Monday, November 07, 2005

Coming Home--A Glimpse into life within a Honduran Village

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 with the hens produce eggs, a staple in the diet of the people, and along with beans the 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’m still at home.


  1. Despite the mud and trash and poverty, I’m still at home.

    Perhaps this is true because, it seems to me, that you accept the entire world as your home; you offer your heart to everything, everywhere, at all times. Thank you for you in the world!

    Blessings, Bhakti

  2. thanks Bhakti, that's one of the nicest things said to me in a long while

  3. I could picture everything you wrote....perhaps because I have been there...but another town/village. The people always seem so friendly and welcome you with a smile.....I know I would feel at home there too.

    Not sure how though I would react to the improvements....maybe...b/c it originality is what makes it so authentic to us....but for them it is wonderful. The wiring I can relate to as well as the cold showers....ewwwww that memory will remain forever w/me. After fishing the salt would thickly cover felt good once I was out there though. It sounds like you are much like me...making friends...and happy to see them again.

    Oh yeah, love hearing those roosters in the morning...and the dogs roaming about in & out of the cafes.

    Now you are inspiring me to post my photo of playing soccer w/the kids.....(smiling)

    GREAT POST.....I just love hearing about your trip.

  4. The thing that struck me most about this post was that you took your watch off. I have a habit of doing that when on vacation because time usually has little relevance, whether it be in the mountains out west here in the U.S. or riding in a jeepney to see some hanging coffins in northern Philippines. It is quite freeing.