We’ve been in Teguc for 10 days and we’re finally getting settled now that our we’re in our house with internet and our unaccompanied air baggage (UAB). Before we buckle in and really get to know this place, it’s always fun to record some first impressions.
- We’re going to need Spanish. We knew this before we came, but it’s still surprising how very little English is spoken here, even in the capital. I communicated with the men installing our internet by typing back and forth in Google Translate on a phone. That just means every interaction is a learning opportunity and everything around us has become reading material, like these Zucaritas. Every time I’m understood in Spanish is a little victory, so I’m enjoying the challenge.
- The goods are great. Those Frosted Flakes? There’s a lot more where that came from. If I could understand more of what was happening around me, I might almost forget I’m not in the States. Everywhere you look there’s something American. Streets are lined with Wendy’s, Chili’s, Dunkins, and even Denny’s. Store shelves are stocked with Chobani, Doritos, and boxed cake mixes (which came in handy for a Marine’s birthday this week!) Even the mall is like mini-America, with Sears and Zara.
- Everything happens on “Honduran time”. While we have access to most modern conveniences, actually getting things seems to be a challenge. From getting the check after dinner to scheduling a time to set up our internet, everything just takes longer than it should. We were told it might take up to 6 months to get a license plate for our car because the government ran out 3 months ago. (But we can drive without one, apparently, so no big deal? The entire driving situation here deserves its own post.) Living here will be a lesson in patience.
- We’re a bit trapped in our house, but it’s a damn nice one. Consensus in the Embassy community is that we really can’t walk around much, for security reasons. We’re luckier than some that we can confidently walk around a few streets in our barrio seguro (gated, guarded neighborhood) but it looks like we’ll be spending a lot of time in our house. On the other hand, our house is not a bad place to be! Plenty of space for the two of us, and then some.
- We’re in great hands. The most important thing I’ve learned so far: we just walked in to a stellar community. With the precarious security situation, the community really needs to lean in on each other, and damn do we have some strong pillars to lean on. I can’t wait to get settled and pay it forward to other newcomers.
- Hondurans? I don’t really have a first impression yet! My interactions have been somewhat limited to the locally employed staff (LES) at the Embassy, who fall under the last bullet point: beyond awesome, there will never be enough kind words for these people who help our professional and personal lives continue without a hitch. As for your everyday Honduran, I’m not sure. Lucky for us, we have another 18 months to get to know them.
The only way I can think to describe Teguc so far is a mix of chaos and calm. Not knowing the language, the speed of life, the horrendous traffic, and the security situation make life hectic. But our community, our safe neighborhood, and the access to familiar goods and luxuries counteract it all. The trick is maintaining the balance. So far, so good.