A Travellerspoint blog

Mission Trip El Porvenir, Honduras

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Here is a brief synopsis of our mission trip.
Day 1- After we met up with the group at the airport in San Pedro Sula, we drove 3 hours to the little town of El Porvenir, right outside of La Ceiba. When we arrived at the mission house at around 5 pm and we settled in our rooms, unpacked, and showered. The mission house is beautiful. Scott and Susan, who run the mission house, have a great setup. They have two 10-bed dorm rooms and several single rooms for families. The house also has a 2 classrooms, one where they teach English to locals, and another where locals can learn to sew. They have plants and flowers throughout the house. Orchids and fruit trees in the courtyard. And you can see the waves crashing on the beach from house. It´s just gorgeous! After we tended to our basic needs, we had dinner and went over the house rules, plan for the week, and had worship. Then it was lights out.

Day 2- We woke up, had breakfast and started sorting out the medicine into tiny ziplocks to hand out to the patients. We give vitamins and anti-parasitics to EVERYONE that goes to the clinic. So we sorted through about 10,000 pills. Tell me about monotonous.... Well, after we finished the medication sorting, we went to a local girls´ orphanage in the afternoon. The little girls were so excited to see and play with us. AJ and I even played jump rope with them. I didn´t think I still had it in me but I kept up for a while.

I let one of the little local boys that hangs out at the orphanage take some pictures with my camera, and he took this great picture of us below.

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Day 3- We jumped in the vans and towed Scott's lancha named Pichi and made our way to Cayos Cochinos for the day. The day started off sunny and clear. It took about 3 and a half hours to arrive at Cayos Cochinos. When we arrived, we had some delicious pescado frito con platanos (Fried fish with plantains for those gringos out there).

This is AJ and I at the dock at Cayos Cochinos.

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After lunch we were getting ready to go snorkeling, but some massive storm clouds were rolling in so we had to board up and head back. It was looking very similar to the famous¨Three Hour Tour¨ from Gilligan´s Island, but thanks to our Capitan Scott we made it back safely. It was a 3 and a half hour Dramamine and Pepto induced ride, but we got back without revisiting our lunch from earlier. Here´s a shot from our adventure on the high seas.

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Day 4- Village of Las Planas. Today was our first day of clinic. We crammed into the lemon-yellow Cruiser and drove about an hour and a half into the mountains.
Here are Elvis and Salma (Missionaries-in-training working with Scott and Susan), me, Debbie, and Mary in the back of the Cruiser.

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We followed the Rio Cangrejal winding up the mountain. It was amazing! After a long bumpy ride we reached the house on the side of a cliff with a semi level yard/bathroom area/clinic area for the day. The clinic is setup in 4 stations. First they go through triage, then the patients go to see the doctor if necessary, then they come through pharmacy. We also had a dental station run by Jessie, our dental hygenist on the team, and it was in high demand all day.

Seven little kids lived in the house next to the clinic. Here are two of them. This was seconds before the little naked one felt the call of nature and went all over the ground in front of us. He didn´t even think twice about it. That´s just how he rolls wit it!

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Day 5- Village of Las Limpias. This was the day I had the bright idea to ride in the back of the pickup. We were told that it was going to be a bumpy ride, but that the views would be amazing so I thought hey, why not ride in the back. Well about 15 minutes into the ride, I was regretting that decision. I was just bouncing around in the back of the truck and still have a couple bruises to show for it on my hips. The pickup even ended up getting stuck on the way up the mountain. The Cruiser had to come to the rescue with a tow rope. It took about 2 hours until we finally reached our clinic destination. Dr. Willliams, who was our physician for the trip, rode a dirt bike up in 25 minutes. That just gives you an idea how bad the roads and how very few vehicles ever see those mountain roads.
Below is Debbie, AJ and I in the church used for clinic that day. Atleast we had a roof over our heads that day.

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Day 6- Village of Nueva Suyapa. This was the first day we had to hike. We drove about an hour and a half, then got out, crossed a river on logs, and hiked about 20 minutes up to the village. The locals brought down some horses to carry our medicines and supplies up the mountain.
Here I am crossing the river on our way back down to the trucks, with Mary and Debbie right behind.

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We had to share this picture because it was amazing! Here is Scott, our fearless leader, with the biggest lemon we have ever seen!!!

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Day 7- Village of Urraco. This day the drive was surprisingly smooth so we were able to take the van with A/C which was awesome. Overall, it seemed that the people of this village were pretty healthy. Oh another plus is that there was electricity at this church, and this meant we had fans. Right on!
Here is AJ keepin´it real at the pharmacy.

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This is Steve and Scott. Steve lived in Honduras for a year as a missionary and comes back frequently. He plans on moving to Honduras with his wife in a few years. This a moment rarely captured in the lives of men. Real men enjoy flowers the way they ought to be enjoyed. I bet Scott hoped this pic would never make its way to the internet, but now it will be immortalized forever.

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Here is Susan, Scott´s better half, with Chikiboom, drinking coffee. If Chiki is not the life of the party, he will definitely remind everyone of his presence.

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Day 8- Final clinic day in the village of Pueblo Neuvo. This day had another fairly smooth ride up the mountain in the van. We pulled to the side of the road, and crossed over a small swinging bridge about 200 feet long over a river. That brought us to the beginning of the trail up the mountain to Pueblo Nuevo. The pastor´s son Dennis met us with several horses, a few for supplies, and a few for some of us to ride up the mountain. Thalita and I decided to hike it, cuz some of the horses seemed a bit temperamental. The hike was a tough 45 to 60 minute uphill trudge dodging frequent droppings of horse poo and crossing the creek several times. We had clinic outside under some large trees, which made it wicked breezy and nice. This day was interesting because we didn´t have a doctor with us, so the nurses played doctor, and it went very well.

Day 9- Thalita´s birthday, and now she is 23. This was one of our free days, and we had all planned on a nice hike to some waterfalls on Rio Zacate, part of Pico Bonito National Park. But when we woke up, most of us chickened out and wanted to ¨chill¨for a bit. Thalita, Debbie, Elizabeth, Steve, and Scott were the only ones worthy. Yes, I was one of the chickens, but sleeping in and lounging around appealed to me so much. Thalita enjoyed the waterfalls so much, and was full of excitement and exhaustion when she got back. After this we had lunch and headed to the government run hospital in downtown La Ceiba. What an experience. The Emergency room was overflowing like you wouldn´t believe. It was shocking. Debbie and Christine actually got to go into the OR and observe a C-section. After the hospital tour, we spent a couple hours shopping for souvenirs and then headed to La Plancha for dinner. Thalita couldn´t finish the 16 oz steak, but she felt darn good afterwards.
We headed back to the house, had a final worship, and packed up.

Here is the group on the last day at the mission house.
From top to bottom Women- Maritza, Elizabeth, Jessie, Thalita, Mary, Debbie, Christine.
From top to bottom Men- John, AJ, Steve, Rick.

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Day 10- At about 530 am, Scott came in and woke up the guys. He told us he needed some help, so we got up and followed. We went down stairs, unaware of what we had agreed to help with. Scott informed us that an older man, a gringo that lived down the street, had died on the way to the hospital in a friend´s truck. That´s where we came in. We had to help move the dead man from the front seat of a pickup into his house and onto his bed, where he would stay until the funeral home people picked him up. I´m around dead bodies in the ER, and that doesn´t really bother me, but I haven´t ever moved one from a truck back into his home without gloves and with only a small blanket as a makeshift stretcher. This is Honduras.

After that was done, we had breakfast, and headed out. Scott and Susan dropped us at the bus stop, and we said our goodbyes and so longs to the team and to Scott and Susan. We will definitely miss them.

This was a truly rewarding experience for both of us. This was Thalita´s first medical mission trip which was really cool for her. It was difficult to see so many people living in poverty in the mountains, but it was nice to know that we helped them and showed them kindness.

From La Ceiba, we headed to Utila. More about this soon.

Posted by ajthalita 08:30 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Into Honduras

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After our last post, we decided to take a dip in the lake directly behind our hotel. We'd seen many locals doing it, and some even swimming all the way across, so we said why not.

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The next day we made our 8 hour bus ride from Flores, Guatemala to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. We spent two nights in San Pedro in a nice little hotel that was really a slice of pie in the middle of a shady part of downtown. Only 15 bucks a night. We decide an "American Day" was needed, so the next morning we woke up late and went to the mall. We both dined at the fine Italian restaurant, Sbarro's, on some delicious baked ziti. Darn good. After that, we realized we were both in theater withdrawal, so we headed to watch a movie. After this we just walked through the mall for a while to enjoy the cold blasts of A/C coming from all around us. This satiated our thirsts for home and easy does it life, so we decided to go to Omoa, on the beach.

The bus terminal had changed locations from the spot our guidebook showed, so we once again walked around like targets downtown San Pedro asking if anybody knew where the Impala terminal was. We found a guy that knew, and we made our way there, which was actually not a terminal, but more of a street corner by a market. We took the bus to Puerto Cortes, got off, and immediately caught another to Omoa. We stayed Roli's Place, owned by a Swiss dude that's had it running since 1996. He has a great setup. A dorm, rooms with a/c, hammock spots, free bikes and kayaks to use, laundry area for self washing. We pretty much just chilled in hammocks and enjoyed some fresh seafood and cold ones for three days. Its a hard life, we know, but somebody's gotta do it.

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Omoa's one claim to fame is the San Fernando Fort. This fort was used to protect the Spanish shipments of silver coming from the mines in Tegucigalpa to Spain. It is said that to see another Spanish fort this big and powerful, you would have to go as far up as Campeche, Mexico or down to Cartagena, Colombia. It was very cool, although they were in the middle of construction on the inside when we visited.

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After Omoa, we headed back to San Pedro, with one more trip to the mall for another movie and some Sbarro's. Thalita also got hooked on a Latin American juice/smoothie chain called Super Jugo. We stayed put in San Pedro for the couple days before the trip because Thalita got really sick with a fever, coughing and hacking all over the place.

We met up with The mission group at the airport on Thursday, July 3, and have had a good time with them so far. More updates to come after a few days in the mission field.

Posted by ajthalita 19:22 Archived in Honduras Comments (1)

Into Guatemala, and Tikal Ruins

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We left Palenque at 6 am in a minibus to take us to the Guatemalan border. The bus to the border took about 3 hours. We get out and ask where we go for Mexican immigration to get stamped before we leave. The drivers says, ¨It looks closed now, you´ll have to wait a bit.¨ 45 minutes later a sleepy looking Immigration official drives up and apologizes for the delay. He stamps our passports and about 9 more tourists´ and then we all walked down to the Rio Usumacinta to pile into a small boat (lancha) for a 45 minute crossing into Bethel, Guatemala.
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The boat held 11 of us, plus 1 driver, plus all of our backpacks. After all this weight, our bums were about 6 inches from dragging through the river. It was an amazing way of crossing borders. From the other side, we traded money and went to a tiny immigration office, with two of the nicest immigration officers you could ever meet. After this a bus took us another 4.5 hours, most of it unpaved and rainy, to Flores.

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This is in the bus trying to pass the time away. We had fun talking with the other travellers as well. There was a couple from Holland, a couple from England, 3 guys from Israel, a Korean girl, and a Mexican man from Texas. This variety of people made for some very interesting conversations.

We got to Flores, a small island on Lake Peten Itza, and found a nice little hotel (Hotel de Lacundon) with hot water for 10 bucks a night. We signed up for a sunrise tour of the Tikal Ruins. They picked us up at our hotel at the ripe and early time of 3:30 am. We got to the ruins and immediately hiked about 2km (30 min) to Temple 4, made our way to the top, and sat down for a cloudy but beautiful sunrise. Typically on a clear morning, one could see most the major temples from this spot.

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After this we hiked about 10km around the ruins. We saw many animals like spiders monkeys, coites, toucans, and a taratula. It rained on and off most the day, which made climbing the temples a bit dangerous. We did it anyways, and survived with only a few close calls. The views were worth it. Tikal was considered the capital of the Mayan world. Tikal is amazing because only about 15 percent is open to viewing. The rest is still slowly being unearthed, or is off limits for preservation reasons.

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Tomorrow morning we leave for Honduras on a 8-10 hr bus ride. We will see how that goes, and post more at a later time.
AJ and Thalita

Posted by ajthalita 10:37 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

Chichen Itza thru Merida, and then Palenque

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Back up a bit to before Merida, we went to Chichen Itza in route. We pulled up and it looked like the parking lot of Disney World. There were an amazing amount of tour buses, school buses, and loads of sweaty gringos (a short ride from Cancun) to fill the ruins to what seemed like the brim. The ruins themselves were cool, but its not a place high on our ¨lets go back to list¨.
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So, like Thalita said earlier, our hotel in Merida was pretty awesome (sarcasm). Definitely thought a roach would crawl in one of my orifices while sleeping. Luckily for me, that did not happen. Anyways, we left on our overnight bus to Palenque. After waiting 8 hrs for the bus to leave, we loaded up, and we were able to bring our full packs inside the bus. So we sat in our seats feeling very happy, and all the sudden we hear slurred American accent coming from the bus door. A couple in their 40s stumbles on board, loud and obnoxious, and of course, they sit right behind us. So we start the trip and the bus driver turns off the lights. Everybody is trying to sleep thru the night, and we can here the drunk couple snoring behind us, when all the sudden I get kicked in the head. I turn around and this jerk has his feet propped on my head rest with one shoe on and one off. I turned around and asked him to move them, and he doesn´t even flinch. I shoved his feet of the seat and tried to put it behind me. Then it happened four more times. I finally decide to use a stern voice to wake him up and his wife startled by my voice asked him to move his feet. It was absolutely ridiculous. They smelled like one of my drunk patients on a Saturday night in the ER. No wonder some folks don´t like American tourists.

On with better things. We arrived in Palenque early in the morning, found a place to stay, got some food, and took a short nap. Then it was off to the ruins for the day.
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Thalita put me in timeout, Mayan style.

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Palenque was a refreshing change from Chichen Itza. With its beautiful, green, lush surroundings, and not the droves of tourists everywhere, Palenque Ruins was definitely one of our favorites.

Posted by ajthalita 10:11 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Just cruisin´around

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These last couple days have been busy.


    Yesterday we started from Isla Mujeres took the 25min ferry to Cancun.
    Took a 4.5 hrs bus from Cancun to Chichen Itza Ruins.
    Explored Chichen Itza.
    Took the 2 hr bus from Chichen Itza to Merida.
    Then had to find housing in Merida.

Last night we stayed in the dirtiest hotel I have ever been in my life. Just to give you an idea of the bathroom was about 3 feet wide and 5 feet long. You could brush your teeth at the sink and shower at the same time that is how close everything was, plus there was no shower curtain to demarcate where the shower ended and the toilet/sink area began. Yeah it was awesome. As well as the crawl space/ window to the outside. Creepy..... This was definitely a ONE night stand.....or stay..... We will post pictures and video about this experience soon!

Today we are just hanging around Merida until we leave tonight on our overnight bus to Palenque, Mexico to check out some more ruins. I´ll let you know how that overnight bus ride goes. It has been a hot, busy couple days. We just left the beach and I am ready to go back to the beach. We will be posting some pictures in the next couple days so check back.

- Thalita

Posted by ajthalita 16:22 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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