Our trip started with a pretty long, but exciting, day of travel. There were 21 of us traveling to Honduras, and only 4 of us had been before. For many, this was the first time leaving the country. I was very very grateful to have the help of those 3 others while corralling the team through baggage, check ins, and customs! Having only done it once before, it was so comforting to have several helpful, seasoned travelers on the team!
The second leg of our flight got canceled weeks ago, so we planned an overnight for the team in Houston. We found a hotel with a ridiculously cheap rate on rooms, and a free shuttle….so I booked it and hoped for the best. We were all REALLY impressed with the hotel. It was clean, quiet, had a free shuttle, and most of all….the service there was excellent! The front desk clerk went above and beyond to make sure that we had everything we needed to make our trip easy, gave us great restaurant recommendations, arranged wake up calls for the team, even put breakfast out an hour early so we could leave before catching the shuttle back to the airport.
Since the shuttle process was much easier than we planned, we had extra time in the airport to enjoy a final Starbucks treat and chat with team mates. Our flight was smooth, beautiful, and uneventful, and everyone was enthralled as the plane descended over the fields of banana trees and african palm trees.
We made it through customs short only one bag (which was brought to us an hour later) to find smiling faces of our Honduran friends, ready to load us up on the big blue bus. We got everyone loaded and started our trip with a lunch at Power Chicken. It’s a tradition. A very yummy one. I will say that the platter on the end of the table with those of us who had been before was remarkably more clean than the other end….as everyone was a little hesitant to try new foods and worrying about what was ‘safe’ to eat.
After lunch, we started down the road to La Ceiba. It’s a 3-4 hour bus ride, depending on stops and traffic on the road. Our bus driver, Ivan (sp?) was awesome. To drive in Honduras, you really need the driving skills of a stunt driver and an extra set of eyes. Ivan handled it all….with a bus full of noisy gringos too. Some people are more bothered by the craziness of it than others (it’s one of the things that doesn’t bother me at all…unless I were ever made to actually drive through it!). People passing on the left, or the right…sometimes both. People and bikes and animals everywhere! Beside the road, crossing the road, just plain standing IN the road. But Ivan handled it all like a pro.
Until the bus started to make a noise. Then he found a safe place to pull the bus over and check it out, only to discover a broken line…one that he couldn’t fix. While they checked out the problem and worked out solutions, we got out and checked out the little bit of country on our side of the road. It was a bit like a school field trip at first.
Several times people would stop by, offer to look at the bus, and shake their heads as they determined that they could not fix the problem. Merphran (our Honduras host and guide) called and arranged to have some vans sent from the church, which was still almost an hour away.
And we waited, as it started getting later and later. We had been hoping to make it to the 5 pm church service, and that time crept past, so we started hoping to make it to the 7pm service. As dusk approached, we just started hoping to be off the road before full on dark came, as the road is not safe after dark.
Then a truck driver pulled over. He recognized the church bus (it’s kind of hard to miss) as a team just built his family a house several months ago. He looked at the problem, thought about it, got a few things out of his truck, and fixed it! The bus started up, didn’t leak, and we pulled up to the downtown church just as the music was starting for the 7 pm service!