Hear about that horrible fire in Comayagua Honduras this week? Daughter called to express concern. She taught third grade in that city 2003-2004. We visited. Flew into Tegucigalpa where the landing strip is too short for a big jet and thus its nose protrudes over the edge of a cliff when it finally comes to rest. Everybody claps. Beat up truck tows it back to “terminal”.
Bus from the capital city to Comayagua was a used yellow school bus from the US still sporting the name of its alma mater. Several hour trip not for faint of heart. While passing another bus going uphill around a curve the driver’s accomplice leaned out the door to beat the hood of the sensible with a baseball bat while laughing uproariously.
Going downhill was even more disconcerting because of the increased speed and noise from the chickens as we rocked and rolled. I put my feet up on the back of the seat in front of me, but the copilot pointed at them with his slugger. Don’t know if I’d committed some sort of cultural faux-pas (er, paso en falso) or if he was insulting my manhood.
Relieved to arrive alive we made our way to the Hotel Casagrande. Daughter had given us two choices – “a really nice, but sort of expensive place that would be convenient or one further away that would be less expensive”. “How much for the expensive place?” “$25.00/night with breakfast.” No foolin’.
Daughter speaks Spanish – obviously – but purpose of the Escuela was/is to make the students Spanish/English bilingual. It is a private school for the children of the local elite and expensive by Isthmus standards. It was clear that her students loved her and vice versa. She worries after them these years hence because of the oozing of the drug trade down from Mexico. Hope none of her former charges were in that hoosegow* conflagration…
We traveled around the country for a week ending back in Tegucigalpa. Went up to visit the Galeria Nacional de Arte, but were initially disappointed to find it closed. Shot the breeze with the guards a bit and ended up getting a private tour. The space was a converted colonial building made all the more interesting by its lack of most modern museum accouterments.
Daughter hailed a cab to see us back to the airport. Driver was worse even than that of the aforementioned bus and used sidewalks and green space as passing lanes. Hija spoke to him sternly and fury immediately blazed in his eyes. The taking of instructions from a female was not part of his life experience.
I couldn’t believe it, but curbside at the airport daughter told him to wait while we embraced and goodbyed. He’d drive her to the bus station to start her way back to Comayagua. Oh lord. I told wife if she hadn’t made me have kids we’d have a whole lot more money and a whole lot less heartache.
*From the Spanish: juzgado – courtroom
**Piece above is “Pasion por Amapalo” (Passion for Poppy) acrylic on canvas by Jorge Restrepo. cf www.jorgerestrepo.com Show was called “Urdimbres” (Waves) and was up in the Honduran National Gallery of Art 15 to 30 April, 2004
***Ironically, the Honduran island of Roatan is often mentioned as a beautiful and muy barato place to retire. We visited and agree.