Chez Boyer

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Year's in Honduras

Josh writing today. Alex and I spent the week around New Year’s in Honduras with my parents. My parents, Jeff and Mary, met in Honduras as Peace Corps volunteers over 40 years ago. They have been back many times, my dad nearly every year of the last 20. One of their return trips was for nearly two years in the 70s when I was about a year younger than Alex is now. Papa Jeff decided it was time to introduce his grandson to our friends there. Jen and Molly did not come with us because, uh, Molly is a very fun girl, but our guess is probably not the most fun international travel companion, yet.

First we stayed in the capital city, Tegucigalpa, with our friend Melba Zuniga. Above, Alex is checking out the hilly city from Melba’s 4th floor porch.

Nana Mary and Papa Jeff on Melba’s terrace.

At the Museo de Identidad Nacional with Melba’s daughter Jimena. Jimena works for the board of elections and for TV news, and does belly dancing in her spare time. We can vouch for the latter after receiving a special show. Alex hardly knew what to think.

Then we left Tegucigalpa for a small town of about 1,000 people in southern Honduras, El Corpus. A friend of my dad’s is a congressman, and he lent us his chauffeur to get us there. The chauffeur made the 3-4 hour trip in 2 ½ hours. As he turned the highways into racetracks, I kept telling myself “He does this for a living, he knows what he’s doing.” That turned out to be true.

Bievenidos a El Corpus. The town looks like this:

The streets are cobblestone. The speed limit is between really slow and mucho damage to your truck.

We stayed in the casa de Juana and Pedro, friends from back when Juana was 12 and fascinated by my sister Chelcy, the only blonde 2-year-old in the neighborhood. Back then, we lived in what is now her house.

Juana on the far right, Pedro in the back, family and friends all ‘round. For those of you who know our friend Omar Lainez here in NC, Juana is Omar's sister.

Pedro’s and Juana’s daughters, Andrea, 13, and Samantha, 5, were the best hosts Alex could ask for.

So were Iris and Angel (far right). Angel, who lives across the street, is a good friend of Andrea’s and Samantha’s, and now of Alex’s.

If you’re ever looking for a fun place to celebrate New Year’s, allow me to recommend El Corpus.

Samantha starts with a sparkler, the moves on to a glass of wine.

Or maybe it's banana soda. Either way, it’s a party.

Mauricio, cousin of Andrea and Samantha, poses here as the head of the año viejo (the old year). The body is stuffed with newspapers, and the tie is firecrackers, which leads at the stroke of midnight to…

Imagine the sound of lots of these all over town, plus more fireworks, and you’ve got yourself un feliz año nuevo.

Then the 1 am piñata. Alex and I went to bed after that. When did the other kids go to bed? Who can say?

Alex likes to say he lost his first tooth on the first day of the new year. I don’t think “lost” is accurate. Papa Jeff felt challenged by Jen’s text message asking whether the tooth had come out yet. A dentist in another life, Papa Jeff worked on it until the job was done. I told Alex he could put the tooth under his pillow that night. He then asked me about the exchange rate between Lempiras and dollars -- 20 to 1 -- and decided to wait until we got home.

When it was time to leave El Corpus, Andrea explained that she was keeping Alex.

A note here to Andrea: Thank you so much for being a great host to Alex. I hope we can return your warmth and kindness when you visit us in North Carolina.

A brief flashback to when Andrea and Samantha visited North Carolina some years ago:

Now let us return to the present, and to Tegucigalpa.

Melba’s daughter, Melissa, and her husband Nelson, gave us a great tour of Valle de Angeles, a cute little town outside Teguc. Melissa and Nelson are from Tegucigalpa and now live near New York City. They give exceptional tours of both. Valle de Angeles is a great place to buy souvenirs, like say…

… a Honduran fútbol uniform.

Thanks to Papa Jeff and Nana Mary for taking Alex and I on a great trip. Thanks to our friends in Tegucigalpa and El Corpus, whose graciousness and good cheer warm my heart.

Time to go home.

Even more pictures