Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jan 24 - First day at Spanish school

For my pal Mr. Pacific Gazetteer! Not quite a video, but soon.
OK, it’s real now. That theoretical day when we would live in Honduras has arrived - we’re here in Copan Ruinas, settling into the home stay that we’ll be living in for the next month while we immerse ourselves in Spanish at the Ixbalanque Language School.
It’s all one gigantic new experience, from this tiny town of cobblestone streets to this rooming at a sprawling Honduran family’s home. The matriarch is Esmeralda, a friendly and outgoing woman who has put us up in a bedroom in the big house where she lives with her husband (when he’s not out of town working) and what seems like a couple dozen grandchildren, nieces and various other family members who live in the houses adjacent to this one.
Language school promises to be intense: Four hours a day of one-to-one immersion, and then home to a household that speaks only Spanish. It really sunk in for the first time today, as we sat drinking two-for-one pina coladas at Twisted Tanya’s, the bar on our route home: We live here now. How the heck did that happen??
The town itself is the smallest I’ve ever lived in, some 7,000 residents in all. There are world-class Mayan ruins about a kilometre down the road, and steep hillsides all round. On our way into town yesterday, we passed house after house with blankets of coffee beans drying in the sun in the front yard, but tourism is also a big economic driver, and treasured in a country that has very little.
I expect this year or two in Honduras to be very surprising. Without exception, the people we have met so far have been warm and welcoming. But we saw a dead body at the side of the road yesterday just outside of Santa Rosa de Copan, presumably a victim of some narco-traficante mayhem. I’ve lived a lifetime in Canada with barely a thought for murder, but in this country it’s an all too real risk for the young men and women looking for a quick way out of poverty.
I couldn’t understand everything said by the man who drove us from Santa Rosa to Copan Ruinas yesterday - he speaks only Spanish, and at this stage I’m perhaps grasping maybe two-thirds of what people say. But I did understand his point about the irony of the drug trade: That Honduras has few users - they’re too poor to buy the cocaine coming up from South America to markets in the U.S. and Canada - but nonetheless bears the brunt of the hazards resulting from the distribution end of the business.
Que lastima, as the Hondurans would say. And indeed, it is a shame, and a great sorrow for the Honduran people. 
But I smell something delicious frying in Esmeralda’s cocina, and it’s bringing me back to the now - the place where Hondurans live almost exclusively. Tomorrow is another day. 

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