Laura reminds me that I haven’t sent out a personal blog in quite some time. It was Christmas and now it’s Easter. So these holidays do make me think of family and friends. As much as we love Honduras, and as much as we love what we’re doing, it is a little hard to not be home on these special holidays. We just couldn’t do that this year. We’ve decided to treat these holidays as our personal vacation time. We do that for many of the reasons I listed in the Christmas blog. Also, nothing by the way of work happens in Honduras during Holy Week. We just thought it best to get away, do something unique and special.
Maybe not exactly unique. We thought about going to Cuba, but we waited too long to book flights and they were very expensive. We thought a little bit about going to the south shore of the country, an island named Ampala that is the less favored tourist area of Honduras. But that seemed like it would be too far. Busses are unreliable during Holy Week, so we actually would take the company car. Ampala would have been too many miles. In the end, we decided to return to Lake Yojoa and the D&D Brewery and Lodge where we went at Christmas. We liked it the first time, and there were things we had not yet done there, so what the heck. Besides, it’s one of the few places in all of Honduras where you can get a cheeseburger that almost tastes like a cheeseburger is supposed to taste. Plus, Honduras’ national beers taste just like Bud Light. D&D, being the only microbrewery in all of Honduras, is also the only place you can get a rich, dark lager (personally I prefer the “cafetero,” rich and dark with a hint of coffee flavor). I won’t even mention the chocolate cake, the ice cream, and the homemade root beer. Oops, I just did mention them – well, they’re good too.
At Christmas we met a lot of ex-pat Americans like ourselves. We expected that again. But, oddly we met a lot more Hondurans than Americans. They were not very much like the Hondurans we know. The ones who came to stay for a few overnights certainly had money. To watch them was a great sport. Their clothes, their mannerisms, even the size of their waists, had us thinking that they were really Americans who happened to speak Spanish. There were a few Honduran families, however, that came out on day trips to the eco-bio-park where we were staying (the spill over rooms from D&D when they are all filled up). This was encouraging because these families seem to comprise a small middle class. They, like us, enjoyed the beauty and natural entertainment of the coffee / cacao farm, splashing in and out of the cold, exceptionally clean water of the river, walking the paths and witnessing gorgeous gigantic trees and tropical flowers, or simply sitting at a picnic bench reading a good book. These people and we were simply very grateful for this special gift of respite.
So expecting Americans and a taste of US culture, we instead saw an oddly unfamiliar Honduras. We think of Honduras as the rural poor. But there is a cosmopolitan Honduras with folks that emulate the US ideal of having “made it.” It took me a little time to realize that these people were not the only people who came out from the cities of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to enjoy the naturalness of Lake Yojoa. There were families who came loaded in utility vans; well off enough to find a utility van large enough to fit the extended family, but not quite well off enough to arrive in a polished, Land Cruiser. There were also young, college students who camped and hitched rides so they could afford a small, adventurous get-away. We don’t usually see Hondurans like these, but it was certainly encouraging and refreshing to see them. We met a group of these college students as we climbed Cerro Azul Meámbar at one of Honduras’ few national parks. It’s a good hike, overlooking the lake, and on coming down we had lunch at the Panacam Lodge, where we might have stayed if it wasn’t booked and it wasn’t a bit pricey. On the way up and way down, we kept on running into the same group of college students with whom we made jokes about the strenuous climb and our differences in ages. Honduras is a very small place. On our way back to Camasca on Sunday, on the main highway, this same group of students was on the main road hitching a ride back to Tegucigalpa. We brought them halfway in the bed of the pickup. Feeling guilty about taking the company car, this assuaged my guilt.
As I just said, Honduras is a small country. You’d think after three years here we would have seen about everything there is to see. But with a trip like this you realize there are more nuances to this country than one would first believe. Its beauty is inspiring. Just outside our hotel room at the Bio Ecopark Paradise we discovered these gorgeous red flowers at least seven feet high. We had a lovely morning kayaking the canal from the town we stayed in out onto the lake. Another morning we went to the site of archeological ruins along the lakes shore, also in the town we stayed at. The ruins themselves, unfortunately, were mounded over with topsoil and vegetation because Honduras simply does not have the resources or the archeologists to fully uncover the site. Still, it gives one pause to see remnants of a civilization that predated the Mayans at Copan. We also rested a bit, read books, enjoyed hammocks, and got a little sunburned.
We must say that we certainly did miss our families and friends at Easter. But, we do appreciate discovering the beauty of this country. We love Honduras and we love the work we are doing. We will be home in July, catching a ride with the Honduran Robotics Team from Camasca and Concepción. But that’s a whole different story… One you can read about at http://hondurasrobot.org/.