Gracias a Dios is the eastern-most department of Honduras. Though it is the second largest department in the country making up about 15% of the land mass, it is sparsely populated, and contains extensive pine savannas, swamps, and rain forests.
In 2005, the estimated population of 76,278 only accounted for 1% of the total population of Honduras. The sparcity and ethnic make-up of the region result in it being undervalued and overlooked by Honduran society and government. This region is also known as ‘La Moskitia’ due to the indigenous Miskito people that inhabit it, even though the Miskito span an almost equal distance into bordering Nicaragua. Even with several key “municipalities,” La Moskitia is considered poor and remote even by Honduran standards. The standard of living, income, and access to healthcare is far lower than the national averages—all of which are already among the lowest in Central America.
In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the Honduran health-care system at 131 (of 190) in the entire world – the lowest ranking of all Central American countries. With few exceptions, the government provides little or no health services in the La Moskitia region, leaving the vast majority of care to be supplied by charity and missionary organizations. The lack of infrastructure (roads) in the region makes health-care delivery virtually impossible without the use of aircraft.
Puerto Lempira is the capital of the Gracias a Dios department in eastern Honduras. Though it does not have paved roads, it is the largest town in the La Moskitia region of Gracias a Dios. Puerto Lempira is located on the shores of the Caratasca Lagoon. The natural beauty of Puerto Lempira is awe-inspiring; the physical poverty of Puerto Lempira is humbling.
You will fly to Puerto Lempira on a 15 passenger plane and land on a dirt runway. The airplane trip is breath-taking!
You can expect to do most of your business during travel in Spanish once you leave the United States. It is best to have a translator or person on your team who can speak Spanish well. Please remember that Spanish is a widely spoken language and there are numerous dialects. As you represent the Lord in your travel remain calm and you will adjust to the different dialects you will encounter. A calm spirit is best when trying to communicate with others of a foreign language; it is also helpful to remember that the Spanish speaker is probably having an equally hard time adjusting to you.
Your flights will culminate in a final leg that leads you into Puerto Lempira. The plane is a commuter plane with approximately 15 seats. The flight is breathtaking as you make your way around the Honduran coastline. You will land at our “international airport” that consists of a wonderful souvenir shop and long dirt runway. Expect that you will cross this runway on many occasions… be cautious and ALWAYS look both ways.
Below are a list of airlines teams have used:
If you are needing to travel by bus here is the name of an organization some teams have used from San Pedro Sula to La Ceba:
It is possible to avoid the bus altogether and book connecting flights that lead you straight into Puerto Lempira.