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

 

 

 

A Poet, A Parrot, and a View

Late afternoon, Ramsay and I returned from taking Biscuit, our Golden Retriever, on a quick walk. “oh, no, Rams, this key isn’t working,” I said while nervously trying to unlock the door, giving the handle a good shake. “Dad will be home soon, let’s play ball in the garage,” I said, hoping to convince us both that we were fine without water, a bathroom, money, or a phone.

Dad wasn’t home soon, so we ventured into the street. (Walking around in Tegucigalpa isn’t advised). Jose the guard approached us. In broken Spanish, I asked to use his mobile. “No credit, no money,” he said, turning his phone upside down as if to show us nothing was inside. “Gracias,” I replied. My heart sank.

In two years of living here, with high walls, barbed wire, and fortified garages, it’s rare to know neighbors. We rang the bell next to us. No answer. Then I remembered: Nina and Claudia, behind the big green gate down the hill. “Let’s try them!” I grabbed Ramsay’s hand, making haste before darkness fell.

Standing before their doorbell box with a camera, I pressed the button. Please be home, I thought, sending positive energy through the gate. I guessed it had been about an hour and a half we had been locked out.

A door cracked open. Footsteps were followed by dogs barking (four of them, it turns out) behind the wall. “Hello? It’s Tracy and Ramsay- I can’t get into my house!” Nina’s cheery voice replied,” Oh, Tracy! Hello! I’m coming!” The metal door unlatched with a loud clack. We were beckoned inside with friendly greetings. In the era of COVID, we knew letting us in without masks carried more weight than “before.” Rams and I kept a respectful distance.

Claudia’s home was an oasis of calm and safety. She warmly asked if Ramsay would like lemonade squeezed from local “sour” green oranges. “Yes, thank you,” he said, taking a sip with a smile. She handed me a glass of water and her phone. I called Brad and made a plan.

Rams fed treats to the dogs and kicked the ball around with them. The women took a seat on the patio. Claudia poured me a glass of red wine and the conversation turned to writing. “What is it about?” she asked when I told her about my fiction draft. “I’d like to read it,” she responded kindly. She spoke of studying multiculturalism and linguistics.

I asked her if she knew of the Mexican poet Octavio Paz, whose beautiful poem, As One Listens to the Rain had recently been introduced to me. She nodded.

“I’m a poet,” she said casually, then went to look for a book, which happened to be her published copy of bilingual poetry, called Mariposa Amarilla, The Yellow Butterfly. The inside cover told me she obtained her PHD in the US and was the Head of the Letters Department at the National University of Honduras for years. I asked her to inscribe it for me.

Ramsay met Paco, Claudia’s parrot, also age 8. Paco knew how to call the dogs by name, making us laugh. Brad called to say he was home. We didn’t want to leave yet.

“Would you like to see the view from the roof?” asked Nina’s husband. (He and Nina had been visiting his Aunt Claudia a year ago when the pandemic extended their stay). Ramsay and I climbed the thin rungs of the ladder bolted to the garage wall. We stepped through a hatch and out onto the roof. We took in the great expanse of the city lights surrounded by hills at sunset.

I thanked her profusely taking us in.

“I’ve lived in many places, many countries, and I’ve found there are kind people everywhere who are willing to help,” responded Claudia.

Indeed.

In the end, Ramsay and I felt fortunate to have been locked out. “That was fun,” he said on our walk home. “Sometimes unexpected gifts come in strange packages, and sometimes, those are the best kind,” I replied.

Here is “Yellow Butterfly,” the lovely poem for which Claudia’s book is named.

I’d love to hear your tale about the kindness of strangers. Please comment below.

Love & Light, Tracy

P.S. We bought some of those green oranges to make lemonade at home.

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