>We have spent the last two days in remote villages of Honduras – driving one to two hours to arrive at each village. The mud is unbelievable, and I cannot imagine what it is like here in the rainy season. We have long days here, as we leave between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. each morning and arrive back around 5:30 or 6 p.m. The drives to the villages are just beautiful. The mountains are picturesque and the ride yesterday actually revealed scenery much like our Great Smokies!

We are quite the attraction here, as people come from the villages just to watch us in our caravans drive to our destinations. Each village offers pretty much the same accommodations. We work in school houses (which the villagers have built often carrying the supplies – cement, gravel etc. – in on their backs) which are open air, cement floor and wall structures. They are not clean or ready when we get there, so we spend the first thirty minutes moving furniture and getting prepared. We have become quite impressive at setting up clinic – it is amazing how fast we do it. It is amazing what it looks like when we are done.

As we work, the lines form. Mothers with their children, men taking time away from the fields and young children who walk in on their own to be seen. While the crowds are large, people sit so patiently and just wait their turn. Their patience is so incredible! We all laugh and say you would never see this type of patience in the United States. They wait all morning, and if by lunch time they have not been seen they wait patiently while we grab a quick bit to eat. We always have to turn people away, which is very, very hard.

The poverty here, as you can imagine, is quite severe. Billy, one of our incredible Missionary hosts, told us they go hungry at least two months out of the year. They earn money working in the fields picking mostly coffee. Even the small children work, and we have seen many who do not look to be six or seven returning from the fields after a long day of work. They earn at most $5 and the children earn a $1.

Our missionary hosts are fantastic. Mary is a “get ‘er done” type of woman, and she is so wonderful with these people and does not understand the term obstacle. She just BLOWS right through any challenge. Billy, her husband, is hilarious. Speaks fluent Spanish with a heavy Arkansas accent, and is one joke right after the other. He tells a great “yarn” as well, and I quickly jump on his bus every morning. Although it is the roughest ride (we are packed in like sardines) he is so entertaining (and informative, I have learned a lot) that it is like a “driving show.”

We are off today to our last village (cannot believe it is Friday), and then tonight Don Udo is having us to his house for a farewell party. It has been an incredible week, and I wish I had had more time to share stories and tell you more of our adventures. But – we have been so busy and Bob and Adrian have made sure the Asheville Rotarians have made the most of this adventure!

More tomorrow!
Meridith
PS – Don Udo is so proud of his Paul Harris, and the members of Rotary are so incredibly grateful for all that you do for them. The meeting was QUITE humbling for all of us that attended.