 1/3 of the brain

B-Rad AKA Brad Triplett for your dedication as a young man all those years ago that help push and continue these types of trips. For you sarcasm and laughter that always is so entertaining.

Hondo AKA Tom Schardt for returning with us once again after a couple of years on hiatus. Thanks or your warm spirit of generosity and the interactions with the people in the community.

Juan Solo AKA John Webster for joining us this year. Truly thankful for all that you brought to the table with your skills and translation ability. Hopefully this is the first of many to come.

To Maynor, Pablo, Wilmer, Lucia, Suyapa, David and Ricardo for all of your support, service and time spent with this group of india loco gringos. Thank you continuing the work even while we are not there. Thanks to the Federation for your vision so many years ago that saw a people in need and responded to that call. I hope we have more opportunities work along side of each other in the future .

And finally, standing last in line is your truly, Marco Francisco AKA Mark Reavill blogging it out on a daily basis to share our story…signing off for now until our next adventure, God bless and good night!

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

Last in Line 12 de Mayo Part 1

The last day in Honduras is always the most difficult of me and I think all of us a whole… emotions, fatigue, wanting to go home and yet wanting to remain here with your extended family. You try to find closure on the project that you have toiled over for the past 7 days. In most cases it goes something like this, Completed, which means that is ready to use. Mostly complete, where there are a few more items that need to be done. Incomplete meaning that there is less than 50% of the work was completed. I think we are at the Mostly Complete status. The roof was completed today, most of the plastering of the walls is done. The floor has been leveled and will need to be poured and the electrical needs to be ran for the lighting.

It has been a very successful trip this year, sure we have had moments of discretion, but the team worked really well together. Juan Solo was a great addition and his skills was needed and welcomed! The 5 other members are veterans in the action so we did what we do, doing old things and trying new ones, just serving others. Hector commented that he was very happy with our work, I think that is one of the highest complements any one could expect.

The day started off badly me, for I had been battling some eye irritation for the past several days, and this morning after a sleepless night, my eye was almost swollen shut… I knew that was a trip to the clinic for attention was in my future. No fussing here, I was ready for the full service treatment. Although I was sadden by the absence of Jefe and Mater who did not accompany me on the trip and offer assistance (Being carried) into the clinic as we did Jefe when Molly went rampant on him years ago. A short time of triage and I was in the doctors room. Juan explained my symptoms and to the Doc and he numb up the ole eye and began to gouge and cleaned the foreign bodies out, Not sure if it was metal or Mook, but it was raw! Once the eye was bandaged, the nurse came in as said it was time for the grand finally… Shot in the rump! I eased my shorts down to a comfortable level, only to have the nurse tug a little more and expose me fully… no pap smear was needed, I guess a visual inspection was enough. Am of the day for me!

We drove up the mountain arriving at about 9:30 local. The plan was to install the remaining tin on the roof while we practiced our Mook slinging skills in front of the peanut galley… many laughs rang out upon the hillside during this time. The ladies at the school again fed us a wonderful meal of local delicacy to wet the pallet, and quite possibly fill the Bano mas tarde. The work was finally completed at 2 pm local, we re invited back to the picnic shelter to say our good byes.

That is when the emotions kick you square in the gut. Jefe spoke a word of thanks being translated into Spanish for all to understand the message. The school leader spoke to us as well in a spirit of gratitude for our efforts. I told Jefe I would say the final prayer today. I had thought about it all day, formulating my best Spanish to speak to them and translated to English for the group. As I stood up to pray, we gathered hands to complete the circle, the emotions started to flow, I was barely being able to speak to them, and only obtaining half of what I wanted to say in Spanish…. the loss of words brought me back to my native English to finish the prayer. No matter what the nationality the world segregates us into, in the end, we will be one day, one nation in God’s kingdom.

The day concluded with a trip into Quimstan to do some sight seeing, shopping, eating ice-cream and dreaming of buying a motorcycle to have for future transportation. I think a few looked into booking an extended say at the downtown Marriot Hotel. $400.00 a month including free Wi-Fi! What a deal! We traveled back to the Compound for a quick clean up and then went to a new restaurant in town called El Bunker. Inviting all of our Honduran friends to a final meal together and spend those last few precious moments together as a way to say Thank You, Maynor, Pablo, Wilmer, Lupia, Suyapa, David, Hector, Ricardo and special guest Lucia Marilu and Nancy Drew for serving us, while we were serving their homeland of Honduras.

The fatigue factor is setting in on me hard right now, and I want to write the second part of the review once we get back home. I want to decompress my thoughts, do some meditation and get things caught up before Mondays return to the work force. I will sign off for now, until then, Many blessings from Honduras.

Beuno Naches,

Mark Francisco Valle Valle

Homotron 11 de Mayo

It is the little things in life that will drive you over the edge crazy… Take into account one Pablo Francisco Valle Valle Mi hermano de otra Madre. He joined forces with the Federation back in 2012 as best that I can recall. He was one of our daily drivers that cruised the auto bus like a rock start on the dusty trails of the Honduran landscape. Most of the time, the driver does just that, they drive and wait until it is time to reload and scoot back the compound at our beckoning call. He was also part of the Local Red Cross, providing assistance in times of need throughout the community. He has a heart to serve others as exhibited thru the many years of our personal relationship. His name derives from the first year that we met in Honduras, I was quoting a comedian by saying, “Pablo Francisco Save me!” as time went on, his name and mine as well progressed that we became part of the elusive and controversial Valle Valle family that draws our fear from the locals by mentioning that name.

Pablo was young, maybe 23 or 24 the first time that we met. He like many people of his age were really unsure of the path they want to follow in life professionally… Over the years he has went to school to become an electrician, worked in a factory, worked various jobs here and there while becoming a father of 3 children over the last decade. I give you the back ground of his story as I know it, as a prelude to my story this evening.

Pablo has returned to the Foundation full time about a year ago as the construction foreman/Jefe. He also serves as one of our drivers on this trip. He bought, leased or inherited Willer’s old Black Mamba Nissan truck to haul us around in the inaccessible areas of Honduras. That truck has several thousands of kilometers traveling across the land to deliver hope and good news. I remember riding in the truck with Wilmer on our sighting trip many years ago during the rainy season of October. It has been dependable, rugged and reliable along the way. Yes it has some hiccups, and dead battery in the middle of no where… thankfully a good Samaritan allowed us to borrow a battery for the day to complete our journey. The original engine drank 50W oil like Bond, James Bond drank martinis. shaken, not stirred. I remember we took off for a day trip that year to visit the ruins, and on that Sunday, swapped out the old tired engine for a fresh TRD engine.

After breakfast this morning, just as we were going to load up, the Black Mamba died in front of us. It has already been awarded 2 AM of the day awards, is it going for a record 3rd? A quick discussion formed around the engine compartment, it appeared that the fuel pump had let go…. On the bright side, it was in the driveway of the Compound, but there was no way that 6 gringos, and 4 Honduras could fit into Wilmer’s Bumblebee truck and drive safety to Laguna.

My lord had a safety net and back up plan, He called in Rodrigo to hall half of us the the job site in a Toyota Hilux truck. The plush, more modern ride… dare I say seat up grade? Certainly appealed to the group riding in it as we drove off leaving the Black Mamba for the scrap heap. Off we were making good progress and arriving at the job site just a few minutes late… approximately 15 minutes ahead of Bumblebee. Come to find out later, that group had to stop because the lil truck was overheating again. AM of the Day inserted here.

The day began with 3 prominent points to accomplish. 1. Was to complete the new Justa stove in the school kitchen, Check Complete. 2. After the 3 main trusses were set and welded into place, we ran the stringers across, welded them in… Remember last nights discussion? Weld, screw, lay down or stand up? It all changed from the last discussion that I had with Hector yesterday. It is a new day with a new glass of milk to tip over. and third, plaster the walls with the initial coat of Mook.

By end of the day, Half of the roof had been installed, all welding was completed. most of the plastering has been competed. Overall, considering all of the little abominations that try to blow things up in our lives did not set us back to accomplish what we set out to do. On the journey to the compound, we experienced a welcoming shower from above. This will help to knock down some of the dust on the roads that we travel. It certainly cooled off the evening air to a more pleasant level… mid way down the hill, we stopped to provide some makeshift rain suits for the 3 locals riding in the bed of the truck.

The ladies fed us well this evening, after we ate, we ventured off to San Marcos to trinket shopping for gifts. Jefe’s bartering to get a better price and US dollars in change was comical. We left with a fist full of trinkets to haul home. When we arrived back at the compound, Pablo was working on the stricken vehicle in the dark.. He had removed the fuel tank and was preparing to install a new pump. He said it would be sometime tomorrow before he could complete it. I guess that means well will not get to test the Black Mamba tomorrow. Thru it all, Pablo kept a smile all day, he did not let it get him down he just plugged along helping others, which is what he is best at.

Buenos Noches

Mark Francisco Valle Valle

Kinich Ahau 10 de Mayo

Today festivities were business as usual. The team was able to leave at the prescribed time this morning after breakfast and the scolding that was hand delivered at last night’s at dinner… Get started on time! AM!!! Actually we started so early, we beat the gatekeeper at the work site, I guess because they were accustomed to our slack approach to timeliness.

As I said it was business as usual with one minor exception,.. the cloud cover and temperate weather disappeared this morning as Kinich Ahau , the Maya Sun God poured out his wrath upon we the gringo tribe from north of the boarder… the same heat that scorches the earths crust, boiled our sensitive skin all day long. Team Mook including Jefe, B-Rad and Hondo got into a mook slinging contest on the rear wall. May be so it would hide their work or it was the training ground for the rookies. Overall, they did a good job, Hector the construction foreman came behind them to “touch up” some low areas, but over all it was a beautiful thing to watch as the T-Rex arms flailed the mook at half the speed of smell.

Along our daily journey, I have noticed the valley of rocks near the small village Sn Juan de Sitto. Honduras has some of the rockiest soil that I have encountered, but these thing protrude from the hillside like a scattered Stonehenge. These rocks are massive in shear size alone, It has to be natures placement in this precarious area. Today I gave up the co-pilots seat to allow the AP student, Nancy to ride in the cab. Skinny and I donned the cooler for or seat, and as we were traveling, I could get a better view of the stones. They seem to gather around one particular hill, which leaves me to wonder if it is the remnants of an ancient volcano? That is pure speculation and conjecture from the writers stand point. Tomorrow I will try to get some photos of this area and ask some one better educated than I to answer this question.

After lunch today, half of the team went to the schools kitchen area to construct an new Justa stove for them. They currently have one indoor and one outside stove. One of the cooks said that they wanted both inside for when it gets cold… I suppose that is when the temperature drops down into the high to mid 60’s? I do not know and not for me to judge, I guess everyone is built a little different.

At half past four we headed back down the mountain to the Federation Compound. The adventures of the broken Uber vehicle appeared to strike all of a sudden. I was riding in the bed again with Skinny and as we climbed the first steep hill leaving the village, Pablos’s truck that was behind us and began to sound like it had lost that lubrication feeling and the bottom end was ready to break out like the Village People doing YMCA! We stopped and inspected the engine for the peculiar sound, only to find that the hood prop rod had came loose and was being flailed by the cooling fan. No hoop, no harm we were able to continue back unscathed.

By the time we arrived, our meal of pork ribs, veggie medley and a host of snacks was ready for consumption. Following our meal, Chris lead a short devotion and we held a team meeting to discuss tomorrows planned activities. We were able to set the metal trusses this afternoon. Thanks to the hard work of Juan, Wilmer, Mater cutting, bending, shaping the trusses to fit like a glove. Tomorrow we will fasten the furring strips, which consumed our discussion as to how we attach… weld or screw??? That is something that will be answered by Hector in the morning… no need to lose sleep over milk we will spill tomorrow. Good evening and good luck to all!

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

Stink Eye 9 de Mayo

Good evening Blogosphere participants, we have completed our fourth day of construction/remodeling in Laguna del Carmen. Thankfully the transportation department had their act together today, no stalling, no hard to start, no overheating issues or penalties for unapproved modification to mass production parts.

My day did start a little earlier than usual due to some issues with particular programs from my real job back in America. I tried to stay low key as I worked from the kitchen table in the apartment in which we are staying in. A short phone call, and quick information sharing session quickly resolved the problem and the customer could be taken care of. With an extra hour or so on my hands… idle hands are the devil’s instrument.

I strolled along the compound where I reflected upon many great memories from years past here in Honduras. The house from the first year that I came and stayed in is still there, primarily dormant for the most part. I remember it being so hot in there, the sweltering heat was almost unbearable and sleep was almost impossible. The weather here so far on this trip has been pleasant for sure, no night sweats. Walking up to the veranda to look across the Quimistan valley at day break was lovely taking in the view of the crop fields and the occasional passers by on foot or motorcycle. I continued my journey on the garden trail and down memory lane, remembering all of the people that I have met and interacted with here. From Sam, Daniela, Maynor, Stanley, Mario, Gloria and Sandra, to the many communities both local and communities far away in Teo or Nueva Esperanza and every village in between, you have certainly touched my life and I can only hope that we have made a positive impact on yours as well.

We gathered for a quick breakfast, even our local leaders and drivers arrived almost on time. I thought, this is a good start to the day, getting out early and arriving in a timely fashion on the jobsite. There is still so much to do in the short time that he have left. That went array as Hondo informed us that he thought he had pink eye. My lord made arrangements at the local women’s clinic to have it checked out. Good news he was not pregnant, and he will recover quickly from a case of the stink eye. The brief delay passed quickly and we were on our merry way to cut some new ruts in the trails to Laguna.

B-Rad grabbed a fist full of Mook from the beginning so he could smash, thrash and trash the place with the nectar of the construction gods. Others followed his lead and the mooking fiesta continued throughout the day. Spanish Juan and Marco continued to weld the sheet metal studs together for a combined length of 46′-0″. Later in the day the trusses were cut and fitted, the first took 3 attempts to get the correct angle to match the blocks that have already been laid. Kinda in reverse order from years past, when we set the trusses then blocked to them. None the less, by the end of the day, the Gulag work had been completed, the block work was completed, the roof structure is 70% complete and tomorrow we hope to raise it high in the air with a lot of welding so the new tin can be installed before we leave on Saturday. Jefe, Mater and Hondo worked in various areas and assisted the locals in completing several various tasks that were needed… Well in between coffee breaks and shade squatting. Cousin Skinny tried to hide in the truck to catch his mid day nap, but we busted him and photographed the cruel act.

4 pm local, we loaded up our toys to travel back to the Compound, again thankful for a drama free trip. B-Rad finally broke out the Doom box and allowed the searing of our ears and mind numbing of our fears of failure… Thanks to the ladies for a wonderful evening meal. Our stomachs are full, our bodies clean and now we seek rest for tomorrow as we continue this journey of destruction and mayhem. Until then blogosphere…

Mas Tarde!

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

The Gulag 8 de Mayo

This morning we were able to get away from base camp much earlier than the past couple of days, no scheduled or unscheduled trips, stops or distractions to hinder our ability to report to the Gulag on time. It has always been our goal to beat the heat on these types of projects, but if you factor in Honduran time keeping ability as reported in blog posts from years past, they seem to have a lack of urgency… We were ready to go half past 7 this morning, but we had to wait on our construction foreman to arrive, in his freshly repaired truck to carry half of the team up the mountain. We loaded up while he ate his breakfast, snoozed with the kitchen staff, checked his messages… I think you get the point that I am trying to make. 7 am breakfast is 7 am. Insert AM of the day here!

We finally arrived at the community by 9 am local. The team divided up into several sub groups working closely with the locals in mixing, carrying and packing Mook. Spanish Juan and his trusty helper continued to weld on the new roof trusses. Mater, B-Rad, Hondo and Jefe each took a swing at the offending floor. Later when B-Rad and I were discussing the daily events, he commented that he had seen and heard about the Russian prison, The Gulag. He stated that while swinging the sledge hammer repeatedly in the heat without the desired results for the effort expended, it was liken to the Gulag he imagined.

Our reward came at lunch as all of the workers dined on fresh Tilapia, with one exception, your truly who does not eat fish. The ladies were so kind to prepare me a side dish of fried chicken. With multiple coffee breaks, shade squatting ciestas, nappy time under the shade tree, giving out handfuls of candy to children and adults alike, it was a very productive day.

By the end of the day we had done as much as we could with the materials we had on hand. We loaded into the trucks hoping that today would not be a repeat of yesterday for sure. Arriving at the Compound ahead of schedule, we kicked back and took it easy before we dined on the fried chickens prepared by our chefs and enjoying the meal with a very special guest, Ms. Lucia. The last time we were in Honduras (2019), she traveled with us to the Teo project. Since then she has completed the AP program, graduated from the university with a degree in business administration, and is now working at the local bank. What a wonderful success story, of a child that had no future as a professional, to see her now brought a huge smile to everyone’s face and made for a wonderful evening sharing stories together.

Signing out of the Blog for now, until we meet again, Good evening.

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

Chain Race 7 de Mayo

Just as recently as the beginning of our journey, someone on our team said, “lighting never strikes twice in the same place.” I would like to refute that statement 100%. I will explain my stance on the subject when it comes time to cross that bridge, and being the elected blog master for this journey, I am the master in command of the keyboard, therefore I shall state my opinion openly, as I often do. Call it Karma, Murphy’s Law or just plain bad luck, to which I believe in neither of the abysses of that mythology. I will offer this statement: things happen for a purpose, both good and bad. It is how we as people react or reject the law of nature that defines who we are as people.

The morning began with a quick breakfast and a trip to the hardware store to gather a few items needed for today’s work on the community center. We knew ahead of time that a Mooking Fiesta was going to happen, but there was welding on the trusses for the roof, cutting out new larger windows, busting out the weak and cracked floor and some sketchy wiring preformed by one Pablo Francisco Valle Valle, our local Honduran electrician. We retain the electrical services of Senor Mater for most if not all of our projects. He bowed out on the opportunity to connect 220 volts to a 110 receptible while it was hot…

Our journey seems shorter today, quite possibly when we travel a distance multiple times, the sense of time will lessen and we will feel as though we have arrived quicker, but in actuality, we have spend the same amount of time in the process of the trip. Dividing up into several teams we did what we needed to do to move forward on the project. B-Rad, Jefe, Hondo mixed and packed the mook like the pros that they have become. Mater and I worked on sucking in the concrete dust while cutting out the new windows. Spanish Juan and Wilmer work in perfect unison as a Two Working As a Team, fondling the stinger electrode in joining the metal components together in the truss making process.

The local ladies once again prepared a feast to feed all of those working on the community center, spaghetti and all of the trimmings to fill our bellies. During the work stoppage, a brief 18 second monsoon drenched the barren ground, only to have been soaked up like a sponge. Once again returning to work until the mook was completely packed in every crevice. We gathered our tools and prepared for our journey to the Federation Villa…

It was at that point the normality of the day ended… There is truly two parts to our journey, the first is when we leave the community. It is very steep grades, both up and down. The trucks that we are being ferried in are older model mid-2000s Nissan Frontiers equipped with 4-wheel drive. Wilmer and Pablo are our hired guns from the Federation to Uber us from one stop to the next. Today, just as we ended the first phase of our journey, Wilmer pulled off the road and said that the truck’s engine was overheating. He popped the hood and as several sets of knowledgeable eyes glared at the hot mess, it appeared that one of the engine belt’s adjuster pulleys had fallen off at some point. Insert AM of the day here! We sat there for a few minutes while the locals put together a plan to deliver us to the compound. Break out a logging chain, tie two Nissan trucks together, frame to rear bumper, and there you have it folks… a Honduran chain race.

Pablo drug our stricken truck the remainder of the way down the mountain, beating and banging all the way to Wilmer’s shop for some late night repair work in his garage. Prior to leaving, we asked to stop by the Super Wal-mart for some restocking in snack supplies. Most were fearful that due to the delays and the tow job we had to endure, the trip would not happen. Pablo obliged us by dropping the team off to do our shopping. Candy, Chips, Hot Sause and strawberry milk (AKA one full quart of thick yogurt ex-lax) was stuffed into out little sacks and we reloaded into Pablo’s truck of salvation… Remember my opening statement: lighting never strikes twice? Low and behold his truck would not start… in the middle of main street. Insert the second AM of the day! That brought back a vivid memory of the time I was on a sighting trip with the Federation’s high priest… in a monsoon… in the middle of main street Quimistan…. the Auotbusdied and would not restart.

They gathered under the hood of the battered truck. Spanish Juan had some pliers, tapping and twisting wires together until a roar from the belly of the beast growled out the exhaust pipe, nearly killing every bug within a hundred meter radius, the passengers included. Once we arrived back at the Compound, Mater threw down a challenge, that the blog should be over the top… like it never is? I collected my thoughts and was drawn back to the days when the Europeans were first setting up camp in the new world. They had to literally bring all their supplies, even manure to fertilize their crops. Of course manure gives off an explosive byproduct, Methane gas. Many a ship blew up due the gas release. Once they had determined the cause of the the explosions, all manure was labeled Store High In Transit… There you have it, our afternoon in a nutshell. Until the next exciting adventure… Buenas Noches.

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

Tocino Y Mas 6 de Mayo

Our first official work day in Honduras began as many have over the years. The dawn breaks into a new day, the feathered wonders of creation began singing in harmonious rhythm… enter in the Gallo. He was to be king of the voices this morning… but not of the air. Grounded as means of punishment? I am not sure, nor will the world even know, it just begs the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” You pays your money…. you makes your choice.

Lupia and Suappa prepared a delicious breakfast which included a generous mount of Bacon! You can never go wrong with too much bacon. While Senor Jefe awaited the polling results from the conference, some of us went to My lords office to collect our tools. Thankfully, he kept them well preserved for the 3 years of our hiatus and the C factor lock down. Finally the vote was in, the algorithms of the online session were blocked, to protect the innocent or the machine of the of the downfall to rue the day. You pays your money…. you makes your choice on that one also

Caravanning up into the mountains after a brief stop the the local Wal-mart to get some supplies for our journey, bug spray, candy, bandannas and a few trinkets to help us weary travelers be more productive on the job site this morning. Our route was, as always lined with massive ruts and gouges in the red clay tarmac. I know of 3 separate occasions I was bounced so hard, I smashed my head into the top of Wilmers roof, neck is going to be sore for sure. After about a 1 hour journey, we arrived at out destination, Laguna del Carmen.

We were met surprisingly at the community center, which was to be our task of a combination of demo and reno over the next several days. All of the school aged children, parents, teachers and several in the community welcomed us with arms wide open. The teacher delivered the opening welcome followed by a lady, forgive me I did not get her name, who read scripture to us and those gathered there. She then lead us with a wonderful rendition of “How Great Thou Art”‘ in Spanish of course.

Following the opening ceremonies, the construction Jefe’s gathered together to get a plan of attack for the project. Step one remove all of the old tin roofing, While Mater, Spanish Juan and Marco removed all of the old stage lights, Disco ball and sound system. The locals and Gringos played well together and by lunch time the roof and trusses were laying on the ground ready to be repurposed into the next building project. Hondo, Jefe and B-Rad work at various task when needed until the dinner bell rang out across the hillside.

Some of the people in the community provided us with home made chicken soup… Our revenge upon the Gallo? We do not grease the squeaky wheel, we throw them in the pot and make soup. Back at the job site, we be began to construct the new and improved, slightly modified Deathtrap 4000. We had repurposed the wood from the trusses to do this, and I am not sure what type of wood it was, but we had to pre-drill holes to drive the nails into this stuff… The Mook master B-Rad lead the official breaking of virgin earth, smearing it with the course creamy substance in to what we have all affectingly know as MOOK!

Being it was late in the afternoon, we did not throw down and get a full on block party rolling, we will save up for tomorrow for this. Some of our group returned to the retaining wall project that we build 2018. Pleasantly surprised that it has already withstood several years of harsh weather, and looked as good as new. By 4 pm local, we packed up and traversed back down the mountain to the Federation Compound, Villa Celia de Fina for supper, a shower and a warm bed to lay our weary heads… We will arise tomorrow with a fresh energy level , a willingness to create an adventure during the Mooking Fiesta, and probably tell some tall tales around the mook pile!

Buenos Noches,

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

Longtime Foreplay 5 de Mayo

It has been a long time coming, but the craziest hooligans from the land of milk and honey are back in town and we are ready to score a 4.0 in damage!

Our day started in the wee hours of the morning, each team member joining in small clumps until we all ended up at the bottom of the bowl, or Senor Jefe’s home at 2:30 am local. Packing light to minimize the drag of the scrutineering tables both local and abroad. A plan well thought out, but the execution was just plain wrong… more on that later.

The post-Covid world has many new rules and regulation, and if you do not know us by now… we do not do rules well. Special pre paper work and documentation that would even baffle the current administration into a frenzy while looking to the other side posting blame. This is a story that Fox News has lost the opportunity to dwell on for hours on end.

Boarding our first condor went without a hitch. A short jump across the mountains and we arrived in Hotlanta in a flash. Some dined on an early morning cuisine in the Condor nest, while others had filled their bellies with Micky D’s earlier. A short layover and then we boarded the Condor Max… The hope of plusher seats had filled out thoughts when we got the news of seating upgrades… AM of the day inserted here! Once we settled in our sadness, the Condor was pushed back from the nest to take flight once again over Lake Evedin. Alas… our initial journey lasted approximately 100 feet. We sat motionless on the tarmac for several minutes as Capitan Karl Childers AKA Slingblade blurted out over the public address system, “I reckon it ain’t got no gas!” We were then towed back to the nest for a repairs so out journey to the land of Honeydew could continue. 1 hour later, the repairs were complete and we were off into the wild blue yonder.

A 3 hour view from the upgraded seats that included a perfect view of the Condors wing… nourishing. We made up time in the air only arriving slightly behind schedule and disembarked the beast to begin the arduous process of entering a foreign country’s customs and immigration station. The delays in Hotlanta caused us to arrive exactly with all of the other major carriers. So there were about 350 people trying to get the visa stamps and allowed proceed past GO to collect their 200.00 llamas.

The precheck documents were a total waste of time… we were never asked to provide them electronically. Without any carnal knowledge, the authorities had added a new twist to the program. We had to scan a QR code posted on the walls and posts, fill out the declaration form electronically to receive another QR code to be allowed to leave the immigration booth. Hondo and B-Rad chose not to bring their communication devices on the trip… I rushed to complete the forms, but abiding by the Marine Corp mantra, “No one left behind”, I sweet talked the young lady scanning the codes in my best broken Spanish telling her we were “Family” – 3 generations of debauchery came clean through to the other side.

Meanwhile Senor Jefe, Mater and Newbie Spanish John took a side trip to the Banos and got separated from us. I tried to smuggle my phone back thru the glass so they could use my codes, but nope she said, won’t be fooled again. Insert AM of the day 2.0! Again all of this creating another lengthy set of delays. The three of us rush to get our luggage scanned in a sure hope of avoiding the scrutineering tables and meeting My lord and cousin Skinny in the lobby.

Another 45 minute delay, the other three members of our team came thru the doors to be greeted by our old friends. We were whisked away in the autobus and taken to a local restaurant for a quick meal then journeyed up the trail of tears, the original 4 wide on a 2 lane towards the Federation outpost in Quimistan.

All in all it was a very long day for all of us. Mine personally was over 17 hours since it started. I struggled with the thought of writing the blog this evening, but I could hardly contain my excitement on our joyous return! Before we finished our evening in the mess hall, Spanish John found, captured and disposed of one of the local menaces: the dreaded scorpion! The newbie making an impact and trying to take the championship belt away from Senor Jefe Scorpion King.

Good evening form here, we rest and travel to Laguna Del Carmen tomorrow to begin our new project.

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

April 2023 Trip-Day 3

Today we went to Arena Blanca and Teo where we provided a hygiene clinic! We loved making new friends and seeing new faces. We also can’t wait for what God has in store for us tomorrow! -Ella💕

First Stop: Arena Blanca

We then traveled to Teo for hygiene and VBS and then painted some shelves for the kindergarten.