I am a silver-lining seeker. I embrace the positives and look for enchantment, of which Honduras has plenty. The first few months in a new country are like dating, figuring out the cultural nuances, the moods, likes and dislikes. Overall, we enjoy it here. The people are kind. You can’t beat this consistently pleasant climate. Villages are charming and the coastal regions are stunningly beautiful.
This morning is gorgeous. A cool breeze flows in through the open windows. Our garden is a little sanctuary of birds and flowers. An unexpected sunflower has grown from scattered birdseed and the cactus is blooming.
Yet, I feel a little panic rising. Although there is no imminent threat, there have been bouts of political upheaval these last couple of months, stemming from the controversial Presidential election in December of 2017. Recently, teachers and doctors have had their tenures revoked and were fired. This comes on the heels of the President’s brother being indicted for drug and fraud charges, spurring objection to the current administration. Although most incidents are peaceful here, I think about Easter week, where the mayor’s residence was burned down, looting shattered store fronts, and a vigilante-style shooting occurred. It was an anomaly. But it happened. (BBC Article).
Although our residence is like a fortress, I admit to being a little anxiety-riddled after the bombings during our time in Egypt. Rarely is any of the violence against Westerners. It’s just the potential that we could be caught up in the collateral damage that scares me. It’s the not-knowing and apprehension of what could happen if protests turn into no-kidding uprising. My heart beats faster, my breathing feels more shallow in response to hearing sirens, persistent honking, and the thud of tear gas being deployed in the distance. Helicopters are circling, perhaps the news or the police. Citizens passionately chant “Fuera JOH! (President Juan Orlando Hernandez).
Emails and texts are pinging my phone: “Planned manifestations could shut the city down and cause road closures and blockades. Try not to use your vehicle. Businesses may close.” A little fearmongering starts to spread on social media within the well-intentioned local community, spinning me up even more. Photos are shared of buses blocking highways, smoke rising from burning tires, hordes of people marching in the streets, held at bay by police in raid gear. I concentrate with laser-focus on the echoes of loud pops and cracking sounds outside. Logically, I know its just fireworks used by protesters to annoy police, but my body reacts as if they are gun shots and goes into fight or flight syndrome.
My mind starts emergency planning. Should I rush to fill my car with petrol so we can evacuate if necessary? Can I get to my child at school through the protests? (My thoughts recall my husband’s gentle voice during the incidents in Cairo- “I know this goes against your instincts, but please don’t try to be a hero and try to get to him. He’s safer at school.”) But I want to go get him. Right now! And cuddle him in and protect him.
Do I have enough water and food in our safe haven? Should I run to the store to load up on groceries in case it’s impossible to get there tomorrow? Most of this is unlikely, but after 3 posts in developing countries, we’ve experienced situations that arise and escalate quickly. Living overseas has its ups and downs.
April was hard with Brad out of town for work. Protests started along with the rainy season, which brought water leaks. School was cancelled and Ramsay and I had cabin fever. During Easter, I was homesick, not sleeping well, and missing family and close friends. I went into my shell, miserable and scared and wanting not this. And to be not here. There were moments of wanting to cut bait and choose safety. Brad, always supportive, kindly said, “Go. Take Ramsay and go to the States for a while.” I was tempted, but I felt like leaving would be giving up on our family somehow, and not giving our new country a chance. Maybe I was just over-reacting, I told myself. We’re still adjusting to living here, I deliberated. But in the end, I couldn’t justify taking Rams out of school long-term.
A peaceful week passed, and life was back to normal. A friend and I ventured out to view museums and churches. I love the historic center downtown, especially the old post office. On the day we visited, there was a strong police presence, and a lot of political graffiti, but it was quiet and I felt safe. The pretty architecture and care put into these exhibits gave me hope for Honduras.
Last weekend, our family traveled to Lago de Yajoa, where it is tranquil. On a birding tour, I was elated to be immersed in nature and see its picturesque creatures, landscapes, and fields of lilies. I remind myself to keep looking for the magical moments like these that wait around the next corner.
This is life in a beautiful, but broken country. Honduras and I will continue this journey together, one day at a time, alternating from heads to tails on this two-sided coin of yin and yang.
Peace and Light,