Nury’s niece and nephew have been with us this week. Andrea is a college graduate and has medical translation experience via telephone. She is interested in a career in logistics or foreign affairs. Her brother, Selim, is a medical student. They have both been translating for the team this week. How lucky for us!
Traffic doesn't stop for yellow school buses here. That’s because the yellow school buses aren’t school buses! They are used for public transportation. There are buses of many colors rumbling around the streets. Many people ride bicycles on the highway, walk, and some ride horses or mules. This area of Honduras is where the indigenous Lenca people farmed and fished for thousands of years. Many of them still live here, and still live life close to the land. One of the FOB cooks, Albeta, is Lenca.
On the way to the villages, we have seen signs of construction all around, we saw a huge John Deere dealership, Wendy's, Papa John's, Dunkin' Donuts, and a Pepsi plant as we rolled over a trash filled river. We later saw a waterpark with slides way higher than might be permitted in the US. We passed homes constructed of corrugated containers that you would see on the back of a tractor trailer or a train. They were painted and had terra cotta or tin roofs and look pretty sturdy. We also saw houses constructed of whatever was at hand--sticks, plastic, or tires.
We saw billboards hawking American sporting goods and other affluent brands. The glass and steel Toyota dealership stood in stark contrast to the visible standard of living of most people. There were roadside stands piled high with pineapples and melons and coconuts, rotisserie chicken shops, lots of gas stations. Gas is expensive here--about $4.00/gal. Despite the signs of modernization, it is impossible to ignore the intensely beautiful countryside. The mountains meet the sky, sometimes shrouded in mist, other times verdantly green.
Nury explained to us that Honduras, which means "deep waters," is located almost exactly between North America and South America. After several military governments and coups, Honduras became a democracy in 1982. Because of its central location, it became an attractive place for gangs to run drug operations. Drug violence is why it is known as one of the most dangerous countries in the world. All of our team members agree that we have felt completely safe while here, and that the Army detail that follows our bus is there only as a deterrent, but will intervene if needed. There has never been an incident involving Friends of Barnabas.
Bananas, t-shirts, and coffee are the primary exports of Honduras. Fresh, hot coffee is always available to us! Call centers are also here because Honduras is the most bilingual country in Central America and Hondurans have neutral accents. The last Mayan city is also in Honduras, as are the Bay Islands and their spectacular reefs. Fun fact: Honduras is the first place chocolate was eaten. Native peoples learned to process the cacao beans. Modern Honduras is trying to create a chocolate industry.
Our village today was La Cuchilla Concepción, a community of about 700. Strep throat is rampant so we dispensed many antibiotics. We began running out of supplies, including toothbrushes, medications, and 1.0 reading eyeglasses. One particularly poignant encounter was with a 16-year-old pregnant mother, whose 2-year-old daughter had been seen by FOB previously and diagnosed with a heart defect. She wailed in pain constantly and was malnourished. The baby had been referred to a clinic but the woman's husband would not allow her to go. She told us that she has left him so that she can get help for her baby. Can you imagine a 16-year-old having to make decisions like this? She is doing everything she can out of love for her children. Please pray for her.
Dr. Arita, the Honduran dentist that travels with many of the FOB teams, spoke today of his appreciation for Claire, and how nice it was to work with a colleague. They both complimented Harvey, Kate, and Anna for their comforting presence with the dental patients.