Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving in Trujillo

Hey everyone, sorry for the long delay in posting. Since my last post I've been traveling a lot. I'm finally back in Trujillo for a good long chunk of time, and will be posting backdated entries to catch up.

First up, Thanksgiving!

For turkey day of 2007, we all got together at Mary's place in Sonaguera. This time, many of the same people (and some newcomers) came all the way out to Trujillo for the feast. And what a feast it was! Helmuth (the project manager for Health, aka my boss) donated a turkey, and Suzie, an expat friend, donated her gorgeous house for us to use for cooking and dining.

Beforehand, some of us prepared thanksgiving-themed decorations including construction-paper turkeys and a paper chain of thanks. (We wrote things we were thankful for on strips of paper and made it into a paper chain.)

The food itself was plentiful and delicious, and much fun was had by all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Soccer Shenanigans

Honduras is a soccer-crazed nation. How crazed? The only war Honduras fought in the last 100+ years was over soccer. That's about as fanatical as you can get about a sport, I think.

Last night Honduras played arch-rival Mexico in the last match of the first round of pool play to qualify for the world cup. This was not an elimination game, but it certainly felt like it. Honduras hasn't qualified for the World Cup in decades, and almost always because they were eliminated by Mexico. On top of that, Mexico habitually insults Honduras, considering them an insignificant team in international competitions.

During the game Trujillo looked like a ghost town. I got dinner from a normally-busy street vendor and was the only customer there. On my way back, Honduras scored a goal and several people came out to fire guns into the air. After a few minutes the streets were empty and quiet once again.

Until the game ended. I was amazed at the scale and energy of the postgame celebrations after Honduras beat Mexico 1-0. Hundreds of people streamed from bars and houses, yelling and chanting, whistling and blowing horns. They sported jerseys, facepaint, honduran flags. Everyone loaded into cars, pickup trucks, dump trucks and anything else with wheels. They formed a parade around the central park. Motorcycles weaved between the larger vehicles and trucks swayed under the mass of humanity that covered them and overflowed from doors, windows and truck beds.

It was quite a sight, and pretty dangerous. In the space of 20 minutes I saw two car accidents (no one hurt, luckily) and one kid fall from the back of a dumptruck and injure himself badly enough that he was taken to the hospital. None of this diminished the celebratory mood, however. A girl I know was in one of the car accidents and just got out and continued celbrating.

I've never seen celebrations in the USA reach such a fevered pitch. Super Bowls and Obama's victory probably come closest.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nov. 5 Headline of La Prensa

Better late than never...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Honduras and the U.S. Election

I watched the election returns last night with an american, an australian and a salvadorean. Us two americans were glued to the TV set and very emotional about Obama's victory. My other two guests were interested in the elections, but understandably not as emotionally invested. I had a fun time explaining the electoral college to them.

However, there are many Hondurans who are very excited about the elections. I received this text message last night from a friend here in Trujillo:

¡Change we need!

A dirt road was cleared and repaired yesterday so supplies can be tranported into town. This morning's edition of La Prensa was available at newsstands, and was a hotter commodity than flour, rice, beans or bread. Almost all copies had been sold by the time I got there at 9am. The cover featured a huge color photo of Obama with the headline 'Obama, Elegido'. People were snapping up copies as keepsakes, to show their kids one day. I thought that was remarkable.

It was incredible to see the footage of celebrations across the United States. What most impacted me were the scenes of jubilant strangers hugging, laughing and crying in the streets across the country. I wish I could've been there.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weather damage

There have been rumors flying the last few days about the status of the road and bridges that connect Trujillo to the rest of the country. I have photos of the actual situation thanks to a photographer for La Prensa, and it's not good.

The highway a few kilometers outside of town.

Collapsed bridge over Rio Chapagua.

Trujillo is completely cut off and it's still raining.

I'm pretty well-equipped to handle this: I've got plenty of drinking water, food, and cooking gas (which I can use to boil water if I run out of the bottled stuff). The only rough thing is that I don't have running water - I have to capture rainwater for washing, bathing, and toilet-flushing.

Many hondurans have no resources to deal with this kind of disaster. Especially those living in rural communities that have been completely cut off. Thousands of people are homeless and many municipal buildings normally used during emergencies are themselves flooded, exacerbating the problem. It's hard to get any concrete information, though. COPECO, which manages emergencies in Honduras, can't stay on top of everything that's happening.

I'm heading out with a friend from Médicos del Mundo to see the damage for myself. I'll post an update if I learn anything new.