Short Introduction to our travels

Eva, who travels with a Slovak passport, was a huge hit at the Tegucigalpa airport – celebrity status of sorts. Upon her arrival, four immigration officers all gathered around to inspect her passport. When asked if anything was wrong, they explained that a Slovak passport is a rarity and quite a find in Honduras – in fact they may have never seen one before.

Michael and Kari departed from Denver and what should have been a single day excursion turned into a nightmare. After 42 hours of travel, including an impromptu overnight stay in El Salvador and a mysterious, unplanned, extra landing in San Pedro Sula, they finally arrived into their destination site, Tegucigalpa, on Tuesday evening almost ten hours late. As real troopers, they began working the next day. It was especially thrilling to land in Tegucigalpa;  it is best known to have one of the shortest, if not THE shortest, runway in the world. The passengers began applauding once we hit ground and started the taxi to the gate.

Flying into Tegucigalpa offers you a perfect window into Honduras. The country is quite beautiful covered with mountainous terrain, a variety of trees (mostly pines believe it or not), small water falls, and unpaved roads. Spending time in the countryside evokes a sentiment of peace by observing nature untouched and the ability for people to co-exist with it.

Tegucigalpa

Tegucigalpa, the capital, is considered to be a dangerous city with many slums and a poor population. When flying over, you see many houses with missing roofs or built on shaky foundations. Unfortunately, when Hurricane Mitch hit Central America in 1998, Honduras suffered enormously. Several thousand people died and property damage ran into the billion-dollar range.

Statue of Jesus Christ in El Picacho City Park overlooking Tegucigalpa.

If you visit the statute of Jesus, which overlooks the city of Tegucigalpa, you get a view of the city like none other as well as a closer look at the damage done by the Hurricane. Some of the rolling hills previously occupied by people are no longer habitable due to the ever-present risk of future landslides and at worst, hurricanes.

Upon arrival, we drove to Nuevo Paradiso (approximately 45 minutes outside the city), which became our home away from home. The accommodations were wonderful consisting of our own apartment as well as excellent food in the dining hall and Nuevo personnel who took such good care of us. Nuevo is a complex where Global Brigades hosts college students that come to participate in various brigades. It includes student accommodations, a cafeteria, pharmacy, and laundry room. The property also houses an orphanage that hosts about 40 children, small self-sustainable plantain factory, boy’s school (elementary and high school), and a clinic. Essentially a self-sustained community in itself, Nuevo Paradiso is unbelievable.

Jimmy showing a photo to the kids

Jimmy shows the kids a photo (of themselves!)

The people of Honduras are some of the friendliest most personable you will meet. With warm smiles, each is happy to see you and is willing to share what limited resources they possess with you. Kari and Michael, while taking pictures, often found out how eager they are to have their pictures taken. It was very refreshing to see how people who have limited resources (one might say in comparison to Western countries) live happy and content lives.

While there, we had the privilege of visiting a few homes to experience first–hand their living conditions. Many people live in small houses (especially in the rural areas) and it is not uncommon for two families to live together. Based on our conversations with Global Brigades staff and the local people, women in the rural areas have on average 6-12 children. Many houses do not have indoor plumbing and most likely use outdoor water facilities to shower and do dishes. Wives responsible for the household cook inside houses that often lack proper ventilation. From our experiences in the villages, we discovered that many people suffer from parasites and respiratory problems. These health issues are directly correlated to the lack of proper chimney structures in the homes and limited access to drinkable water.

Be sure to keep on the lookout for future blogs. We will detail how Global Brigades is trying to combat health issues that are seriously impacting lives of many Hondurans.

Advertisements