The Unforgettable Faces, Food, and Fun of Honduras

When I think of my trip to Honduras, I think of so much more than just the drilling process and hygiene lessons. The unforgettable parts, that are forever ingrained in my heart are the faces of the sweet Honduran kids, the Honduran life, and the people of Salama.

The team decorated their hard hats with verses and names of donors that helped with the trip.  The boys decorated our hard hats with their favorite stickers.  

When I got to the village and met the kids, I immediately noticed that most of the kids have Lightening McQueen or some type of super hero backpack.  They LOVED our hats.  The giggles, the smiles.  The excitement when we would take a picture and show them the back of the camera. I bet I did it 100 times for them. 

see that little munchkin on the left.  He quickly became one of my best friends . He was a stinker on the playground

This little girl every day begged me to take home the pink jump rope 

He also was a little stinker.  And an avid frisbee thrower

The even got a chance to try on the gloves too.

checking out the drill site 
And Femi's humor.  

entertaining the kiddos 

explaining that he and JR are brothers.  Ha!

At the well dedication the kids surprised us by singing the song for us that Felicia taught them early in the week.  The director said they had been practicing in secret to make it special for us. 

The drilling process happening at the church caused quite an excitement in town.  Many people came by to see the work that was being done.  The various age children coming to and from other schools stopped so what was going on.  Most villagers around the school spend the day on their porch taking in the sites.  

Sometimes it would be animals passing by too. 

a lone horse just wondering the village  
cows crossing in front of the school 

passed by the school 
One special villager was Jose Santiago.  This gentleman was a hard working man.  He was there helping every step of the way.  He dug pits, he cleared channels, he burned out trash, he picked up all the trash the kiddos left everywhere. He worked cement.  He worked in the rain.  He put a lot of sweat into this process.  A sincere positive attitude and desire to help.  He had all the reason in the excuse in the world with his disability to sit back with some of the other older men and just watch, but he literally grabbed a shovel and worked every way he could.  The next day when we would return he would have everything cleaned up and ready to go.  Poppy and Jose became special friends. 

Jose and Poppy taking a break 

quite possibly my favorite picture from the trip 
One of my favorite parts of the trips were the bus rides.  No, not because of Brad's singing :-) but the images of Honduran life that passed by us.  The open meat markets with people making their selections.   The roadside produce stands.  Cars pulled over on the side making their purchases. 

meat hanging 

selling crabs in La Ceiba 

a busy street in Saba 
The contrast of images in Honduras is breathtaking.  One view you have the gorgeous mountain range, lush greenery, and immaculate plantations behind gated entrances. In the next glance you see trash littered everywhere.  Animals loose in houses and water sources.  In another instant you see breathtaking views of the Caribbean so close that the mind can't help but think how helpless they must be in the face of hurricanes.  House after house passes by with lines of clothing strung outside.  All varying types of transportations.  Even women on the back of motorcycles breastfeeding infants while driving down the road.  

On Sunday morning .. presumably on the way to church 

La Ceiba 

the streets were often littered with trash 

oh just a few power lines 
common type housing 


common mode of transportation

The palm  - the source of the majority of income 

at night you could see lights twinkling on top grouped together in little villages 
I have been asked a lot about the food.   I tend to be a fairly adventurous eater but after a round of sickness I took a lot of precautions.  When we first arrived and had the layover stay in El Progresso our first meal was Burger King.  Then our second meal was KFC.  Then our third meal was in La Ceiba after church and we were treated to Pizza Hut.  For someone that rarely eats fast food I was actually looking forward to some rice and beans!

Once we left La Ceiba headed to Saba, our morning and nightly meals were served by the hotel which had a small restaurant.  Overall pretty good food.  Rice and some type of beans every night.  Fried bananas which I absolutely love.  Sometimes plantains.  Some type of meat.  My favorite by far was a stuffed chicken that we had.  It was so good.  

sample meal 

Our lunch was prepared by the moms and director of the school using water provided by Living Water.  These were some of the best meals we had.  Even Felicia lended her skills on the grill for some amazing kabobs. I went back for seconds.  Crispy sweet meat skewered with onions and peppers chargrilled.  The team tells me that the fried chicken (pollo frito) prepared with local palm oil was so good.  Of course every meal was served with tortillas.  The avocados were the best I have ever eaten and the pico was so fresh!  Always with a side of rice and beans.  The ladies also made a fresh juice drink each day which was a nice break from water.

lunch waiting on us 

the grilled meat was so good  

the fried chicken in palm oil 
The highlight of the trip for me though was the roadside treats provided by our Living Water host Emilio and Nugget.  Every time they pulled over we got to try something new.  Our first stop was for lychee's and some yellow fruit that for the life of me I cannot remember the name.  Lychee's a yes!  Inside that prickly fish looking outside is a sweet grape type fruit on the inside. The yellow fruit was pretty tart.  Not my favorite but fun to try just the same. 

slimy like a peeled grape 

Emilio's instructions on how to eat 

One our way back from the drill site, Nugget pulled over and we tried a couple of different types of bananas.  The little ones almost had a sweeter pineapple flavor to them.  You buy the whole bundle of those little guys.  Trust me, our van full of men had no problem handing the bundle of bananas.

And what could be more refreshing than milk straight from a fresh coconut!  The man from the village brought them in and used a machete to cut them.  Then we used our fingers to pop a hole in the seal for drinking. Bottoms up!

I have seen these little things at our HEB and the boys have even played with them in the produce section but I had no idea what they were.  Tamarind is a pod like fruit that grows on a tree. The flavor inside is sweet and sour.  Almost like a natural sour patch kid.  

A fun treat involved a little dare we say, bet?  When the drill was cased you could look down inside and see the water table.  Each person put in their guess on how far down that water table was.  The loser (farthest away from the right depth) would treat the team to ice cream.   Grateful and thankful that Charlie was willingly to treat us all with his far off guess.  What a fun treat.  The chocolate almond ice cream I had was perfect for the afternoon heat.  

No trip is complete without mentioning the sweetest word on my lips.. pina.  Oh I could write a love song about the pure sweet joy of the local pineapple.  I assure you none was ever left over.  Even a few, "I will knock you out and take it back" may have gone around if someone was getting greedy.  We may have been willing servants sharing our gifts and talents but we were not willing to share our pina!  We also tried local watermelons and they were good too.. but the pina.  Whew.  My grocery store pineapples just can't compare.

After all the wrapping up the hard work and saying goodbye to the village, we were on the road again to La Ceiba.  Our final day was our rest day or treat day.  It's an actual extra day that can be used for drilling if needed.  Last year, Brad's team had to move the well and drill again and were not able to get the day off.  We stayed at a resort in La Ceiba called the Palma Real .  A beautiful all inclusive resort on the Caribbean.  

Loaded up and headed out 

our luggage 

lighthouse in the lobby 

ready for some fun 

headed to the beach 

Ashliegh on the beach 

We had a great afternoon playing on the beach and a not so relaxing 9 rounds of intense competitive pool volleyball.  After that we had time to relax, shower, and get ready for dinner.  I took my shower and then found some quiet time to do my daily devotion, reflect, and journal.  I found a quiet spot outside a handsome man's room (my dad) who happened to have a hammock on his balcony.

I put this picture on facebook with this reflection of my feelings at the time.

"After 5 days in Saba and Salama we are making our way back to San Pedro for our flight home.  Our "reward" for hard work is a night along the Caribbean.  I thank God for this chance of rest and relactaion with our team before heading home. I can't help but think that just a short drive away there are people drinking dirty water and living in filth.  Although our work on this trip is done, there is much more work.  The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  My prayers are that many more people would be moved to show the love of Jesus all over the world.  Luke 12:48"

On Friday we had our choice of snorkeling or zip lining for an extra fee if we wanted to. Our entire team chose zip lining.  I have to say even though I signed up and was willing to go, I was super nervous. I was also worried that Femi was going to hyperventilate before he even made it on the line.  As nervous as we were, as soon as we got that first line behind us, the fun was on!  So fast and incredible to zip over the jungle with views of the Caribbean.  17 different zip lines.

The girls are ready 

Add caption

with our local zip line guides

up the mountain 

beautiful views

The guide even made a video of my zip line experience.  It was so fun!  I seriously thought this would be a bucket list check and then move on but I am ready to go again for sure.

After the zip line we had a little time for relaxing in the hot springs and cools springs eating a little pina and watermelon.  Some of the team got massage and mud bath but we ran out of time before my turn.  Looks life fun though!

Back to the hotel to pack up, clean up, and on have one last hour or so of relaxing before a 4 hour bus ride back to El Progresso for the night.  We were able to stop and do some shopping for a few things to bring back.  We were really looking forward to it all week but when we pulled up 4 huge school bus loads of American missionaries in town for a revival were already there.  It was crazy but we still managed to get a few items on our list that we were hoping to bring back.

Honduras coffee 

our new hammock 

When we got back to the our hotel Casa Blanca, the hotel was full.  A whole busload of other Americans had missed their plane and we were asked to go across town to another hotel.  The experience really brought home the reality of the fragility of the situation in Honduras.  While we certainly were never threatened, the amount of security needed to get us to the hotel and back made us keenly aware that we were not in the US.  Most of the time each hotel has security, gas stations have security, there are security check points from police and military up and down the highway.  Truck loads of men in uniform with large assault weapons off pass by.  I don't think Ashliegh, myself, or my dad slept much that night and I was grateful to see 3:30 come to head home to the airport to start the journey home to see my family!

I tried to as patient as I could with customs, traveling, immigration, and customs again but really I could not WAIT to see those sweet faces of all 3 of my Riley boys.  As I came through the gates, my eyes immediately started watering at the sure goodness of God for being faithful in his protection of us while we were away and my little ones.  They had a great time with Justin and their grandparents. I am grateful for the Riley's taking a week to love and play and distract my babies while I was gone.  They could not stop talking about all the things they did "while you were at the well"

As Beckett ran to be he said "Mommy! I'm so glad you home!!"  Me too buddy. Me too.  

The Riley's 

The Riley FamilyComment