Almost a week since I first laid eyes on this beautiful country that is Honduras. And believe me, the journey here wasn‘t exactly a joy ride. First of all, it took me over thirty hours which is longer than it took me to get to New Zealand – and New Zealand is the end of the world from my perspective! But more importantly I was excruciatingly nervous throughout the entire trip, constantly bugged by „What ifs“: What if I really hate this city? What if nobody likes me? What if no one picks me up from the airport? But then another thought occured as I was sitting in the last plane that took me from San Salvador to Tegucigalpa: What if I‘m a Hobbit? There is one scene in the movie where Bilbo says, „I often think of Bag End. I miss my books, and my arm chair, and my garden. See, that’s where I belong. That’s home.“ And I realised that I like the comfort of home. I like to belong somewhere, to be settled. And it‘s actually quite okay to miss all that I‘ve left behind, even if it‘s as simple as an arm chair. But Hobbits are strong, little creatures. They go out there and discover things and have adventures and save the world, and then they go back home with their trunks full of gold and they smoke pipes for the rest of their days and are just fine. And that‘s what I‘m going to be, just fine.
I didn‘t think I would like Tegucigalpa before coming here. It seemed dirty and chaotic and hideous. And I haven‘t actually been to the city yet, so I can‘t say that I do. But I saw it from above, and just like that, all my fears of not liking it were gone. I liked the hills and the dust and the winding streets… I just liked this complicated pattern I saw.
What I have certainly come to love is the people. They are nothing if not open hearted and welcoming. It takes them minutes to consider you a friend, they smile a lot and they love their country. It‘s beautiful to just listen to them talking about Honduras. Even the security guards in front of the buildings with their heavy shot guns smile friendly when you pass them and it really gets you thinking. Because what I have seen is by far not as shocking as what I haven‘t seen. And I haven‘t seen much poverty. I know it‘s there, though, the shot guns are perfect proof. It just seems wrong to have been able to move around this country for almost a week and not having seen any of the problems Honduras is facing.
I live in a beautiful, massive house (really, this is a castle!) with a wonderful family, they have their own business, several cars and even a maid, and they are lovely, lovely, lovely people – but there‘s this huge poverty from which I‘ve been hidden so far and it really bothers me, because they just exist side by side, and while it‘s possible to hide all the bad that is happening from the rich people, the poor will always see what they are missing, because riches are always bright and shiny.
Other than that I‘m feeling grand, though. I met a few other volunteers on the weekend, I‘ve tasted the local food –frijoles (beans) are acceptable for every meal and breakfast ist basically lunch– and I‘ve experienced the Honduran party spirit –dancing and drinking cerveza (beer)… but mostly dancing! So, with that in mind, I‘m looking forward to six enthralling months. I‘m starting work next week, until then I get Spanish lessons and learn what bus to take and how to find my way around the city without getting mugged or stabbed.
Unlike Bilbo (who gets almost-stabbed an awful lot), I did bring some books with me (ten to be precise, though I only really count six), and much to my advantage I don‘t have to fight a dragon. Seriously, what can possibly go wrong!