Waking up in Sulaco is like waking up to an orchestra of noises; birds and rosters crowing, donkeys and cows hollering, dogs barking, motorcycles revving, and if I'm lucky sometimes NSYNC blasting from the neighbors house : ). Although it's a smallish town of 7000, I think it's noisier than most big cities I've been to. The humidity is already thick in the early morning hours, with much more intense heat to come once the sun is out. It's the type of weather that makes clothes just seem unnecessary, and cold drinks and frozen treats the best things in the world. Did I mention that I love this weather!!?
If any of you don't know me well, I'm not too keen on waking up early (that may be the understatement of the century!). So I've taken to skipping the official group breakfast on most days and instead can wake up a bit later and just enjoy a mango before I get to work for the day. So if you have never eaten a mango from its' country of origin, you are missing out on one of life's finest. Fresh, ripe mangos are one of the most delicious things this earth has to offer. They are so sweet and juicy and the flavor is incomparable to the mangos you can buy at the grocery stores in Minnesota. In the mornings I will take my mango and carefully peel the skin off, making sure to also scrap the remaining fruit that's on the skin off with my teeth so I don't waste any. I eat the mango over the balcony so that I don't have to worry about the mango juice that is dripping down my chin, hands and even elbows and can just let it fall on to the street. There is just no way to eat a good mango without making a mess. Which reminds me of a story my dad loves to tell about his uncle, Tio Ramon, who was a total manners fanatic. Tio Ramon lived in my fathers house when my father was a child and he always had perfect, old school table manners, which he strictly imposed on others as well. So one day my father and his brother got really excited about trying to see how Tio Ramon would eat a mango. They bought the mango and excitedly presented it to him in hopes of a great show. But Tio Ramon simply said "gentlemen don't eat mangos". Well Tio Ramon, you missed out big time haha.
Anyway besides the mangos and the homemade tortillas the food here isn't too exciting and definitely not healthy. They fry a lot of their meat and cook everything in lard. There is generally too much salt and they serve any meal with soda (usually coke). Pretty much every meal here includes beans, tortillas, fresh cheese and some sort of meat. Sometimes they throw in eggs or rice and even some vegetables. One of my companions is starting to say ¨If I have to eat beans one more time... ¨ I'm still fine with them though, but I do miss my vegetables and the diet here worries me. I have noticed that there is a large percentage of overweight individuals in the older half of the population. But that may have to do with the fact that I have seen more potbellies in the last week than I am used to due to the funny habit Honduran men here have of standing around with their shirts half folded up in the heat of the day, which comically accentuates their pop bellies.
Since we are staying in Sulcao (the nearest town that has a hotel) everyday we need to get a ride into the communities that we are working in. There are nine different communities that we are working at, so some days it feels like I'm spending half of my day in a pick up truck. We pile a couple people in the front seat, but most of us are in the back. If we have room we also pick up anyone on the side of the road, from schoolchildren to old men with machetes. The rides have become an enjoyable part of my day. It's incredibly refreshing to feel the wind zipping around me while watching the beautiful Honduran landscapes rolling by; green mountains and hills in the distance, small plots of agricultural land growing corn or yucca on either side of the rocky, dusty road. Its just the beginning of the rainy season so the land still looks a bit dry, and the rivers are low. But it's getting greener everyday. And we have been lucky, it has only been raining in the evening so far, so we are able to get in full workdays in the sun everyday. We are usually the only vehicle on the road. Sometimes there is another truck or person on a bike, horse or donkey. Our driver likes to joke about how much traffic there is when we run into a herd of cows on the road. Our driver Ernesto, has become our best friend here. He is the community plummer and he takes us around in his red truck all day, back and forth from community to community for us to do our work. So we have gotten to know each other pretty well and I am sure he will be the person I will miss the most when I am gone from here. Ernesto is a big guy for a Honduran. As one engineer but it, in general, everything here is smaller except the bugs, the kids are scrawny, you can see all the ribs on the skinny dogs and horses that run around and the adults are short. But Ernesto is about 6 feet tall and solid, with a loud voice and charismatic personality. He gave me a nickname, Teresa la Mexican, La Reina del Sur (Teresa the Mexican, the queen of the south) during the first week and since then others in the community have started to call me that as well. I guess it's from some narco drug lords song, but I can't say I mind the nickname too much haha. Oh and did I mention that he keeps a steady supply of mangos available to us??.... I am a big fan : )!
Thanks for reading!