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Starting My Medical Trip

The next morning, I departed Utila via the airport, my first chance to see the much less populated inland portion of the island. My tuk-tuk driver wound through the relatively deserted green countryside until we came upon the airport itself, a one-room building with a woman sitting outside by the airstrip taking names and weighing luggage on a bathroom scale.

Sign in the Utila airport advertising the departure tax

After paying my US$2 departure tax at the bar, I sat at a plastic table outside and waited for my flight to land. This was the first airport I had ever flown out of without any security checks whatsoever. Family members bid each other goodbye on the tarmac as we boarded the tiny proprellor plane, taking our seats where we pleased. A fly buzzed around my head in the un-air-conditioned plane.

My US$135 flight with CM airlines last around a half hour, and afforded me amazing views of Utila on take-off. Once again, I was struck by how un-city-like San Pedro looked from the air as we landed.

View of Utila from the air

The main purpose of my visit to Honduras was to join a medical brigade trip that provides care to rural, underserved areas of the country, and in the San Pedro airport I met with the rest of my group, which consisted of a retired ICU physician, two optometrists, an emergency resident, a Honduran dentist, and several non-medical 'lay volunteers.' We began the four hour trip to Gracias, the colonial city that serves as the capital of the Lempira department.

We enjoyed our last night of flushing toilets in the big city, walking around the town square and sampling food vendors as the power flickered on and off (a common occurrence in Honduras, I would learn). The next morning, we were to leave on a two-hour drive up a dirt road, far into the mountains into a town called Tablones, in the county of La Iguala, where we would set up shop to provide medical care.

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