Honduras 2004 - Wrap-Up

I've been back from Honduras for two weeks now, and my focus on the trip has shifted to the more mundane tasks of scanning photos and creating these Web pages. But always, I hold deep in my heart the people who make my attachment to this Central American country so personal. They made me feel so welcome the moment I stepped off the plane, even after so long an absence, giving me the assurance that they feel the same way about me as I do them: time will never cut the family bonds that we created so long ago.

Roberto and Micaela have retired since my first visit to Honduras, but the former stays busy by writing occasional editorials for the local newspapers. Like my own parents, they also have a lot of grandchildren to keep them busy. In the intervening years, the family has grown by nine children, with a tenth due any day. Every last one of them is adorable.

The "Papis" have a lot to be proud of with their own children as well, all of whom have found success:

  • Gloria, the eldest, owns and runs a construction business with her husband Heriberto. Among their many other projects, they built the condominium complex where Roberto and Micaela now live, as well as the Hotel Copantl right next door.
  • Carlos ("Chalie") lives in Washington D.C., where he works as an Urban and Municipal Development Specialist for the Inter-American Development Bank. In brief, he oversees very large loan programs to developing nations in Central America and the Caribbean.
  • Ricardo ("Ricky") and his wife Carla (who are on the verge of becoming parents for the fourth time) live in San Pedro Sula. During my visit, Ricky served me some of the best coffee I have ever tasted (and sent a pound home with me). It's no wonder that he works as the Chief of the Specialty Coffee Program of Fintrac, a global agribusiness consultancy. (The coffee is "Passion," and you can buy some here.)
  • Patricia ("Patty"), who is my age and left halfway through my year abroad to come to the U.S. as an exchange student with AFS herself, also lives in San Pedro Sula. She is the Honduras representative for mega-book publisher McGraw-Hill.
  • Karla, the youngest member of the family and my traveling companion for this return visit, manages "Rojo, Verde y Ajo," one of the best restaurants in Tegucigalpa. Unfortunately, I didn't spend much time in the capital, and consequently never got the chance to have dinner in her restaurant, but everyone raves about it.

My limited time in Tegucigalpa also afforded me no time to try to track down any of my former classmates from Instituto San Francisco, the Catholic high school that I attended and graduated from during my year abroad. I did learn, however, that one of my friends is married to the current mayor of Tegucigalpa, who is also one of the frontrunners in the current presidential election. So perhaps on my next visit, I might have the opportunity of being a special guest of the President and First Lady of Honduras.

My last night of this visit saw another "first": I sang karaoke—in Spanish. After consuming more than my share of Salva Vidas (Honduras' best beer), I found the "courage" to warble my way through Emmanuel's "Esa Triste Guitarra" (song clip here). I'm sure I didn't sound as good as I thought I did, but I got a roaring round of applause nonetheless. And it was a lot of fun.

"Fun" sums up the trip pretty nicely, in fact. Not only "fun" in the simple entertainment sense, but also on a deeper, more meaningful level. After spending a year in Honduras, I felt in some ways more Honduran than American. That year profoundly affected the course of my life from that point forward. It was impossible to recapture that feeling of total belonging during a short, two-week trip, but I certainly felt it to some degree. And I expect I always will.

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