Arrived, Safe and Happy!

9 p.m. - We got in an hour ago after being met at the airport by our driver, and his family, in two cars, and driven to the orphanage. Most of the drive from the airport to the city was in the dark along a boulevard that's empty at night, and took 20 minutes to get here, but congested in the morning, and can take up to 1 1/2 hours. (Quick tidbit: In 10 years, this city has more than doubled its population, from 400,000 to 1 million, according to our driver, and 70 percent of its residents drive cars. This can result in a bit of chaos and at times some crazy traffic.)

We peppered the driver with questions along the route, feeling very much like American journalists who rely for every quote on the insights of the first man they meet.

Belkis, our host and Spencer's Spanish teacher, greeted us at the gate with three orphans in tow - a 17-yr old and two older girls. It's her day off, and she should be spending it in the city, but she says she misses the girls when she spends even a weekend day away and often finds an excuse to visit. She led us on a tour of the dimly lit compound before she showed us to our room, which is going to be just fine. The girls, 60 or more, who all speak some English, are in mug shots on a big board in our dorm area, which is air conditioned, has TV, a fridge, a tank of filtered water. We can literally start casting from our room. Kids just beyond the 20-ft tall compound walls are exploding firecrackers, which sounds exactly like gun fire (I keep pretending to be hit in the gut by a stray. Brad thinks this is not yet a funny joke on our first night in the world's murder capital.) But it's really just early Christmas celebrations.

Most of the girls are watching TV in their shared living room.

Several of the newer arrivals -- babies, some as young as 6 months old  -- are tucked away fast asleep. If one wakes up, or starts to cry, the older girls will be responsible for quieting her down.

Tomorrow morning, we'll put orphanage food to the test, pick up cell phones and visit the Sunday services where the girls all attend, at a nearby church.

But first! Brad found a half-empty bottle of Manischewitz in the fridge of our shared living arrangement and we toasted to our first night in the tropics.

Mazel Tov from San Pedro Sula!