Sunday, October 9, 2011

Honduras 101

I still catch myself thinking, “I live in Honduras!  How did this happen?”  It is a crazy concept to grasp hold of.  While there are some similarities between Honduras and the U.S., most things are quite different.  Within the past few weeks, I have had bouts of frustration because I just want to be able to do “normal” things or buy “normal” products at the grocery store.  After cooling down from my heated moments, I realize that this comes with the territory; I knew things would be more complicated and less accessible.  Needless to say, God is still working to strengthen my patience.

To give you a small glimpse of what it is like to live in Honduras, here is a crash course in Honduras 101:

  • Always greet someone with a handshake or a kiss on the right cheek.
  • Be ready to eat beans…and lots of them (I have never liked beans, other than green beans, so I am acquiring a taste).
  • You can buy anything in a plastic bag – coke, milk (weird, I know), water, pasta sauce, and the list goes on.
  • They have a Honduran version of Starbucks called Espresso Americano.  My normal latte at Starbucks costs almost $5.  In Honduras, it costs $1.50!  One of my favorite things, so far!
  • They sell everything on the side of the road…cell phone accessories, cotton candy (that supposedly dyes your pee the same color), fruit, pictures, towels to wipe your sweat, everything!
  • Be leery of the dogs.  While many people have dogs and cats for pets, there is large number of stray animals.  Dogs are highly mistreated (kicked, beaten, etc.) and their instinct is to defend themselves.
  • If you are a hairspray user, which I definitely am, they do not sell aerosol hairspray – only the spritz kind.
  • Typically, eggs are not refrigerated.
  • The formation of cursive letters is different from our form in the states.
  • There is no speed limit or lines on the road.  People drive like maniacs!  Random side-note: Last year, two buses decided to race around the mountain in the rain and one bus fell off the side, killing many of the passengers.  Needless to say, I am always a little nervous when we have to take a bus.
  • Do NOT drink the tap water!  The water is not purified and you will get very sick.
  • It is not as hot as you may think.  It is like a normal summer day when the sun is out, but it gets very cool in the evenings.
  • In the city, there are quite a bit of American food options – Wendys, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Baskin Robins, TGIFridays, Ruby Tuesdays, Chilis, etc.  However, the “quality” is not as good as in the states, except for the McFlurries…they serve them with caramel on top! 
  • There are certain areas of the city where we are not allowed to go.  There are two dominant gangs: MS 13 and 18th Street.  These two gangs are rival gangs and each control certain parts of the city, hence why we are not allowed to go in those parts.
  • Don’t expect to visit a store, restaurant, etc. and have access to someone who can speak English.  Other than the people I work with, no one speaks English.
  • Clothing style is very different.  Imagine Hollywood meets Jersey Shore.  Clothes are worn very tight (sometimes too small), men’s hair is always gelled, and the women are pros at walking in heels.
  • The socioeconomic status of the people in this area varies.  When you go into the city, families seem to be very middle class.  There are at least 4 malls in the city and they, along with the restaurants, are always crowded.  However, if you drive just five minutes to the outskirts of the city, there are people living under bridges, hut-style houses that are barely standing, and poverty at every corner.
  • The money is called limpiras, or limps for short.  One U.S. dollar is equivalent to almost twenty Honduran limps.

While there is some familiarity, it is quite challenging living in another country.  Recently, all I have wanted to do is hop in the car and just drive to the grocery store.  There is not a moment when I am alone, other than when I am sleeping.  Myself and the three other teachers are constantly together – work, house, outings in the city.  I never really thought about how difficult it could be to not have certain freedoms.  As I have said before, God is continuing to test my patience and I am becoming so appreciative for such simple things.  So, next time you are able to hop in your car and drive ten minutes to the store, be thankful.  At this point, I would give anything to have the option of “running errands.”

Seeking patience,

One more will be uploaded ASAP!  Sorry it has taken so long. 

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