An Honduran Welcome by Giovanni Wolmers--Professional/Final Draft
The sky shimmers a soft-cerulean blue. White-fluffy clouds pat the roof of the van. At this altitude, I see the two stoic mountains that hug the hidden city of Tegucigalpa. I lower the window and take a deep breath. The smell of evergreen leaves and wet dirt saturates the air in my lungs. Street venders on the road compete with each other trying to sell their merchandise. They wave bags of churros above their heads and yell, “Quince Lempiras!” I feel overwhelmed to finally see what my mother describes to be her homeland, Honduras.
My ears pop as we approach the bottom of the mountain. My mom points with her index finger and says, “La Catedral de Suyapa.” The colossal cathedral captures my attention. It has a golden trim around its pointy roof. Its gothic style portrays the country’s catholic religion. We make a turn, and the paved road shifts into a narrow stretch of brick tiles. My back pushes against the seat as we go up a steep hill. We stop, and my mom assures that we are here.
I suddenly remember why we’re taking this trip. I open the door and a tickling feeling takes root on the bottom of my stomach. “Come on, come meet your grandma,” my mother says.
I anxiously ask her, “How big is grandma?”
“Don’t worry about it,” my mother replies. She combs her black hair to the side.
I impatiently bite my fingernails and beg, “Does she speak English?”
“I’m not telling. Come on baby!”
“I’m not a baby! I’m nine years old,” I reply, and my mother pushes me through a narrow alley. Her excitement doesn’t let here walk. She runs through the dirt passageway as I try to keep up. We pass a scarlet, an indigo and even a crimson-color house. My mother stops to catch her breath. “That’s it! The emerald green house,” my mom says.
She unties the wrapped shoelace around the gate and opens the latch. We find a garden full of the country’s flower, the Orchid. It dances to the rhythm of the gentle breeze as my mom finds an opening through the lemon grass. She squeezes through and I follow. I’ve never seen my mother act like this before. I guess coming back to her country rejuvenates her. I see a tiny old woman with gray long hair. My mother embraces her and says, “Mama.” Then the old woman embraces me. A feeling of warmth in my heart replaces the tickling in my stomach. “Que grande!” my grandma says. “I ssee he has grrowne frruom the last picsure you’vse sent,” she continues. Her English isn’t that good. She has a strong Spanish accent. We proceed into the house.
Two giant couches furnish the living room; Family pictures decorate the aged walls; and I spot the nameplate that I made for my grandma in Art class. It sits on the coffee table and screams out Esmeralda in bright-green letters. My grandmother shows us the bedrooms. There five. We draw closer to the middle of the house, and my pupils contract from the sunlight. There‘s no roof, and we follow my abuelita to the washboard. “Here the pila,” she says. This smooth concrete cube is where the water for washing cloth is stored. Right next to it, is the bathroom. The dark and dingy cave has no electricity. Finally, we come to the kitchen. There are all sorts of spices and condiments racked up on the shelf. There’s a personal stove range. The chipping of its paint shows that it’s constantly used.
I bring my suitcase from the car inside the house and set them in the guest room. I ask my grandma if I may take a shower. She nods her head yes and continues to talk to my mother. I depart to the bathroom, but a giant bookshelf distracts me. It contains hundreds upon hundreds of books in Spanish and English. There are books ranging from Ruben Dario to William Shakespeare. I’m impressed and continue my way towards restroom. I enter the bathroom, and there’s no light. I turn the water from the shower on. Freezing cold icicles run down my spine. My skin shivers and tints to a bluish hue. I realize how easy it is to take little things for granted, such as hot water, back home. I dry myself with a towel and rush back to the room.
The sun gently falls onto the horizon. I stare out the window watching a pair of humming birds flap their wings. I hear a kissing sound, “muah, muah, muah!” It’s coming from the wall. I get closer and a gecko with blue spots comes in to focus. It seems to have a caught a hairy spider. I’ve never noticed nature’s raw beauty before. I treasure the moment and mom calls, “Giovanni get ready for dinner my sister and your cousins are coming over.” I hurry to my room and comb my hair. Then, I set off to the pila and wash my hands. When I return to the living room I’m surprised to see all my family. I say, “hi” as my mother introduces me to them. “This is you aunt Xiomara, and those are your cousins Angel, Angela, Aracelis, Carlos, Kency and Yarith.” They all start asking me questions. “How old are you? You like Honduras? How do thing differ here from the U.S.?” My cousins see me as person not as a foreigner. They take me outside and we start playing a game. This makes me feel accepted and part of the family.
“Have you ever played Capiador before?” Carlos asks.
I answer, “No.”
“I’m going to try to hit the people in the middle with this ball. Then Aracelis, which is on the other side will catch it and do the same. All you have to do is try to avoid getting hit by the ball and stay in the middle.”
“Okay,” I agree and the mixed game of “Dodge Ball” and “Monkey in the Middle” begins. Carlos waves his brown hair out his eyes and throws the ball. I jump as the ball comes zooming pass me. Aracelis catches the ball with her long fingers and throws it back. “Boom,” the ball hits Angel on his head, and he hits the floor. “You’re out,” Carlos screams with his deep voice. Angel wipes his hands, moves to the side, and sits out. After twenty throws, only curly-haired Kency and I are left. Carlos locks his brown eyes on me, but vehemently throws the ball at Kency. He fakes her out, and I’m the last person standing. He says, “Since you didn’t get hit you get to pick who will throw the ball next game.”
A ringing of a bell from my grandma’s house interrupts us. My cousins say, “Vamos, the food is ready!” We dash back to the house, pass the lemon grass, and enter the dining room. There’s a table set for ten. I clean my hands and take a seat next to my mother. My grandma brings ripe plantains with sour cream on her left hand while carrying freshly open bottles of coke in the other. My aunt helps my grandma out by bringing the fried tortillas with ground beef topped off with cabbage and tomato sauce made from scratch. My grandma places a pot of yellow rice and a bowl of three-bean salad on the middle of the table and sits down.
The table comes to life to the sound of cracking tortillas. Everybody has a smile on their face. We engage in an all out Honduran chat.
Grandma start, “So, how are thing in the U.S.?”
My mom answers, “Good, I have an excellent job.”
Carlos starts telling me that he got a new pet. My aunt tells Yarith to take her elbows off the table. Angela and Angel fight for the last piece of plantain. Kency interrupts Carlos to tell me about her new bracelet. My mother asks me if I remember how much money did we spend in gas. Many conversations are going all at once. Even though, Carlos is talking to me about his pet, I can follow my mom’s conversation about gas and still make a flattering remark about Kency’s bracelet. Everybody is at the edge of their seats enjoying the intersection of information without traffic lights.
The food is scrumptious. My mom asks abuelita for the recipe. She’s delighted to give it to her. After three enchiladas, my belly pops out of my shirt. My grandma says, “Have one more, you need to get some meat on those bones.”
“I can’t,” I say, but she stills brings me another and another.
All of a sudden, the lights go off. My grandmother calms everyone down, “Don’t worry this is regular.” The country has a shortage on electricity. The hydroelectric plant shuts the power from ten at night to seven in the morning every day. My grandma lights candles and places them around the living room. Everyone takes a seat on the giant couches. My grandma grabs her stool, places it in the middle of the room, and sits. She starts telling the terrifying story of the legendary “Llorona.”
“Fifty years, when I was about Giovanni’s age, there was a woman that lived near a river. She was married and had two children. Her husband used to cheat on her. One day she catches him. She runs home and waits for her husband to return. He knocks and she opens the door.” My grandma pauses. “I don’t know if I should keep on.”
We all shout out with anticipation, “Que paso, what happened next!”
“Okay if you insist!” She continues, “The enraged woman clutches her fist tightly and lets him have one right on the middle of his cranium. He falls to the floor and blood trickles down the hacked skull. She goes crazy and slaughters her children as well.” Abuelita takes a deep breath.
My heart starts to beats faster.
“The townspeople discover the gruesome murder. They decide to take justice in their hands, and tie the crazed women to a light post. People pick up rocks from the ground. They pummel her to death. From time to time people still hear her cries in the middle of the night, ‘Mis hijos, where are my children!’”
My grandmother lets her gray hair down, “Boo!” We all scream and some of us even wet our pants. She laughs and says, “I warned you.” Everybody gives her a kiss and says, “Good night abuelita.”
I depart to my room. The only thing I can think of is all the fun I had today. I lie down on my bed and rest my head on the chicken-feathered pillow. I close one eye and then the other. I will remember this day in which I learned my culture and realized that nothing is more important than family. I grasp my blanket in hopes of not letting this moment of love and acceptance pass by me.