The plane left Charleston at 6:30 and my buddy on the flight was Vanessa, a young gal in a Charleston theater group. We landed in Houston around 8 -- ahead of schedule! I called Courtney as I hopped on the airport train and navigated my way to my next gate. We departed at 9 and as our conversation was coming to a close, I just couldn't stop crying. As we took off I penned:
I cried as I got off the phone with Pip, the plane about to depart. Not because I was scared or nervous. Not because I was fearful or re-thinking my going. I cried because the Holy Spirit stirred me. The Lord has been working. Is working. Will work. I cried because I don't think this is going to be the last time I leave my country for a foreign life. I cried because I think, I hope, it is one of many. And with that comes a strange excitement.
Y'all, we were served a cheese omelet on my next flight. In a bag. Interesting. Seeing as how I don't eat eggs (other than in baked goods and Pad Thai), I gave mine away. Landing in San Pedro Sula at noon, I was struck by how beautiful the country is. And, I have to say, the beauty never seemed to end. Every where I looked, I saw lush green plants with foggy mountains in the background: breathtaking. As I was exiting the plane, a Latin dude, assuming Honduran, looked at me and said, "oh, you're by yourself?" To which I replied, "yes. Is that ok?" His, "well, you need to be careful," wasn't super reassuring.
I had a buddy on that flight as well, yet I couldn't pronounce or fully understand his name. We cruised through customs together and then bumped into each other off and on as we waited for our bus to come. The airport was nice and provided great people watching opportunities. You could choose from Wendy's, Dunkin Doughnuts, NY Bakery, and two Honduran restaurants. Naturally, I went authentic and ate 2 tacos that were great. Afterwards, I wondered if it was ok I ate the produce that they had. Thankfully, it seemed to be!
It's a funny thing to be a minority. I found myself resonating with the handful of other white folks in the airport. Though I didn't want to be just another gringo. But, let's be honest, I was. I tend to make friends in awkward/unfamiliar situations (hence, the plane friends). While waiting to board the bus, a white kid about my age strolled up and spoke wonderful Spanish to the bus dude. My instinctive thought: oh, great, maybe we'll sit next to each other and we can talk, I'll find out how he learned Spanish, oh...his t-shirt says San Diego and I have friends moving there...yes, good friends we shall be.
Here's what took place: as we loaded our bags into the bus (note: first of 2 buses) he looked at me and said, "it says Channel 9 news."
Me: Oh, you caught me staring at your t-shirt? Yeah, I have a propensity for doing that. Mine says Patagonia in case you were wondering.
Well, he wasn't. Needless to say, we did not become friends.
Once we arrived at the bus station, I waited for the bus to La Ceiba. My t-shirt not-friend boarded another bus and I got up to make sure it wasn't mine. Based on another few exchanged words, I'm pretty sure he thought I would end up dead in a ditch somewhere. (Guess what? I didn't!) My plane friend told me my bus was running 30 minutes late. He took his bus and hugged me goodbye. I made friends with a few Hondurans and one let me borrow his cell phone to call Shannon and tell her I'd be late due to the bus.
About an hour later than my ticket read, we boarded the bus. A Coke Light helped me stay awake. Did you ever eat those root beer flavored Bottlecaps? I think that is what Coke Light tastes like. I don't hate it, but it is no Diet Coke. I listened to Simon & Garfunkel, Van Morrison, and Patty Griffin's Heavenly Day as I tried to absorb the scenery. It was so beautiful. Green. Lush. Tropical. Mountains that seemed mysterious. Valleys with rivers flowing through them. I was overwhelmed with God's goodness and me being there.
The bus ride was 3 hours from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba and obviously, I had to use the bathroom. I tried to hold it, but no. I got up and went to the back: no bathroom, just people sitting and staring at me. Oh, it must be up front behind that door. Go up there: it isn't. I'm told it's in the middle of the bus down a step or two. Ok
A few other things to note:
- I found the Christmas lights interesting. American commercialism making its way all over the world.
- A buddy in the bus stop asked if I was married? Had kids? How old was I? I think she was appalled at my situation. As it turns out, it can be just as awkward to be 28 and single in Honduras as it is in the United States.
- I found myself complaining to myself about the bus running late and then driving slow as molasses. Then I remembered much of the OT I'd been reading over the past few months: when the Israelites complained, they weren't as able to see the glory of the Lord. I wish I remembered this all the time.
My bus finally arrived in La Ceiba and I was so excited to see Shannon! She lives close by and it was good to be in a home instead of a plane/bus seat. Her house is really nice and big. She has two roommates that I instantly liked and felt very comfortable with. We ate a yummy meal, chatted, and just hung out that night. It was just what I needed after a long day of traveling. Shannon and Caitlyn have started doing The Shred and so I watched/half way did it that night. Shannon and I stayed up too late talking, but it was worth it. As I went to sleep that night, I could only be grateful to be there. Excited for the day I'd had and excited for what the Lord would do on the rest of my trip.
Oh, and they get real Diet Coke from the import aisle! Yes!