I want to share with you a blog post written by Neil Dunnavant, a medical doctor representing First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro (North Carolina), who recently accompanied MAP staff on a trip to visit MAP programs in Honduras. You can read the first post describing his trip here: http://fpcblogs.fpcgreensboro.org/blog/run-rev-run/201111/my-trip-honduras. What I want to share with you is the second post Neil wrote, in which he reflects on the wonderful people he’s met, and the sometimes strange things he’s seen. I love this post because it gives faces to all those people touched by MAP’s work. (You can see the original post on the FPC blog: http://fpcblogs.fpcgreensboro.org/blog/run-rev-run/201111/true-confessions-honduras-take-two)
Perhaps what I love most about traveling in Latin America (and in poorer less developed countries in general) is the strange and interesting people you meet and weird things you see along the road. I have a slight advantage in Spanish speaking countries since I can talk to them in their native tongue.
In warmer climates people are out and about more; on the streets, walking, riding bikes, hanging out in front of homes and stores, parks and plazas. Very few have cars, and no matter where you are, the roads are always full of people walking, riding bikes, or on horse or donkey. Night or day. Anytime of day.
Years ago a friend told me she was in a small village in Guatemala and saw a woman in a night gown and high heels walking a pig on a leash. At the time it sounded like something from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel or a Fellini film. But now, having travelled extensively in many Latin American countries, I have seen equally bizarre and wonderful things countless times.
My recent trip to Honduras was no exception. Beside an expensive SUV with tinted windows will be a guy pulling a donkey loaded down with sugar cane. Or a man on a bike in the pouring rain with 100 pounds of bananas on his back. In Nueva Armenia (a 99% Black village) we met a little barefoot white guy with a big curly beard named Guillermo who learned English in London, England. With a little bottle of rum in the pocket of his ragged shorts, he withdrew the bottle, unscrewed the cap, drank it down, and in perfect English said, “Empty!” Not 100 paces beyond our adios with Guillermo was a circus-trapeze artist set up that looked like something out of a 1940s carnival. A man emerges out of nowhere with 4 or 5 young boys behind him and also speaks to us in English. “Come tonight for the big show!” Sadly, we had to leave…… How these guys ended up in Nueva Armenia is beyond improbable.
Then there was the retired engineer in Comayagua who proudly showed us his 3 sleek and impressive electric scooters he designed himself. I have a great photo of me on the back of his 2 seater design. Or the men at the gas station drinking beer at a picnic table(Salva Vida, Burst of Life or Life Saver!) who invited me to come over and chat with them and have a beer. Happy strong looking men with time on their hands and eager to make a new friend. Cheers to friendship! Cheers to a simpler more laid back life more spontaneous and less driven by calendars and the clock……
On a hill at the end of a dirt road in a tiny mountain village sitting on a plastic chair eating beans and tortillas cooked over a wood fire, the house with no running water or electricity, I suddenly receive a text from Greensboro from my friend Michael wondering about lunch on Wednesday. I text back. “You won’t believe where I am right now. Ok, lunch Wednesday at the Aztec Dragon on Lawndale.” A rooster crows. Hens cluck. Dogs bark and slink around hoping for a scrap of tortilla. A guy named Marco (el presidente of the village) hands me a note with his cell phone number on it. “Keep in touch.” I will.
It is a wonderful life, and the earth is a wonderful place full of wonderful people.