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Cedano Beach, Honduras

The Final Trip to Choluteca

January 2, 2007

This morning I am feeling much better than the day before. Still a little sore but nothing like it had been. So today will probably be more eventful, at least it should be by all means.

Shortly after awaking and getting a shower we were ready to go into Choluteca. We had to take Erica and her daughter Alejandra into town so they could catch a bus back to Tegucigalpa. Then we needed to get a part for the truck to fix the axle and some new brake pads. Finally, we had to get a load of hay for the horses and stop by the market to pick up some groceries.

So we loaded up relatively early that day in order to get Erica to town on time. On this day we left the ranch with Anibel and myself in the front seat and Erica, Alejandra, Kevin, Nahum and Alfonso in the back seat. I brought along the iPod to listen to some music on the way and also the camera to make sure I got some shots while out and about. So off we went for a day on the town.

The first stop we made was at the parts shop to get the needed parts for the truck. While we were waiting Erica decided to get a taxi to take her to the bus stop because she was worried about being late. Kevin jumped out of the truck and waived down a taxi and Erica and Alejandra jumped in and sped away. Finally, Anibel emerged from the parts shop with his parts in hand and we headed for the auto shop to get the truck repaired.

We went a different way around the city this time rather than driving through the city. I had not been around this way, so I got to see a different part of the city. Not that it was much different that what I had seen before, but it was new. We dropped Kevin off at the corner store so he could do his errands and stop by the bank. The rest of us went over to the auto shop where Anibel greeted the mechanics and let them know what needed to be done. It was going to take some time to get the truck repaired, so Nahum, Alfonso and me walked up the road to a pulperia to get a Coke.

The pulperia was being run by an old woman and it was a very nice place compared to some of the others I had been to. This one had a lot of shade covering the store front and extended patio outside. On the patio there were several chairs so we decided to stay in the shade and enjoy our Coke. While sitting and waiting around I took out the camera and started to take some photos of Nahum and Alfonso. I was showing Nahum some of the new features I had learned on the camera including the B&W feature. He was excited about that feature and wanted me to take some pictures of him in B&W. So I had him do some poses there on the patio and took a few dozen photos.

We were sitting there on the patio just outside the awning over the store front chatting away when a bird above Nahum did his business. It was quite funny because it just happened to land right on Nahum's back. I am not supposed to tell anybody because he was embarrassed about it, but how could I not? At least we never told the family, so he is saved from that part of it. But I had to mention it here because it should be a lasting memory we can laugh about in the future.

After a while Kevin joined us at the pulperia and we hung out taking more photos and chatting while we waited for the truck to be done. We did walk back to the shop to check on the progress and so I could use the bathroom. But there was still time needed to complete the job. It was so hot outside that we decided to go back to the patio and park ourselves for the duration. Finally, Anibel came driving up and we piled in to go get the hay.

We drove through Choluteca because the guy he bought the hay from was on the other side of town. Of course it was a farm outside of the city and we made our way out there without much effort. When we got to the farm there was a pendulum type of gate with a chain wrapped around it to keep it down. Nahum jumped out of the truck to open the gate so we could enter, but seemed to be confused by the way in which this gate worked. It was weighted on one end, so when he took the chain off it lifted much like the cross bar at a railroad crossing. The thing he did not do was keep a hold on the rope so when it went up he could pull it back down. By missing this step he got a good laugh out of all of us and Alfonso had to jump out and help him get the gate back down after we had entered.

We drove up the driveway to the barn where a couple of boys were hanging out. Anibel let them know we wanted ten bails of hay as he backed the truck up to the barn for them to load it. While we waited we walked around a little bit trying to stay in the shade. There was not much shade out here in the flat lands, but enough to keep us out of the sun while they loaded the hay. Once it was loaded we got back in and headed back towards town.

Once we got back to town we went to the main public market to pick up some groceries. It was a good thing because I did not bring the camera on the first trip to the market to get some pics of what I had blogged about before. So it worked out great and we even went to the meat market area so I could get some shots even though we did not need to buy any meat on this day. I ended up getting several good shots of the market, so now I had some evidence of what I had described from in the blog last week.

After the market we went to an electronics store. I was looking for some computer speakers that I could hook the iPod up to and share my music with everybody. The store Kevin suggested turned out to be one of the nicest stores I had been in down here. It was merchandised more like a U.S. store and was very nice and clean. They had computers including laptops, flat screen televisions and other nice stereo equipment all name brands such as Sony and Pioneer. It was a first class place where probably only the rich came to shop. The prices were actually kind of high making me think that similar items in the U.S. were probably much cheaper. But maybe not, I am not a big consumer of electronics myself so I do not really know for sure. But this is the store where Douglas had bought the new Sony stereo for the house.

Anyway, the store did not have stand alone computer speakers, so we left and I discarded the idea opting instead to bring some spare speakers I had back home on my next trip. So our trip into town was complete and we drove back to the ranch.

On the way back I took the opportunity to take some photos of the drive home. I got a few decent photos but taking them while driving down a dirt road was not exactly easy. It is very bumpy and hard to keep the camera still to get clear shots. I did get a few in any case and will create a photo album with them in it. The primary reason I wanted to get some of these shots was to better explain the use of the roads. They are a little different than what most Americans are used to seeing.

First off most of the roads are dirt rather than pavement. Being dirt means big bumps everywhere from where the rain washed out the loose dirt leaving behind the rocks and big holes. Anibel was always crossing back and forth across the road trying to stay on the smoothest parts for a better ride. It all worked great unless a car was coming the other way and we would have to stay to the rough side. But it was slow going and never that big of a deal in terms of the ride, but there was more concern regarding the potential damage that could be done to the truck, especially after just getting it repaired.

The road here connecting the smaller villages such as Tablones Abajo where the ranch is and even the town of Yusguare to the bigger city of Choluteca was a major route. Of course most people in these parts do not have automobiles and need other forms of transportation to get to town for shopping or working. Many hitch a ride on the big one ton trucks, while others wait for someone they know to come along and give them a ride. If Anibel knows someone and sees them walking he will stop and let them jump in the back and continue on until he gets to their stop.

Other forms of transportation to town are old U.S. yellow school buses. You will see many of these on the roads busing people to and from the city. Apparently older buses no longer used in the U.S. are shipped down to these poorer countries where they continue to be put to use. Still other ways to get around are by foot, bicycle and horse. You will see many people walking the road as well as riding their bicycles sometimes with 2-3 people on them and/or loads of supplies. I would imagine many people down here have very strong legs pedaling their way around.

Although it seems that the road is primitive in comparison to all the nicely paved roads we have back in the states, these are busy roads nonetheless. I have noticed though that there are more cars on the road this trip than last, which is a sign the economy is moving forward and more and more people are able to afford a vehicle for their personal use. The Japanese cars are preferred down here to American cars, probably because the Japanese came in and built some bridges and transportation infrastructure so they could drive cars around the place. And with the port only minutes away from Choluteca they ship in their cars by the boat load. Not a bad investment for the Japanese to be sure, but obviously a market lost to the big three back in Detroit.

We made it back to the ranch and had some dinner. It had been a long day out, so we were tired and ready to settle in for the night. While sitting around we discussed potential business opportunities for Honduras such as importing goods from China to the port and then either selling them to retailers acting as a distributor or opening up our own retail outlets to sell the goods directly to the consumers. It ended up being an education session as the guys thought they could come in with name brands and undercut the current distributors. So I explained to them that it does not work that way and that the name brands were likely distributed through an exclusive distributor and that we would have to bring in brands that were not already there or just buy the brands from the current distributor and sell them directly to the consumer competing with the other shops.

We also discussed opening a restaurant where the girls could cook the food and serve. When the electricity is finally installed they will have a lot more time on their hands and will need something to do. So why not create them some jobs and make money too? Nahum is thinking a Mexican restaurant will be good because it is a type of food not easily found down there. On the other hand I think food from the American South would fit their taste and be something unique to the market. In any event I think this would be the easiest business to start now requiring a lot less capital than the distribution or retail ideas that require an up front investment for the inventory.

If we decide to do a retail store we were all thinking about auto accessories and tires as it is a growing need for this market. With more and more people buying cars there would be a greater demand for accessories and tires, especially given the rough roads they have to drive on everyday. Auto accessories look to be a good choice for marketing down here too because everybody likes to decorate their vehicles. It appears that the American idea of unique, individualism is taking hold here as it seems to be all over the globe. Who knows what the first business will end up being, but we will eventually decide and get going likely in the near future.

Before going to sleep this night I reflected on the business conversation and started thinking about moving down here to manage the job. I am seriously considering moving down here next fall and staying through the winter to avoid the cold winters back home. I have been thinking about this for a long time, living six months away from Colorado during the colder months and coming back for spring and summer. Now that I have a place to stay in Honduras and it is warm year round, why not just do it and start living my dream? I think I will make this commitment and do it. In fact, I will make plans and actually do it. I have nothing to lose and I could possibly find ways to make money down here to support my lifestyle and just stay year round. Who knows? Come next October we will find out.

© 2007 DKSeigler Investments, LLC

Flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.