“Ever been to Honduras before?” The guy next to me finally initiates the conversation. (Mom, Dad and Lindsay: I already know what you’re thinking here. Stop it.) I’ve never been so excited for a southern, buttoned-up, middle-aged man to speak to me. I had just said goodbye to my parents, which included tears from my Mom and a walk all the way to the Atlanta security checkpoint from my sweet Father. He wanted to make sure his “big girl” was okay by walking her as far as he could. It absolutely melted my heart. So it goes without saying that I was a *slight mess when I arrived at gate E02. Knowing I had to keep the travel fire lit, I held it together and even got the first class upgrade. Things were looking up. Between the mimosa I was handed upon sitting down, and the nice southern business man inquiring about my travels, Seat 2A was treating me pretty well. I answered his question promptly, telling him the quick version of why I was headed to Honduras. He grinned and said “Well, it sounds like you’re on a little adventure, aren’t ya?” I actually think he was laughing at me, almost condescendingly so. What did I care? He was on a flight to stay in San Pedro Sula (gag) for TWO WEEKS for his “job in textiles,” and I was about to do whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted. The world was my map and time didn’t exist.
Dad and I at my farewell. In case you didn’t already notice, I AM him. It’s almost frightening sometimes.
I landed in San Pedro Sula on time, around 11:15AM. I knew exactly where to go, as this was my third time flying into this dump of a city. In true San Pedro fashion, they only had one customs line open for foreigners. So the waiting began. I figured I’d be doing quite a bit of it throughout the next few months, so it didn’t faze me too much. I finally get to the officer’s booth, where he quickly stamps my brand spankin’ new passport and even winks at me. (Disclaimer: my passport is ONLY new because my previous, worn-in version expired. In other words, this is not my first passport). I then run over to baggage claim to pick up my 30-pound pack and immediately head for the exit, where I meet Starla. Naturally, she’s waiting on me in the same spot she waited in for me this time last year, anticipating my arrival patiently. We hug and turn into the girliest of all girls, as if we haven’t seen each other in months. Without any discussion, we immediately grab a coffee from Café Americano, our favorite spot in Honduras. This coffee is known to change lives. I wouldn’t lie to you. After enjoying a few sips of sweet caffeine, we hop in Starla’s Dad’s truck with his driver and head straight to the medical clinic her family is sponsoring. What else do you do when you first arrive to a third-world country?
Veiw from our hotel room in San Pedro Sula, night 1. Don’t be fooled by the fancy camera settings here. This place is a dump. A dump that I kind of love. It’s rich in culture and friendly people, but it is a bit dodgey. If you look, you can certainly find the good here.
When we arrive, I am speechless. I thought leaving my friends and family was depressing, then I saw this. I walk up to a line of about 100 women and children, standing under umbrellas in 95-degree heat against the side of a run down, un-air conditioned building. Somehow, they’re smiling. They don’t have access to any type of healthcare, so they rely on annual or semi-annual clinics like this one. These are generally sponsored by some type of religious organization, which rely on its members to donate money and supplies. Starla’s parents, in particular, have put on hundreds of these clinics in Central America, providing about 500,000 people with medical care, antibiotics, dental work- you name it. The clinics typically last about a week in one particular area and can provide for as many as 400 people per day. The people who volunteer to work these are just like you and I. Most are missionaries and their ages range from 16-80. I saw a 20 year old college kid pull a 6 year old’s tooth. I’m not even lying a little bit. He just stepped up, tilted her head back and went for it. She was a freaking trooper, in case you were wondering. In fact, all of the kids were. I couldn’t help but think about how soft we are in the states. I mean, I cower like a little girl over a professional crown at the dentist, and these seven year olds are sitting in an old plastic chair in a hot room with swarming flies- all after waiting in a carnival-like line for an hour or more. They would watch one another as the dentist would yank teeth out like it was a game of Operation. Seriously. I was blown away.
I could talk about this day forever, but I’ll spare you the 5,000 word essay and share pictures instead.
Me, filling prescriptions, which included acetaminophen, multivitamins and parasite pills. Those are the things they can’t afford. Meanwhile, I had a bottle of abut 25 ibuprofen and Tylenol in my purse. The things we don’t even think about, huh?
The “dentist” pulling a 10 year old’s tooth. She didn’t flinch and it took them about 25 minutes and several shots of local anesthetic. The guy on the right is about 20 years old and did most of the dirty work.
A few local, beautiful children. We at lunch at their parent’s house and it was absolutely delicious. Chicken and rice. What else do you really need?
This poor kid. Getting his back molar out must have taken over an hour. He finally broke down and cried. His Mother tried not to look, fighting back tears and repeating prayers in Spanish. This is Starla feeding him some meds to both calm him down and make him feel a bit less pain. They finally got it out and I’m fairly certain that kid has never run (away) so fast in his life.