Monday, July 11, 2011

A New Adventure

After two hours of sleep, a nearly missed flight in Houston, and a relatively short journey to what seems like another world, I have arrived safely into San Pedro Sula. My first few days were very atypical of my future time here as we went to two nice shopping malls, ate at a delicious Italian restaurant and had Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. However, the poverty is still evident here as I encounter the beggars on the streets, the trash everywhere, and the random sites of goats and horse drawn carts galloping down the roads. Sites such as Pizza Huts on every corner with tin shacks behind them and people riding in a cart pulled by a horse while talking on a cell phone show the contradiction of the appearance of wealth and the apparent poverty coexisting. Yet even in my short time here so far, I have experienced the warmth of the Honduran people in their smiles and willingness to welcome us gringos. It is also nice to know that everything I need is in the city. The market we went to sells everything from toothpaste to remote controls to pirated movies that aren’t even out on DVD yet (Que Paso Ayer? Parte Dos aka the Hangover 2 is literally on every street corner).
We stayed in the city for two nights in order to pick up all the volunteers from the airport. Besides me, there are four other volunteers who will be doing the same job as assistant brigade coordinators. We will also work on individual projects when there are not brigades here. It has been wonderful getting to know everyone and we have a fun group who will be good travel buddies and a great support system for me during my year here! After staying in the city, we began the trek to a brewery which is about two hours outside of the city. The brewery is also a hotel owned by an expatriate Oregonian who brews his own beer and runs an ecotourism resort. We ate under a little cabana, surrounded by a pool and the Pandora station “The Coffeehouse” blaring in the background, not exactly a true reflection of Central America! 
Our view of the clinic from where we will be living.
 We then continued on to where we will be living, which is another six hour drive through smaller towns and winding dirt roads. It’s funny that while the plane ride from Colorado is relatively short, the travel time within the country will definitely make up for it! We are in the southwest corner of Honduras and almost to the El Salvadoran border. The region in Intibuca where we will be living is the poorest region of Honduras. It is beautiful though and we are surrounded by lush green mountains on all sides. This first week has been very busy with staff orienting, meeting the Hondurans who work here at the clinic, traveling to neighboring communities, and painting the basement of the clinic where pregnant mothers will be able to stay before and after they give birth. Since many people come from hours away to receive secondary medical care here, it is definitely an advantage to have a place for them to sleep overnight.   I am excited to see the logistics of the organization though and can already tell that it is clearly making a sustainable difference here not only in health but also in education, nutrition, and dentistry.
Another volunteer Amy and I in the room we will be staying in for a few weeks.
 Some tidbits I have learned about Honduras so far:

·    It is not customary to tip except for at nice restaurants and in resort towns. Sweet…cheaper taxis!
·    You always use the usted or vos form (you formal) even if it is a close friend.
·    Balleadas are a well-known dish here that consists of a tortilla, eggs, cheese, beans and a sour cream type sauce. Yum!
·    From July to October, it will rain every afternoon and probably night, and when it rains, it pours!
·    A break after lunch (at least until 2) is key.

Other volunteers Amy and Amy painting the basement of the clinic.
More to come soon!


  1. Maggie! So good to hear that you're enjoying it so far. Also glad you are getting along with the other members of the group, it will be great to have travel buddies and friends when you're having a tough day. Can't wait to read more.

  2. It sounds like you're having adventures already! I can't wait to read more :)