WORK CREW DATES
The dates for the 2018 March work crew will be March 10-18. Additional weeks can be added if there is demand. Volunteers can attend any or all of the work crew sessions. Please let us know if you want to join us as soon as you know. The sessions are 9 days long…two days of travel, one day to relax and 6 days to work. No skill is necessary.
Your passport must be good for 6 months beyond the dates of your trip with us.
Departure taxes are no longer collected on your day of departure. The $40.00 tax is now added to your plane ticket.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Tom Plumb has visited Honduras over 50 times and has driven around the country each time. He currently lives most of the year in Barrio Limonal in Trujillo. He has driven down to Honduras 6-7 times and stayed each of those times for 8-12 weeks. He has never had a problem. He has led work crews to Tela, Honduras, twice with 31 and 58 volunteers and never had a problem (except for a volunteer breaking his ankle falling from a ladder and another breaking his toe after jumping off a pier into shallow water). He has also led work crews to Trujillo for 11 years with 36, 48, 54, 28, 42, 12, 50, 15, 7, 7 and 3 volunteers. There were unfounded security concerns in 2012 resulting in lower numbers. The large numbers were the result of Interact/High School volunteers. These students have chosen to venture into new horizons.
The Rotary Club of Trujillo is our sponsor and they are enthusiastic about our visit. They own businesses throughout Trujillo and watch out for us. The work crews to Trujillo have not had any security problems.
Volunteers stay at the Casa Alemania Hotel on the beach and close to town. There is a pool and a nice bar there..as well as a massage therapist. They have a beach front--water quality is iffy since it is close to town, so walk down the beach a ways toward the Christopher Columbus to swim. The cost for a single room is about $32.50 (tax and breakfast included)…doubles are about $43.50 (tax and two breakfasts included). They also have more expensive suites. They take Visa and Mastercard and travelers checks. If you pay cash for your meals/beverages and room you will save a significant amount. The owner adds a surcharge of 20% for using a credit card--so bring dollars for your room and use lempiras for meals and beverages. No personal checks. They do laundry at $4.00 per load (I am not sure if that includes drying). It is $4.50 in town...but they dry and fold in town. All rooms have AC, cable and a small refrigerator. Some have full kitchens. They have a pool. They have a bar (coldest beer in Trujillo) and restaurant. Casa Alemanias' phone number is 011-504-434-4466. Lunch and dinner are pretty much one item and range from 220-350 lempiras--exchange currently 23.6/1 about 4c per lempira) They can also fix lunches (including boxed) and dinners for you at Casa Alemania.
The town is relatively small and compact, with internet cafes, restaurants, an old fort, and banks. There is a beautiful waterfalls a short hike from the hotel and a hot springs spa at a hotel just outside of town. The Pech Indians are also willing to take volunteers on a longer hike up into the mountains above Trujillo. Although your group leaders are willing to help make arrangements for these jaunts...do not depend on them to organize them....they have been organizing and running around a lot. But also do not be bashful about wanting to initiate an after work or play day activity.
American, United and Delta are the primary US carriers that fly into San Pedro Sula (SAP). Most flights arrive in the late morning or early afternoon. We will pick you up at the airport in San Pedro but be prepared for a 6 drive to Trujillo.
Our projects are in barrios within Trujillo and villages surrounding Trujillo.
School will be in session during our visit and there will be lots of students and teachers on the sites--as well as villagers helping out.
As an added measure, to allay any fear, we can arrange for military, tourist police, and national police protection as desired.
Volunteers felt completely safe in Trujillo and in the communities where the schools were located. Extra security was never needed.
There is a hospital on the way into town. There are also private medical clinics. Pharmacies are everywhere. One of our key contact in Trujillo is a dentist....she also has extensive medical contacts. Bring your prescriptions and some allergy medicine....things may not be blooming where you live during February...but Honduras is in constant bloom. A first aid kit would also be nice...and medicines for Montezuma's revenge...a rare occurence but uncomfortable when it happens. If absolutely necessary, we can arrange for someone to be airlifted to San Pedro Sula.
Volunteers are responsible for their expenses for their trip. Basically, these expenses include transportation costs (airfare and a $125.00 surcharge paid to Hands to Honduras, Inc. in advance for ground transportation while in Honduras)..this fee also helps with other support costs; hotel (see below for details), play day expenses and meals. Also, if you alter arrival or departure dates, and special arrangements need to be made...there may be an extra charge. The cost range will be between $1,100.00 and $1,500.00 depending on length of stay and room occupancy choices. At Casa Alemania, an included breakfast will be at 6:00 AM (but the volunteers vote on a common schedule) , the hotel can prepare box lunches or you can go to the grocery store or fruit stands, and dinner at local restaurants. It is safe to estimate about $25 per day for meals In February, 2016, The Casa Alemania will charge cash price of $32.50 for the first person in a room (tax and breakfast included and $43.50 for the second..tax and breakfast included. This is subject to change year to year. Tom will take care of reservations.
Generally, the earlier we book our flights, the cheaper they will be. Volunteers will be flying into San Pedro Sula (SAP) arriving between 10:00 and 3:00 PM.
So for a hypothetical single volunteer staying for one session figure on the following...these are all estimates.
I use www.bookingbuddy.com But, of course, there are other sites that check many airlines...kayak and mobissimo are examples. I have given up trying to provide flight cost estimates...the airlines have gone crazy with their rate increases. Remember there is often a bag charge as well. All on-line booking sites include Taca but not Sosa...if you want Sosa it is best to go through a travel agent. You might also check Cayman Air from the east coast. The Honduras airport codes are SAP for San Pedro Sula and LCE for La Ceiba.
So add the flight to the following costs. Remember flight costs change all the times...especially as jet fuel costs climb.
Casa Alemania Hotel ($32.50 for one, $43.50 for two tax , breakfastincluded) $260.00 for a single
Meals $225.00 (one prson)
Ground transportation $125.00
Total (plus flight) $610 for single
VAN FEES/SUPPORT COSTS
We rent vans to get around and the rental fee and gas are not cheap. When we pay the bill, the rental company charges in dollars. If I do not pay in dollars, they convert the cost to Lempiras at a rate of 19.2/1. Then the credit card company hits me with their conversion rate. So, please do not give me a check for these fees....try and pay ahead of time or give me cash in Honduras. This fee also pays for cell phone costs, plaques, and other non-construction expenses. It actually only pays about 25% of these support costs.
TRIP WORK SCHEDULE
Group One--9 days (subject to the whims of the volunteers)
Day 1 Travel to Trujillo
Day 2 7 Work
Day 8 Play day (flexible, can be changed)
Day 9 Travel home (or, if staying--work)
These activities may vary depending on weather and logistical realities. The work day will generally be between 8 and 4. But this definitely varies. Shade breaks will be important.
The Trujillo Rotary Club always has a “thank you” dinner for us. We also go to a restaurant in the Garifuna community to see Garifuna dancers on Sunday evenings (and to dance ourselves—except me). There is time for Internet during the evening. The favorite inexpensive restaurant was the Chicken Express--not a chain but owned by locals. The favorite ocean side restaurant was the El Delfin. The favorite hang out was the bar at the hotel. There are hikes nearby--to a waterfalls (short) or up the mountains with a Pech Indian guide. There is an old fort in town and a museum. There is also a hot springs spa at a hotel just outside of town. There is also a nice restaurant--Vino Tinto--overlooking the bay
The primary carriers to San Pedro Sula, Honduras are Taca, American, Delta and United. Once you get to a main airport hub like Houston, Boston, Miami,, you would need to fly into San Pedro Sula (SAP). Vehicles will be waiting in San Pedro to take everyone on the 6 hour trip to Trujillo.
Often your first bag is free on your flight. Fees for additional baggage have gone through the roof. A problem comes from the desire to bring items for distribution--toys, clothing, etc. If possible, get cash donations for these type of desires and buy items in Honduras.
Cement trowels and painting supplies will be our main tool need (although we are trying to cut down on painting projects--the villagers will still need them to paint their schools after we leave). Most everything can be purchased in Honduras...so, unless someone wants to give donations of tools...it is best to bring money and buy things there...including school supplies. If you must bring school supplies, do not bring "bulk" like paper products. If you are looking for donations, focus on #8, #10, and #12 wire.
The 2018 work sites have not been selected yet. They will generally be the construction of schools and/or water systems. A mason and village residents wil be working with the volunteers. Sifting sand, mixing cement, and laying cinder blocks will be the primary activity. No skill is necessary. We generally have breakfast by 7:00, leave for the work site at 8:00, and work until about 2:00. Bring plenty of water.
TRUJILLO ROTARY CLUB
They are our international partners in this venture. They meet on Wednesday nights at the local hospital in El Centro. They have about 15 members--a good mix of men and women, Hispanic, Garifuna, and "gringoes." The ’16-‘17 president is Hector Mendoza, a city councilman There will be a group leader--chosen from our ranks--at each site. They will each have access to a cell phone. Tom will rove between sites (avoiding physical labor) and he or Hector are the ones to call in an emergency. There is no guarantee there will be a vehicle at the work site with you all day. But most work sites are relatively close to town and can be gotten to quickly. Bring plenty of bottled water--there will not be any potable water at the work sites. The cement will need to be mixed by hand.
There is no point to sending volunteers to Honduras to build schools without the funds for materials. So, it is hoped, that volunteers help with raising funds--from Clubs, family, firiends and other fundraising activities. Clubs not sending volunteers are encouraged to contribute to this effort as part of their international service activities...it counts towards a Presidential Citation. Contributions will be tax deductible:
Hands to Honduras, Inc. (IRS #26-2385107)
And mailed to:
P.O. Box 1733
Port Isabel, Tx. 78578
Also the $125 fee can also be sent made out to Hands to Honduras, Inc. and it, too, is tax deductible.
Tip: The hotel rate is based on dollars. Bring enough money in dollars to pay your bill so that you do not get hit with the exchange to lempiras at an unfavorable rate etc. routine...they do take credit cards but they convert to lempiras at a bad rate and then your credit card also uses their own bad rate, etc. etc. and a 20% surcharge is tacked on. Do not have them convert to lempiras and then back to dollars...make sure they charge you the room rate and taxes in dollars with no conversions. The best thing to do is bring dollars for the room and lempiras for the meals.
There are several internet cafes in town. They cost less than a dollar per hour.
ET, PHONE HOME
The internet cafes all provide international calling for 10 cents per minute so you can easily call home.
It is important that you be in good health. There will be something for everyone to do--actual construction, sifting sand, mixing cement, teaching/doing art, painting, moving block, etc.
Please make sure your Hepatitus A and Tetanus shots are up to date--or get them for the first time. Hepatitus A requires two shots injected over a period of time--so plan ahead. Make your own decisions--consulting a doctor--about Malaria medicine--we will be there as the dry season begins. Do anything else your doctor suggests.
WHAT TO EAT OR (NOT TO) DRINK
The hotel is gringo safe as are the restaurants we will be suggesting--you can eat the salad, drink the water (not the tap water), and use the ice. However, to be safe when eating elsewhere, drink bottled water, do not use the ice, or eat the salads, and follow the following rules:
You can eat or drink things that are BOILED, COOKED OR PEELED (by you).
You can eat anything at your hotel--except the furniture,
Salads are generally OUT except at restaurants that cater to gringoes. The primary conern is how they wash their vegetables--with tap water or with bottled or boiled water.
DO NOT DRINK ANY WATER OUT OF THE TAP AND DO NOT BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH TAP WATER!!! The owner says the water is pure…but…be safe….
The currency of Honduras is the Lempira. It is currently (April 2017) at 23.6 to the dollar at banks--about 4 cents. The IMF has insisted that the lempira be devalued so it changes often.
CASH AND CURRENCY EXCHANGE
You can probably get by with $500.00 or less in incidental spending if you bring a credit card. Remember that credit card companies often charge a fee (like 3%) if they have to do a foreign exchange. Visa debit cards are also good to use.
Your hotel bill will be calculated in dollars and then converted to Lempiras at a bad rate and then your credit card company will also convert it at a less favorable rate. So, if possible, bring dollars to pay your hotel bill….so don't get hit with all the conversion losses. Your hotel restaurant tab (you can charge to your room) will be in lempira so pay it in lempira. Many restaurants take credit cards...the favorite restaurant, the Chicken Express, does not...but it is very cheap. The hotel will accept payment in Travelers Checks but will not exchange travelers checks. The wait at the bank to exchange travelers checks is very, very long...so bring US dollars or a credit card for all expenses except your hotel (which can be in traveler's checks or dollars or lempiras.
We convert dollars at the Banco Occidente in town. Unfortunately, the lines (and wait) are long. The ATM at Banco Occidente only takes Visa cards and the one at Banco Atlantida will take Visa and Mastercard. If you convert your dollars at the hotel it will be at a less favorable rate. They will give you money in lempira--at an unfavorable rate with a fee attached. Check with your bank to see what the maximum amount per day is. OFTEN, the banks in Honduras allow less per day or require several withdrawals in order to get your daily maximum--each time with a fee. Again, VISA is the most favored--and I have been denied using my Mastercard. You can also get cash advances at a bank--again VISA is the easiest. My point--bring a Visa not a Mastercard.
The Casa Alemania Hotel has a safety deposit box so it is okay to bring excess cash and you can keep your passport in it too. Just make sure you list out what you are depositing in front of the owner and get his signature.
Do not carry cash in a big wad!! Although, Tom is the biggest violator of that caveat : )
There is a bank at the far end of San Pedro airport that will exchange dollars into lempiras at the going rate...they will also cash $100 (only, per day) in traveler's checks. There is no bank at the La Ceiba airport. I can go to the bank for you when we are in Trujillo. There will be a slight delay in getting to the bank with your dollars--since getting you to work sites is priority one--so exchange money at the San Pedro airport. I would suggest going to the bank at the San Pedro airport and exchanging all the money you figure you will need for the trip. I will buy your excess lempiras from you--depending on my dollar availability. Better yet, when you pay your departure fee on the way home--exchange your lempiras to dollars at the bank that processes the departure fee. Have the amount you want to exchange separate from your other money . If you can live with 18/1, wait and exchange at the hotel.
Banks will most likely give you 500 lempira notes (about $25)....trying to cash them or use them for small purchases is greeted the same way as a $100.00 bill in the US...and often cannot be done by small vendors. So try to get as many 100 lempira notes as possible!!!!!
WHAT TO BRING
Insect block (there are not a lot of mosquitoes, but at some restaurants on the beach, watch out)
Pepto Bismol--or some other medicine for Montezuma's revenge (every year it hits someone)
Bandages (or small personal first aid kit)
Sunscreen (it will be hot with intense sun)
Hat (if you want to protect the back of your neck, make sure it covers it)
Cement trowels, sponge paint brushes, regular paint brushes, paint rollers, chalk board paint
Short sleeve shirts
Light jacket/rain or wind slicker
Camera and lots of film or memory, spare camera battery
3-4 copies of your passport, credit cards, and other ID--not to mention your passport valid until at least 11/08
Clean, near perfect, no marks or tears, US dollars
A GOOD, POSITIVE, FLEXIBLE ATTITUDE and an appreciation of "manana"
WHAT NOT TO BRING
BAD, INFLEXIBLE, IMPATIENT ATTITUDE
IF YOU WANT TO COME BEARING GIFTS
Small toys, stuffed animals, new or used shoes, pens and pencils are nice.