Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Jan 23 - The big adventure begins
We’re on the move again, headed toward the town where we’ll be living during our time in Honduras, Copan Ruinas. Alas, it looks like Internet access could be more challenging from this point on - we’re at a hotel in Santa Rosa de Copan that in theory has wifi, but it’s not working out that way so far.
Beautiful drive yesterday, up into mountains that looked like they were lifted straight out of one of those Juan Valdez coffee ads from way back when. I’m well-familiar with that term about “shade-grown coffee” from all the politically correct bags of fair-trade coffee beans I’ve bought over the years, but the reality was still surprising. The small coffee plants are dark, dark green and buried deep in the shade of the forests. There are probably giant plantations somewhere with row upon row of plants growing, but the ones along our route grew in small patches that looked like backyard gardens.
The towns are small and scattered now that we’re outside of the city. But the difficulties of the 21st century in Honduras still find them. We passed through a charming little town, La Entrada, that I’m told is full of crime due to its key placement on one of the routes that the narco-traficantes use for smuggling cocaine and other drugs north from South America.
I’d heard that the food was bland in Honduras, but obviously those people don’t like the same kind of food that I do. I’ve enjoyed everything so far - the feta-like cheese, the dark frijoles, the crispy plantain that seems to be more of a staple here than tortillas. And the meat! I’ve never understood why meat in poorer countries is always so much tastier than the meat we get in Canada, but it is. I had a little barbecued chicken last night that was amazing.
Today we make our way to Copan Ruinas, a couple hours’ drive from here. My partner and I will be in a language school there for the next month, getting our Spanish skills down and using that time in a home stay to look for a more permanent place to live in the little town. Cuso International covers the cost of housing for its volunteers, up to $400 Cdn a month.
That’s a generous allowance in a country where minimum-wage earners make just half of that in a month, and where most people live on less than $1.50 a day. So while we’re looking forward to living more simply in our new land, we’re well aware that we remain in a position of significant privilege.