Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pool time in Mérida, and Honduras

(photo courtesy of Victor Cruz /Estilo Yucatan)
Victor sends pictures. The pool takes shape. With a layer of fine finishing cement, its curved steps look like sculpture.  The local abañiles are renowned for transforming stone and concrete into any shape or purpose. Their art is a modern form of an ancient tradition. I wonder if any ancestors were builders of the Mayan pyramids that dot the peninsula?

We're building a swimming pool for our own pleasure, to cool off on hot days, or float under calm night skies. Such a thing has always seemed like an unimaginable luxury, but there it is, in Victor's pictures.

Can I say, it makes me feel a bit guilty?

Not too, too far from Mérida, our friends send pictures from another pool. Jody and Paul are two of the people I admire most. About a year ago they quit their jobs, gave away or packed away almost everything they owned, and moved to Honduras. They were always compassionate people who put their principles into action. Now they help non-profit groups that are working to overcome the abject poverty of people living in that region.

In their spare time Paul and Jody go to the local orphanage. Forty children, from babies to teenagers, live there. The home is basic and bleak, dim, with a worn concrete floor. The kids come there from circumstances ranging from desperate to tragic.

At first, Jody said, she didn't know where to start to be of help to these children. But Paul and Jody are family people, and they couldn't ignore children in such great need. As the months progress, and the posts on  Paul and Jody's blogs, you can see they're finding ways to make a difference.

They discovered a nearby hotel with an unused pool (their community is near the famous Copan ruins). So they struck a deal with the hotel and now twice a month, they pay to bring a dozen kids from the orphanage for a swim. For many of the kids it was their first time in the water.

Jody and Paul are also raising a few bucks from friends and acquaintances to help with the most basic needs at the orphanage - some decent mattresses, laundry soap, art and craft supplies, a little more food.

Paul and Jody do all this for no fame or personal gain. They live in a small rented house that would satisfy few Merida expatriates' standards, and certainly no one among our circle of comfortable mid-career media types here in Victoria. They receive a bare stipend for their official work. They don't have great restaurants, or nice things to buy where they live. It can't be easy. They've given up their comforts, their income, and nearness to family and friends. But in their Facebook pictures they look radiant and happy.

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