I don’t know what your Christmas day usually consists of, but mine has been somewhat atypical since moving to Honduras. I experienced the holidays differently in the other countries I’ve lived in as well, but both Christmas’ in Honduras I headed to the beach. When I’m home in the US I spend the day with friends or family or I go to a movie and have a good meal. Do I miss that? Yes, I miss the people, but I am happy to have the adventure I am on, the experiences, the new faces and the culture I am living in now.
Today I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I had an invitation for a casual dinner at my friend’s house in the early evening and was happy to have a timeframe to focus on. But I could not figure out what to do for the bulk of the day, so I left it in Jorge’s hands.
After getting me into the car, he looked at me in the rearview mirror with that — “Where do you want to go today, Mrs. Fran?” I was stumped. Not because I couldn’t figure out how to respond in Spanish, but because I knew I didn’t want to go on a long drive, but I did want to see the ocean.
So my brilliant response — “Hmmmm, la playa, por favor?” (The beach, please?) was met with another question mark — “Tela?” “Puerto Cortes?” “Omoa?” Since Cortes is the closest beach to San Pedro Sula, I opted for the port.
I remembered it taking less than an hour to get there a few weeks ago when we drove up for a job fair, so it seemed like the right location. I had packed proactively and my small bag had a bathing suit and a towel. I was ready!
We headed out in the rattly Hyundai Our good, sturdy, heavy car was in the shop again. You know that Expedition is in the shop on average, once every 2 weeks. And not for a quick fix, but an expensive, complex repair. Yep, I suspect we are getting “taken for a ride,” but I am not an auto mechanic type person, so I am not good at catching the game they are playing. But I digress…
We head north on a picture-perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky. No rain in the forecast. Nothing to spoil a quick trip to the Caribbean. We flew up CA5 and I gasped a few times. I’ve grown quite used to passing cars all the way, racing down the road at the speed of light and navigating our way through check points along the way, but today, with so little traffic on the roads and a light weight car, I felt vulnerable.
The check points were frequent and somehow different today. A few of them were set up in a serpentine configuration so it would be absolutely impossible for a car to race through without stopping.
The Federal Police were manning the stops which seemed out of the ordinary as well. I wonder what they were looking for? Who were they looking for? And in the wake of the Newtown tragedy in the US, were their automatic or semiautomatic weapons really necessary? If a car was carrying a load of drugs or fugitives, would one of these weapons really be needed? Couldn’t they just shoot at the tires and stop the car in its tracks? Ok, so auto mechanics and deadly firearms are not my wheelhouse, but it was a thought I had as we were either waved through or stopped. Being in a smaller white Hyundai kept us from getting pulled over too many times which was a change from the shiny, big Ford Expedition with very dark tinted windows. We stand out like a sore thumb in that vehicle.
About an hour later we end up at the beach. It’s crowded at just after noon with families looking for a Christmas activity.
We kept driving and ended up at a dead end, turned around and into a parking area. With that, two guys in vests came running and as Jorge was starting to follow the directions for parking from the guy in the orange vest, Mr. Yellow Vest comes up and they start arguing and telling Jorge they each had better food and floats and parking spaces for us. Jorge and I looked at each other in the mirror, chuckled and he turned into a parking space without vested man help.
He led me to the water, showed me a few things out on the horizon and then my nose led me to freshly cooked fish. I could see that the water was not really meant for swimming, there was no good place to change and I suspect Jorge was happier having me on dry land because the only way to get into the water was a set of stairs accessed from the restaurant we stopped in for lunch.
Most of the lunch I ordered was inconsequential, but I was thrilled with the shrimp. Was it grilled? No, don’t think so, although that’s what I ordered. I believe it was done on a plancha — a griddle — with onions and green bell pepper slices. It was perfect at my table by the sea. Frankly, I don’t know where the shellfish came from, but it was not tough, it was not overcooked and it did seem fresh, not previously frozen like the shrimp I’ve been buying this past year. I have never seen fresh fish here other than at the coast — which makes sense. The fish dish of the region is a whole fried fish was on everyone else’s table, but it’s never been appealing to me. I don’t feel like navigating skin and bones. Maybe I’ll be in the mood next time.
I was relaxed. I didn’t feel as though I had a care in the world. I was thinking of nothing other than the glorious weather, the view, the fact that we were all having a day off.
I hope you all had a most wonderful holiday and I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to New Year’s Day. I’m thinking of taking the trip to Tela and hanging out on a proper loung chair by the sea for the afternoon to start the year off right.