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Honduras Tales - "Sidewalk Vignettes"

Remarkable events occur daily in the mundane and run-of-the-mill moments of our lives.  Often, I miss them.  But every time I visit Central America, it's as though I am viewing life through a different set of eyes.  All my senses seem more alive.  The banal seems to come to life - - the 'plain' gains a luster - - the ordinary is no longer ordinary. I am not able to completely explain this phenomenon.  The closest I can come is to share stories, and those, well, I am always happy to tell one.  Please join me...

Copan Ruinas

Looking Skyward

Day two in Copan Ruinas and rain is challenging my patience.  There is no way I am going to come to Honduras and miss the ancient ruins.  So after breakfast, we begin to follow the path to the site despite thSenor Pito, Copan Ruinas, Honduras.e rain.  Not looking good.

A brief drizzle slows to a gentle mist.  My glasses are spotted enough to be an absolute nuisance.  I reach into my purse for a tissue, look upwards, and try to discern how the weather gods are going to treat us.  Like I would know what I am looking for.  My wife asks me, “Will we get this visit in?” 

“Of course,” I boldly affirm, wondering why in the world I need to conceal my own ignorance about weather to my wife of 33 years.  Oh well.  There are some things I have to know about and “weather” is one of them, even though I haven’t a clue.  "This will blow over within 10-15 minutes," I assure her.

Now it is drizzling again and I lower my chin because I am fresh out of tissues.  Drats.  We continue to walk the path and I become aware of my pace.  I soon realize that in 3 short days in Honduras, I have slowed down.  Significantly.  It seems to be a very comfortable pace.  Is it vacation or have I settled into a Honduran tempo?  In town, when walking, we don’t pass any people.  Interesting.

As we near the entrance to the ruins, I again look skyward to determine from which direction the rain is coming.  I soon realize that I don't even know which way is north. 

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy standing in a tree.  Impossible.  Maybe it is the rain on my glasses.  I wipe my glasses clean with my fingers.  And yep, there he is, perched high atop the tree, feet firmly planted on branches near the tree’s trunk.  This is too good to pass up.  I have to know what in the world is going on.  So I begin to walk more closely to the tree and Dee smirks, knowing where this is going.

“Senor, excuse me, but may I ask what you doing?” I yell out in my best Spanish.  What follows is a very rough translation with the man I have dubbed Senor Pito.

It seems my newest Honduran acquaintance is picking pito, a red-colored air plant.  He reaches for only the smallest of them, by-passing the larger ones.  When he finds the right size, he picks it and tosses it down to his two sons on the ground, who quickly jostle each other to lay claim to the prize.  Kids are kids. 

Here is what I think he told me.  Don’t take it for gospel.  Pito is used as an herbal medicine.  Insomniacs and those seeking pleasant dreams dry it, crumble it, and put it into scrambled eggs (huevos revueltos).  Sweet dreams are guaranteed - - or so I learned, on a path in rural Copan.  But then again, with my Spanish, it really could be that pito is an aphrodisiac that farmers give to old bulls for that one last, great moment.  We may never know.   

(Renowned traveler and writer Judith Fein recounts her visit to the Copan area where she visits with a local Chorti Mayan healer and a second visit with a healer on the north coast, a Garifuna.  [Her personal website chronicles her travels throughout the world...well worth a visit.])

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