Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Bus Didn't Run at 5AM Because The Driver's Father Died

We were hitchhiking up the mountain this afternoon in the back of a bright red truck and stopped in San Francisco, having cut a respectable hour or so off our walk. Ahead we saw a large group of parked trucks and people: fiesta! I also saw an ice cream cart and couldn’t believe my eyes: there is never ice cream up the mountain. Disregarding the fact that I had two ice cream cones in Comayagua earlier, we went to buy more.

Next to the ice cream cart was a man we had met just yesterday: I had described him as “A quarter past borracho” as he had a nice swagger and untucked shirt motif going. Today he was in his fancy pants and greeted us with a big smile, and behind him in the archway to the porch was Margarita, the daughter of our neighbor, Doña Erlinda, who supplies us with fresh milk and cookies (for a price) and cheese and Zambos and very fast conversation practice.

We knew from last week that Doña Erlinda’s father had died: nothing stays secret on the mountain, and Skylar (my co-teacher) made a beautiful card that we all signed and gave to her. Today Margarita was dressed in black and yet as we approached to give her a hug, it didn’t dawn on us that this was a different kind of party. She insisted we come in and say hello to her mother, which we did happily (She remembered my name!) and were given chairs. Dirty as we were from walking all day, we sat awkwardly in a room full of obviously related people, also in black. “This is a gathering because of my grandfather’s death,” said Margarita, bringing us cups of horchata.

Oh, boo. We had wandered into a funeral party.

From there things got sticky. Erlinda dropped giant plates of foods into our laps, which we were obligated by the Good Neighbor Never Refuses Anything clause to eat, even if it was 3 o’clock and we had just stuffed our faces a few hours before. We suddenly became overwhelmed with giant food plate, ice cream cone, and cup of something delicious. One ice cream cone hit the floor and was promptly picked up and put in a cup. Waste not want not, and also eat second lunch.

I could hear whispers from behind – Quienes son? Who are they? Well, technically we live closer to Doña Erlinda than anyone else, and as her closest neighbors and steady flow of dairy consumption, at least we weren’t completely estranged. But really, there’s nothing not strange about two gringos sitting in the middle of a group of quietly conversing Hondurans, wolfing down “extra meal” to stop their stomachs from realizing this really is overkill. I tried hard not to laugh.

When we finally finished the food and found a good opportunity to duck out, we gave hugs (very well received) and walked away quickly. Then there was laughter. Remember that time we sat in the middle of a funeral party trying to stuff tortillas in my backpack so we didn’t have to eat them?

About ten minutes down the road another truck stopped. In the back were two women, a baby stained with Cheetos orange, an old cowboy with no teeth, and what do you know? It was Quarter Past Borracho.

As funeral photos are unacceptable, here is a picture of my home I always am happy to return to.

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