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Honduras: The Injustice of Poverty
After riding several kilometers down the rural Honduran road a long line of makeshift shanty houses appeared. These shelters were made of tin, cardboard, and scrap wood with no running water, electricity or even a door. The sewer was an open ditch that stunk along the road. Dirty kids were running around barefoot or sitting in a deep depression staring off into space. Families were desperately poor and struggling so hard to hold on. Living without the basic necessities of life shouldn’t be a reality for anyone. Unlike us, they had no way to escape, no bicycle to ride off on nor ATM card to get more cash when they needed it. I only wanted to get down the road and avoid thinking about it. Closing ones eyes and pretending poverty isn’t there has always been a coward’s way out.
The hardest thing to try to block out was the dozens of kids that yelled out to us in sincere desperation, “Gringo, Gringo una lempira (US$0.06)” or ask for food with “Tengo hombre (I am hungry).” It was a reality that I was not able to accept.
As I was looking at all of this injustice, I guess I wasn’t watching the road. I rolled over a large piece of glass that loudly sliced through my front tire. I found myself standing on the side of the road looking at a large cut in my tire. We weren’t going anywhere fast. Off came my panniers. I used the old bicycle rider’s trick of finding something to put behind the cut to keep the tube from coming through the hole in the tire. All cyclists have done this at one time or another, I just needed to figure out what to use for my boot. Back home I would have used a green US one dollar bill. Money works well because it’s stronger than average paper. Here in Honduras I would have to settle for local currency. The problem was how to pull out money around such poverty.
By this time, we had drawn a good size crowd of bored kids. As they gathered around, we could see half of them were suffering from disease. We saw countless oozing sores, eyes swollen shut and constant scratching. Two young girls were standing nearby; one was holding a baby with numerous bedbug bites on its face. These kids were in bad shape. If I could, I would have hired a bus and taken the whole lot to a hospital.
Cindie kept my handle bar bag closed while she stuck her hands in and fumbled with the wallet. She found the one lempira note and handed it to me. Every kid in sight saw this and wondered what was next. When they saw me cram it between my tire and tube, they were shocked. To them it must have been the same as someone burning US hundred dollar bills to keep warm. I put everything back together and was glad that my boot worked. This was by far the most difficult flat to fix ever. In the future, when I have to fix a flat, let it be in the worst traffic or even on a busy bridge. Let it rain or snow on me, but never again do I want to stand around with all of my money and toys in front of such hopeless kids. I will never look at the world the same after this experience. I will see a world where the basic needs of life aren’t always attainable. This is something I assumed everyone had until I ventured away from home.
As you read this in your comfortable surroundings, please remember those kids are still out there not just in Honduras but all over the developing world, wishing for a fraction of what most of us consider the necessities of life.
I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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