Let’s learn from Honduras. Honduras is a Central American country about the size and population of Tennessee.
Geography and Topography
Here’s the geography and topography. The northern coast borders the Caribbean Sea. The east coast, called the Mosquito Coast, is where Columbus first landed on the North American mainland. The southwest corner of the country borders the Pacific at the Gulf of Fonseca, then turns north along the El Salvadoran border to Guatemala. The eastern region is an area of broad plains that resemble the African savannah. Most of the country is hilly or mountainous, with some broad valleys dedicated to agriculture. Off the coast to the north are several islands that are increasingly popular tourist destinations.
The Central Valley, with Tegucigalpa in the middle, is the highland core of the nation and its central corridor. Some long, spectacular valleys branch out to the east. Continuing east, low mountains covered in jungle bring the roads to an end. After traveling about 40 miles across this mountain barrier, one reaches the notorious Mosquito Coast, dotted with isolated communities of various sizes strung across the plains. The coast is made up of long, lovely beaches and wide lagoons.
Sadly, this beautiful nation has the distinction of having the world’s highest murder rate, more than four times that of Mexico, and of being the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, behind only Haiti. The larger cities like Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula have a level of crime and of gang oppression that is difficult for outsiders to understand. This is also true of the neighboring countries of El Salvador, which is the home of MS-13, and also of Guatemala.
A Preview of a Local or National Slide Into Poverty
This situation gives us a look into a world already experiencing high levels of violence and poverty. It allows us to preview some of what our own experience might be following a local or national slide into poverty. What might the United States look like? How do ordinary people cope with this situation?
Public and Commercial Transportation
Roads are poor, putting four wheel drives and diesels at a premium. People often walk to a main road and wait for one of the many “chicken” buses, so-called because of their livestock-friendly policies. Small motorcycles are common. Bicycles carry passengers and cargo. Covered three-wheelers are popular as taxis. Many people use horses, donkeys, and oxen. Also, many of the vehicles are bought at insurance auctions in the U.S., shipped south, and then rebuilt cheaply for resale. The buses are usually surplussed school buses.
Many Americans realize the advantage rail transportation is to our commerce. Fewer know that our rivers, canals, and coastal waterways provide shipping at a fraction of the cost of even rail, and they constitute the largest such system in the world. There are no railroads in Honduras or canals, other than for irrigation. Many villages are reached only by river, coast, or trail.
One hydroelectric plant supplies most of the electricity to the country, though electricity isn’t everywhere. Some areas use diesel generators, with the fuel supplied by sea. Better homes in these areas have permanent small diesel generators of their own on standby. Generac seems to be the leading brand. In a mountain place that had just gotten electricity four months earlier, the entire village would go to one house in the evenings to watch television. Cell phone technology has completely penetrated to even remote villages. One might see a woman standing waist-deep in the irrigation canal in front of her house, washing clothes and hanging them on a line strung above the canal while talking on a cell phone stuck between her ear and her shoulder. Computer connections are also common, usually wireless, for about 30 dollars a month.
Personal Transportation and Communication
Personal transportation and communications can be iffy. Small, light, sturdy vehicles that can handle rough roads are what is needed. Land Cruisers are especially prized, being given the nickname La Coronela. You’ll see a full range of answers: bare feet, rubber boots (favored), oxcarts, donkey trains, people on horseback herding pigs and cows, along with perfectly modern vehicles. All are side-by-side and attract no attention. Farm equipment, buses, aircraft, and utility equipment are similarly diverse. Some are very modern, some are early Iron Age.
Communication may be costly, but it’s still less expensive and safer than travel, for the most part. Efficiency in communication is something to prioritize. In conflict situations, it can become a lifesaver. Reportedly, a smart phone app is marketed in Syria that steers people away from danger areas in the ongoing war there.
Medical support can be very chancy. Comayagua didn’t have a single functioning x-ray machine for a city of 110, 000. A ship’s captain was brought down from the coast at Puerto Cortes for fairly routine medical treatment because it just wasn’t available, even in that large city.
There are markets in every town, somewhat like flea markets with many small vendors and services. Other providers travel through neighborhoods offering their wares or services. Some men repair modern athletic shoes as a trade, using glue and clamps and various sewn patches. Auto repair, tire repair, welding, electrical knowledge, electronic skills– all of these are valuable trades.
Several Ways to Support Yourself
I knew a man who taught school, played guitar for church services, taught guitar lessons, fixed electronics, and made bootleg video games for sale. It’s important to have several ways to support yourself.
Security, a Constant Concern
Security is a constant concern. The parking lots of large stores and restaurants have fences and guards armed with AKs or pistol-gripped shotguns. This is not uncommon; it’s the rule. Banks and other centers of commerce have guards standing on the sidewalks. The police patrol with M-16s, on foot or in pickups.
Compactness and rate of fire are the desired qualities in firearms. Two prized items are the chaluca antiballista (bulletproof vest) and the mata-policia (the “cop-killer”, or FN FiveSeven, valued for its armor piercing reputation). Pistols are kept for discreet protection in public.
Stories of Violent Crimes
Stories of violent crimes, vigilante justice, and armed confrontations are commonplace. One friend mentioned conversationally that he had gotten a ransom call from someone claiming to have kidnapped one of his sons. The boy was in school and had just lost his phone.
What would you do in a similar situation? Everyone knows people who have been murdered. “My friend had a hardware store. Five guys stopped him on his bicycle and told him to give it to them. He said no, so they shot him in the belly and took the bike anyway. So he lost the bike and his life.”
In villages, homes may be surrounded by a low fence, if at all. In the cities and built-up areas, walls around yards are invariable. Often the walls are over eight feet high and topped with jagged metal or concertina wire. Sliding metal gates are used to admit vehicles to their parking spaces. This type of defense is the rule. The more one has, the more that it must be protected.
Willingness To Defend Property
Willingness to defend one’s property is also required. One man told of buying an old farm and having to fight several times during his first year there. His neighbors would cut his fences and turn their stock loose in his fields. He learned that the best response was to wound the stock with birdshot in the belly, obliging the neighbors to meet the cost of veterinary care or risk losing their animal. The final showdown came when he returned after a few days away and found that someone had stabled four horses inside an old house that he was starting to renovate. He cut the wire, wounded the horses, and drove them back out. When the owner showed up and confronted him, he drew his .45 and fired several rounds into the ground between them. After that, his problems ceased.
Are you willing to defend your property that violently? Chances are that someone will be willing to push you that far.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue to look at what it takes to live in this poverty-ridden environment of Central America.
- A Year in Central America- Part 2, by G.P. (Active on 12/14/18)
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 80 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
- An assortment of products along with a one hour consultation on health and wellness from Pruitt’s Tree Resin (a $265 value).
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances.
Round 80 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.