Last night we were driven home in the back of a pickup truck, standing, watching the stars pass over our heads. Five gringos, two perros, and six members of the family that had let us eat dinner in their dining room. This was the same “non-road” road we had taken on the way up from the airport, but at night, yakking in bad Spanish with strangers, I wasn’t even scared this time.
|The Spanish practice is really paying off, |
even at the price of my feet and legs. (Bite count: 32)
We had hiked the extreme road (is it really possible to just keep going up for nearly two hours?) to Las Botijas, an unreal “metropolis” in the middle of nowhere. Even more in the middle of nowhere than us, who have two neighbors within a ten minute walk and have to hitchhike two hours down the mountain to the nearest tiny grocery store. But Las Botijas has it hooked up: street lamps! Bars! More than three houses! We puffed over the last ridiculous incline and proceeded to drink the best worst beer I have ever had. He only had five left in a nearly empty giant freezer and we bought four.
The sun had just set and we were a particular shade of starving, having survived the laughable inclines of our walk. There was a second bar down the road, and apparently a woman who can cook. Walking, walking, walking, we pass houses with televisions outside: there is a soccer match between Honduras and Mexico (Honduras didn’t win, which is probably why everyone seemed sedate.)
Bar two, “Raul Bar,” is in a windowless house that looks nothing like a bar, but like…a windowless house. Procedure calls for a knock on the door. He recognizes Drew, our fearless leader, and we walk into a room full of pool tables and blue collar men. A lifetime of feeling like a foreigner had prepared me for the moment that we entered as the only white women these men had seen for a long time. Awkward, amused, aware. We sit, buy beers, bags of chicarrones (at this point I probably would have eaten anything,) and then Drew and I leave to negociate a meal.
We interrupt a large family relaxing in their garden (here comes that assertiveness I've been sharpening my whole life!), and I become the interpreter, asking if it would be possible to have dinner for five, we would pay anything and it didn’t matter how long it took. What do you want? Eggs? Cheese? Whatever, anything, amazing! Thirty minutes later after some conversation with the sons and a little confusion, we were sat at their family dinner table, where this angel of a mom had made rice, refried black beans, fresh cheese and scrambled eggs. And a giant plate of corn tortillas. The kids brought us ice water.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so grateful for a meal, so surprised by a meal, or enjoyed a meal so much as the one this family made for us. When we finished, she quoted us “150 Lempiras.” $7.50. We gave her more, I gave her a terrific hug, and the husband said he could drive us home.
And here we end up on the back of the truck, even with our dogs from campus who stayed with us the whole way, even pregnant Macarena ready to pop. This kind of generosity exists in all corners of the world, but I’ve never been brave enough to ask for it, especially in Spanish. We asked to be dropped off about 15 minutes from home (that truck might not have made it over another river crossing), and gave him every penny we had on us.
Really, what’s $5 a person for one of the most beautiful nights we’ve ever had?