I am in Siguatepeque, Honduras, to improve my Spanish language skills. I am studying at the Spanish Institute of Honduras for three weeks. On Wednesday, I flew from New Orleans to Houston, and then on to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The school sent a driver to pick me up for the 90 minute drive to Siguatepeque.
Siguatepeque, or Sigua as the locals say, is a city of about 80,000 people. It’s nestled in the heartland of Honduras, right in the middle, nestled high in the mountains. Elevation is about .7 miles, or 1,100 meters.
Siguatepeque seems to be growing. It’s equidistant between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, the two largest cities of Honduras. There’s a superior highway running between these two cities, just as good as any in the US. Good roads, an excellent location and a highland climate make the town attractive to newcomers.
Wednesday was my first day in Honduras, or 1/2 day. I arrived at the airport around 12:30 in the afternoon. My driver and I traveled another hour and a half to get to the city of Siguatepeque. I dropped off my luggage at my home that I share while I am here, then spent a few hours taking care of banking, shopping and other details that I needed to settle for a three week stay. On Thursday I unpacked my things in to the house I am sharing with my hostess, her niece, and another student. My hostess is a widow of nearly 70 years old. She is providing both room and board, but I purchased a few snacks and beverages for my own use, too.
Purchasing things in Honduras can sometimes be hard work. For instance, personal care products are in locked glass boxes in some stores. When one needs deodorant, one must find an attendant to unlock the box. Then the product is hand-delivered by the attendant to the cashier. I didn’t bring a large tube of toothpaste. All I head was a travel-sized tube with me.
To buy toothpaste I had to visit a special section of the store that was guarded by an attendant. I gave her the toothpaste, and she put it in a locked, plastic box to take to the cashier to be unlocked and purchased. Is it expensive? I bought a medium size tube of Colgate for 23 lempiras (one dollar). If the store managers were hoping to catch me stealing the dollar bargain toothpaste, they were disappointed. I dutifully carried my toothpaste in the large plastic box to the front of the store.
Friday was my first day of lessons. As I suspected, I need to work on verbs. My Spanish skills have gotten rusty, and I misuse verb tenses more than I previously thought. I returned to the school on Saturday morning for my second four hours of instruction and practice. I am not wasting my time here.
Saturday afternoon, I spent looking around the downtown area as well as getting a hair cut. I wanted to do that before I left, but due to a miscommunication with my regular stylist I missed getting my hair fixed before traveling. That was regrettable. My hair had gotten past the point of looking like anything this side of decent.
I arrived in Honduras looking like a drowned cat with cow licks all over. I got a great cut and style for ten bucks in downtown Siguatepeque. I thought about buying a blow dryer, since I neglected to pack one. However, I think I may just go the salon for a wash and style once or twice a week. That would probably cost five bucks each time. Why buy a new dryer when I can get an excellent style job for Now 5 dollars?
The one negative thing about getting my hair styled for $5 once a week is that the hair salon had no ventilation. Nothing. No open windows, no open door, and of course, no forced air through an air-conditioning system. By the time the stylist was finished with the blow dyer and flat iron, I felt like a glowing ember of charcoal. I must say though the finished product looked very good, indeed.
This morning, I visited a local church. The service was al fresco, as I think the floors are being renovated in the main building. Under a large tent, revival-style, we enjoyed an excellent service. It was just the right temperature for an outdoor service, probably near 70 with sunshine and a steady cool breeze.
It’s hard to tell just how good the sermon was, as a few other Americans came in late, took the chairs behind me, and talked nonstop. I think the three young people are teaching in a bilingual school in town. They were blatantly rude and bored. However instead of leaving or walking away from the tent, they stayed in their seats and talked loudly to each other throughout the service. The image of the Ugly American came to my mind. They were far too superior to care about those seated around them. It was just horrible to hear them carry on and on, laughing and talking through the service. Besides, they weren’t even saying anything particularly interesting, If one feels compelled to talk in church, at least make the chatter interesting to those of us who have to listen to it.
After church, I ate at Pizza Hut with a classmate. If anyone has read my posts when I lived in Honduras a few years ago, one might recall what I said about Pizza Hut of Honduras. It’s rather classy. It’s a nice restaurant with a hostess that seats you and a full menu that has items beyond pizza. I settled on the chicken lasagna and a side salad.
I enjoyed being seated in a place that knew that air-conditioning, if you have it, should be kept on enough time to cool the room, as well as leaving it on sufficiently to keep it cool. Most places in Honduras, if an air-conditioner is on the premises, put it on just long enough to make the room a few degrees below 85 or so. When it hits 80, the manager or owner snaps it off with a remote. Not Pizza Hut. The air stayed for my entire meal. Remarkable, really.
My friend and I enjoyed our meal, paid, and left. We visited a grocery store before returning home for a few odds and ends, such as snacks and soap. Then we took a taxi home for 25 lempiras each. That translates to $1.06 per passenger. I’ve already used the taxi service 3 times, and every time, the rate is the same. I think $1.06 per person is a good deal, don’t you?
Tomorrow I hit the books again, as I continue my ongoing struggle to master the Spanish language. Until next time, hasta la vista.