Friday, December 25, 2009

Like a box of chocolates without the box

I really do love life here. There are some things that make life different than perhaps what I would angle for in my heart of hearts, but there are those things everywhere. Sometimes people focus on the differences here as in my title...they see the fancy box that covers over so many things in the first world (everyone drives, everything is clean and sanitized for your protection, etc.) and sometimes miss the strawberry almond centers and pecan clusters around them that are really different and interesting. We may not have the box here in many ways and that brings its own pros and cons, but we got chocolates for sure...many the same like the milk chocolate carmel you know and love, and a few just a bit different like the lemon creams that taste good but when you first see them you wonder if you are going to like them. Confused? It is late, the creative nougat is flowing...give me a break, and just keep reading about some differences here in Honduras before I doze off.

Constantly noticing people staring is one of those differences I noticed during our "date afternoon" two days ago. I asked playfully to Valerie "What is everyone staring at?" and in the past for the most part she has either not seen the staring or has chosen to ignore it...this time she quickly surveyed and answered "You." Tall....white....bald....shoe size....jacket size...I have it all to add up to curious staring wherever I go. Especially when I pass women regularly that sometimes only come up to my elbows. Talk about needing to be aware of your surroundings and how you are living your testimony of life when everyone is looking.

The vast majority of these differences are actually pretty good things. A funny difference would be seeing Santa at the Honduran Wal-Mart (they own the store here Hyper Paiz among many others they own here, further tightening their grip in their continued march towards world domination, but I digress) and instead of the children wanting to see him greeted with Christmas carols, we were instead listening to "Cars" by Gary Numan (think mid 80s) and Santa's helper was a woman wearing...well the skirt was probably tailored for an elf, but she was a regular sized 20 year old. Different.

Food court for a snack while shopping and banking (banking is a whole other "different") is different...when you can get the regular US fair along with some Honduran type goodies, finding a bubble tea shop where we could get sushi was a welcome difference. Valerie finding a patient to talk to while we waited was not different...she runs into people all the time like that. In this case it was a patient who was doing something apparently fairly common here, bringing all five of her grandchildren to window shop and play in the play ground, where the mall had provided a clown to actually play and have activities for the kids. I do not think they bought anything at all...just used it for entertainment.

Flat tires are another difference. I was just thinking last week that it had been a long time since we had to deal with one, as they are a very common occurrence here. Luckily I spotted this one in our covered parking spot, and whipped out the little compressor we have, which worked well enough to get us ample pressure until we could pay the $2 for a plug to fix the nail that was freshly embedded. Total repair time, less than 10 minutes. Like I said...they are a fairly common occurrence here. I was happy to have the time to look more carefully at our tires on the Musso, which are holding up remarkably. Those Pirelli Scorpions really are great tires.

Other Christmas differences than just the way Santa rolls here would be the fireworks and firecrackers at midnight of the 25th (or is that 11:59 PM December 24th?) which has decreased considerably with the mayor's office trying to cut down on kids with blown off fingers/hands (thus the bigger fireworks display last night, to try to encourage people not to do it themselves), but is still quite loud. Everyone celebrates with a big meal (and loud music) and gifts at midnight, essentially using the 25th as a big sleep in day, relaxation, etc. That means businesses close early on Christmas Eve (similar to the US) but several restaurants are open on the 25th...because that is not the big day. This too has changed because it used to be everything was closed...but now it is only government (of course), banks and most gas stations on the 25th...even our grocery store across the street was open all day. With Valerie under the weather (bad cold) we had pizza tonight for supper...closed yesterday afternoon they were (we tried then too), but open all day today with no problems.

Many more daily life differences as well I could site, most of them positive (how about the weather here for starters, friendly folks almost wherever you go, hospitality like we experienced last night just dropping a friend off at her house and getting invited in for a bite to eat at 8:30 PM, the list goes on), but last one tonight is this stereo display at a big store in the mall. Nothing like seeing all the models they have for sale displayed....if only the faces were on them to actually see them in action. No doubt they are removed for security reasons and trotted out only when a customer just struck me as something I had never seen before, even here. I now expect to see the $1,000 boom boxes that thump in people's homes and almost need their own room...I expect to see people wearing clothing with English phrases that are sexually inappropriate for starters, and to boot usually not for their gender....and I expect at a Wal-Mart owned store to be treated like I should be grateful for the opportunity to shop in their store....but this was something just a tad bit different.

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