Doña Maria de la Luz

cross your path

10/08/2015 Yesterday morning Carmen and Marilyn were dropped off at my house by Alex, we loaded up the car, sprayed more bug repellent on us on top of the already sprayed bug repellent (I mean, we were jungle bound), Marilyn and I loaded our walking sticks into my car and we set off to meet Nidia at the Roatan Culture Village. We were going to see Doña Maria, the lady we went to see last week but she wasn’t home. I had a bag of stuff for her, shampoo, creme rinse, body soap, air freshener, some plastic cups, laundry and dish soap and some dish scrubbers, plus a used pair (new condition) of Keen sandals for her. Nidia had some flip flops and 3 dresses for her too. She had also asked for some black water dye because she wanted to color her hair. However, she was in for a big surprise. Nidia had arranged for her to get her hair done at Sophiestication Salon and Spa in Coxen Hole. They graciously said they would give her a hair color and cut and mani, pedi for free.

The walk in to her place is challenging in the beginning because there are some very steep, uneven steps carved into the side of the hill. I was so grateful for the walking stick Bill made me that morning, it makes up for not having 2 good knees.

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I didn’t even notice this tunnel the first time I went there. Nidia said it doesn’t go back very far.

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Painting on a twig wall

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Part of the old Culture Village, the bar area was quite large. Love the stools!

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This place must have been amazing.

We  made it to her house, obviously earlier than she had expected us. She was stoking the fire in her mud oven when we arrived. We started getting out the goodies we had for her and showing her what we brought.

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Here she has on her Keen sandals. They will be great for her walking through the jungle to the spring to get water.

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You can’t help but fall in love with her, what a sweet lady.

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This is what her hair looked like before her salon treatment and she is modeling a new dress.

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Nidia and Marilyn with her.

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She was husking corn and said she wanted a corn grinder to make her own corn meal or flour.

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Her broom

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Marilyn with Doña Maria

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Shoe tree

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Entrance to her bedroom. Her new cups and shampoo and creme rinse are on her shelf. The orange bag has her 3 new dresses in it, new  shoes in the black plastic bag.

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Her kitchen. This makes me realize so much about the excess that many people live with, thinking it gives them a better life. It does not.

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She went in and changed before we walked down the hill to my car, bound for the beauty shop.

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Marilyn and Carmen, obviously I didn’t get the blue memo.

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Even more obvious that I got no memo when she changed into blue also. She lost the lock for her front door and ties it closed now. I need to get her a new lock.

We were ready to go to town and she led us off the mountain. At one point I yelled to Nidia, “Why is she running?” She moved so fast down that path and when it came to the stairs I think she jogged down them. I remarked to Marilyn about it and Marilyn tried to make it sound reasonable that she did it so easily because of a lower center of gravity. Yeah, maybe that’s it. We got her buckled in the front seat and off we went to Sophiestication Salon at Plaza Mar.

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She seemed slightly overwhelmed at first. Rightfully so, she was in a room surrounded by mirrors and all she saw was herself.

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They were getting ready to do her hair so the 4 of us went shopping again. Marilyn and Carmen got her metal forks and spoons, a new knife (her old one was so dull Marilyn said you could fall on it), coca cola, meat and cheese, sugar and a container to keep it in, a ladle and some condiments. Remember, she has no electricity or running water. I got her some beans, corn flour, bread, rolls, clothespins and clothesline and a few other things.

We took that stuff to the car and went back to see how she was doing.

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Her hair had all the color on it and they were giving her a pedicure. Look at her expression. Priceless.

Remember, this woman lives in the jungle, she doesn’t even own a mirror, let alone beauty products. Despite the fact that she is probably in the sun much of the day she has exquisite skin, especially for a lady her age.

Marilyn and Carmen and I went to Super Islena looking for a corn grinder and a bucket with a lid. No corn grinder in the several places we looked but Carmen did find a nice lidded bucket to keep the rats out of her beans and flour. We went back to the salon and her hair was being combed out and straightened. SHE LOOKED LIKE A DIFFERENT WOMAN.

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Getting her nails done

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Marilyn admiring our new friend.

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The ladies at Sophiestication Salon worked miracles that morning.

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Just beautiful.

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With the lovely ladies from Sophiestication Salon.

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The transformation

This is the real shocker though, what a change in her looks. She was so thrilled.

donamaria

Just as we were getting ready to leave Plaza Mar it started raining. We got into the car quickly so she didn’t get her new hairdo wet. This time Nidia took us in a different way (so thankful for my AWD Outlander) since it was raining and we had lots more stuff to carry for her.

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Guard shack

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Carmen blazing the trail and lugging a bag of goodies

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Marilyn with Coke and Nidia and Doña Maria behind her. Sorry it’s blurry, I was moving..

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A house on the way, lower level is mud walls.

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Nidia helping get her hair tied up so it doesn’t get wet.

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Marilyn putting her sugar in the critter proof container.  Doña Maria was so excited that we got her more things. We showed her everything and she kept thanking us. It really made for a fabulous day for this sweet lady.

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Nidia and Marilyn helping her to bend over so they could do her hair in a top knot on top of her head.

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Perfect!

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The 4 of us, Doña Maria has her hair covered with a towel

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She took the towel off for this photo.

She was so upset that she couldn’t offer us anything. She wanted to make us tortillas but we showed up earlier than she expected. She must have apologized to Nidia about it several times. It really amazes me that she was so worried about giving us something; she has no idea that she already did, something way better than any tortilla ever could be. Just the experience of spending a day with this amazing woman was so exhilarating. It made me realize that the fact that my kitchen isn’t done is not really a big deal, that no door yet on my pantry is insignificant. She has so little and is so happy.

We also found out that in the 8 years she has been on the island (she came from Olanchito on the mainland with her son and his wife, they were allowed to build a “house” on the land in exchange for being caretakers, his wife must be gone and her son is only there sporadically) she has never been to the east end of Roatan. We plan to take her on a day trip, maybe a boat ride, get her out and away from the jungle so she too can experience the beauty of this island.

Meeting Nidia has changed my whole path on this island. She gives of herself everyday to so many people, she gives her time, her energy and her love. If she needs to raise money for something she does it, with the goal clearly set in her sights. Nothing stops her, no person is insignificant in her eyes. She does so much for the children and the seniors on this island that just being with her has made me a better person. Now I get to share Nidia with my friends, Carmen and Marilyn. They have joined me on several events that Nidia has taken me to. I can’t imagine better people to hang out with and to help Nidia do what she does best, helping those who need help.

After we left Doña Maria we dropped Nidia off at her store and stopped at the new liquor store in town. We each bought a few bottles of wine and sampled some Bailey’s Dulch de Leche, ohmyyummy!! Dangerous stuff. By the time we left there it was POURING. We got soaked just getting in the car. We stopped in Los Fuertes and Marilyn found the corn grinder for Doña Maria in one of the stores. And we got more soaked. By the time we got to French Harbor the rain had subsided so we decided to drag our soggy semi muddy selves into Herbie’s for some lunch. We had a “fried” lunch and drinks and then headed back to Oak Ridge, where I dropped Marilyn and Carmen off. Alex was coming in the boat to get them and whisk them home.

Such a simply fabulous day with 3 fabulous ladies and sweet Doña Maria. Nidia, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of what you do. I love you lots and look forward to more adventures!

****Just a side note: We are looking for donations for the Christmas party for the children. We need to buy about 1000 gifts and then get food and drinks for the parties and some Piñatas for the games. In the past, Because We Care did a food drive and supplied bags of food for the parents and toys for the kids right before the holidays. Last year it was evident that things were taking a negative turn. People were not thankful for what they were given, they were angry because they expected more or different or better. Because We Care works very hard to raise the money for these events and to finish weeks of driving all over the island and passing out things to some (not all) ungrateful people takes a lot of the fun out of it.

This year it’s just about the kids, that’s it. Santa will be available to pass out gifts to all the kids and if we can raise enough $$ we will throw a party for the kids on each end of the island. (The majority of the people we help have no cars or means of transportation). If you are interested in donating please email me @  ledfutt@gmail.com. I guarantee every cent goes to the kids on this island. 

Thank you.

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5 thoughts on “Doña Maria de la Luz

  1. What wonderful thing you all did for Dona Maria! Made her feel special and pretty…sounds like she is amazing! That is too bad about the “Because We Care” problem. It is unfortunate when you give and then some people expect more or are ungrateful. I use to help out at local pantry and it became hard for me to see the attitudes that many had regarding what was offered. Some even argued and stormed out…such bad behavior and it really sours the whole experience.

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