Manhattan Project

May 19, 2020

2:04 am, the alarm from my iPhone starts blaring a menacing and dark scripted tune by Volbeat. The juggernaut of a rock steady bass drum pattern and the drop D tuned Gibson’s cracking thru overdriven Marshall Amps… the vocals seeking the return of the dark one’s crown of blood… oh the decadence that fills my ear… It is not unusual that I hear that tone at that time of morning. I generally awake and present myself quite early each day, much like a Senior Drill Sergeant Hartman prepares for his morning wake up call to the unsuspecting recruits; I too am ready to smash trash can lids together as I walk between the bunks of those nestled in their beds…yelling, “Rise and shine Sweethearts!” … but!!! Today was scheduled to be a different day… I stress different as heavy as the alarm tone coming out of my phone! I am here… getting dressed for work and preparing for the morning commute… not on my way there… as I have for the past Nine years. This May… will be a disappointing May… it will be spent in a semi quarantined home, not quite alone but distancing as needed… not in a Honduras way for sure.

At 2:04 this morning I begin to transcend to a moment that should have been… I am virtually upset, because I am late! I am never late, but in the same sense I am never too early either. Arriving 5 to 8 minutes early is enough, though my wife likes a 30-minute buffer to secure her OCD tendencies. At this time of the morning, on this day I should have been at or very near Senor Jefe’s house of Harmony. It is the day of gathering… less harmonizing in a musical prose or so it was planned so many months ago. “Gather at 2:30am, caravanning to the Big Blue Box and pick up Mater then briskly travel to Port Charlotte to board the Aluminum Condor.” All of this… in the bright hopes of traveling across Lake Evendim… to arrive in the land of milk and honeydew as we have for so many years… Agh! It is amazing how the microscopic things of life can change even the best laid plans… but that is what we have for the near and foreseeable future anyway.

If you took time to read my prelude, then you know why I am writing in a virtual sense of space and time, It keeps me focused and in continued thoughts of our friends in Honduras even though we, the good ole USA are struggling in a way that is unprecedented in our lives and have been effectively locked out of the condor nest in San Pedro Sula … rumors have the Ramon Viljeda Morales tarmac, as Facebook post suggest… is secured by a couple of early 40’s model Willys Jeeps outfitted with a maul duce and multiple boxes of .50 cal ammo affixed to the rear portion of the bed… conjecture and oppression to some… reality to others. As one of my Old Testament professors would say, “You pays your money, you makes your choice.” No time to dilly dally around… on to our entertainment for the evening.

“Imagine a place
Where it all began
They gathered together from across the land
To work in secrecy of the desert sand
All of the brightest boys
To play with the biggest toys
More than they bargained for…”

Hold Your Fire, 1987, Peart

A first-year team from Wilkesboro traveled to Honduras; to Visit, to Play, to Work and introduce Shade Squatting to the Honduran locals … or so the rumors went. No confidential informant survived the trek according to the US Customs and Border Patrol register and therefore is considered conjecture and contempt in the high courts of the land. The team consisted primarily of a group that was stranded in Guatemala for a few extra days due to minor volcanic activity from the preceding year. I was not part of the initial laceration of the grounds in Honduras due to personal conflicts and commitments here locally, but thru the stories (some true, but most were embellished) and photographic evidence of that adventure I would like to travel back to a time to a place where lives were interrupted… in a truly meaningful way while… along the way they were changed at the same time.

The primary target was a remote village in the northwest territory of Honduras; affectionately known as New Hope, or in Spanish, Nueva Esperanza. There the group descended, literally from and above thru the twisting and turning route of Seven Creek road. The passage or route was named by yours truly in subsequent trips that would follow in the years to come. You would literally cross seven streams and creeks before landing upon this timid quaint mountain village. In Honduran time… they say, it would take about an hour to reach the destination… Gringo time said it takes almost double that. Our first lesson in, “Don’t rush through life”, I suppose… only you find out why in a later episode.

The team was greeted by, “The Teacher” upon their arrival. A buxom brunette, but a darker shade of black. She was equipped with a bubbly personality… a huge, inviting and friendly smile in tow… Her presence was so dramatic and vivid… that some if not most of the team said that her radiance was so powerful… it must have been inspiration to Van Halen’s odd timed primal jungle beat intro for the 1984 hit, “Hot for Teacher.”

The team was led by a rookie captain only known as Chris at the time, (due to the team’s lack of Spanish vernacular aptitude and my personal presence and sarcasm on this trip), He later earned the title of Senor Jefe Scorpion King Rey in and thru his subsequent years of leadership, but primarily it was the squealing like a brownie scout at the afore mentioned high tailed crustacean he found in his room… He is the leader of this team of Rastafarian misfits both fore and aft has kept the dream alive. Mater, the second half of the brain trust by all accounts equals a third of a brain cell (Chris 1/3 and myself the other) according to most… his youngest son Joseph, aka “Muscle Tec” was always ready and willing for a photo op… his goal was to look like the hardest working member of the crew and yet, he would always be in a position of flexing his traps at the appropriate moments when the shutter flashed… they along with Blogmaster B-Rad, Aaron, Jim, Alex AKA Ajax, Jarred AKA Hans, Dane AKA Frans… a tight knit yet multifaceted group that combined with others from the satellite villages near the Federation stronghold in southwest South Carolina. Together they attacked and completed the re-roofing project at the Nueva Esperanza School, providing a day worship and Vacation Bible School for the children in the community. In the end it was a job well done that had earned the new gringos respect among the community leaders… The Teacher… and those associated with the ‘In country’ proliferation of Federation influence.

10 days complete… 10 Years ago… the decadence began in a remote village of Honduras. Lives changed and seeds planted… announcing to the Federation as Karen Carpentered once belted those hallowed lyrics from days gone past, “It has only just begun.” Until our next gathering on the Federation Portal, good night and see you on the Dark Side of the Moon.

Marco Francisco Valle Valle

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