Ten Things I’ve Learned in Honduras

  1. The Beatles sing, “You say good bye and I say hello.    Hello.”  Don and I like to walk and every day we walk a mile and a half to work.  People are very friendly and it is unheard of not to greet someone as you pass by.  Que le vaya bien, go well.   Dios te bendiga, God bless you.  Some try their English on me and say, Hi, or Thank you.  However, another typical greeting is, adios, goodbye.   Did I hear that right? Or are they saying, a Dios, with God?  No, they are definitely saying goodbye.  Someone explained that it seems natural to say goodbye since you are just passing and not stopping to talk.  It doesn’t seem natural to me, I would say, hello.  I have gotten used to the greeting, but I still can’t bring myself to say it, so I say, buenos dias, or simply buenas.  But the Beatles sing in my head each time I hear, adios.



  1. Time has a different meaning. It’s not that everyone is chronically late, it’s that being on time isn’t a top priority.  They are not clock watchers.  Ten minutes late or an hour late, everyone understands.  It is not uncommon to be delayed by a family emergency or by meeting a person on your way who wants to chat.  Both are important events, not to be missed.  It is not considered rude or insulting to be late.  People come to certain events on time, such as school and church, well, sort of on time for church.  Speaking as a chronically late person, I embrace this part of the culture.  Don says I will be late for my own funeral.  Not if it’s held in Honduras.

3.  If someone greets you in English, it doesn’t mean they speak English. By the same token, because I have a pretty good accent, doesn’t mean I’m fluent.  Please speak slowly!

I love how the sun is shining on this house. 20150227_170517

  1. Learning a new language is harder than I thought. It turns out you can’t just add an o to the end of an English word and speak Spanish.  It turns out you have to conjugate verbs.  Lots of them.  It also turns out you have to endure a lot of laughs at your expense.  One day, in English class, I was asked to conjugate the verb pedir, to ask for.  I ask, you ask, he/she asks, they ask, we ask, etc.  Following the rules of regular conjugation, I dutifully conjugated first person singular as   By now you Spanish speakers are understanding my mortification.  I heard roaring from the teacher, the administrator and the janitor.  Little did I know that pedir was an irregular verb, and instead of saying, I ask, I said, I pass gas.
  1. A little bit of jargon goes a long way to endearing yourself to local people. If I refer to my husband as mi mariachi, my singer, or mi pollo, my chicken, I get roars of laughter.  If I refer to myself as catracha, slang for Honduran, I get slaps on the back.

6.  I still don’t know if being called gringa is derogatory or not. The children call out as I pass, gringa!  But they say it with smiles and waves.  It is not uncommon to refer to people by their physical characteristics.  El chino, the Chinaman, for someone with slanty eyes, la negrita, little black one, for someone with dark skin, la gorda, the fat one, for an overweight person.  I guess La Gringa is fitting.  I don’t take offense.

7.  Hondurans are not ready to embrace equal opportunities for gay and lesbian people any time soon.  The stigma is strong.  That being said, it is still nice to live in a country where it is socially acceptable for men to show physical affection toward each.


Students waiting for night school to open.

8.  You can’t change a whole culture, and why would you want to? I met a pastor here (not UCC or DOC) who was building a church.  As he designed the woman’s bathroom, he planned a place for mothers to breast feed their babies.  I asked if he thought women would want to feed their babies in a bathroom.  He hadn’t thought about that.  He stated that he found it distracting when mother’s nurse their babies in church.  Distracting for who?  This culture is very accepting of public breast feeding.  Why would we want to change that?

9. Standing in solidarity with our sisters and brothers is easier on paper than in practice. Walking alongside, without pushing from behind nor pulling from out front involves building relationships.  Just don’t stand there watching from the sidelines…

10. The world does not come to an end by throwing the toilet paper in the toilet.. just once …  by accident.


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