Day 1 – 2/4/2016 – Welcome to Miami!
It was an early morning at the airport, but I was so excited – the 3am alarm didn’t bother me! I landed in Miami, Florida and met my roommate and fellow cheer sister for the week – Jennifer. She is a cheerleader for the Rams. Her and I instantly clicked! One question that seemed to be on everyone’s mind is if she was going to move to L.A to continue to cheer for the Rams. Her response was that although everyone was invited to audition out there, she has recently decided to go back to law school in Boston. Beauty and brains! We spent the day enjoying some warm weather and ocean breeze (which we were certainly missing being from the Mid West!)
Day 2 – 2/5/2016 – We’re Not in the Midwest Anymore!
In the morning we met the rest of our crew – our ProTour Productions Tour Manager Amanda (former Texans cheerleader), Manny (CFL), Keith (Bucs), and Andrew (Bucs). Then it was off to Honduras! The Honduras airport is known for having one of the most dangerous landing strips in the world due to its short length and being surrounded by mountains. Our pilot did a wonderful job and everyone cheered when we landed safely! We landed in the capitol, Tegucigalpa Honduras, and we were already off to our first appearance! We went to the U.S Embassy and got to join some of the employees for a happy hour. I had my first taste of amazing Honduran food (not to mention the BEST guacamole I have ever had) that was paired with even better company. We learned a lot about what the culture was like there and some of the ways the US is helping the Hondurans. We had the honor of going up to the office of U.S Ambassador, James D. Nealon, to spend some time and hear about his role. I had no idea that the U.S had so many humanitarian initiatives overseas! We then had a 2 hour bus ride up to Soto Cano Military Base. The ride was both stunning and a bit of a culture shock. Being from central Indiana, I am used to just flat farm land. Honduras is all mountains and vivid colors. It was just beautiful! Driving in Honduras is pretty much terrifying. Let’s just say I am glad we were riding in a bus and not renting our own car! There are few “rules of the road” and there are pedestrians everywhere. At every stop light, people would come up and try to sell goods. They sold bread, oranges, plantains, and even window washing services! We had finally arrived at our destination. It was late, so we got settled in our rooms and called it an early night. We stayed in the Distinguished Visitors Quarters or “DVQ’s” which were very nice. I felt very secure on the base. My biggest concern was to not make any of the skunks angry or run into a rattlesnake or 6 foot long iguana!
Day 3 – 2/6/2016 – Exploring Comayagua, Honduras
In the morning, we had breakfast at the base’s dining facility. Many of the staff there are local civilians. They made amazing omelettes and biscuits and gravy! We then rode our EZ-GO (golf cart) over to the football fields. We got to cheer on 3 flag football games while the guys coached. It was Air Force vs. Army – and man was there some good talent there! It was awesome being able to meet with some of the troops and get to hear where they all have been. Most of them are on deployment from 6-12 months. Some of them had lived more placed than I have ever even vacationed to! In the evening, we went to a nearby town called Comayagua. We took a tour of a beautiful white and gold church and the oldest clock tower in all of Central America! The bells of the church and the overcast made for a very eerie feel. Once we go to the top of the clock tower, I realized that the bells were rung by a little man with ropes attached to his hips, hands and feet. He was just dancing around up there and ringing the bells for the whole city! I couldn’t help but giggle – his
hips don’t lie! We then had dinner at “Roberto’s” – I highly recommend their fresh watermelon juice.
Day 4 – 2/7/2016 – Army Life and Super Bowl Sunday!
This action packed day was by far my favorite. We started off our morning learning what our military men and women do. Our first stop was to visit the members of the Air Force. We got to go in and sit in the cockpits of the Blackhawks and Shanooks. There were so many switches, buttons, and knobs – I could not imagine the training that goes into flying it! It was really neat hearing how the Medics drop down from a hoist, break through layers of trees, and help lift people in need. And a Shanook can carry an entire car! We then took a trip to the Fire House. I got to actually drive a fire truck, beep the horn, and spray the water hose! My day was made. I also challenged a fireman to see who could put on the fire suit fastest. You can probably guess who won that one. I couldn’t help but get distracted the entire time I was there by Stryker – the official mascot of the Fire House. He was a 3 month old black lab, and it took everything in me not to take him back to our room! In the evening, we got to spend some quality time with the troops while we watched Super Bowl 50! We played corn hole, smoked a pig, had a volleyball match, and had an awesome tailgate. I really forgot for a second that I was in Honduras! We wanted to make sure our football fans had an NFL experience so our group walked around and did lots of autographs and pictures throughout the evening. We stayed up late playing card games and laughing with a few of the most genuine and fun people I have ever met. I never wanted the night to end!
Day 5 – 2/8/2016 – Do We HAVE To Go?
I couldn’t believe how fast the trip had gone by and the impact it had made on me in such a short time. After one last meal, we had a quick meeting with the Colonel. Over our trip, we received 3 military coins. I felt totally undeserving of these, but they were the best souvenir I could ever ask for. There are all sorts of coins that they carry around that symbolize different groups or honors. They said they always carry at least one on them in case another military member does a “coin check”. I also had the opportunity of meeting with Soto Cano’s chaplain. He gave me a New Testament Bible with a camouflage cover. Faith is very important to many troops so it was nice meeting the person that helps drive that. It was difficult saying goodbye to our guides for the trip – Wes, Nick, and Christy. They were truly incredible individuals that I could never thank enough for their hospitality and for answering my million and one questions about life overseas serving our country. I learned more about the military in this quick trip than I have over the course of my entire life. No amount of thanks could ever truly amount to what they have done for my life. I understand that what we experienced in that short time was not truly what being in the military is like – but it was hearing the stories from everyone that really opened my eyes to things I had never thought about before.
Most Memorable Moment:
The most memorable moment of my trip actually did not take place in Honduras. Coming home from Honduras, obviously my heart and mind were filled with thankfulness and reflective thoughts on what I had learned about after spending time on a military base. On my trip back, I had a connecting flight from Washington D.C to Indy. I sat down in my seat and come to find out, I am ironically sitting next to a Wounded Warrior and 7 of his friends who were also Wounded Warriors. When I think of Wounded Warriors, the image that comes to my mind are the soldiers that fought in Vietnam – but these guys were my age, some even younger! They had all fought in Afghanistan and were brought back to the states due to injuries – amputees, severe burns, hearing loss, and that’s just the beginning. The craziest thing about it all – is that they were looking forward to a quick recovery so they could get right back to what they are passionate about doing – and that is fighting for our country. Jack – wherever you are out there – thank you for your service. You are a true representation of what this country stands for and true
I feel beyond blessed that I had the opportunity to experience what I did in Honduras. I now have a whole new respect for our country’s military and understanding about what life is truly like for them. When I thank a vet, I now mean it with every depth of my being! Thank you for putting your life and your family’s life on the line so that we can continue to live in this incredible country. I am beyond proud to be an American – Home of the Free, because of the Brave. God Bless!
Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader