A Solidarity and Accompaniment Delegation to Honduras with the Quixote Center is for people who are willing to have their lives touched and forever changed. The primary reasons for considering a Quixote Center delegation to Honduras in the context of the current political tension is to answer the call from the Honduran people for international presence. The Honduran people are waging a historic and persistent nonviolent struggle against military and economic hegemony. Our role as internationals in that context is to take our cues from them—to be present on the streets and in the detention centers to witness events as they unfold and report on them, with a special emphasis on the denunciation of human rights violations.
This is not your average solidarity fact-finding delegation. We will not send you a detailed schedule of your delegation’s events in advance of your arrival. In most cases, we will not know until the night before or that very morning what the day’s schedule will be. This is due to the rapidly-changing nature of the situation on the ground, and our need to be responsive to that reality and the needs and requests of the Honduran people whose struggle we are there to accompany and support.
Accompaniment work is many things, but it is not always exciting. It can include lots of waiting and moments of unclarity as decisions are made about how best to utilize human and other resources. This, therefore, is not a context in which individual interests regarding research or fact-finding can be accommodated. In most cases, the delegation will move as one single entity, for safety and logistical reasons. Thus it is essential that everyone on the delegation understand that the delegation leaders are responsible for making decisions regarding the delegation’s schedule; the safety of the group and project as a whole depends on compliance on this matter.
During your time in Honduras you will have the opportunity to meet with Hondurans, hear their stories, and accompany them for a short time in their daily lives in the context of a repressive regime. As a group of North Americans, you will also have the opportunity to reflect together on the challenge this experience offers personally, politically, and spiritually. We hope that the stories you hear and the experiences that you have will lead you to continue to work towards justice and peace in Honduras and in your home community.
Preparations, Logistics, and Necessary Information
In order to be well prepared for your delegation, read the first part of this manual very carefully. If you still have questions, please contact the Quixote Center.
The following information applies to US Citizens. For other nationalities, please verify information with a Honduran Consulate. A valid passport is required. Any costs incurred in obtaining documents and paying the airport departure tax are not included in your participant’s fee. Customs forms will be given to you by the airline with whom you are traveling.
√ Entering Honduras – as you pass through immigration at the airport, the agent will ask for your passport, the purpose of your visit (tourism) and the address of where you will be staying. Most delegations will be staying at the CADETUR Guesthouse, Colonia La Joya, Tegucigalpa.
√ Leaving Honduras- a departure tax of $34.07 is required when leaving the country. Plan to pay in cash, exact change in USD is advisable.
Many people have concerns about their health while traveling in developing countries. The following are recommendations for staying healthy while in Honduras from a physician and the Center for Disease Control. Please contact your local travel clinic or consult the Center for Disease Control’s website for further information. The Quixote Center will do everything possible to help you avoid illness and fully enjoy your stay.
Hepatitis, Yellow Fever: You will need a Harvix (Hepatitis A) injection to prevent infectious Hepatitis. This injection should be given at least two weeks prior to arrival in Honduras. Gamma globulin (2 cc’s) is an alternative, but may be unavailable. The Hepatitis B vaccine and the Yellow Fever vaccine are not necessary.
Other Immunizations: Remember that travel to a developing nation is a good time to update your other immunizations such as tetanus and measles.
Dengue Fever: There is no vaccine for Dengue Fever. The best protection against Dengue is to use insect repellent while you are here as it is transmitted through mosquito bites. Using a travel fan or mosquito net while you sleep will also help reduce your risk of being bitten and help you sleep more comfortably.
Traveler’s Diarrhea: The best way to avoid diarrhea is to watch what you eat. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables which are not peeled. Anything that is well cooked and hot is usually okay. Follow the instructions of your delegation leader. Peptobismol tablets are also helpful in case of diarrhea and for general stomach upset, but may not cure diarrhea and should not be taken for more than a 48 hour period. Your physician may recommend carrying Cipro with you, but Cipro can be purchased over the counter and at a lower cost in Honduras. The Quixote Center recommends that you do not self-medicate, but ask to see a doctor in order to identify what is making you sick (for example ameobas, parasites, food poisoning, etc.), and to treat it with the proper medication. Treatment for diarrhea can range from $20 to $50 depending on how much the doctor charges and the medication s/he prescribes.
Other Health Recommendations: Avoid dehydration by minimizing consumption of soft drinks and alcohol and by drinking plenty of water. Purified water will always be made available. Be sure to get plenty of rest, avoid over heating, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
At the Airport in Honduras
Immigration and customs at the Honduran airport are fairly efficient and straight forward. You will pass though immigration before claiming your baggage. Once you have your bags, you will proceed through customs. A green light lets you pass. A red light means that your bags will be inspected. Quixote Center staff will meet you outside the customs area.
Luggage delays are possible with all of the airlines that service Honduras. Therefore, you must be prepared for the possibility that not all of your luggage will arrive when you do. Please bring your essentials in a carry-on bag: a change of clothes, medicines, contacts/glasses, cameras etc.
If your luggage is delayed, go to your airline’s office located in the baggage claim area and explain the situation. Agents will help you fill out the appropriate paper work. Most airlines will not offer to deliver your lost luggage to you. Please do everything possible to try to convince them that you cannot come back to the airport and that they must deliver it. Tell them that you will sign whatever forms necessary for customs purposes and that they should have the luggage delivered to the following address: CADETUR, Colonia La Joya (por La Kennedy), Calle Principal, A la par de las Iguanas. Telephone: 230-4340.
If all else fails, tell the airlines that you have to speak with the person coordinating your trip and come out to the arrival waiting area of the airport to look for the Quixote Center staff person there to receive you. If your airline refuses to deliver luggage, the Quixote Center will make sure that you get back to the airport to retrieve your bags when they arrive or make arrangements to pick them up if you do not need to be present.
We generally stay at simple guesthouses. Sometimes this means that rooms will be shared by 2-3 people, but in most cases large rooms house more people. The guesthouses use fans instead of air-conditioning, and water for showers may be room temperature or warm, not hot.
Meals will be simple. Breakfast and dinner are usually served at your guesthouse. Lunches are often taken “on the road” at reliable and economical restaurants (your meals are prepaid as a part of your delegation fee). Please let us know ahead of time if you are a vegetarian or have special dietary needs or serious food allergies.
Things to know about food:
Honduran food is not typically spicy, but it is an adjustment for some people. You will probably eat more beans than you are used to. Other typical foods include meat, eggs, rice, avocado, cheese, vegetables, plantain, and of course corn tortillas. Don’t expect low-fat or whole grains: they’re not part of the average meal plan.
If you have food allergies or special needs, or are having trouble adjusting to the food, let the delegation leader know and s/he will work with the guesthouse staff to make adjustments.
The Honduran currency is the Lempira, valued at about 19L to 1USD. Since all of your housing, meals, and transportation are covered by your participation fee, you will only need money for your exit tax, souvenirs, snacks, alcohol at meals, and tips to drivers, guesthouse staff, etc. You will probably not need more than $100, unless you plan on buying a lot of souvenirs. US Dollars are accepted in some places, but it is a good idea to expect to change about $50 into Lempiras. Quixote staff can arrange this. You should bring small bills: ones, fives, and tens and definitely nothing larger than a $20 bill, as it may be difficult and sometimes impossible to get change.
Tips on Tips
The Quixote Center encourages tipping the guesthouse staff and the driver. We recommend that tips be given on behalf of the group, not from individuals within the group. The amount of the tip is of course at the discretion of the group, but a good guideline is $5 per person you are tipping per day they have worked with the delegation. Guesthouse management asks guests not to leave tips, gifts, or articles of clothing to individual employees, but to the guesthouse management, which will then be distributed equally among the employees. When you eat out with the Quixote Center, the delegation leader will handle the tipping. But generally a 10% tip is appropriate at a restaurant and may be included in the bill.
Weather, Clothes, and Luggage
The weather will be warm to hot. The rainy season generally runs from late May to early October. December and January are usually cooler in the evenings. It is best to bring lightweight casual clothing with one or two nicer outfits for more possible formal meetings. Hondurans make a significant effort to present themselves well and appreciate it when visitors do the same.
Clothing to avoid:
Clothes that would attract unwanted attention such as revealing dresses, tank tops, and transparent or short skirts
In public, shirts with political messages, including messages communicating solidarity with the Honduran Resistance
Shorts, unless they are for wearing them around the guesthouse
Flip-flops (They are considered very informal and are not appropriate for visiting offices and formal meetings)–if you wish to wear sandals, please ensure that they provide at least more coverage than the average flip-flop
Torn or frayed clothing—they are inappropriate for meetings
THINGS TO BRING
- Casual, but neat shirts, lightweight pants, or skirts
- Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes
- Extra pair of shoes in the rainy season (May to October)
- Swimming suit (at CADETUR there is a pool)
- Sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat
- Reusable water bottle (20 oz or more)
- Notebook/journal and pen
- Extra camera battery
- Travel alarm clock
- Small flashlight and extra batteries
- An extra pair of prescription glasses
- Pepto-bismol tablets and allergy medicine if you use it
- Band-aids and disinfectant
- Tissue packets (useful when toilet paper is unavailable)
- Photocopy of your passport
VERY IMPORTANT: Airlines continue to have serious problems delivering luggage with the passenger. PLEASE: pack all medications and necessary items plus a change of clothes in a carry-on bag in case your luggage is delayed.
As discussed previously, this is not a typical delegation in which you will have a lot of input or preparation in advance regarding your itinerary. We ask that you be flexible and understand that we will make decisions about our itinerary in light of our mandate as internationals responding to the request for accompaniment in the context of a repressive regime.
We can’t tell you beforehand about all of the experiences you are likely to have and the things you’ll discover in Honduras. We do, however, want to prepare you for some of the discomforts that you should expect. Remember that many participants have experienced the same things before you and each person finds her/his way of coping with and adapting to these discomforts. Talking through your anxiety regarding any of these things with your group or support systems is one of the best ways to prevent minor discomforts from detracting from the overall experience.
Most public restrooms will not have toilet paper. Carry travel tissue packs or toilet paper with you.
Put your used toilet paper and any trash in the wastebasket next to the toilet. Do not flush any paper product into the toilet or it will clog.
Rest rooms in general will not be as “comfortable” as those in the US.
Most showers have only room temperature water, sometimes warm.
Water and electricity go out at random hours in the city.
Scheduled appointments may fall through.
Not everything will start on time.
Listening to interpretation/translation is tiring.
There will not be air conditioning, and many areas are dusty in the dry season and very muddy in the rainy season. Bring glasses if you use contacts and the dust bothers your eyes.
There are bugs of all kinds ( . . . many are beautiful!)
Nights are noisy and buildings are not designed to shut out noise (i.e. dog barking, rooster
crowing, music, fire crackers, loud vehicles). Bring ear plugs if these might bother you!
Lots of hurry-up and wait.
Little time and space for individual needs and privacy.
Guidelines for Safety and Security
In order to accompany the people of Honduras, we must be aware of the many levels at which violence and repression affect their daily lives, especially the lives of the poor. However, we do not intend for the delegation experience to put our participants at risk.
- We ask that you follow these guidelines for safety and security.
- Stay with your group and be aware of where you are going and the people around you.Leave passports, plane tickets, and extra cash at the guest house unless the delegation leader informs you otherwise.
- You need to carry a copy of your passport with you at all times.
- Do not wear conspicuous jewelry or watches, and do not wear cameras in plain sight. In the unlikely event of a robbery attempt, immediately hand over what is being asked of you.
- Stay calm and allow the delegation leader to speak to the situation if possible.
- Be aware that Honduras is a very politicized country. Avoid speaking in public places or with strangers about political views or groups with whom we have met.
Being Stopped/Questioned by the Authorities
Due to lack of respect for civil liberties, there is still reason to exercise caution if you or the delegation is stopped by the police or authorities.
In the event that your group is stopped and questioned by the police, let the delegation leader handle the situation.
Do not volunteer information about where you are staying, etc. Wait for instructions from your delegation leader.
Quixote Center Resources in Honduras
Our staff in Honduras are US Americans who work with the Honduras Accompaniment Project of the Quixote Center. They will accompany the group and interpret/translate during the meetings. They will also provide an orientation to the local reality, a general briefing at the beginning of each day and before each visit, and valuable background and historical information when it is needed.
We highly suggest you visit our website, >www.quixote.org, for valuable information, key articles, and links to other sites at which you can deepen your awareness about the political, economic, social and environmental reality in Honduras. The more grounded you are in the current and historical reality, the more you will get out of your experience and thus, the more you’ll be able to take with you back to your communities of origin by way of education, insight, and reflections.
Group Communication and Process
Group cohesion is important for a healthy group process. A group which functions well together will deal effectively with the normal emotional, logistical, and physical ups-and-downs. Solidarity within the group is also necessary for dealing with any unexpected difficulties which may arise. Our recommendations for healthy group process are:
Upon arrival in Honduras, Quixote staff will make sure that everyone has a chance to get to know others in the group if you don’t already know each other.
Please bring to the attention of the Quixote staff any difficulties or needs which arise.
As much as possible, each day will involve reflection time. This will be a space to reflect individually and collectively both on the day’s events and on group process if needed.
Respecting the opinions, experiences, and feelings of other group members is the first step toward building solidarity.
Remember that the other delegation participants can be a source of support and a base for organizing when you get back to the US!
When You Leave
Due to security measures, it is normally not possible for Quixote staff to accompany you to the check-in counter at the airport, but the delegation leader will accompany you to the airport and wait for you at the security checkpoint at the terminal entrance if you wish. To leave Honduras, you will need $34.07 (exit tax), your ticket and your passport.
Don’t forget that the end of your delegation is just one step in the process. You now return to your country of origin full of stories, images, and insights to share with your families, communities, and especially with the power-holders—those who have it within their means to dramatically affect the reality of life for Hondurans right now. Please know that your words do matter—use your voice and call for change!