I was so nervous coming to “the murder capital of the world,” but the walls I built around myself are quickly crumbling as I fumble through Spanish with my taxi driver, a man of patience and smiles. I want to throw all caution to the wind; hitchhike on dirt roads; ride in the back of a truck full of hard-working men, the dusty wind blowing in my hair; sit outside a mud home with a tin roof drinking a coke-a-cola with a friend as I watch the day go by; to experience Honduras fully, not as a gringa. I am missing out in my fancy hotel and air-conditioned bus. This country with all its instability is made of people no different than you or I. There is something appealing in the uncertainty; an acceptance of life as is despite the craziness. I want to embrace it and the simple life of its people where less is more.
Siestas are important in Copán. The heat prevents any heavy activity in the afternoons. Cansada is my favorite word in Spanish because it is okay to admit you are tired here, and I realize how tired I am. When I say I am tired, I am encouraged to do what is natural. So I sleep and relax and feel like a new person in my bed, the first I have been able to truly call my own in five months. I spend four hours a day in school speaking Spanish. In the afternoons, I do my homework and will soon be volunteering at the local clinic. My first day at school ended in salsa dancing and with fresh squeezed juice. Each meal I spend with two strong, beautiful women, one my host, and the other, an American volunteer who calls Copán her second home. Every morning I start my day with these empowering females, and I am inspired by their presence and blessed with their conversation. At school, I am surprised by how much I remember from my Spanish classes so long ago and frustrated by how much I want to say and cannot. But perhaps it is good I know only verb conjugations in the present because then I can only discuss the present and not the past. Yo quiero is how I discuss the future. I can only say what I want, not how I plan to get it. There is a sort of freedom in this lack of words for the past or future. My life consists of now and floating through dreams.
“Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of the day. After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?…What is the point in worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and me at least try to make a small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.” ~Mr. Stevens of The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
While in Germany, a friend recommended the author, Kazuo Ishiguro, to me, and since then, his characters have been my companions as I travel, each person reflecting on their past, some memories more reliable than others. Their stories remind me that my own change over the years to adapt to my current feelings and experiences and are not necessarily accurate documentation of my life or those who pass through it. They are only ways for me to make sense of things I cannot understand. I find there is so much beauty to absorb in my new setting that there is little time to reflect on the past if I wish to take everything in. Each morning I wake to the music of tropical birds welcoming the sun’s return as it creeps up behind the lush greenery of the cloud forest. Here, in Copán, the remains of my day are spent in the company of new friends, whose experiences mirror my own, practicing Spanish and discussing life fantasies as the last burst of heat paints the sky pink.