A pila is a large tub of water usually found in the back yard or on the roof of houses in Central America. Water supply in the city is unpredictable, so when there is water, the residents of the city fill their pilas for a water reserve when the supply is dry. Outside of the city, when the pila isn't disturbed for a while, you may be able to find an iguana or two inside. Mario brought 3 back from a farm just outside the city. I was under the impression that these lizards would be friendly, but as it turned out they acted more like miniature dragons hissing and attacking when approached. I thought Mario might have plans to keep them as pets until he unsheathed his machete and prepped the reptile for the kill. "What are you going?", I asked. "Iguanas son muy rica!", he responded. (Iguanas are tasty!). Mario and his cousin lit a fire and were able to sear the skin in order to pick the meat off the iguanas. When dissecting the reptiles we found that two of them were pregnant. Mario's eyes lit up--Iguana egg soup!
A group of Americans from the University of New Hampshire is in the city to volunteer for a week building a vegetable garden at our school. It is a Catholic student organization who each year finds a volunteer project in Honduras. They invited us to go to another set of caves about an hour south of the caves we visited last weekend. Contrary to last weeks adventure, this set of caves is heavily commercialized with well lit passages and a concrete path throughout. A Peace Corps volunteer and some locals discovered the cave a while back while taking a hike. After much exploration, they discovered a room with about 20 bodies. These bodies, if I remember correctly, are the oldest bodies ever found in Central America and date back almost 3,000 years. The bodies were dated around 900 BC, which is actually pre-Mayan. The cave dripped minerals that preserved the bones with a crystalline glitter and in the dim light of a flashlight, the men thought they were glowing. The cave is often called, "The Cave of the Glowing Skulls." Sounds like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. The remains are to this day being excavated and studied along with a wealth of artifacts. As is the case in a number of early civilizations, the caves signify the underworld and were used for ritualistic burial sites. We are planning another expedition to the caves we visited last weekend on private property. Our fantasy is that there has to be something in those caves worth finding that was not previously discovered. We are all greedy for Mayan treasure.
The volunteers from New Hampshire came to the school Friday to take a look at where they would be working. We got a big game of soccer going and they got a chance to interact with the students. They began asking the students questions in English and my students performed brilliantly. Luckily, they asked questions to some of my brightest students. In perfect English, they answered questions like, "What is your name?, What city and department do you live in?, How many brothers and sisters do you have?, What do you like to do?, How old are you?. I have to say, I was glowing with pride from our progress.