Day 8 – May 19

Monday May 19th. One thing about living in the campo (roughly translated “in the country”) is that you have to “go to town” to get pretty much anything. Hence, as in rural (really rural) America, going to town tends to become a fairly big deal. Well today we had to “go to town” to put Marinajo on an airplane from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula. She will then catch her flight in San Pedro Sula back to the states. I am going to be staying here a total of two weeks. We knew that two weeks was too long for both of us to be away from our kids, so her stay is only for one week. So with a combination of hating to leave, and ready to see the kids, she is off on another adventure – getting home. The flight from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula is new. We took the bus for that leg fo the trip last time, but consistent schedules don’t really exist for the bus routes back to San Pedro Sula, so a flight seems to be a better option. I am really looking forward to hearing about her trip. The planes used for the short flight are apparently (ahem) “vintage” aircraft in which you get a history lesson on how it used to be to fly in the states back in the fifties for no extra charge. I’ve heard that if you are feeling a bit hot on the airplane, you simply roll the window down. Wow. I’ll be flying the same route home on Saturday, so I’m anxious to hear about it.

The other thing about being so far out in the campo is the rule that no trip can be wasted and that there are lots of others who have needs besides yourself. Hence, we are waiting in La Ceiba today until late afternoon when some short term medical missionaries arrive so that we can take them home with us.

This means that I get to spend the day and experience La Ceiba, a town of about 80,000 and the closest thing to modern that can be accessed with any regularity from the hospital. Many of the hospital missionaries make a one day excursion into La Ceiba each week (Friday or Saturday) to shop, eat at a restaurant, etc. Some spend the night in a local hotel here for a short mini-vacation.

One of the most entertaining things about this town (as it is in many places in the world – I’ve heard) is to experience driving or riding in a car here. It is mixture of adventure and terror simply to get around. Think roller coaster and bumper cars all rolled into one. It is as if all 80,000 people are in their car at any given moment and all are about an hour late and trying to get to the exact same place. At one point as I was waiting for Dr. Renee to pick me up after having run an errand, I sat on a street corner (not too close) and watched the action unfold before me. It looked like a thousand school children who just got out for summer break and were trying to rush to the ice cream truck to get one of the two remaining ice cream cones. And this was just one intersection. Bicycles with one, two, three, even four people on them weave a snake like dance in between motorcycles, cars, delivery trucks, buses of all shapes and sizes, and yes – the occasional old man walking along pushing a cart. It is completely miraculous to me that hundreds aren’t killed daily here just getting from point a to point b. From the youngest child to the oldest Viejo, they all join in the dance and somehow, they all seem to make it through. What incredible fun to watch. You don’t need television here, just go out on the front porch and watch the traffic.

The whole idea of stop lights, stop signs, two lane roads, and generally obeying traffic laws is so, so….. American. The police will pull you over in a heartbeat if you don’t have a license plate installed properly on the front of your vehicle, but you can roar around them at any maximum speed that you can achieve and then careen back in ahead of them just missing oncoming traffic in the other lane while causing chickens, pigs, and people to dive in every direction and they will simply smile and keep right on driving as if nothing happened. It is truly amazing.
In the midst of all of this, our wonderful Dr. Renee is driving us around town pointing out landmarks, talking with her hands, shifting the manual transmission on the Land Rover and gently honking her horn every few minutes. Her hand seems to actually grip the steering wheel about once every fifteen minutes. And she is from Greeley, CO! Not even a native. Aerobic exercise is no longer needed to achieve optimal heart rate.
One thin g that we have learned down here this week (Marinajo would tell you that she already knew this and that indeed it is I who have actually learned it) is that we don’t really know Spanish very much at all. We (I) thought we (I) knew Spanish. Going to the Honduran church last night cured me of that. Wow. These people speak with a dialect that is very hard to understand and they speak at a speed that can only be compared to their driving. It pretty much sounds like to would if you took one of our slow Spanish teaching tapes and put them in the tape recorder (remember those?) and pushed the fast forward button. I can discern that Spanish is being spoken to me but I understand almost nothing that is said to me down here by a native speaker. I’m telling you all of this to let you know that part of our plan to come down here as full time missionaries now includes something called Language School. In other words, we’re almost certainly going to have to take some dedicated time out (perhaps three months) to learn to speak Spanish here in Latin America. We might be abel to do this in La Ceiba. We might want to do this in Costa Rica, where I understand that there are some excellent schools. Basically, you live somewhere and a tutor works one on one with each member of the family for four hours per day of intensive formal Spanish training. Let’s call it Spanish boot camp.
While we can communicate with our fellow missionaries here at the hospital, we can’t communicate with the Honduran staff (who have computer problems too) or the Honduran people (who we are ultimately here to minister to). So, as urgent as the need is here at the hospital, we will most likely have to take time out for language school before we “get here” full time. We’ll know more about this as we work with our Missionary Sending Agency.
So right now, the process is starting to look like this:
Find a Missionary Sending AgencyEstablish a realistic budget for monthly expenses. Demonstrate income or support that can meet that need monthly.Setup a timeline for language school, moving down here and getting a vehicle and getting settled in.
I think that once we have those pieces in place, then we can expect a formal acceptance from Loma De Luz. They (very understandable) do not formally accept missionaries who haven’t completed the steps above. I may be missing some steps – but I think this is basically how the process will work from now until the time when we can get back down here. It is time to start working on those steps and getting specific about them so that we can get moving!