Honduras: post-Hurricane Mitch

The Hotel Granada I is a cheap, dungy hole where a lot of Peace Corps volunteers stay when in Tegucigalpa. Its proximity to the office is the primary reason why we dwell here.

 

For me, I also like the flow of people coming in and out of the place. Here you run into “freaks”-like the man who could recite, in English and computer-like, any state’s motto, bird, tree, population, land area in square miles, etc.

 

I watched dumbfounded and laughed hysterically as he ripped through Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania. My friends and I thought we’d throw him a loop.

 

“How about Delaware?”

 

“The Little Wonder,” he responded without hesitation.

 

There are also Hondurans who wake in the wee hours of the morning to walk up to the U.S. Embassy and wait in line, hoping to get a visa. Backpackers, mostly European, tramp through the mint green-painted hallways as well. .

 

Today, I sit in room 13, the putrid odor of my morning excrement filling my nasal passages. There is water between the hours of 5 and 7 in the morning, the city’s water systems being some of the countless victims of Hurricane Mitch.

A couple of hours ago, I passed through a few neighborhoods down by the river while in a taxi.  

 

Structures, dilapidated and decrepit., sat pitifully by the newly formed riverbanks. Mud lines 8-10 feet high dirtied the sides of buildings. Cars still were buried in the mud.

 

Since I’ve returned from Christmas break, the single most astonishing thing to me is the courage that the people of Honduras have shown in the aftermath of Mitch.

 

By “people”, I mean those out there trying to get on with life, knowing that the money and aid will not get to them.

 

They get up with the dawn, make their tortillas and go to their fields just as they did before the hurricane. I am inspired by their perseverance in the face of hardship. Many of them have lost a substantial amount of their com and bean crops.

 

As I rode into Manto on the back of a pick-up the other week, the people smiled and waved, welcoming me back after being gone for two months.

 

I was relieved to learn that there were no casualties. Fortunately, the town survived the hurricane relatively unscathed.

 

Seeing their faces, walking through town and yelling “Adios!”–how we say “Hello” in the campo–was wonderful. Yet, it wasn’t until I got on the basketball court and played with the boys that I felt a sort of homecoming. All the questions, the unknowns, the worries were gone. I knew then that things were going to be alright.

 

And so, things are slowly returning to normal here in Honduras. Washed-out bridges are replaced by land bridges until the dry season comes and new ones can be built.

Already, I’ve seen preparations being made for the making of adobe bricks, which bake in the hot sun and are then utilized to build homes.

 

The government has implemented a huge, nationwide reforestation program. Schools open their doors on the first of February.

 

I am doing well and am very happy to be back.

  (written January 1999

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