Cleverly (top) and Fiercely on mules, local kids are amused we don’t know how to ride them!
Not only did people feed and house us, but they let us ride their horses! We went on several beautiful rides around the village and surrounding hills. We provided amusement since we don’t know much about riding, especially bareback or on minimal saddles. I’ll wager that four-year-olds here are better riders than most US citizens.
I knew people would be generous during our visit so we had discussions beforehand on what to bring as gifts. Gift-giving can be difficult since it can cause a frenzy if you are giving things away, and it can breed resentment, jealousy, greed and ugly crowds. The village has good soil, hard workers and good crops, as well as income from those working in the US, so it is well off compared to many Honduran villages. Of course, the resource inequality between the average US family and the average village family is vast. I had seen while living there charitable giveaways that were unneeded and sometimes detrimental to the village – processed food like canned sauerkraut which confused people, candy when tooth decay was already a problem, and fertilizer which depleted the soil and caused poisonings. We decided beforehand to give things that could be shared, also we travel light so nothing could be large. We settled on books for their school library, since I knew that was small, some soccer balls for the kids to share (we bought those in San Pedro with Isai), and a cell phone for Marta – I bought one while there to call home since they are so inexpensive, and gave it to Marta when I left. I also procured toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste from a dental clinic and left them at the village health clinic.
Inside and outside the village health clinic
We were there about a week then it was time to find our way back to San Pedro Sula to the hotel there to meet my parents. They were actually staying at a Hilton Hotel, quite the other extreme from the village! The kids were ready for the change. I made a mental note that the village was tiring in many ways for the kids, and me too, always being the center if attention, living in an environment very different from home, dependent for food + housing on our hosts, living in a different language + culture, etc. I plan to keep this in mind for other trips – it is wise to schedule breaks from intensive adventure travel.
People in the village assured me that Chema’s nephew always drives to a large town down the mountain with a milk delivery on Sundays, so we planned to get a ride with him. Hondurans are unsettlingly casual about this kind of thing, especially if you are a US citizen used to time pressure about everything, but I didn’t worry. I figured if the milk truck didn’t work we could go Monday when the bus went down – there seemed to be a reliable bus trip once a day from what people told me and I did see it once or twice while there. Surprisingly, the milk truck did work out for us. We waited with Chema and some kids and our luggage and the truck eventually came. This part was kind of rough on me since I didn’t know when I’d be back. I hate goodbyes, but I did have something to look forward to – meeting Marta and Chema’s kids in the US – and that made things a little easier.
The milk truck stopped at a finca – a coffee farm on the way to the town. Above is the coffee processing area with hand-cranked mill. Coffee beans are seeds from a red fruit which are removed with the mill. The driver and assistant loaded these huge bags into the truck bed along with the milk containers, there must have been literally a ton of cargo or more!
A little mud brick house I liked at the finca, Cleverly on the minibus to La Entrada
The trip was 3 legs – first to the town, then a packed minibus back to La Entrada, then a school bus to San Pedro. Public transportation in Honduras was wonderful – so frequent, cheap, easily accessible, and they kept letting Cleverly in for free since she was under 9 years old. Imagine considering a 7-year-old a child in the US, just unthinkable, and not charging them seems downright anti-business!?! Many times the laid-back Honduran vibe did me right. We got snacks from vendors at the bus station – cheap, healthy, wonderful! We got popcorn balls held together with a sweet molasses syrup, ticucos which are corn dumplings with greens packaged in a corn husk, and datiles, fingerlike small bananas. We got to the San Pedro Bus Station, a much newer facility and in a different part of town than I knew, and we took a taxi to the Hilton Princess. And back to the developed world. And grandparents! There they were with a rental car and a sweet hotel with a pool! The next part of the trip was to begin…