Expat Life,  Teaching Abroad

You can disarticulate a chicken with a butter knife and other things I learned during my first week in Honduras

As I write this post I’ve been in Tegucigalpa, Honduras just over one week. We arrived last Saturday night around 9 PM. The two flights, one from Houston to San Salvador and the other from San Salvador to Tegucigalpa, were, for the most part, uneventful.

The only drama took place about 15 minutes before we were scheduled to land in San Salvador. There was an announcement that there was bad weather at the airport and planes were not being allowed to land. So we circled around for about 45 minutes.

There was thunder, lightning and even stomach upsetting (for some) turbulence. This would not have bothered me in the least if it were not eating into our scant one-hour layover. We landed with about 10-15 minutes before the connecting flight was scheduled to take off. Luckily we were able to board.

Upon landing in Tegucigalpa we were informed that two of the four bags did not make it. But don’t worry we were able to pick those up from the airport the next day.

Since that time we have unpacked and settled in to our new apartment. We’ve made several excursions on foot into the surrounding area including multiple trips to the grocery store –  which deserves a separate post. As I reflect on the past week several things stick out to me. I have listed them below.

Street addresses are ridiculous.

​In the US a street address might be something like 1234 Winding Valley Road. In Tegus (and I assume the rest of Honduras) street addresses are a little more like Dallas exit, top of hill, brown fence. I’m finding this system to be nearly impossible to navigate. Needless to say it sort of makes using Google Maps to get around pretty much useless.

You can dismember a chicken with a butter knife.

As part of my employment package, the school shipped two boxes for me. I had every intention of having those boxes shipped weeks before I arrived here. Unfortunately, the process of getting them from Houston to Tegus was fraught with problems. Despite all of that the boxes did get shipped but are not due to arrive for a few more weeks. This means that my real knives are somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico at the moment. Of course, this didn’t occur to me at the store when I purchased a (skinless) whole chicken. I had to improvise.

I feel like I’m risking my life every time I take a shower.

Most people don’t have hot water heaters. To avoid taking cold showers some genius came up with a shower head that has a built-in heating element. That’s right there’s an electric heating element inside of the shower head. I can hear that electricity zap sound whenever I turn on the shower. These devices have developed nicknames like “widow maker” and “suicide showers“. The other option is to take a cold shower. I’m a little embarrassed by the fact that I would risk my life for the sake of a warmish shower. But not so embarrassed that I would take a cold one.

Tegus is significantly smaller than Houston.

When I researched this city before coming here I learned that the population is just around 1 million. I’m from Houston which has a population of about 3-4 million depending on how you count it. I made the faulty assumption that Tegus was large as well although I’m not sure why. It did look big on the maps I’d been studying to find the location of my apartment and the school. As a geographer, I should know better. I started to put it together when going back “across town” to the airport to retrieve my late luggage took a whopping 11 minutes. After a little Googling, I discovered that Tegucigalpa is about 76 sq. mi. compared to Houston’s size of nearly 600 sq. mi.  I laugh a little each time someone says something about having to go all the way to the other side of the city. I don’t think It has taken more than 15 minutes to get anywhere.