Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The team is here, and the adventure has begun

On Thursday of this past week, Allen took our Land Cruiser to the mechanic here in town, and had the brakes serviced. On Friday, he drove to San Pedro Sula, to have work done on the exhaust system and to replace the rear tires. Certainly, we had everything ship-shape for the arrival of our team, right?

On Saturday, Allen and Russell went to pick up the van they had rented to transport the team (the Land Cruiser alone doesn't have enough seats). Once again, the vehicle we reserved was not available to us (I believe we've been let down by every vehicle rental company in San Pedro now).

Happily, Allen is nothing if not resourceful, and he managed to scrounge around and find two 4-door pickups to rent, in place of the van. Of course, the rental fee was higher, and driving three vehicles (instead of two) is going to mean using more fuel. But, you do what you have to do.

The two pickups each had about 1/4 of a tank of gas in them. That was enough to get to our major half-way point along the road, La Entrada, for refueling. So, the group set off.

Along the way, it was discovered that the rear axle on the Land Cruiser had shifted. Although to my non-mechanical mind that sounds catastrophic, apparently the passengers were not endangered by this, but our new tires were being damaged as the vehicle drove in this condition. Sigh.

Arriving in La Entrada, the team found that there was no diesel available for purchase in that city. Apparently there have been fuel shortages in the big cities, but we hadn't had any trouble in our area, and we hadn't heard anything about it. Because the Land Cruiser has two tanks, Allen was able to syphon diesel from that vehicle into the two trucks, and the group managed to drive on to the next major city, Santa Rosa de Copan.

In Santa Rosa de Copan, the group found a gas station with fuel, but purchases were limited to 400L (about $22) of diesel per vehicle. Happily, the attendant forgot to watch the pump when filling the vehicles, and he accidentally filled one truck's tank to the top.

During these adventures, Allen called home and arranged for two of our 55 gallon drums (which we use to transport water to the construction site) to be filled with diesel, so we'd have a supply in case the fuel situation gets worse during the week. So far, we've still be able to purchase diesel in our area, but we're prepared for the return trip, we hope.

The team arrived in Gracias, and while they were settling into the hotel and heading to our house for dinner, Allen and Russell were making arrangements with our local mechanic to have the axle problem fixed on Sunday, as our plan was for the Land Cruiser to transport team members to La Frontera, a remote area near the border with El Salvador, on Monday morning.

The team has now continued on their way to the area where they will minister for the first couple of days. I haven't heard from them since they left Gracias (cell phone connections can be spotty in that part of the mountains), so presumably everything is running smoothly. Generally Allen and Russell manage to get word to me if there are problems.

Oh, and there is a doctor and nurse on the team, and I was advised that it should be fine to go ahead and send Bethany (who, although covered with chicken pox, is not feeling ill, just itchy) along for the trip. So, Rachel, Bethany and David went along with Allen, Russell and the team.

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