I whined about the standstill traffic just as a motorcycle with three riders whizzed past my passenger-side window and the angry honking began again behind us. We hadn't moved in what seemed like an eternity. We inched forward slowly, the accident finally coming into full view. I shut my eyes quickly, but it was too late. The half-naked torso lying under the wheel of the truck and the bloody arm of another motionless body on the shoulder were already burned into my memory. Suddenly, I wasn't in a hurry anymore.
The first thing any visitor notices about Honduras is the unique traffic. The rules of the road are ambiguous at best. Cars, taxis, buses, bicycles, pedestrians and donkeys race through red lights and dart in front of speeding semis. Missionaries marvel at how many people fit in the back of a pick-up or how an entire family manages on a motorcycle. We joke about the taxi drivers that are notoriously oblivious to other vehicles, but can spot a potential fare (especially a North American) from a mile away. We roll our eyes at the SUV towing a sedan with nothing more than a short length of rope between them. We laugh at the stack of mattresses on top of a car with no tie-downs and a skinny kid sitting on top. And we daringly take on the hairpin curves with three-wide in a single lane with bravado while we dismiss the concern of visitors as they grip the dashboard.
But there is an ugly truth that no missionary really talks about. And you don't have to live here very long to understand why. The reality is that scenes like the one we came upon last week aren't rare. And the truth is that we make light of the traffic in Honduras because if we gave into the fear, we'd be paralyzed. We laugh because we have to survive in this chaos.
When you pray for our travel safety, pray also that our hearts would not be hardened by fear.