The day of the coup

[Hannah Pollet is an MPH candidate in maternal and child health at UNC]

A few days before beginning our trip and meeting the rest of our team, my co-leader and I arrived in Tegucigalpa, the capitol of Honduras.  Busy flying around town collecting medical supplies, we began to notice the tension growing on the streets.  Banners waving in opposition to the political vote, police officers on every block and an eerily solemn town square provoked us to get back to our hotel without delay and flip on the news.  President Zelaya gave a incendiary speech the night of the 27th, which clearly perturbed the foreign ambassadors (whose facial reactions received nearly as much camera time as the president himself).  Something was coming.

From left: Hannah Pollet, Kyle Lavin and Suha Patel

From left: Hannah Pollet, Kyle Lavin and Suha Patel

The phone rang at 6:30 the next morning.  Our in-country coordinator broke the news:  Zelaya had been taken from his home in the middle of the night by the Honduran military, which had now taken control of the country!  And there we were, Sunday June 28th (a day that we will not soon forget), in the middle of Tegucigalpa during a military coup!  We turned on the news and the take-over was confirmed. I thought to myself, “Really?  Really?” And then, “Let’s get out of this shabby hotel and head to the resort where our team is planning to meet in the afternoon.”

Not thirty minutes after the phone call we heard fighter jets soar overhead.  Then we lost electricity (did I mention we did not have a window in our room?).  I literally braced myself in anticipation of an explosion, but managed to finish packing and hail a taxi in record time.  The streets were empty and the taxi driver moved fast.  We made it to the posh resort and spent the rest of day alternating between watching the news and sunning by the pool.  There was not much else we could do but wait, monitor flight arrival status, and hope that the rest of our team arrived safely.  To our great relief, everyone made it in, and the buses were up and running Monday morning.  Far away from the political action, the team continued the program as scheduled in the southern part of the country, with an ever watchful eye on the news.

(read Kyle’s post for the rest of the story…)

- Hannah

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