I spent all morning flying. My flight from LAX left at around midnight. My mom was still in California from helping me move out of my dorm, so she took my first flight with me to Houston, so it wasn’t so bad. Then from Houston, she went back home, and I went to Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. (NOTE: After my week long trip to Honduras, I still have no idea how to pronounce that. All I know is it’s said FAST!) I had to make sure she got on her connection alright because she had never flown by herself before; funny, because I’ve been flying by myself pretty regularly since I was 17. It was good to spend some final time with her before I left.
The actual flying wasn’t too bad. I slept for basically the entirety of both flights. When I woke up landing in Honduras, I realized I had slept through the flight attendants handing out the customs and immigration forms. The person sitting next to me was nice enough to grab me one and put it in my seat-back pocket, but I had no pen to fill it out with, and we were already landing before I could ask.
The landing in Honduras is supposed to be pretty scary. When I got to my program, one of the locals said it was considered the most dangerous airport in the world due to rough landings. He asked if I landed okay because most Americans say that it was really rough and that they were terrified, but I didn’t think it was too bad, just a bit bumpy, but nothing extraordinary. I’m not afraid of flying though.
After I landed, I searched desperately for a counter where I could fill out my forms. I remembered seeing some in the past when I flew into Jamaica and a couple European countries. Of course, now that I was flying alone internationally for the first time, there were no counters to be found. Eventually I found these tiny table with a complaint book on it, so I stole the pen from there and filled out my forms really quick. A lot of people came off the plane behind me and got in line ahead of me, but I still made it through immigration relatively quickly. Customs was kind of a joke compared to the United States, but most other countries are more lax than the US.
I got out to the entrance where people were waiting for their loved ones to get off the plane and all, but I didn’t see anyone in a Global Brigades shirt like I was told I would. Luckily, after I did a few laps around the room, I found someone. He wasn’t the leader of my group, but he took me where I needed to be.
When I got there, there was only one other brigader there already. We had to stand around and wait for a couple hours for other people to get in. When the last people, the people from the UC Santa Cruz group, finally got there, I realized they were all on my flight. They were in the back of the plane, sure, but I still have no idea how immigration and customs took them two hours longer than it took me.
After that, the program coordinator finally took us upstairs to get lunch. We were still waiting for even more people so we still couldn’t leave the airport, but they were getting in so much later that they decided we needed to eat without them. They didn’t have us buy any food. Instead, they went across the street and got us four small-ish Little Ceasar’s pizzas to split among about 20 people. Of course, since I had slept through both my flights, I had not eaten since the night before, and it was around 1 or 2 PM by this point, so I was STARVING. After my first tiny slice, I was just sneaking more slices when no one was looking, so no one thought I was eating their share, even though I probably was. I didn’t care; I was so tired and hungry that I was beginning to regret my decision to come (obviously that didn’t last; I was just cranky).
After we ate, we still had a couple hours to kill, so we walked around to a couple of the souvenir shops. I bought a canvas painting and a little wooden box that said “HONDURAS” and had chickens on the front. I didn’t want to have much to lug around for the rest of the trip. Then we settled in at a bar, where I ordered my first legal beer! Yeah, I took three sips and didn’t finish the rest; I’m not much for beer. Bleh. But the bar had wifi, so I was able to let everyone know I landed safely.
Finally, the last of the brigaders arrived and we could head out to the compound. They took us outside where we had to walk aways past the airport parking lot to get to our bus. Of course, tired hungry and cranky, I was less than thrilled to see we’d be spending the week in a school bus. I tend to get really carsick (I’ve thrown up in school buses before) so I just took the empty seat closest to the front and prepared for the worst. It actually wasn’t bad though. I didn’t get carsick at all, and instead of regular school bus seats, the bus had more like coach bus seats, some of which reclined. It was relatively comfy, and everyone was exhausted, so I think we were all asleep by the time we got the the compound, two hours away. I stayed awake for the first hour looking out the window at everything. It reminded me a lot of Jamaica, though slightly less tropical and with a lot less Rastafarians. The driving was pretty similar as well: absolutely insane. It reminded me of the Whose Line Is It Anyway? slogan… the rules were made up and the painted lines on the road didn’t matter. Somehow, the driver got the school bus through two hours of rough terrain, steep mountains, and sharp corners.
After we got back to the hotel, not much happened. We ate like horses, then came back to our rooms. I checked in with everyone back home again, then went to bed.