Blazing. Unrelenting. Tropical heat attacks me from all angles in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. You’d think the heat would be enough to melt me, but no. The heat is worth it because of all the experiences San Pedro holds for me. My time in San Pedro was accented by food, language, and people.
The heat provides the best climate for delectable fruits to grow. Papayas, mangos, pineapples, plantains, and watermelons…each contain a rich, distinct flavor that explodes in my mouth. As yellow mango juice runs down my chin, I find myself searching for more local delicacies. Hondurans create food masterpieces with the tortilla, a staple for nearly every meal. From sweet, creamy baleadas to salty, spicy pupusas, each flavor is welcome to my taste buds.
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Shocking – natives in Honduras speak Spanish. Spanish is a real language, not just some secret code taught in North American high schools. My four years of high school Spanish pay off in San Pedro. Most importantly – I can communicate with the three ladies I live with for the week! Do I make mistakes? Claro. Of course. But I keep trying. I write “Palabras Del Dia (Words of the Day)” in my journal. My favorite? Cascarrabias – when said with fervor, it sounds just like its definition: cantankerous.
Meeting people is essential to full exposure of a culture. For me, this is easy because hospitality is A+ in San Pedro. New friends go out of their way to ensure my environment is comfortable. I am given a personal fan to penetrate the stuffiness of the cottage. One lady lovingly prepares homemade meals almost every night. Our main host, the pastor of the Church, takes me around town in his air conditioned car. While I get acquainted with Honduras, my friends school me on their beautiful country. The personal fan is necessary to cut through the humidity to make sleeping conditions bearable – each person in the house has her own fan. Every meal is served with explanation of what I am eating. Taquitos (mini tacos). Bananos fritos (fried bananas). It’s all delicious! Driving around with the pastor is not just for kicks – I go with him and his wife on errands around the city. We head to the computer store, stop at City Mall for lunch in the food court, then pick up his daughter from work. In this way, I experience the real Honduras.
On my trip, I didn’t go to the beach or eat dinner by the ocean. I didn’t head to an amusement park or remain sheltered in an English-speaking community. Instead, I stayed in a cottage in the local neighborhood of Juan Ramon Molina. By immersing myself in the culture, I learned that embracing a culture completely is the best way to fully appreciate it. Because I legitimately enjoyed Honduran food, made a strong effort to communicate in Spanish, and showed genuine interest in people’s lives by asking questions, I endeared myself to the people. I left the country with many connections and many memories. I can’t wait to return.
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