Notable Honduran Sights and Sounds

As we near the end of our three years in Honduras, the ticking clock is a reminder to enjoy the time we have left. The following are a few thoughts and images of notable moments.

Tegucigalpa   IMG_8051

While drinking coffee in our garden, an almost imperceptible coughing sound came from the bushes. My eyes spied shadowy movement in the Hibiscus, where a magnificent, deep green and shimmering humming bird drew nectar from a salmon blossom tinged with yellow, levitating like a magical fairy.

A cacophony of sound surrounds the patio this morning: honking cars and revving engines, struggling against the ascent of steep hills, nearly drowning out the whistling of a pedestrian. Wind chimes bump in the light breeze, sending out bright notes like clinking crystal glasses while a squawking parrot interrupts the purr of the a/c unit next door.

Papery palm leaves scratch against the stucco wall. Men pushing a cart through the streets call out for broken items, ringing a bell reminiscent of childhood ice cream trucks.

Honduyate, Lago De Yajoa, and Pulhapanzak Falls

A day that includes boats and calls for binoculars and a good camera lens is a good day. Careful steps on the rickety bridge led us through yellow and lime-colored grasses that hid condors and cranes.

The metal cable emitted a high pitched whir as we zip-lined over a 43-meter, thunderous waterfall with birds dipping and diving in the spray beneath us. We fell asleep to the sounds of crickets and cicadas.

How fortunate to drink coffee in a hammock under a tree with purple flowers, next to a babbling brook.

Pico Bonito and Garifuna Island

Beans, bananas, and goaty white cheese for breakfast and fish with teeth for lunch. Unbridled dancing in the sand with locals and a group hug with a sloth. Laughter and toucans, turquoise water, and crayon-colored boats.

West Bay and Ibagari Boutique Hotel, Roatan

When the twin- prop plane broke through cumulus clouds, a glowing rainbow was revealed.

A park ranger gave Ramsay fish food and explained few shells make it to the beach in Roatan because of the “iron shore” ring of coral reefs.

Right after a shower and dressing for dinner, Ramsay unbuttoned his pressed shirt and trousers, turned on the tap and climbed quickly into the deep porcelain tub at the Ibagari  “because I just have to. Look at that tub.” Wrapped in a thick terrycloth robe afterward, he suggested, “It’s so cozy, let’s just order room service instead.”

Snorkeling before breakfast might be our favorite new beach tradition.

“Can I buy some?” Ramsay asked, referring to the well-dressed man selling banana bread out of a purple plastic cooler on the beach. We then ate the warm slices on a table with Bird of Paradise flowers, watermelon “sandia” and tamarind juices.

Visiting La Patrona, a woman-owned coffee company that is 39 years old, we learned the perfect shade of red for picking shade-grown coffee beans is called sangre de toro, and the grading process for a coffee tasting is strict.

Among many memorable things about this country, we will miss our friends here, the art, tacos and futbol, roadside vendors, picking sun-kissed blackberries at Finca La Contadora, and drinking chamomile tea made from fresh flowers.

And last, but certainly not least, Honduras brought us our beloved family dog, Biscuit, and the best companion a boy could ask for.

Gracias for these gifts, Honduras.

Nos Vemos,

Tracy

 

 

 

Magical Moments Lately

A wall in downtown Tegucigalpa that resembles a patchwork quilt.

In the face of country-wide drought and humanitarian issues in Honduras, I ‘ve begun to collect heart-warming moments and short stories to lift our spirits. I hope you enjoy them, too.

Buenas Dias: It’s early morning, and although I cannot see the street, I know the guard is standing outside. The familiar shape of his thickly-soled shoes obscures the thin space of light beneath the door. He is waiting for coffee. As I click the lock and open the door, his toothy grin beams in response to the mug I hand him. He sees me unvarnished- barefoot, half awake, in pj’s with unbrushed hair. His wide smile is contagious, his gratitude evident, and I am thankful for this happy exchange.


Gossamer Wings: A lovely, grand, and shimmering moth with irridescent purples and rich browns shared her beauty with us for the better part of a day.


A Wishing Tree: Playing outdoors, Ramsay and I noticed something electric blue in our banana tree. Brad climbed a ladder so we could take a closer look. After some research, we discovered this is called a Traveler’s Tree (how appropriate for our lifestyle)!  Its origins are traced to Madagascar, where it is believed this is a wishing tree that can fulfill your wildest dreams and desires!  (We did ask the tree for rain… and it came in sheets later that day after a long, brittle dry spell….perhaps a coincidence, or maybe sheer magic)?


A  Light in the Darkness:  I was truly inspired by “Pixeles De Vida,” an impactful photography exhibit captured by Honduran students ages 15-23 years old. Their pictures showcase hope and good works in Rivera Hernandez; historically, one of the most violent and crime-riddled communities in the country. These particular images and uplifting stories stood out to me:

*Pixeles de Vida is a project funded by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.


Finding a Lost Treasure: While having coffee with friends, I happened upon a misplaced journal. In efforts to find its owner, I flipped through the pages. No contact information was found, but I haven’t given up. For this woman whose nineteen year old dreams in 1999 were to “find beauty in everything” and “become a dancer,” I would love to meet her and remind this (now forty-something) woman of her travels with friends and beautiful personal journey.


A Sea Offering: On a recent jaunt to El Salvador, I walked slowly along a tranquil expanse of fine, dark-brown, volcanic sand that sparkled like gold in the afternoon sun. The ebbing tide left behind intricate snail tracks and a lacey ribbon of foam. Wading in and out of the surf’s edge, I lifted up intermittent pieces of broken shells to study them. Near an outcropping of rocks, I stopped to listen to the water echo in its caverns. Glancing behind me, only my path of meandering footprints marked the surface. Moments later, right at my feet, lay a perfect, beautiful sand dollar, like an offering from the sea.

 

May there be magical moments in your days.

-Tracy

 

 

The Beautiful Broken

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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, 

Tracy