I recently returned from a trip to Central America with a friend, Karena. Karena, now a dweller serving with DOOR Hollywood, lived and taught school for a year in CofradÍa, Honduras. Her purpose in going was to check in with her students and reconnect with the friends she made during her time living there. A few months ago, she asked me in passing if I would want to go. It just so happened that my New Year’s Resolution to travel abroad was fresh on my mind, so I spontaneously said YES. Looking back, I’m pretty sure she was kidding, but I jumped at the opportunity nonetheless. She so graciously allowed me to tag along. I’m not sure exactly what I expected to get out of the trip, but I believe the absence of expectations allowed me to relax and enjoy the experience more fully.
When we arrived, I was blown away by the influence the U.S. has in Honduras, especially our fast food culture. Driving through the city of San Pedro Sula I recognized restaurants such as Popeyes, McDonalds, and even a Chili’s. It’s no surprise then that my first Honduran meal was Wendy’s…that’s right Wendy’s. Not to worry, later on I had my share of baleadas, pupusas, and tajadas.
We stayed in the small, rural town of CofradÍa situated about 40km (25 miles) outside the city. Karena’s former housemates and fellow teachers allowed us to stay at their place. The best part of the house we stayed at was the 2 hammocks on the back porch with a beautiful view of the mountains. Karena and I made sure to take naps in the hammocks at least once a day. Resting in the hammock I felt my mind still and my soul rest. Having just experienced the passing of Nanny and still in the midst of moving into a new place with new acquaintances back in LA, I needed time to rest. Little did I know Honduras would become a sanctuary of peace and recovery.
During my time in Honduras, I traveled to Copán, a touristy town paved with cobblestone streets and refined architecture known for its proximity to Mayan ruins. While in Copán, Karena was determined to ride horses; however, finding horses was a challenge. We walked all over town for a good hour asking people if they knew someone who would let us ride their horses. That’s right. Even as a tourist destination, Copán didn’t have a guidebook or horse rental set up. We literally just asked local people to ride their horses! And, we were successful. A woman, who sold us mango, knew a guy, who knew a guy with horses. Within 20 minutes, we were horseback strolling past the Copán River and farmland.
We also visited Welch’s, which is a cafe that sales locally grown coffee. I think I found a new activity to pursue. Now, I want to travel all over the world and try local coffee. It was so delicious I had to bring some back with me. In fact, I’m enjoying a cup of Welch’s coffee as I write.
Did I mention the food was spectacular? Well, minus the baleadas, a country staple made up of a tortilla with beans and cheese. It sounds like a burrito, and I’m sure you would love it. However, I was at odds with the cheese they used. I will say, though, I scarfed down two of them not wanting to complain about the Honduran food or insult their culture. It wasn’t until halfway through the trip when I hesitantly admitted to Karena I didn’t like baleadas to which she shrugged her shoulders and replied, “Neither do I.” I was stunned and found myself laughing. I was pretending to like them, while Karena so politely didn’t want to influence my decision to eat them. Needless to say, after our confessions, we avoided baleadas for the rest of our trip. We had no problems finding other delicious food to eat–fried chicken, tajadas, platanos (plantains), tamales, guacamole, fresh fruit, & my favorite pupusas!
My experience in Honduras was nothing less than rejuvenating. I encountered a peace of mind I do not normally experience on trips. I have gone on many vacations and retreats. None of which left me feeling as rested and joyful as my time in Honduras. I didn’t need tourist attractions, fine dining, luxurious sleeping arrangements, or air conditioning. All I need was a hammock, a good friend to chat with, and an environment that forced me to slow down.
Karena was an excellent traveling buddy. I hope we get the opportunity to travel again in the future!