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,
It sounds a bit scary. When things make your hair stand up on the back of your head you have to listen to them. Your words are beautiful, though. Your photography and your writing makes me feel like I’m sitting right there with you. Amazing!
For some reason I am not on your mailing list. George forwarded his to me so please I have my name. I love reading The stories you tell.
Hey, Sharon, I made an error in sending this out properly- only half of the emails were on the automated emails. I fixed it and it says the other half (including yours) are scheduled to be notified in the morning- apologies. Miss and love you!
Hi Tracy, I would not be comfortable either. Your photos and words describe a sad contrast. Freedom is a state of mind–intrusions, like scary noises, are not well-tolerated. We just aren’t used to them. I wish I had some really good insights to offer. I don’t. I must confess that I have been concerned at the responses by the “Thing” in the White House as he deals with Central American immigration and the impact it may have on your assignment.
From my own experience, I have found that when the hair has stood up on the back of my neck, it was good time to do something. Make a contingency plan(s); believe in the plan, screw everything else.
I am sure you guys will find a way to deal with it. Thanks again, for the insights. Really enjoyed the photos, too. Love and hugs, George
Thank you for taking time to read and comment, George. I like your contingency plan! Love and Hugs to you and Sharon, too.
THANK YOU….LOOK FORWARD TO MORE POSTS…FINE WRITING.
Welcome, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Thank you!
BTW, I forgot to ask about stone sculpture with “666” imprinted on the front. Who is it supposed to depict? Stunning. Thanks, George
George, I wish I had asked in the sculpture garden for more information. These are interesting questions, and ones I will pose next time I visit the gallery.
As always, you have hit th “nail on the head”! I was with you every word and every scary -as well as every beautiful moment that y’all are experiencing. Somehow, to me, I find myself worrying about this assignment more than any other. Y’all seem to be so much closer and involved as a family to imminent dangers.than in Cairo. Maadi seemed so safe., and for me,so delightful. However, that doesn’t.mean that I am not enthusiastic over my future visit!! Love and hugs to all three from your overly proud mother, Mary Dana
Thank you, Mama. We can’t wait to see you in Georgia soon!
The careful choice of words in your prose, like the exquisite selection of images in your photography, convey poetically the beautiful and the broken of Honduras. You have always enjoyed the equipoise of yin and yang required for navigation of such crises and opportunities. Your balance of head and heart will see you, Brad, and Ramsay safely and joyously through your time in your new home. The glorious images from Lago de Yajoa of lotus blossoms opening to a heavenly sky offer us all a reminder of the peace and light available in each moment amidst even the most challenging times and circumstance.
Rosier, thank you for your thoughtful response. It really is about seeing the beauty in the small details of life. I love your lotus blossom imagery- and yes, focusing on the peace and light amidst the chaos is so important to stay buoyant.