West Chester, PA Team Heads to the Hills

This may look like a picture postcard of the lush mountains of Western Honduras, but nestled in this tranquil setting are families who are “eeking out” an existence. If you follow a trail, as the team from West Chester recently did and hike to the top of the mountain, you will find that there are numerous clusters of small, low-profile dwellings. These are the homes of people who have purchased small 10 x 20 foot parcels of property on which their dwelling sits. The homes shown here belong to the municipality of La Entrada, but they have neither water nor electricity supplied to them at this time. Owners expect these services will be provided in the future as infrastructure develops along this mountainside.

At the base of the mountain is this water trough from which residents draw their water and then hike back up to the top with full jugs of water. Many of the residents we visited were in their 70s and 80s, so this is not an easy trip for them. Our team even struggled to climb the steep slopes and we were not carrying any extra items other than a camera.

Although we were accompanied by the Mayor of La Entrada, Roberto Hernandez, the residents were friendly and smiling, excited that we were from the States and eager to show us their homes. This 80-year old gentlemen, living in a mud adobe-style home, invited us into his house and showed us his possessions. He was growing maize that served as his source of grain for tortillas on a small portion of his property.

A few ears can be seen on a metal sheet drying, along with frijoles or beans that were laid out in the sun to dry.

He showed us a small yellow fruit that he grows that when peeled back, reveals a cluster of sweet red bean-like pods that serve as a source of iron for them.

As we walked about, a few chickens scattered and a dog and young pup followed us. They were curious about us invading their space too.

The lady of the house, barefooted and a few years younger than her husband, was keen to have us see the inside of her home—dirt floor, a few pots and empty water jugs on the floor. A coffee pot along with a few other material possessions hung on the wall near the wood-fired stove. She seemed very happy and contented with her circumstances. After receiving compliments about her homesite, the wife smiled revealing a few gold capped teeth and was very willing to pose for snapshots.

The proud couple, seemingly content with life on the hillside and a panoramic view of the valley below, commented that when the water and electricity come into their community, the prices of the lots will likely double because more people will want to move in. Their expectations were not too terribly different from suburban dwellers back home.

Judging from their proud demeanor and big smiles, many of us couldn’t keep from thinking that this couple had achieved a level of acceptance and personal self-satisfaction, while we North Americans chase around seeking the latest technological self-indulgences. Of course we would be the first to say that we would not want to trade places with them, but there are many lessons to be learned from this visitation.