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Then I heard the gunshot. We hear a few shots most every night (frequently celebratory shots), the sounds ricocheting over a large area of the mountains and valleys around us - but this gunshot was clearly happening HERE. On our property! At our home!
Before I'd had a chance to think of what to do next, that one shot was followed by an alarming volley of additional firing! I froze . . .without a clue as to what I should do next, since I didn't know what was going on right outside my house!
I crept to the front windows of the bodega/house where I'd been sleeping and peeked out - but everything was just as dark as it had been the whole night, and I couldn't see a thing! We have three buildings on our property, and somewhere out there was my 14 year old son, Ben, and also Helder, one of our workers who had been sleeping at our place to help with security while Allen and Russell were away constructing a bridge in Haiti.
Certain that opening the door and going out to gather more information was a poor plan, I made the odd decision to call Russell, in Haiti. My Spanish is passable, but it would NOT have been sufficient for this situation, especially over the phone. Russell, however, is fluent. After I'd explained the situation to my son in English, he called Helder, to get the story directly from him in Spanish, and then Russell called me back and relayed the info to me.
What was known at that time was that two or three men were outside between our team house and the new home we are constructing. The new house does not yet have doors or windows (it has walls and a roof), and Helder was sleeping inside. The door and window openings were mostly blocked by heavy panels which we use to create forms when we build large things out of cement.
Helder had heard the dogs barking, and then heard the noises the men were making, so he went to investigate, taking along the pistol that he keeps by him at night while he's doing guard duty. Helder looked out the window, saw the men moving toward him, and shot a warning shot into the ground outside the building. The men returned fire, shooting directly at Helder, and Helder shot back at them. The men started to run and our very brave Helder chased them off, away from our buildings and down through the coffee fields - barefoot!
There was no additional excitement that night . . . and there was not much additional sleep, either! Once the light of morning arrived, Ben, Helder and I took some time to look around and collect any clues which could give us additional details as to what had happened.
Here's what we could piece together:
Two or three men came to our property, ready for a confrontational armed robbery - they had a weapon (possibly two, based on the spent and unspent bullets left behind), and apparently were wearing bandannas over their faces (one bandanna was on the ground, after the robbers ran off in the dark). They first tried to break into the small building nearest the driveway. No one was sleeping in that building, and they attempted to force open a door very quietly with a pry bar, and also tried to dislodge the metal bars from in front of a window. When they were unable to gain entry to that building, they removed the mirrors from the motorcycle which was parked in front of that building.
After that, they were heading to the unsecured construction site . . . when they encountered (and were chased off by) Helder. While running away from our valiant watchman, they dropped a flashlight, a bandanna, and one of the motorcycle mirrors, as well as an unspent bullet from a revolver. We saw no indication that anyone was actually injured by the gunfire.
Obviously, after a successful robbery in April and this attempted robbery in May, we are beefing up security even more than previously. It may seem odd, to those of you in the US, that none of us considered calling in the police. Our experience with Honduran police, over the course of our fifteen years in Honduras, hasn't led us to think of them as a source of help in our times of trouble. We've always known that we would be handling these kinds of situations on our own.
Once again, God has protected us from harm, allowing us to continue to live and work another day, sharing His love in the mountains of Western Honduras!
- posted by Trish