Bonacca and Guanaja, we have arrived!

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04/25/2016 Two weeks ago on Monday morning I was trying to get in to see my dentist because I had a miserable toothache. I could see his assistant but not him until Thursday so I said I would wait until Thursday. About a year ago he put a temporary crown on a tooth but won’t put the permanent one on until I go see an endodontist on the mainland. I was to do that last year. OOPS. What can I say, the tooth didn’t hurt until now. So, I waited.

Monday my cleaning gal came and did the upstairs. It stayed clean for a while. Well, until I let the dogs back inside. I’m a walking oxymoron it seems. Pay a cleaning lady to clean up the dog mess and when she’s done, let the dogs in. What makes sense about that? Nothing.

Our friends were coming over for a long overdue pizza dinner that night. We had a great evening, drinks on the roof, pizza on the porch, back on the roof for after dinner drinks. They don’t mind the dogs, they have one of ours so they were cool. Even the dogs got treats.

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Peanut butter and yogurt whipped, put in Kongs and frozen.

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Siamese twins

It was a fabulous evening with good friends and great conversation.

I started to help deliver shoes again on Tuesday at the Juan Brooks school in downtown Coxen Hole. It was hot and humid, sweat was the word for the day. When I got there they had just started fitting shoes. We had a family from CA. and a group of young women from The World RaceTake the time to click on the link and see what these ladies do. They travel 11 months a year to very remote places and do mission work, strong, amazing young women. They spent their second week here on the island at my friends home.

When I got to the school, the fitting was in full swing.

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The 3 girls seated on the left and the girl on the left standing were all part of The World Race.

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This is a big school in the center of town.

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Nidia, checking her list.

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It was just the boys in the photo but the girls photobombed.

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So many kids

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Doing school work in the cool breezeway.

Once we finished Juan Brooks we went to a small school by the airport.

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The school

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The fitters and the fetchers..our helpers, The World Race ladies had to leave part way through the day so we got teachers to help fit, and my friend Jan, in blue scrubs. She is a volunteer nurse at Clinic Esperanza and is from Park City, Utah.

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Old for new

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There was a never ending stream of kids.

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Waiting

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The sink at the store by the school. I got to see it close up because I LOCKED MY ONLY KEY IN MY CAR. Bill had to drive 40 min to where I was, get a mechanic on the way, so he could break into my car. UGH!! Need to get a new key made, soon.

I made it to the dentist on Thursday and he was shocked I hadn’t had my tooth taken care of. He doesn’t know me very well. It didn’t hurt, why bother, except he reminded me, I still have a temporary crown. He once again said I need to go to the mainland so I need to fit that in to my schedule soon. After that I took my car to get the part fixed where the guy broke it jaibreaking my car and also got the oil and filters changed. Good to go, again!

On Friday Nidia came to my house and we headed east to BJ’s. We hung out there for awhile visiting and then we left to go do a soccer equipment delivery at a field near Pandy Town, could be considered Fiddlers Bight. Pastor Ronny Russell and the Live Again Ministries and Theresa Renee Arriaga helped with the money for this donation. The coach took the stuff to the field but the kids didn’t know what was in the box.

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The coach had the box on the back of his motorcycle. The kids were beyond anxious with anticipation.

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Nidia talking to the kids

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Silly boys

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Huge field in the middle of nowhere. I think this land separates Pandy town and Fiddlers Bight.

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Nidia asking the boys if they know what is in the box..

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Who wants new soccer stuff?

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What an assortment of stuff, shoes, balls and uniforms.

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Could he have a bigger smile?

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Nice shoes

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Happy kids with new uniforms

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This little guy was adorable

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Exciting, soccer shoes.

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WOW! Soccer shoes are rarely worn here, nobody can afford them.

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New soccer balls!

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A goalie uniform

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Sent from Diunsa on the mainland.

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Perfect timing!

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The coach and 3 boys standing near their community water supply.

After there we scouted out another potential place for the senior dinner and we think it’s a great spot. More on that later.

I did my airport gig on Saturday, fast and furious as usual. The next morning was my usual foray at Mega Paca and let me say, I got the PERFECT Pirate Party dress. Can’t wait!!

We were going to go to Bonacca and Guanaja to deliver shoes on Monday but that fell through so we were shooting for Tuesday. I met Nidia in Oak Ridge Tuesday morning. Let the adventure begin. OMG, it’s a good thing I’m pretty much game for anything.

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We were going in the big boat. The OLD slow boat. The boat with few seats.

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Nidia found a perfect seat..

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It was rough on the way over, took 4 hours, I was sitting on my butt on the boat floor and I was soaked. FOUR HOURS!!

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Some people slept, or tried to.

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You can tell which way the wind blows

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Getting off the boat in Bonacca.

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The Venice of the Caribbean

Bonacca is a small town made of home on stilts connected by waterways and walkways. There are no cars or motorcycles on Bonacca. To read more about Bonacca and it’s history, click here. It was really amazing. Clean, very narrow streets, everyone smiled or spoke to you, education is at about 97%, which is amazing. We got to meet the mayor, a very young guy, progressive thinker, he seems to be doing quite well. We also met the director of all the schools on Bonacca and Guanaja.

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View from the restaurant.

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Bonacca springs water.

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Not sure why the clothes were out on the roof, my guess was to dry them?

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Kids on the street

After we had lunch we gathered the shoes from the Municipal office where they were stored and went to the first school on Bonacca. It was a medium sized school and it was spotlessly clean. There was no trash laying in the schoolyard, outside, in the rooms, NONE. How impressive that the Mayor has set these standards and the teachers and students are held accountable.

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Schoolyard. These boys were playing soccer with a ball of paper wadded up into a ball shape.

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New shoes, thanks TOMS shoes!

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D, Jan, Tony and Erik waiting for the next class to fit at the school.

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These boys had big feet!

 

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Bonacca is so cool!

After the 4 hour boat ride, fitting the kids with shoes, most of the people wanted to shower and chill for awhile. Nidia, Cookie (her daughter) and Nidia’s sister Rose Mary and I wanted to go on a boat tour so we found a guy to take us out. It was so beautiful. He took us east, around The Villa on Dunbar Rock and through the little stilt homes built off the shore of Guanaja.

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I have wanted to see this place for years. It is magnificent!

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The Villa must have cost a fortune to build, all the steel and concrete beams sunk down into the rock, what an incredible place. You can rent all or part of the house. There are 10 bedrooms!!

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There was a small village of stilt houses off the shore. In the background of this home you can see Bonacca.

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These two homes have a bridge between them. Of course, we went under it.

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Bonacca

We were asking the boat driver where to eat and all of a sudden he manuevered his boat into this small space, tied it up and we got out.

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We followed him down this narrow hallway, up some stairs and there was this cool little restaurant! We decided to eat there.

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Many evacuation signs posted all over.

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We meandered back through the maze of streets to our “hotel” to find the rest of the gang. They were scattered all over.

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Internet cafe??

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This sign is classic.

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These boxes were stacked in every nook and cranny in Nidia’s room.

Some of the guys were down on the dock so I walked down to get them with a wine bottle and a plastic cup in my hand. I really wanted some wine but couldn’t get the cork out. (it was uncorked but I stuck the cork back in it). Erik to the rescue (all the while Tony is saying he has pliers) but who needs pliers when Erik’s teeth work just fine. POP came the cork. I had VINO!!

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We gathered the group, 12 of us, and went to the restaurant. It was a really nice place, cool breeze and they were very busy. It was aptly named Sea View.

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I happened to take some cars with me and gave a few to the owners son. Thanks again John and Lizeth, I’m still passing them out.

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This sweet little guy was there with his family, the littlest one and the only boy. I gave him 2 cars and he was immediately busy running them up the chairs, on the table. I think he was occupied for the evening.

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On the way to the restaurant we grabbed another bottle of wine. It’s a good thing because Nidia, Rose Mary and I drank 2 for dinner. This is Nidia leaving the restaurant.

After that we meandered through the streets and back to our hotel where we all crashed. We were meeting at 7 for breakfast and 8 to do shoes.

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Jan put this back on but the shower still sucked and it was cod water.

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Maybe the rubber band was to hold the shower head on.

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Expert air/co installation

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Good thing we didn’t need drawers!

I slept very poorly that night, even w/ the air conditioning I was still hot and the pillow felt like it belonged to Wilma Flintstone.  I was happy to see morning!

Some of the people went to breakfast, I had packed a week long supply of food. (I know, odd for the girl who doesn’t like to eat) so I had a bagel. We started carrying the boxes downstairs and loading them in the wheelbarrow or carrying them to the school. This school was right next to the one we were at the previous day. It seems like the schools on Guanaja are much better equipped, the library was full of books, world globes, pencils, crayons, impressive.

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Well stocked library

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Fitting shoes

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Yes, they all want new shoes!!

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Nice classroom

When we were done with this school we loaded the boxes onto the same tired old boat and set off for Savanna Bight on Guanaja.

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We even fit kids on the boat!

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The locals call this the egg house. It has 3 bedrooms, a bath, full kitchen , living space and a deck all around it. It is for sale and it’s built well enough that it withstood Guanaja getting hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

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Leaving Bonacca for Savannah Bight, Guanaja

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Another view of Dunbar Rock

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Karl, Nidia’s son, King of the World. He just left for Germany, by way of Miami, to go to college.

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This is what drew me to the Bay Islands!

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Getting ready to dock at Savannah Bight

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Carrying shoes from the boat to the school.

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Beauties

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The girls were sweeping but as soon as they saw the camera, they were posing.

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So cute

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I love their responses when they see their photos!

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They spoke English also, at least the majority did.

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Nothing better than smiling kids

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View from the school

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Cleaning the classroom before we set up

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All handsome, the boy on the left had beautiful eyes!!

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Not camera shy and silly as anything.

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Waiting their turn

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These kids were so darn adorable!

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A school desk

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Cookie (Nidia’s daughter) Tony, a volunteer with the Roatan Marine Park and Rose Mary, Nidia’s sister on the left fitting shoes. I was sitting next to Cookie.

When we were done there a truck came and we loaded the boxes and ourselves onto the truck bed and set off for another school.

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Rose Mary on the top of the truck, she had to watch for low hanging branches.

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There are very few cars but a fabulous concrete road. This is the service station.

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School # 4

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Another nice school. There were kids from 4 schools here to get shoes. I spotted the dog right away and called it to come over to me. It looked sickly. I noticed a few ticks on the dogs eye so I pulled them off and squished them with my finger nail. I was petting the dog when my friend said blood was dripping off of my hand. I looked at the poor dog’s ear and it was lacerated and infected. I immediately went to the director of schools and requested that he have the principal take this dog to the vet. (There is a vet on the island.) I told him if the dog didn’t get help it would die. If Guanaja wasn’t so far away I would go back and take care of the poor thing. I reminded the director 3 times. He more than likely thinks I’m crazy but I don’t care.

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Kids from 1 school in pants, another school (dressed like the girl in the plaid skirt) was there too.

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Yellow shirts are another school and kids in white and blue are a 4th school.

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My friend Erik, the pharmacist from Michigan. He is here volunteering at Clinic Esperanza.

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What adorable kids they were!!

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Leaving the school heading back to the boat dock. The man on the right is the school director.

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The director of the schools, Dennis, D and Rose Mary, on our way back to Bonacca.

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It was a smooth ride, we were inside the reef so some people sat on the roof of the boat.

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This is Graham’s Place.

Grahams Place has quite a following. I’ve not been but it’s on my list. It is a tiny tiny island surrounded by gorgeous calm waters and beautiful deserted beaches. Sound inviting? Click on the link and check it out. Truly a one of a kind place.

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Our boat was old..

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Handsome Karl, what a great guy. He and Cookie will do well in Germany and make their mother even prouder than she is now! Fabulous kids!

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It was fun watching this guy off of a little cay.

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Back to Bonacca. The building on the right is where we had dinner the previous evening.

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Nidia was exhausted.

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When we returned to Bonacca we planned to get our stuff from the room and head back to Roatan; however we were greeted by kids wanting shoes. We had them go back to the hotel (sic) lobby and we fit them there. Then more kids came and more and more. We were there for quite a while. Since there were only 4 seats in the lobby it was mostly stand up fitting.

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Jan and Tony fitting. Jan is from Park City, Utah and Tony is a journalist from British Columbia. Jan and I shared a room.

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Rose Mary doing some stand up, sit on the floor fitting.

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The line stretched down to the corner and then some.

Once we were done here, we consolidated shoes so we had fewer boxes to take back with us. We were hoping to get a faster boat and after about 45 min of waiting, we did. It was a much smaller boat though, no top on it and it barely held all of us. Several times when we were out in the open ocean, all you could see were the swells of the water on either side. We were all pretty soaked when we finally returned to Oak Ridge. It only took about 2 hours to get home and we took a really cool cut through mangroves on the island of Guanaja. It was an interesting ride home to say the least.

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The neat and tidy streets of Bonacca

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Taken from the second floor of the visitor center

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Boats..everyone has a boat!

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Lots of kids with their new TOMS shoes on.

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Black spiny sea urchins in the water by the docks.

A lot of our view on the way home was big waves and salt spray. The sea calmed once we got along side of Barbareta Island and was pretty calm the rest of the way. When we were out in the open sea in that small boat though, it was super rough. We would drop down in between the huge swells. Very exciting.

We got home around 6 PM. I was whooped and just wanted a hot shower and couldn’t wait to wash the layer of salt off of my skin. I got free exfoliation on the way there and back, a perk for sure.

I never quite know what to expect when I go on these escapades with Nidia but I do know that all of the kids (except for less than 6 who didn’t show up that day) on Bonacca and Guanaja have new shoes. ‘

TOMS shoes really does rock and I’m so blessed to be able to be a part of it. It’s tiring leaning over all day, carrying boxes, fitting and sizing but when you see the smiles or get the hugs you forget about any discomfort you may have and revel in the joy on the kids faces.

That’s what it’s all about.

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4 thoughts on “Bonacca and Guanaja, we have arrived!

  1. Anytime my friend,anytime. Thanks to you and Judy for all you do to help us here on Roatan. You make a difference from afar! Much appreciated.

  2. Thanks Amanda. I am familiar with the Books for Bonacca. I was totally impressed by the number of books we saw in the schools, so different from Roatan schools. We didn’t get to go in the library but I know where it is for the next time!

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