Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day One - Connections

It's 10pm on January 1 and the whole Farmer to Farmer crew is safe and sound here in Comayagua, Honduras. I was the first to arrive in San Pedro Sula, and was shortly met by some of our local Honduran friends - Hernan, Hector, Adalid, Suyapa, Cindy and Marta. What a beautiful crew. They must have recognized me from photos, so they approached me with smiles and introduced themselves. Andy, Alex, Ana, Jeff, Peggy and Rick made it off the plane and we were ready to make the three hour trip up the mountains to Comayagua.

I was looking forward to the trip up the mountain in the back of a pickup truck, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that they chartered a small bus for us. The ride was comfortable and filled with multilingual conversation the whole way. We crawled past banana stands, mountain lakes, all manner of shacks, shanties and homes and a variety of agricultural activity. There were lots of kids everywhere - chasing in fields, playing soccer in the dirt, riding bikes and walking with their parents.

There were many similarities to Mexico for me, but enough differences to know I was in a different country. The level of poverty seems a bit more, and there is a hint of chaos - not a bad chaos necessarily, but an intangible sense of uncertainty I might call it. I'm sure I'll identify it more as time rolls on here.

The bus brought us to Hotel Morales where we chose rooms and put our stuff away. Then I got my dream of riding in the back of a pickup truck when Hernan and Adalid escorted the group to La Casa de Pris where we enjoyed conversation, beverages and an incredible traditional home cooked meal of chicken, rice and an apple/beet salad with our old and new friends. The room remained jovial even though the conversation occasionally drifted towards politics, and we got to hear two Hondurans on different sides of "the coup" discuss rationally and respectfully their views.

Hernan was excited that there were some bicyclists in the group, so he is arranging for bikes so that a few of us can bike up the Mountain to plant coffee and have lunch with Hector.

A few random tidbits from today:
~ Don't think you can memorize your new ATM card pin a few minutes before you leave.
~Honduras pretty much declared anything over 1800 meters to be a protected National Park, so virtually all of their mountain peaks are preserved as cloud forests.
~ There are about 20 Limpira to 1 dollar
~ A hotel room can still cost under $20
~ Kids here love their phones and screens, too, if they can afford them
~ Palm oil, Bananas and Sugarcane have dominated the agricultural scene so far.
~ Most of the corn I saw was planted in marginal areas - hillsides, in groves of trees and roadsides. Instead of pulling off the ear when ripe, they fold over the stalk and allow the corn to dry in place on the stalk. They often plant beans among the corn, and leave the stalks after harvest to nourish the soil.

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