Two years ago I spent a week in Honduras with a group of people sponsored by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Seguin Texas. Those folks became good friends and I was eager to rejoin them this year. Much preparation goes into getting ready for this trip with the purchase of supplies, organizing the medications, and interfacing with the local Honduran churches and medical clinics.
Our trip began during the middle of Tropical Storm Alma. As we were beginning our descent in Tegucigalpa airport, the pilot suddenly announced that there was a problem with the runway and we were being diverted to San Pedro Sula. Later we learn that the runway problem is a TACA flight that hydroplaned midway through landing, attempted to lift off, an engine failed, and they overshot the runway running through the freeway and landing in an embankment. Several people are dead including the wife of the ambassador of Brazil. The president of the country decrees that there will be no flights carrying over 42 passengers and that a new international airport will be built. Much speculation ensues and we end up not quite sure how exactly we are going to get back home.
However, we are in San Pedro Sula with our accommodations in Centro Kellog but no way to get there. Eventually a bus is lined up and we all ride through the remains of Tropical Storm Alma for seven hours.
Each day we eat beans, tortillas, egg, fried plantains and some sort of meat for breakfast—and for supper. The coffee is quite excellent. Lunch is whatever we packed in the US—most of us feast on peanut butter crackers or tuna fish.
Each morning we load up the bus and head out to our assigned village. The dental team is stationed in Yuscaran but one oral surgeon travels with the medical team. We take about twenty minutes or so to set up our equipment and then we begin seeing patients. There are four doctors this year so we are able to split up and serve more villages. The medical record for all the patients each of us sees are contained in a single spiral bound notebook—so different from the US. Each patient goes home with a large ziplock bag full of assorted medications including worm medicine.
Two years ago, I had an interpreter—this year I am on my own. I am slow but somehow the patients and I manage to understand each other.
This year I brought bubbles, children’s books in Spanish, flashcards also in Spanish, and a sketchbook with a box of crayons. I invite the children to look at the book and flashcards and to draw something in the sketchbook. The mothers are all excited about this opportunity for their children—but it takes a bit of convincing to persuade the children that it is okay to draw in this beautiful book.
The week sped by and too soon it was time to come back to the US. For a time we thought we would be leaving via cargo plane from the US military base—and not quite sure what day we would leave—but we all ended up leaving as scheduled but from San Pedro Sula.
More photos of this beautiful country are here: