Thursday, December 17, 2009

Honduras Village Life (Travel Tip Thursday)

In the distant past, I participated in several writing prompts in my blogging--that was when I was publishing something every other day. The prompt helped me generate an idea and that was all it took. But, over time, I stopped doing them. Recently, I came across a new writing prompt for blogging, “Travel Tip Thursday.” I figured my Appalachian Trail posts would work, but I didn’t get another one done, so I decided to go back into my archives and pull out a post that I ran in November 2005. I have visited lots of odd places and I enjoy writing about such trips (as do many of you--hint, hint), so I’ll see if this prompt can help me to write more. If you do decide on participating, go over to Pseudonymous High School Teacher and put in your link.

Down the highway, dodging potholes, we pass yet another bicycle struggling up a hill, firewood strapped to the back. The biker cut and split the wood with the machete strapped to the top. Life’s hard here. Turning into the village, the road becomes dirt. Chickens scoot to the side, letting us pass. The roosters puff out their chest, fluffing feathers. It isn’t just a self-assured prestige. They're important to the economy; their nightly dalliance produce eggs, a staple in the diet of the people, and along with beans, a main source of protein. At the corner, a few men lean against the wall of a pulperia, cowboy hats tipped back, watching the day pass. I wave. "Hola," they mumble. A malnourished dog darts across the street, stopping to lick the salt off a discarded wrapper of chips. Time slows down here; even slower than the bus negotiating puddles and around an oxen-pulled cart hauling adobe blocks.

Dark clouds and light drizzle slows life even more. It’s cool in the mountains, but never cold. Smoke rises from the stovepipes, only to lay low, forming a blanket over the town. I imagine women inside, patting out tortillas while tending the stove. The long split pieces of wood are gradually fed into the abode firebox. A pot of beans boil while tortillas bake on the hot metal above the coals. Their evening meal of beans and tortillas will be supplemented with a few eggs, some crumbled cheese, fresh bananas and strong coffee.

We pass the park. Schoolboys play soccer, and a few kids shoot basketball, paying little attention to the dampness. We turn off the main road and pull up to the Hotel Central Otoreno where we get out. We’re back. The first thing I notice is that there is now a railing around the balcony. Last year, a couple of us got some rope and made a railing to reduce the risk of falling off the top floor. We’re assigned rooms and I haul my backpack up to the second floor, dropping it into my room. I look around. There are two beds and a chair in the main room. The TV on the wall is another surprise. It wasn't there last year. The bathroom consists of a toilet, trash can (for toilet paper-the Honduran plumbing system doesn’t handle paper), a cold water only sink and a shower. I’m surprised to see they’ve attached an electric heater showerhead. Upon closer examination, I notice the ground wire has been snipped off and the hot wires are just twisted together and taped, dangling above the shower. Obviously, there are no electrical inspectors in these parts.

I take off my watch. It’s no longer needed. Then I head outside. Walking through the town, I visit familiar sites. The old church by the square is open. A machete, secured in a fancy sheath, lies next to the doorsill as a reminder that this is a sanctuary. I peek in and see the back of a lone man kneeling in prayer under the gaze of a rather dark-skinned Jesus who hangs on the cross. Nothing has changed. I stop in the hardware store and surprise Ricardo. He tells me he’s been practicing and challenges me in chess. Another customer comes in and he must return to work. We’ll meet later. I head down to the park and shoot a few hoops with the kids. I teach them useful techniques with corresponding English words, like "break" "drive," and "pick." Their laugher is contagious. Despite the mud and trash and poverty, I feel like I'm home.


  1. This is lovely. I feel like I am right there watching it all (and smelling those tortillas).

    I think I need to read your archives over the break and find out more about these travels.

  2. You really do have the ability to take us right along with you, Sage. How long has it been since you were there?

  3. I've said this so often. You have the gift of making the reader feel as if we are along on these cultured experiences of life with you, Sage. Well written!:)

  4. Thanks for sharing that. I had a college roommate who spent a summer in a small village in the Philippines and expressed many of the same thoughts upon his return.


  5. PHST, thanks for the prompt, great idea!

    Kenju, I haven't been there since 2005--maybe next year!

    Michael, Thanks.

    Walking Guy, Yes, you are right.

    Randall, I don't like the cities, but enjoy the villages.

  6. One of the first things I do when in a place like that with no deadlines to meet is to take off the watch. Days are all that matter then and even those aren't as important as they seem back here.

  7. You do have an incredible talent for taking the reader with you
    And thanks for the heads up on Honduran bathrooms--though I've been in much worse :)

  8. Can't you not use toilet paper? Is there a water pipe next to the toilet? :) Wait, if it is a squat toilet, it is perfectly ok to wash as opposed to using toilet papers (save on cutting down trees, bleaching and processing toilet papers, hauling the papers to thousands of miles away etc, yike, stupid human invention). But if it is a western toilet (sit on top), then I would think it's a challenge to wash! :)

    One day if I were to build my own home, I would insist on having squat toilets only and no toilet rolls too! Ha :)

  9. Ed, Right now, I could use a visit to where time doesn't matter!

    Pia, thanks and the bathrooms aren't that bad

    Mother Hen, they are western toilets, and they use toilet paper, they just put it in a waste basket and burn it outside as opposed to flushing it down the sewer.

  10. But on Travel Tip Thursday, shouldn't there be a travel tip?

  11. Dittos to your "visit to where time doesn't matter!" It makes one appreciate the simple things in our lives, and the simple beauty of village life too.

  12. it might not be a travel tip, but it's beautifully written. Definitely inspires me to want to take a similar trip. Thanks for sharing!

    Netcheck sent me. :)

  13. All the sensations you describe so well, Sage, can take me there too.
    A simple life, not as comfortable as ours -as far as toilets are concerned, lol- but always interesting.

  14. Murf, this week's travel tip, "don't drink the water!"

    Beau, Yes, village is life beautiful and simple

    Chris, thanks for the comments and for stopping by

    Leni, when life gets hectic, I remember... I just started J. Marten Troost's "Getting Stoned with the Savages," in which he starts out complaining about having to wear a suit in Washington and dreaming of his life in the S. Pacific (where he returns)

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  17. Simply superb writing. Sage, I wish you, your family and all the readers of this wonderful blog MERRY X'MAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR. MAY GOD BLESS YOU WITH MORE ADVENTURES.

  18. I like the alliteration!

    that was when I was publishing something every other day

    Man, I remember those days of doing it myself! Now, I only make three posts in one month out of sheer force!