We are onto our next destination...AUTEC, in the Bahamas! Our first show last night in Honduras was a huge success.
A little bit about the country: Honduras holds the #1 spot for the most murders per capita. There is a major drug problem in the country, and the US military aids the Honduran Military with this. However, most of the murders are gang related, fighting over territory. We didn’t witness any of this; we were instructed to pee before we left the airport for our 90-minute ride to base, as there would be no stopping. Honduras also holds another record: the Tegucigalpa airport has one of the shortest runways and therefore it’s one of the top ten trickiest places to land a plane. Basically, the brakes went on (hard core) as soon as there was an idea of the wheels touching pavement. The locals applauded and cheered, “Arriba! Arriba! Christo! Christo!” I have a feeling that’s what every flight is like.
The landscape of Honduras is beautiful and, as Matt said, it looks like Jurassic World. Though there are areas of severe poverty, as you might see in any developing country. To contrast the poverty, though, the first thing I noticed when getting off the plane was the Forever 21 at the mall across the street. It poured rain last night, as I was told it does almost every night, and it was something I haven’t experienced in a while, as California is so dry right now.
A little bit about the base: The Soto Cano Air Base is near Comayagua and is a Joint Forces base with 1,000 military personal from the Army, Marines, and Air Force. About half of those are civilians. The U.S. Military are actually guests on a Honduran base. The Hondurans get to make the rules on who enters, etc. The missions of the troops stationed at SCAB are mostly humanitarian based. The base may be used to help bring supplies to areas of natural disaster, for example. The Marines have helped build schools in the area. Things like this.
Exploring the base: Right off the plane, we were greeted by our host and director of MWR (Moral, Wellness, and Recreation), Heather MacTavis. She was awesome! She kept us on time and kept us entertained. After dropping our bags off at our sweet quarters, we toured the base, visiting the Sergeants, Majors, Sergeant Majors, Lieutenants, and… I get confused with all these titles. Basically, we met a lot of very appreciative military personnel, many of them Blackhawk pilots or crew leaders or somehow connected with the helicopter or the Chinook. We got to sit inside a Blackhawk and a Chinook and shake hands and take pictures and personally invite them to the show. It paid off. The bar, The Last Resort, was packed!
The show: The energy couldn’t have been higher in that room. Perhaps it was the fact that the bar, which is usually closed on a Wednesday night, was open or that they wanted to see what the hubbub was about, but there were a lot of happy troopers for the show. Neither the USO nor the AFE have had a group of entertainers down to Honduras in quite a while, so these soldiers were long over due for a little moral boost. And they got it. After the show, we signed autograph cards and shook hands again with the smiling, appreciative faces mouthing the words, “Thank you.” One young man came up to me and said, “Thank you for this. I really needed it. I’ve been working 30 hour days and I really needed to laugh.” There were tears in his eyes. I’m sure there was more to the story, but it didn’t matter. I jumped up and hugged him. Because that’s what this is really about.
After the show: We sang together. We drank together. We danced together. I found a hammock outside to lay and watch the rain and smell the yummy, humid air. I met Corey Walker; he can lick his elbow just like me! When the party was over, Heather drove us back “home” and Steven, Matt, and I had a tuna party, which means we ate tuna and crackers that were left behind in Steven’s room. Then, to bed and off again in the morning on a plane that goes from stopped to flying in 5 seconds.
I am tired, happily tired. I wouldn’t have traded that personal time with the troops after the show for anything. But now I must rest for the Andros Island show with the Navy tomorrow night.
Every day, I strive to…
Be the light I wish to see in the world.