Note: This is a continuation of my experiences during a recent trip to Honduras. For the first half, please click here.
Our second morning in Honduras started very calmly. Cups of incredibly fresh coffee in hand, we explored Rapaco, the hacienda where we were being housed during our stay with Global Brigades. The hacienda was calm and beautiful. Tree lined courtyards, comfortable chairs and the sounds of nature surrounded us. Every corner seemed to reveal a new breathtaking view as we explored the grounds. The only downside of our explorations was meeting the geese. Oh, the geese.
We’d been warned to stay away from the geese from the very beginning. They strutted around like they owned the place and were clearly unafraid of humans. One was black, the other white. Every time I saw the geese they were within a foot of one another, waddling everywhere and making as much noise as they pleased. When I first met them, I thought ‘Oh, those warnings were just exaggeration! Look how nice these geese seem’ and walked a bit closer. The larger black goose was having none of it. With a full beaked hiss he lifted his wings and began to charge me. Some quick feet on my part led to avoid getting bitten, but I’ll admit to being quite embarrassed. They did warn me about the geese after all.
After my harrowing goose experience I was ready for something a little more low-key, so we packed up our things for the day and hopped back into the Land Cruiser and headed back out to Buena Vista for a day of work.
I had offered our services to chip in and lend a hand with the actual physical work of putting the water system together. Originally we had planned to work on small parts of the project, such as screwing faucets together for installation in the houses. Turns out they didn’t have the right equipment yet to finish the faucets. We still wanted to get our hands dirty and help out, so we volunteered to glue some pipe together. What I didn’t know was that we would be gluing and laying the pipe on the side of a mountain crawling through corn fields,avoiding poisonous snakes and ducking barbed wire fences. It was the very definition of adventure. We all managed well, with only one of us (yes, it was me) falling into the ditch. It was a spectacular fall though, so I’m proud of that!
After we got done laying several hundred meters of pipe we broke for lunch and at last bid farewell to the water council and the village of Buena Vista. It was surprisingly emotional and we were repeatedly invited back to see the finished project. I hope to go back someday soon to see the difference when they have electricity and water in every house. The change, I imagine, will be astonishing.
We wanted to see a bit more of the country and had heard that a corn festival was going on in a nearby town called Danli. None of us had every been (including the Hondurans) but it sounded like a fun idea so we headed over. Walking through the festival was at once carnival-like and intimidating. It was obvious that we were gringoes and more than a little out of our element. I don’t mean that in a bad way, rather it was really refreshing to be the fish out of water. We attracted a bit of attention; lots of folks tried out their English on us with varying degrees of success and everyone had something to sell us. It was quite an experience!
The festival itself was basically a large open air market selling anything one might dream of. Food, shoes, hats, music and movies crowded stall after stall. One section was for livestock and we spent a while checking out the cows, horses, goats and mules. I didn’t see any sheep, but I may not have looked hard enough. I didn’t buy any cows.
The ride back was its own adventure: crowded tiny streets packed with honking cars, motorbikes, taxis and people seethed with the life of Danli. To say it was overwhelming barely scratches the surface. It was a sea of humanity. We made it back to Rapaco just in time to experience a torrential downpour that hammered the hacienda for a good 25 minutes putting on a great lightning show in the process. A relaxing evening fully free of goose attacks followed.
Our last day began with a tourist trip to Vialle de Angeles, a Spanish colonial town. This was by far the most beautiful town we visited, with wide calm streets and many friendly street vendors and shopkeepers. The weather was perfect and the town idyllic, a perfect way to end things. Then we drove into Tegucigalpa one last time and returned to the insanity. I’m sure I never want to drive there!
Coming home was bittersweet. It was a whirlwind trip, really only a few days out of my entire year. But the amount of activity, emotional and physical, made it seem much more like a trip of several weeks. Even now, the full impact of the trip is only slowly making itself known. To be able to meet these people and to be a part of their lives in such a small (for me) and large (for them) way was truly a gift, and one I won’t soon forget. I’ve already started my packing list for next time.