I’ve always loved Hemingway’s novel enitiled A Moveable Feast. The plot follows a group of expatriates in Europe after WWI. Where ever they go they bring a festive atmosphere that is infectious. I experienced this mobile fun today In Siguatepeque and Santa Rosita. The rainy weather broke and the sky was a bright, deep blue on our trip up to the mountains. We pulled up to the school and this welcome topped all others. I’m afraid I’m ruined now because I will hope for this kind of welcome from my students in the States. On the dirt path leading to the school the villagers had constructed an arch of saplings with balloons and sign on it wishing Sally happy birthday.There was confetti on the path and rose petals. All the students and their parents were wearing paper crowns like the kind available at Burger King!! There must have been 100 people present, including students, parents and siblings. A sound system was set up and the teacher acted as MC. There was a second arch directly in front of the covered area where we taught each day. It too was covered with balloons, paper streamers and tin foil. It was all inexpressibly beautiful!! The music started with a march by Strauss. Sally and I danced to the clapping and cheers of the laughing and whistling students. We gathered other students and even some of the parents for more dancing. Strauss was replaced by Reggeton and other more popular Honduran music. A cultural program followed with skits, folk dancing, a puppet show and singing. After this, several villagers made speeches telling of their struggles to establish the school and how our arrival was the culmination of alot of effort and prayer. Each speech was full of dignity, palpable emotion and gratefulness. When Owen died we felt at the very heart of life. Our grief made everything simple somehow. The pain of loss burned away everything unimportant. It seemed as if those who came to our aid were effected in like manner. I remembered this sitting under a tarp in Santa Rosita.We were gathered together to do something simple, something profound, something powerful. They were thanking us with as much intensity as we were thanking them. Once again, I felt at the very heart of life. More music, dancing and games followed until lunch was served. Now it was time for the pinatas. The children were divided by gender and age and formed lines underneath the three pinatas. The blindfolded children were literally screaming with delight. In fact, if there was a high point of fun it was now. I looked around to see smiles on the faces of everyone, even on the leathery, creased faces of the older men. By this point we were exhausted. We said our goodbyes and hugged and kissed everyone. it was a quiet ride back. Everyone was overwhelmed. But the feast moved with us to the home of Dr. Oscar Gross in Siguatepeque. Josefina, his wife shares a birthday with Sally. In fact she was with us in Santa Rosita. Now we met her friends from the medical community and the university. Oscar Ochoa was also in attendence. We had agraet meal and talked about the fiesta in Santa Rosita. Later there was karaoke, highlighted by me trying to sing ” Yesterday” by the Beatles in my not so pleasant voice. What warm people these Hondurans!! We have an early morning tomorrow.
With care, Mark