First Day in Honduras with Cape CARES

This is my second entry, in a string of blogs documenting my personal experience volunteering in Honduras. I travel with an organization named Cape CARES, see first blog titled “Non-Profit Organization Cape CARES Provides Relief Efforts in Honduras” for more background information.

We arrive from Miami in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, at roughly 1pm Honduran time. Our Cape CARES group is made up of roughly 20 people. After landing we waited about half an hour for the 20 boxes of medical supplies and dental equipment that we brought to come around the luggage carousel. We were then escorted out to our trucks by our hired Honduran assistant. Her responsibility was to make sure all our transportation was ready and everything went smoothly. She had arranged seven rental trucks, each with a hired driver.

The driving conditions in Honduras are truly hectic. There are a limited number of traffic lights and little to no driving laws are actually enforced. When I think of driving in Honduras, the cliché “every man for himself” comes to mind. Marcy, one of the English translators who lives in Honduras said that you have to think of driving as if it were a video game or you’ll never survive. Last year Marcy had told me that because there are no laws about people riding in the back of trucks, she has seen a countless number of people get thrown off the bed of the truck into traffic, often leading to injury or death.

The roads are designed to be two lanes, but that is not how they are used. There is no significant difference between a solid and dotted yellow line. People are constantly passing each other and playing chicken. It is essentially a three lane road. The two outside lanes are for slow moving trucks and cars, (which are abundant in Honduras), while the middle lane is used as a passing lane, for both directions of traffic! I had never been so frightened in a car.

After about an hour of driving through the overflowing city we started driving up in to the mountains. One thing I noticed that was interesting was the large amount of windmills. You would think that such an undeveloped country wouldn’t have those new eco-friendly energy solutions. However, they had plenty of windmills all over the mountainside.

After about half an hour of driving on back roads, we came to the entrance up into the mountains. Just before the entrance we met up with the government police troops who rode in the back of our trucks for security purposes. The next two hours would serve as a bumpy ride. The unpaved, rocky roads meandered through the mountainside. Some sections were so steep and narrow that I feared that ground would give way and our car would go tumbling down the mountainside!

We arrived at the clinic at roughly 5pm. We immediately started to unload the trucks and set up the dental clinic. We set up until 7 when the dinner bell rang. Hermana (“Sister” in Spanish) was the head of the compound. She and her staff cooked for us three times a day. The food was questionable at best. Her meals often consisted of left overs of the meal earlier in the day. After dinner we finished setting up the clinic and went to bed. Mosquitos, bats, and roosters crowing at 3 am would limit our amount of sleep.

The roads we traveled going up into the mountains.

A nice shot of the medical clinic (left), and Hermana’s dinner bell (center).

A shot of the path leading to our dorm rooms for the week.

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