Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April 28, 2012
Elena has planned my weekend. First a trip to Zamarano to visit her friend Leslie.  We had so much fun the first time we visited she invited us for another.  This time she added her “nutrologist”* and her children to the group.  She is an avid gardener and wanted to see Leslie’s orchid house and collection. 

We arrived late due to the flat tire we had on the way out. Elena, very well prepared as usual, handled the situation well. She found a good place to pull over, right next to a pull off for trucks and with in a couple of minutes some very pleasant young men had volunteered to help. In four minutes and twenty three seconds the car up and the tire changed. The car with the nutrologist and family was following and took the tire on to the “garage” to get it repaired. We followed and again within a very short time all was repaired and replaced and we were on our way.

The "tire center" on the way to Zammarono.
 The attached convenience store and resturant.
 Elena oversees the change.
Another view of the tire center.  

It was slow going for a good while but we had the comfort of knowing that we would have a soft landing if anything happened.

Leslie greeted us warmly and we settled in the living room with fresh fruit juice ( I had the tamarind juice) and the first round of conversation.  The brunch table was full with four young people and four “grown ups”.  The conversation was lively and fun.  The brunch traditional and delicious – sausages, scrambled egg, cheese, tortillas, beans, cantaloupe, rolls and great coffee. 

 We eventually toured the orchid house, took lots of pictures and then sat on the porch that is on cool side of this lovely stone house and continued our conversations until it was time to go.

*nutrologist – the term we came up with to describe a medical doctor who specializes in the medical aspects of nutrition.

We took Leslie with us to meet up with her husband in Tegucigalpa and then we went for a coffee and desert. It was a very, pleasant end to a lovely day.  I came home rested and refreshed.  

April 29
The next morning we headed out for the town whose name means “where the frogs sing” for their annual festival. We followed the road that goes past Valle de Angeles and follows the edge of La Tigra national park. A beautiful drive with no tire incidents up into the mountains and then down into the valley and town. The narrow streets were packed with cars but Elena, played the “old foreign lady” card and got us a very good parking place just a few feet from the central plaza. 

Among other entertainments it is known for having “extinct” foods.  The extinct foods turned out to be very traditional Honduran food that are sentimental favorites, four kinds of soups, corn on the cob with butter and cheese, a variety of meat on a stick over small charcoal grills. 

There were all kinds of fruit dishes and drinks, horchata and a very sweet drink made from lightly fermented corn and/or pineapple, sugar cane served in bamboo tumblers.  The plaza was packed with families, young people. 

We had run into Leslie and her husband  and after we had toured the booths of food and crafts we found a table under a tarp shade and enjoyed our extinct foods and watched the stilt dancers and the traditional dancers.  Colors, brass band music, movement a delight for the eye and way too many pictures.  

So many images fill my mind’s eye, booths decorated with palm leaves, bamboo, and trimmed with Spanish moss, wash tubs full of soups, busy women stirring, turning, and serving.The nose will remember the scents of charcoal fires grilling meats, steam from soup pots, boiling and roasting corn.

 On our way back we took a short detour to visit what Elena called a ghost town.  It was the first of the mining towns around Tegucigalpa now abandoned by the mining company.  A rushing stream runs through the town with its newly re-cobbled street and access road. 

 The road goes on up to La Tigre National park and cloud forest.  It is also now the home of a stained glass artist who has a large studio in one of the abandoned processing buildings.

She was recognized by Hilary Clinton for her entrepreneurship and artistry. The artist holds workshops on various methods of class working. The studio was closed but we did a short walk about in this all but abandoned village which no doubt will get a second life as a tourist destination very soon. 

 We had planned to stop at Valle de Angeles for coffee and desert at a family favorite coffee shop.  The town has been developed to attract tourist, local and foreign and so was still very crowded on late Sunday afternoon.  This is the town were artist Julio Visquerra has a gallery.  The streets were crowded so Elena dropped us off to tour the gallery while she found a parking place. The two girls and I walked in and started absorbing the works.  Sitting close to the entry was the artist himself chatting with some visitors.  I recognized him from the picture in his book. When we were out of earshot the youngest one whispered to me, “I think he is the artist”.  Elena joined us and I told her I would like to meet the artist and have my picture with him.  So, Elena greeted him and explained that I was the art teacher at Discovery school and that I had done a lesson with second graders based on his portraits. 

He was very pleasant and gave me his card so I could email the student pictures to him. We posed next to his latest portrait composition since it was not included in the book of his work that was published in 2010.  A new edition is coming out in November and will include his works since 2009.

We took our leave and went on to find our coffee shop. 

As we were walking I was thinking about my student project and one student in particular who had done an amazing work.  No sooner were we settled in the coffee shop than in walks this student and his family. We greeted each other chatted a bit.  We finished our coffees and “milk cookies” aka sugar cookies or in some places snicker doodles.  

Back on the road we drove in a caravan of cars heading back to Tegucigalpa.  We pulled over for some roasted corn to munch on as we rode on down the mountain.  

Another full and lovely day with Elena, her girls and friends!