Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's Different

The past couple of days here have been reminders of just how different life and culture is in a third world country. Yesterday Terri and I did accomplish the task of ordering some cabinets from the "taller de madera" - the shop of wood. We were only confused about one question but quickly solved the question and in a couple of weeks we will have a place to put dishes and other kitchen stuff. We were pleased that our limited language skills have at least improved to the point of doing more and more on our own. I still have a difficult time understanding telephone conversations. Communication is different here.
In the afternoon we headed in to Tegucigalpa where we thought that the two food containers would finally arrive - they didn't. We found out that they were still in Puerto Cortez and were being held hostage until we paid the demurage fines and parking fees. It was a lot of money - because the shipper was late sending us the paper work necessary to complete all the Hondo requirements. The thing about paying the fee was that they wanted a certified check - no cash. I can go to a place called CoinSA and cash a check for as much money as I need but they don't issue cashier checks. We went to a bank that CoinSA recommended but the bank would not issue a cashier check without an account at the bank. They would make me wait days for the account to open - even if I deposited cash. The fines are accumulating at $150 a day - We finally decided to call on a friend with a local account and will use her bank to issue the check this morning and we hope to see the food here by tomorrow - sometime. Banking is different here.
I could feel sorry for myself because of some of the aggrivations but I don't have very far to look to realize that there is nothing in my life that can compare to the daily difficulties of many of the people that live here. On Tuesday I was heading to Teguc in the late afternoon to take Fitto to his counseling appointment. I was leaving at 4 which is the end of the work day for Dilcia, Rayna, & Elvia. I told them that I would give them a ride home and they were happy to accept. Elvia lives about 5 miles from here so her daily bus rides are not too bad. Dilcia and Rayna are a different story. These sisters live in the same neighborhood on the Valley de Angeles road. In miles it is probably 30 or so. In a truck - about 45 min. I asked Rayna how long the bus would take from Santa Ana to her house and she told me 2.5 hours. That's right - she and her sister are on a bus for 5 hours a day so that they can come here to work for not a lot of money. We pay higher than the minimum wage of L70 per day (about $3.50) but not that much. (Our workers start at L100 per day). I thought my commute was bad when I lived in LA and drove about an hour to work - 5 hours in a bus where you may or may not even have a seat. A bus designed for 40 people that often has 150 riders. If you have been here you have seen what I am talking about. Going to work is different here.
Every day we see people on the streets trying to sell something - cell phone car cords and chewing gum are big items for street vendors. These are the poor that are trying to eek out some sort of living. The kids on the streets often just ask for un limp para comera - 5 cents for food. Sometimes they want to wash your windshield. Yesterday I saw one of the youngest ever kids trying to wash windows. She was probably 5 years old and couldn't even reach the windows of most cars. She was in the middle of the street at one of the busiest intersections in all of Tegucigalpa - in the middle of rush hour. She told me she was hungry. Being a poor child is different in Honduras.
Be a blessing to somebody today.
Be the difference in somebody's life!

1 comment:

Ginger said...

Dear Marc,
I love Delcia. She use to be Gena's housekeeper and I admired that she was not lazy and smiled doing her awesome job. I cannot imagine the life of struggles she endures to be bread winner. All the women you mentioned. And the child five years old truly became an adult too young. I guess it makes the word survival of the fitis (spelling?) have all new perspective. I admire that you hang in there with stuggles and problems of your own.
May God Bless you TODAY!!