While I’ve shared bits + pieces of my trips to Honduras, I’ve never done a complete recap of one of my weeks there…until now. Here’s a look back at what I did each day of our trip (this is where keeping a travel journal comes in handy!) Part one today, part two to follow.
Day One – Our travel day got off to an early start when I arrived at the airport at 4:30AM. I needed to check two bags full of donations; my 14 travel companions also brought two bags each. As the group I travel with is from Indianapolis, I met them for our connecting flight in Atlanta. The flight from Atlanta to Tegucigalpa isn’t much more than three hours, and we arrived about 1PM local time. We met our friends with Sociedad Amigos de los Niños and went to have lunch with Sister María Rosa, the founder of the organization, at her home. After lunch, we went to the nearby Pedro Atala homes, where about 50 children live. It was a big holiday in Honduras, the feast of the Virgin of Suyapa, the country’s patron saint, so the children did not have school. We visited with them, and brought muffins, ice cream and soda to snack on. As it got later in the afternoon, we had to take off to get out of the city before rush hour and darkness settled in. We went to our home base for the week, Nuevo Paraíso, located in the valley of Morocelí. It includes another, larger, compound with a group of homes for about 150 children, as well as a school and church. As it was a long day, I turned in pretty soon after dinner there.
Day Two – I felt well rested and decided to join some of my group members for a run in the morning. In the past, we’ve been able to run up nearby Montaña de Luz, but this year we were discouraged from passing through the village in between. Our solution was to run around the compound, which isn’t much more than a 1/2 mile of road. Regardless, I feel that it’s good fellowship, even if I am hustling to keep up with my male companions. Each morning we also gather before breakfast for a reflection led by one of our group members. After our meal, I joined the first-time travelers for a tour of the nursery and clinic, because I am always interested in the latest news. For example, the clinic birthed 26 babies in January; in the past few years, the government has begun to fund clinic births to discourage people from using untrained midwives and to decrease the mortality rate. After the tour, I went to work on wall construction. My group worked on an initial section of the security wall that separates the compound from the road three years ago; now, there were just 18 meters left to build. The process includes sifting sand, making concrete by hand, pouring the foundation, laying bricks, etc. After breaking for lunch, I went with two others to work on a building that is going to be renovated to use as an additional house for the teenage boys (who live together, to separate them from the teenage girls.) I worked on sanding the brick wall to prepare it for painting. Typically, we break from work about 4PM and take some time to wash up and relax before dinner. Today, though, I went with our Honduran friends to Villa de San Francisco, a close by town, to pick up the food that we would take on our brigade later that week. After dinner, the kids are already getting ready for bed (they sleep about 7PM-5AM) so we hang out on our side of the compound. We’re fortunate to have four talented musicians in the group who play music on little travel guitars and a mandolin. Throw in some Honduran beers, and we’re set for the evening.
Day Three – The children leave for school just after 6:30AM, and we usually get up to walk with them and see them off. The school is less than half a mile from their homes, and though it’s within the compound, students from the surrounding area attend as well. After seeing the kids off, I and one other person got in another quick run before reflection. After breakfast, I went with most of the other women into Tegucigalpa to do shopping. While the labor on the wall is physically strenuous, keeping track of a budget and buying supplies for over 200 kids is challenging in a different way. I am always fascinated by spending time in the city, though, and this is one of my favorite parts of the trip. Our first stop this day was to a hardware store to pick out paint colors for the new boys’ house, as well as painting supplies. Next, we went to Walmart, which is located in the Cascadas mall. Here we picked up plates, silverware and cups for the boys to use (making sure to get unbreakable plastic!) For our lunch break, we went to McDonald’s (more on that in an upcoming post.) After, we picked up the children’s school supplies we had ordered from Útiles de Honduras (útiles are supplies.) We also had to go to Stock, a wholesale club that sells pretty much everything, for additional school supplies. Our final stop was at PriceSmart, which is just like Costco, to get snacks for the various activities we planned with the kids throughout the week. We drove back to Nuevo, had dinner, and then hosted the younger kids in the dining hall for a viewing of Golden Shoes (in Spanish: Los Zapatos de Oro.) That night it rained and the power was knocked out. The generator kept things on until bedtime, but then it was turned off to conserve fuel. This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this, but I am always amazed at how completely, totally, dark it is when I wake up in the middle of the night. (The the power came back on at some point next day.)
Day Four – This was Saturday, so we did not walk the kids to school, and I slept in a little later than the previous days. After reflection and breakfast, we got down to work on the wall. My team laid about nine rows on our section in the course of a few hours. Once we used up all the mortar we had made, we stopped for lunch; we, and our fellow Honduran workers, only work half a day on Saturday. After our lunch break, we packed up the thirty bags of food we were taking to a small rural village, Quebrada Grande. I had been to this same village on a food brigade in 2013, but that time we brought food for all the families and parked in a field where they gathered to meet us. This time, the pastor of the town’s Presbyterian church took us to the homes of the thirty families most in need. It is a really powerful experience to deliver a gift to someone’s home. We did a similar brigade the previous year in Flor Azul, which you can read about here. It was a long afternoon of walking – someone’s activity tracker said we racked up over five miles – but I got to share carrying a bag with one of my Honduran friends, and while we were walking we chatted and he taught me more about the local fruit trees. After all that, we were ready for dinner back at home base. That evening, we hosted the older kids for Bingo night. I’ve never seen a group get more rowdy with games of Bingo! I think we all ended up having a lot of fun, but it was good to have some additional “wind down” time with the group before bed.
Stay tuned for the second half of my trip! And please leave any comments or questions you have below. I’d love to share anything else I can about this wonderful country and my experiences.