Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Update from John

We are about to take our hockey team to Guatemala for the Guatemalan National Championship Series. We are taking a very young team who have dedicated themselves to a rigorous month of preparation. They are disciplined and in excellent condition so they should do very well. For most of the guys it’s their first time out of the country; everyone is excited. We are trying to keep the gang focused and relaxed. The guys are so funny, everyone seems cool about playing but nervous about what snacks we’re buying for the trip.

I think the Guatemalan’s are intimidated......El Salvador is coming to town.

I want to thank Luis Lopez who has done a truly amazing job as team captain helping me prepare the team and get this trip underway. INDES (National Institute of Sport) has also been great helping with travel documents and transportation.

In addition to our games, I will be doing a three day clinic there with coaches focusing on player development and team strategy. We will also begin to discuss the creation of a Central American Hockey Union which will help each national federation develop the sport, create a partnership between all of us working in the game in the region, and hopefully create a Central American League where in the future the Central American champion could play in the Pan Am Games and Word Championships (huge goals).

After Guatemala, the crew (Luis, Gio, Cobra, Rosibel and Noemi) will take over in the Tamarindo as I begin a much needed mini-sabbatical. If you are looking you will be able to find me at If not there maybe you will find me meditating inside of the Izalco Volcano, or walking the Golden Gate Bridge, or sitting at the oyster bar at the Union Oyster House, or discerning life before a Van Gogh at the Met but most likely I’ll be sitting down the third baseline at Yankee Stadium.

I am so grateful to all who have made our trip to Guatemala possible, without you nothing happens.

I’m also so thankful for your support of me (I know I am challenging sometimes). I thank you for all your prayers, love and support and look forward to hearing or seeing you soon (somewhere along the line). With great affection,


Monday, September 19, 2011

Tamarindo Band History - by Tom Funk

When asked about their rise to popularity, have you ever heard a popular artist, actor or public personality say something like: “I didn’t plan for this to happen, it just did!”? Have you ever wondered if it’s really true? Well, to the extent that the Tamarindo Band is popular, in our case, it is true. We didn’t plan for this to happen, it just did!

To trace our story, let’s go back to April, 2008. The Tamarindo Foundation was hosting its first “Coffee House Fundraiser” at Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis. Knowing that there were a large number of musicians (mainly amateur, but more on that later) with involvement in the Foundation, it was decided that we would provide our own entertainment. The “Tamarindo Band” was formed and played for what turned out to be the Foundation’s most successful fundraiser to date. Not that raising money is what the Tamarindo Band is exclusively about. It turns out that the Band members have great fun together, love to play together, and somehow magically transmit that feeling to its audience.

After that first fundraiser, we still didn’t consider ourselves “A Band” or anything that concrete. We were a collection of like-minded friends, family and musicians who occasionally came together and then dispersed to our regular lives.

As time went on, we were asked to play at more and more events. Typical gigs have included an evening at a few local bar/restaurants, birthday parties, high school faculty Christmas parties, parish fundraisers and, most recently, at a “Tune The Hall” performance at the world-class Palladium in Carmel, Indiana. We always pass on all of the income that we receive to the Foundation, which has totaled about $6,000.00 thus far. We like it that way.

A typical performance would include tunes from the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis, Jimmie Buffet, John Lennon, Willie Nelson, Wayland Jennings, Old Crow Medicine Show and a number of originals by Mary Sukup or John Funk. It is not unusual for folks to sing along and for the occasional guest artist to appear.

The Band is composed of:

Chris Dietrick - Acoustic and lead guitar; vocals.

Chris Funk - Percussion. Brother of Ryan Funk and cousin of John Funk.

John Funk - Acoustic and electric guitar; vocals; occasional percussion. Son of Tom Funk.

Mary Sukup - Acoustic guitar; lead vocals.

Mike Qualters (“Q”) - Lead vocals. Current president of the Tamarindo Foundation.

Ryan Funk - Acoustic guitar, vocals.

Tom Funk - Bass guitar, vocals.

Many of the band members have traveled to El Salvador and all except Mary Sukup, (who hails from Wyoming) are graduates of Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis. None of the band members are professional musicians except for Mary Sukup, who has been a music teacher for many years and has performed in many venues. Our guest artists have included Jim Funk (father of Ryan and Chris and brother of Tom) and Dawn Sukup (daughter of Mary). At the Palladium in January of this year and at our first Coffehouse Fundraiser, we had the pleasure of being joined by singer/songwriter Liz Fohl who is living and performing in Los Angeles after attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

So the phenomenon of the Tamarindo Band really is something that “just happened” and continues to happen for the benefit of our friends in El Salvador and our fans here in central Indiana.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Agrochemicals in Guarjila and Their Danger to Our Community

A couple of weeks ago, Fredi Maquina came to the Tamarindo shop limping and his face was as white as a ghost. He moved and spoke very slowly. He explained to me that he had been out in his bean field fumigating the crop with a back pack spray device and the chemicals had dripped down his back and burned the inside of his legs. The next day after working in the fields, Gio came into the shop with the same look as his brother; he was running a high fever, his eyes were somewhat closed and his speech was slurred.

We then contacted a poison specialist in San Salvador who told us to bring the guys in immediately. The brothers had been poisoned by a cocktail of agrochemicals used on their crops. The physician treated Fredi for his burns and ordered lab work on both guys.

Thank God both tested out fine and there was no damage to either liver or kidneys on this occasion. But every year hundreds of people in our communities get sick by the chemicals that they use to put food on the table. Annually, farm workers die here from exposure to agrochemicals.

The farmers use combinations of paraquat, atranex, hedonal, gramoxine and MTD 60 SL (among other things) for a variety of needs. They are used to remove grass and weeds as well as to kill pests and parasites. Talking to Gio about what he uses is like being in a chemistry class - it's "a spoon of this and then a little of that and then a cap full of that. This kills that...but you better be careful with that stuff because a cap of it will take out a whole tree." Gio, like the others, is an "expert", self taught in the fields.

Many of the above chemicals are without antidotes, and the warnings on the bottle mention heart, kidney, liver, esophagus and lung damage as well as cancer and birth defects as possible dangers. When I went to the store to research about the products, I found hundreds of warning labels tossed on the ground. Obviously the labels aren't being read.

It is interesting that all the chemical products prescribe the use of gloves, protective masks and boots as a requirement to avoid exposure to the danger of the product; all warn about the risk of both short and long term illness as well as death.

The macho culture we have here really plays a role in the negligence of the farmers (farmers like Gio and Fredi). So starting this weekend, we will begin a campaign in the TAMARINDO, making protective masks, gloves and boots available free of charge. (I found a guy that has donated masks and gloves).

Gio has already given one talk and will continue to spread the message about the serious dangers of using the chemicals. Both Gio and Fredi are fine but we need to make an effort to protect all the young kids from the adverse effects of the agrochemicals that they start toting around at a young age. We need to educate them of the dangers of the products that are potentially life-threatening.