Friday, May 25, 2007

Not the Biggest World in the World

View from the Hills above the Chapel

The NPH home (aka Rancho Santa Fe) is about an hour drive outside of Tegucigalpa, but from Nicaragua, it practically felt like a flight home. The temperature cools, the breeze wafts and the towering pine trees cover the high sierras. It was eastern Washington/north Idaho at the end of June.

It’s a place where you can hear the wind coming in the tops of the trees before you feel it.

It almost didn’t feel like a coincidence, then, that the first person I met there, Jim, lives on Whidbey Island in the same small town as my best friend, Carrie, and was pretty sure that he had met her through work. He had volunteered with his family a few years before and was volunteering again during a 10 day vacation.

Rancho Santa Fe has a home for the elderly due to them being a vulnerable population as well. This abuelita took care of me during my stay. She's really little, I swear I haven't grown 2' since I left!

The home itself takes advantage of the climate, there is no glass in the windows, the church is an open (although roofed) amphitheater and all the buildings have open central courtyards.

Excellent well maintained drainage systems at all buildings

I came home with nearly 400 pictures, everything from the vistas to the floor tiling. One of my favorite parts was the material used for the roof. It’s a corrugated fibrous cement board colored the same red as traditional tiles. It’s not nearly as heavy, labor intensive to install or breakable as tile, however, but it also doesn’t conduct heat like similar panels I’ve seen in Nicaragua made out of metal. Anything that doesn’t conduct heat well is a prize.

Yep, Tile floor in the Clinic

During my thorough tour given to me by a girl in her year of service we also regularly stopped and chatted with the kids and staff. It gave me a great opportunity to ask people how they liked the way the buildings worked for them. Normally, when you ask that question, people just give you a weird look. ‘It’s a building. What else is it supposed to do?’ But because we were standing right there I could ask ‘what would you do to improve the laundry area? Is this enough space for all the kids to study?’
Casa Sullapa - Babies House Dining Room
Irina was my tour guide. She normally works at Casa Sullapa. Benjamin looked to be about two and the first thing he did was to grab my camera to look at the display on the back. They certainly know digital cameras!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an experience is worth some factor more. I came away with a great idea of what kinds of buildings work for NPH in Honduras and that brings me much closer to knowing what is going to work here in Nicaragua.

Panorama of Chapel


lance said...

I'm impressed with the drainage system on site.

Thanks for the continued updates of 'everyday life' in your corner of the world.

Nic said...

I know! Isn't it great! And it was so well done. Even in areas where they had to run things underground they had ample clean-outs!