From Palatka, Florida to Guanaja, Honduras | Community Spirit

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From Palatka, Florida to Guanaja, Honduras
From Palatka, Florida to Guanaja, Honduras

Getting to the village of Savannah Bight in Guanaja, Honduras is not an easy thing to do, but well worth the effort.  It's a place like most of us cannot imagine.  No malls or grocery stores, no mail carriers to fill your mailbox.  My TV had one channel, ESPN.

First, let me tell you I am not from Palatka, I live in Fleming Island. But, Palatka was very important to the success of the trip.

Our journey started at JAX and from there we went to Miami, from Miami to San Pedro Sula and from there to La Ceiba.  This is about the time the semi-efficient world we know became a distant memory.  Our flight was scheduled from La Ceiba to Guanaja at 3:30 in the afternoon.  About 6:30 it was finally admitted that our flight wasn't going to be, at least not that day.  Our group leader had made reservations at a La Ceiba "hotel" for our trip back, so he called to see if we could stay that night.  If you ever find yourself in La Ceiba, Honduras you should look up "Barbara" at The Rainbow Village. Not only did she have rooms for us, she came to pick us up at the airport.  Then she made us comfortable and feed us some of the best German food you will find in Honduras, or anywhere, as far as that goes.

The next morning we boarded a small plane and with a stop in Roatan we made it to Guanaja.  This was the first time I had ever flown in a plane where the pilot opened the window to get fresh air!  But our adventure wasn't over.  To get to the village of Savannah Bight you have to take a "water taxi".  This isn't like the one you take from The Landing.  This was more like a canoe with an outboard motor,, and I don't remember seeing any lifejackets, even though we were going to be out in the ocean in this vessel.  After we had made a stop to buy gas and another stop to pick up a bundle of newspapers, we took off for the village of Savannah Bight.  About half way there we saw another, larger, more stable looking vessel approaching us.  Our host for the trip was hanging over the side directing us to pull up along side.  We are in the middle of the ocean, bobbing along, and they direct us to "hop aboard".  About the time I get my left foot firmly planted on our new ride, and my right foot still in the water taxi, a wave hits the boats and they drift apart.  Somehow, I am pulled up and pushed from below.  I didn't get wet, but, I wish I had a video of that manuver.  I could make some money off AFV!!

We arrived at Savannah Bight, Guanaja, Honduras, however, our luggage didn't.  This is where we will spend the next week meeting some of the most endearing people.  There is Jordan, an eight year old boy who helps his father clear bush with a machete in the mornings before school.  Emma, an eleven year old girl who rides along with her dad on a flat bed truck delivering almost everything, and then goes to school in the afternoon.  Ricky who dives for shells and tells us he loves Americans.  Why?  Because in 1998 when hurricane Mitch devastated the island the Americans were the ones who showed up with help and relief. An old man in a plywood shack who yells at us when we pass by and starts yelling every morning as the sun comes up.  We hear stories of how he murdered a man his sister loved, went to jail where he lost his leg and his mind.  Later one of our group walked across the road with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and made friends.  From what we could tell he had worked on an oil rig off the coast of Texas where he had lost his leg.  We never got the reason he yelled at everyone, but when we saw him in the village street he smiled, bumped fists with the guys and shook hands with the women.  We saw two young men tapping a tree branch with a machete as they held a cup under. They tell us they are gathering medicine for "pain in the mouth". I kept a journal and have pages of memories, but, I won't bore you. 

So, why was Palatka so important to me in Savannah Bight, Guanaja, Honduras?  Our group was from Orange Park First Baptist Church.  We were there to help finish The New Jerusalem Baptist Church and our job was to hang drywall.  Our luggage took three days to get there, but there, in the middle of this little church in Central America, was a stack of drywall proudly stamped "Palatka, Florida, USA" on the back.

We completed our mission, and if I have my way I will return to Savannah Bight someday soon.  Maybe by then I can figure out a better route to take!

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