Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The Downside of Rural Community Life
So although there is the upside of safety in rural communities, the downside of not living in the big cities, where more voices can be heard, is that sometimes these communities on the fringes of the most beautiful areas of Honduras are forgotten. Of course, corruption inside and outside of the communities can prevent improvement, but some of the basic needs out here are continuously overlooked until it causes a bigger problem. To get to Nueva Esperanza, you have to cross numerous creeks and rivers. There are bridges to get across the rivers and the creeks are low enough to just pass right on through. However, the last bridge right before Nueva Esperanza has been broken for more than five years. There is a huge hole in the middle which only a motorcycle can (barely) get by. So, all cars and buses have just gone down through the river. Sure the river has gotten high before, but there has never been any problem with getting across. Until now. The first hurricane of the season, Hurricane Alma, hit southern Honduras in the end of May. Here on the outskirts of the storm, we got LOTS and LOTS of rain. The hurricane raised the river so high that it was impossible for cars, or the buses, to cross.
There was no problem when I left Nueva Esperanza the day before, so I had no idea what was going on when I was headed home and the bus suddenly stopped and turned around. The driver announced that we couldn’t get across the river so everyone had to get off and start walking. I’m pretty sure I gave the bus driver the dropped jaw look of shock. I was coming back with my backpack of overnight gear plus three other bags of groceries. . . and we were at the bottom of the hill. Plus, this bus was supposed to go San Sebastian, it was still 18 km away from it’s destination up the mountain! Everyone got off the bus and started walking across the bridge and up the hill, no complaints and no hesitation. I still am amazed by the attitudes of the people here. I think I stayed calm the whole time just because everyone else did; and because everyone else accepted this ordeal as just another challenge to face, I did, too. Although I can’t help but feel a little angry at how unjust it is here as I watch a man unload a 100-pound bag of corn, carry it on his back bent over up the hill, and then re-load it into the other bus that was waiting for us at the top. For people that already have to struggle with so many other things, like just getting enough of life’s necessities, it’s inexcusable that their lives have to be made more difficult with a problem that should have been taken care of immediately. Another woman struggled with her baby in one hand and two full bags of groceries in the other to make the trek up to the other bus. I wish I could have helped her with the load but I had no free hand to offer myself. We loaded the new bus which didn’t have the overhead compartments like the other one and so all of the bags and boxes of things were either compacted with the owners in the seats or stacked in the aisle. The whole time, I don’t remember hearing a single complaint. . . which may be why nothing has been done to fix the bridge. (The short-term solution now is putting boards across the bridge so cars can pass. . . I prefer walking the 3 hours to town than risk falling into the river). Maybe we’ll get someone’s attention now.