Exploration


20MAR08

What's this? What's this?
There's color everywhere
What's this?
There's white things in the air
What's this?
I can't believe my eyes
I must be dreaming
Wake up, jack, this isn't fair
What's this?

What's this? What's this?
There's something very wrong
What's this?
There are people singing songs

What's this?
The streets are lined with
Little creatures laughing
Everybody seems so happy
Have I possibly gone daffy?
What is this?
What's this?

The monsters are all missing
And the nightmares can't be found
And in their place there seems to be
Good feeling all around

Instead of screams, I swear
I can hear music in the air
The smell of cakes and pies
Is absolutely everywhere

The sights, the sounds
They're everywhere and all around
I've never felt so good before
This empty place inside of me is filling up
I simply cannot get enough

I want it, oh, I want it
Oh, I want it for my own
I've got to know
I've got to know
What is this place that I have found?
What is this?
Comayagua Town, hmm...

We met Puran in the morning about 9am, and walked around and looked for the rest of the tourist sites that are on my little map. Our first stop was La Caridad. Everyone is setting up for the Good Friday processions, decorating the churches and building little stables outside. As far as I can tell, each “stable” will have a station of the cross displayed inside. There will also be altars set up along the procession route for each of the stations of the cross. The procession will stop at each of these and prayers will be said, songs sung etc. We were able to go in the church and look around. La Caridad was built in the 1600’s – I forget the exact year – it is in the wall above the door. I think it would be the oldest church in the city – one of those things on my list to find out.

We found the movie theatre. They play an American movie each week from Thursday to Monday with Spanish sub-titles. So maybe some weeks we can go to the movies. It costs 25 Lemps each. It looks like they have had American Gangster, Superman, and a Ben Stiller movie among others. I can’t tell the names of all of them because the posters are in Spanish.

We walked to the Inglesia de la Merced, and past some restaurants that Puran says are in the guide books as being pretty good – like the Villa Real. Later I asked Rita if she had ever been there and she said the atmosphere is very pretty, and the food is ok. You definitely pay for atmosphere there. Puran suggested we eat lunch at a little restaurant that is right beside the Catedral. It is run by an American guy and it is really quite a nice little place. We had a light lunch – each of us had a green salad and Puran had papooses? Or something like that. And I had Mexican Tacos. The kids had hamburgers, fries and a plate of steamed vegetables – which apparently was also some kind of salad!

After lunch Puran had to leave. Aodhan wanted to go down to the river again; there was a bridge he had seen further down the river and he wanted to cross it to get close to the mountains. We found the bridge no problem and walked across. There is a hospital near the bridge. I will have to find out the difference between that one and the one on the other side of the city.

There was a dirt road leading down to the river beside the bridge, and several people had driven their cars down right into the river to wash them. There was even a little bus in the river being washed. The river seems to be less than a foot deep, with stones at the bottom. There were also people washing clothing and food, and people washing themselves or their children. Someone down the river had a little plastic blow up pool beside the river.

Cows grazed in the grass nearby and chickens and roosters ran squawking as we approached. We could see the hill started here, and Aodhan was determined we were going to climb it. The sky was an angry grey colour. Several people called out helpful advise to us as we walked like “you should go back”, you shouldn’t be here”, this is a bad place”. I was feeling a little nervous because of the ever darkening sky and this dark commentary did not brighten my mood. I said to the boys that we should go, it is going to rain, but really thinking of my visa card in my pouch and my camera and cell phone, and of our ever so apparent non-Honduran looks. The houses began again soon after the river, and they became increasingly more Spartan and more run down. Aodhan insisted we continue. Just to the church they said. I looked, it was half way up the hill. I sighed. We all have to go sometime. I will not make this choice based on fear and insecurity. I looked at their shining faces, sunlight beaming out of their smiles and my mood brightened. “Just a little I” said. “Yea though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” I thought. We can turn back anytime, we can turn back anytime, my heartbeat sounded as a mantra, and my feet had to be unglued from the road with every step. Many of the houses were just shacks. The road went steeply upwards. Children played on the street, and stared at us with wide brown eyes. Old people came to windows, and people became quiet as we passed. Teenagers pointed at us and spoke to each other with covered mouths.

Finally we reached the church. It was quite a lovely little white building and we took some beautiful shots of Comayagua from up high. We could see the top of the hill – we were about half way. The houses above us were huts made of wood and earth. The rain began to fall lightly. This time I knew we couldn’t go any further. It was already late in the afternoon, and I did not have enough knowledge of Honduran weather patterns to accurately judge the situation. We had no raincoats, only tee-shirts.

As we went down from the church, Aodhan noticed a cat. He was in love. He asked please if he could go pat it. I said sure, knowing that it would run away. It did, and Aodhan followed. There was a few kids playing there near a small cement block structure that is being built. They watched Aodhan with amazement and curiosity. He asked them if they could help him find the cat. They stared at him wide eyed. He traipsed onto their property and said “come on!” The children smiled delightedly. This strange exotic creature had come to them. Ciaran went and said “ola”. The kids, there was a couple more by then, stared, almost scared to move in case they scare us away. A wrinkled, crinkled, toothless, lovely old woman appeared. She smiled. A few other adults and more children appeared. I showed one of the boys, a little guy about 8, who had a cast on his arm, my camera and held it up and pointed to ask if I could take a picture of him. He posed with his little cap gun and was ecstatic to see the picture. He then wanted me to take a picture of another boy. I held the camera and let him take it. His eyes shone as his nervous finger pressed the button. He clapped his hands together in kind of a seal clap with his cast. Then I let him take a picture of the grandmother. She smiled as she looked at the pictures of the boys. Two older girls, maybe about 12 or 13, smiled shyly from the shadows. One of the boys brought out a little brown bird. He had part of one wing missing, so he couldn’t fly. He perched on their hands, and they let Ciaran pet him and eventually hold him. Aodhan had disappeared into the small circle of buildings, still on his feline safari. The children played, and laughed that Aodhan was buscar el gato! They showed us their puppy. He was a cute little thing, beige with brown and orange tiger striping. The breed is fairly uncommon in Canada, but relatively common here. I started to write down the children’s names, but soon realized it would be easier to let them write their own. They crowded around and even the littlest one wrote his name neatly in my book. The children were: Anna, Jessica, JosuĂ©, Sulma, Luis, Carla, Manon and Maryur. I called Aodhan and he appeared from inside one of the tiny buildings. We took a photo of the whole group and asked them if we could visita otra semana. They all grinned and smiled and said si, si.

The boys ran down the hill, laughing and whooping and Ciaran grabbed my hand and made me run too. Heads appeared everywhere like the pop up heads at the fun fair, and flustered chickens lost feathers as they ran squawking out of our way. We were at the bottom of the hill in no time and past the cows, and back across the bridge. The newly washed bus drove out of the river and drove by us dripping and shining.

We walked through the city streets, mesmerized by the day and thrilled that my fears had turned out to be unfounded. I was a little angry with myself for having them in the first place. These are such nice people. We have friends on the mountain and will visit again, taking them some school supplies, and maybe some little candies and toys.

At the Jumbo, I gave my backpack to the guard and he gave me a little numbered tag to retrieve it. This is the way in all stores here. We picked up our few groceries, and I thought about taking some cookies when we went up to visit our friends on the mountain next week. As the cashier scanned my few items, I reached in my pouch to get my visa card. My pouch was unzipped. My pouch was empty. I pulled it out and looked inside and felt vainly inside. My pouch was empty. There was no mistake. The world crashed around me. A thousand thoughts at once … there was a storm raging in my head … I had to phone Greg … the only people I was near were the kids … lost … visa lost … friends lost … it was the friends that were harder to lose … what if it wasn’t them … what if it were someone else … but who … no one had gotten that close to me … only the kids … the hugs … I refused to believe it … Greg, I had to call Greg to cancel the visa … I reached again in my pouch and swirled my hand wildly inside … maybe at the bottom … maybe … empty … the cashier looked at me … I waved my hand … no … no … she looked confused and a little annoyed. Why had I gone there with my visa, why had I put these kids in the situation where they could get themselves in trouble? They were right … the people at the bottom of the hill … but it was me that was the danger. How could I expect that these people with so little … I felt around in my pockets for the tag to get my knapsack, I ran to the desk to get my knapsack … I needed to get out of there … I needed to call Greg ... the waves were building in my stomach, the seasickness was setting in … the neurons flashed like lightning in my brain, blinding me and deafening me with their loud thunder … I still had a bank card back at the apartment … my hand felt in my pockets … I needed the tag to get my knapsack … I pulled it out, but it was not my tag; it was my Visa. There, in my front pocket, where I had, relaxed by the nice restaurant where we had lunch, stuffed it and all my cash. The bills had been hanging out of my front pocket, clearly visible as I walked up the mountain. No one had been dishonest. I felt relief wash over me. The visa card shone like the sun after a storm. I babbled as I paid for the groceries. The cashier looked at me suspiciously, not sure if I needed psychiatric attention. The clouds cleared and I felt a little ashamed. It is not poor people that take advantage of the rich. It is not the rich that need to fear the poor, but the other way around. I am sure that if I wanted, I could have gone to the police and had some of these people’s lives destroyed, with little or no evidence. And if I had found my visa card later it wouldn’t matter to the police, they would still charge them because I had complained. Those people couldn’t have hurt me; even by taking everything I had on me. I could have just bought a new camera, cancelled my visa card and got a new one, etc. I walked home, silent and contemplative.

Rita picked us up this evening and we drove with her family to St Sebastian church. It is a very pretty little church, and we walked down a path lit with tiki torches to a large display with life-size characters, of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane. There was a service going on in their small meeting hall, and when we went to look in on it Ciaran took a flying leap over the uneven stones, landing in an undignified belly flop at the bottom of the steps. As everyone gasped, he jumped up, shook himself off and said I’m ok, I’m ok. I checked for broken bones and other wounds, but there were none.

We drove to the Iglesia de la Merced, where they had another beautiful display of Jesus on his last few days before his crucifixion. Then we walked through the crowded streets to the Iglesia de San Francisco, and then back to the Catedral. There was a play of the last supper which told the story right through to Pontius Pilate. It was supposed to start at 8:30, but when it still showed no signs of beginning at 8:50, we decided we had better call it a day since the next morning would come very early and the boys and I were very tired from our trek up the hill.

Comments

hilary slater said…
iain and i were robbed on the beach in cuba last week...but, I like you, felt the validity...it costs them 2 months salary to buy a pair of sandals..so they got mine instead..(they were reallly comfortable!!) ...iain was upset "Mum we're poor street people now!"
I laughed...We had been smart..I had put my wallet in Iain's bathing suit pocket, so we still had our 100$ (in pesos) albeit wet!!
Then we went and found the police and asked for help...standing barefoot on the street in my bathing suit..I'm not THAT confident about my body!!
We then had the best spanish test/lesson yet...3 hours in the police station translating our statement into spanish..first verbal then written...and NOT ALLOWED ANY MISTAKES! (cuban police law....no crossing anything out on the paper!)
So we then took a taxi back to the hotel..
the local bus (cubans only usually) was 4 cents each to go the hour drive to the beach...
the taxi back was $20 value in pesos..
There are 2 currencies...one for tourists, one for cubans..they get paid in poor pesos (1/24th of a CUC tourist peso) and they have to buy things in CUC pesos..24 times the value!! So the government keeps the people poor..
Except for those who drive taxis for the tourists.... :-)Keep writing girl!! ITs great!!
hil
hilary slater said…
PS they only got our clothes, sandals, sun lotion, books and sun glasses...nothing of great value..just things we needed on our trip! :-)