Photo by Corey Petrick
By Shea Parton
There's nothing good about 4:15am wake up calls. We piled into a taxi and made it to the harbor for our early morning ferry ride back to La Ceiba. Chris Owens then led the charge for five hours of driving 170+ miles on sketchy roads with well executed blind turn crossings, truly an Angelino driver at heart. Our Honduran friends that we were following awarded Chris gringo racing stripes by the time we arrived to our final destination of Siguatepeque (75k population). We shared the all day countryside ride with Curt Hamman M.D., our host, and Enrique Martinez M.D., the past executive director of the hospital that the coffee plantation supports. Fifty-seven year old Enrique Martinez was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and has spent the majority of his life in Siguatepeque. Enrique arrived to the hospital 30 years ago and was appointed director for 22 years. Enrique has been involved in the evolution of what the hospital provides today: traditional medical attention, counseling, training, mobile clinics for nearby rural areas, and an avenue for community service. Now that the hospital has 60 beds and 150 staff members, Enrique and his wife have decided to be board members and focus their time on the community service element of the hospital. This recent transition traces back to Enrique's vision he shared with Curt early on in their friendship: "Real progress in Honduras will come from empowering and fostering local leaders." Enrique is truly an inspiring individual that talks the talk and walks the walk with two sons following in his footsteps as doctors and an incredible daughter who is married and a mother to classic little boys.
Once getting settled in Siguatepeque we met up with a couple local friends for coffee at their home and toured a few of the projects that Curt and Enrique have been faithful to for the past 20+ years. One of the highlights was the local school they established in 1990, a project that is also supported by the coffee plantation. The school of 230 students in grades K-12 occupies just over an acre of space and is operated by 12 teachers, with an average age of 28 years old. Half of the teachers are from Siguatepeque teaching the students in Spanish and half of the teachers are from North America teaching the students in English. Surprisingly enough, the school was purchased from an aviation organization and a quarter of the classrooms are still inside one of the original airplane hangers.
After touring Siguatepeque we spent the evening with Enrique treating us to dinner at a local restaurant and then we relaxed over cups of tea at his refuge of a home. Assuming the weather permits, we are excited to spend tomorrow documenting the coffee plantation. I think Handsome Coffee Roaster’s Chris Owens is happier than anyone, as I caught him reviewing his agricultural notes and getting psyched for a full day of being in his zone.