Making a Home in Copan Ruinas


During Easter week an evening was dedicated to making las alfombras, which are made of colored sawdust. The streets are cleared and these sawdust mosaic carpets of religious and Mayan symbols are created only to disappear the next day under the feet of Catholic pilgrims who walk from one Catholic church to the other in a grand procession on Good Friday.


For about two weeks there was a severe shortage of running water in Copan and many houses were without water for bathing, washing, flushing, etc. Purified water for drinking was available to buy, but realizing just how important running water is and how much I need in a day to do basic tasks was a good lesson in conserving resources. Water is so abundant in Oregon, hot or cold, and I forget how precious and essential it is to our existence.


I have moved again and am now living with a friend and adopted street dog. I met my friend through Casita Copan, a non-profit day care and single-mother support center we both volunteer at. In my new home, clothes are washed in an outside tub called a pilla. Washing clothes at the pilla while listening to blues and enjoying a light breeze blowing through the backyard has become a source of peace, self-reflection, and meditation for me. The yard is filled with mango trees and behind it are mountains in the distance. Yesterday, I hung up two hammocks and am looking forward to spending afternoons reading and writing in one. The dog adds spice to our lives with his boundless energy and playful nature. There are times I consider killing him because he drives me nuts, but then I look at his floppy ears and hopeful smile, and I fall in love with this little rascal all over again. Yesterday, I made my first batch of green mango juice which is the equivalent of fresh lemonade on a hot day, but better. It is nice to have a bigger but cheaper place now. I love to have guests, and here I could have a whole party.

I have been working at the local clinic and recently going door to door with doctors and nurses to give vaccinations. It has been interesting and fun to see how various people live here and in what conditions. When I asked the nurse how she knew which houses to go to when all she had was names, she told me Copan is small, and after twenty years working here, she knows everyone. I am finding I too am getting to know everyone and they me each day. I am starting to be less looked at as a tourist and more as a local which is a satisfying change. I started teaching English for income and have found these classes to be the biggest surprise to me. Because of them I am meeting wonderful people and forming new friendships while gaining a certain amount of respect from locals, especially men, that wasn’t there before. I am enjoying seeing my students learn and am amazed at how fast they do with so little time to study. They are extremely dedicated and eager, and seeing them smile when they speak in English is one of the best rewards.


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