Hola Family and Friends,
We have a lot to share with you about our trip to Comayagua with the 4 students from the senior class.
After a very bumpy ride off campus to Zambrano mid day Thursday we then got the opportunity to learn first hand about the Honduras bus system. As best as I can figure, there are basically three categories of bus service (all commercial); medium sized buses with no working air conditioning and few available seats, small buses with no air conditioning and even fewer seats and large yellow school buses (chicken buses) with no air conditioning, windows that don’t open and very crowded seats. Buses pull up to sort of designated bus stop areas and a guy (handler or conductor) leaps off and shouts to get on quickly as the bus slows down. He says there are plenty of seats. There are not. Of the six of us, 4 stood in the aisles on the hour or so ride (on a larger/medium sized bus) to Comayagua. It really was not that bad (the girls made us sit) and the mountainous countryside is beautiful. The conductor eventually comes down the aisle and collects 360 lempira from us (about $ 3 each).
Comayagua is in a beautiful farming valley. Comayagua means “abundance of food” in Mayan. This pre-colonial city was the capital of Honduras until 1880. As the bus driver rolled past our Comayagua bus stop (the bus we were on was going to Siguatepeque), one of the students, Betis, yelled at the conductor. The bus stopped about a mile further than we wanted, but we “de-bussed.” Within 30 seconds a white taxi pulled up. The taxi driver of this small beat up very old white Nissan 4 door, said 20 lempira each to take us downtown to a hotel. That was fine, except 6 of us and 6 backpacks and a couple bags seemed like a lot to fit in. But our driver said, “no problemo.” Bags in the trunk (no spare tire-so plenty of room ) and me jammed in the front seat and 5 ladies in the back, on each others’ laps; in 10 short minutes we pulled up in front of Hotel America in downtown.
The hotel was very modest (old) but seemed clean. Next we began to negotiate the price for our rooms. Betis had called ahead to make sure that space was available. As far as we could determine only 7 or 8 of the 55 rooms were occupied. So for L 1000 ($50) per night for our room (including breakfast typico) and the same for a double room for the ladies agreed upon, Dan pulled out his AMEX card. Well, the quoted price was for cash and to use a credit card would be 20 % more. We did not want to pay 20 % more but did not want to use that much cash right away so we asked if we could go to a bank. Yes, but now the banks were closed. “No problemo, we could pay mañana.” Fine with us. Equipped with a Wi-Fi password and two remote controllers per room, the six of us crammed into a 3×4 food elevator with backpacks and bags.
The Wi-Fi proved to have very limited bandwidth on the 4th floor (the location of our room #326), so we moved to room #236, yes, located on the third floor. Since we were coming from very occasional bandwidth at TLC, the connectivity was wonderful and we soon were updating our PC and even FaceTimed with the grandkids.
That evening we walked about 1/4 mile to the town plaza were we found a very nice restaurant. We enjoyed horchata, queso & chips, pollo and brassero. The owner of the restaurant, Ricardo talked with us about his business and encouraged our young would-be entrepreneurs.
We slept well that night and enjoyed the simple clean room and a bed without a mosquito net for the first night in a month!
The next day we toured ourselves around Comayagua. We visited bakeries, agricultural supply stores, dairy products businesses and restaurants – the four businesses that the students are most interested in. We had a number of good conversations and the students learned a lot. One of the bakeries offered one of the girls the opportunity for a couple-days internship, after we all enjoyed pieces of cake and coffee.
Comayagua is a busy city of about 50,000 people. The streets are crowded and it’s remarkable how so many people are selling so many different things- not just in stores but all along the streets. People are clearly working hard to make ends meet. There are few signs of any affluence.
We visited the Cathedral de Santa Maria, built around 1600, a beautiful church that includes a clock tower holding one of the oldest known clocks in the world made in Spain about 1100 AD. Imagine that an almost 1000-year-old clock that rings terrifically.
All in all, a great visit for a couple days. Good food, hot showers, internet, business research and fun company with the chicas.
It felt good to get back “home” to TLC Saturday evening. We celebrated January birthdays on campus with a special meal of baleadas and cake.
Our classes are going well and we are working hard with the students both in class and out of class. They are eager learners but in some respects they are behind what we would like on fundamentals like math and reading comprehension, which slows them down.
Let us close with this encouragement for us all. Lenis, one of Chris’ students, led a devotional this morning in which she said that today was the day to witness to one another God’s love for us all.
Blessings from Honduras,
Dan and Chris