What a full, fun day we had! Today made mission tripping feel like vacation. As a special treat, we used a portion of the money we raised to bring all the kids to a waterpark. I don’t know if I can describe what a joy it was for each of us. What we planned as a gift to them was given back to us ten-fold in laughter and memories.
As with most everything here, a water park in Honduras looks quite different from anything back home. Set in the middle of a forest between the mountains and the coast, the Parque San Ignacio is both water park and zoo. There are no lifeguards, no rules, no overprotective parents slathering sunscreen or managing the lines for the slides. This was pure, un-Americanized freedom. For the kids and for us.
We started the day by driving past the water park to the children’s village so we could board the school bus and ride with the kids. This has been a highlight of both my trips to Honduras. Piling 90 bodies into one hot school bus can only be fun if it’s packed full of people I love. And oh how I love these kids! With up to 5 to a seat, we squeezed in and laughed our way down the road.
At the park, we were given access to the main pool with its two water slides. The twisty slide was fun and ooooooohmygosh the steep slide was so fast! Kids and adults careened down and skimmed across the water like hovercraft. Two, three, even six kids at a time. They ran up the steps to go down again and again. These children make up the most amazing family, playing together like any other siblings, times 100.
After a few hours of play, lunch arrived: 40 Little Cesar’s pizzas and 18 liters of soda to feed a hungry crowd. The zoo took us on a path deep into the woods. Jaguars, a puma, a lion, crocodiles, monkeys, and ostrich were all among the local and exotic animals. Just like my own children who visited the National Zoo today, these kids were delighted by the animals. Though it seemed to me, their favorite part was walking along with us.
We circled the lake and returned to find the rest of the group laughing, splashing, having the time of their lives! And for many, this was. A day at the water park was, for the kids at H2H, the equivalent of a trip to Disney. An opportunity to play, to be a kid, to forget all the worries and burdens of a very harsh reality. A chance to just be fully present in the day and to make memories to last a lifetime. I know I did!