False Teeth and an Infected Toe

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Honduras  ,
Monday, January 29, 2007

Gracias was a town we just had a feeling about. The guide book mentioned a small colonial town, friendly and surrounded by pleasant hilly countryside. Sounded to us like a good place to rest for a couple of days, and the allure of easily accessible hot springs outside of town was for us, like a bee to honey.

We arrived in the early evening to find a pretty, quiet town and were lucky enough to catch the bank before it closed. While Ed queued (you get used to this in Central America), a pretty young girl named Ingrid (clearly bored waiting for her sister) struck up a conversation with Anna. Her little face screwed up into a frown of concentration when Anna´s basic Spanish failed, but she solidly persevered.

Ed survived the interminable queue, leaving with the ´I now have money again´ look. By this time, Ingrid (9) and her sister Marleny (8) had blossomed into our Gracias tour guides, finding us incredible value accomodation directly across the road from their house. They wouldn´t let us go to our room until we promised to ´go play´ with them the next day. What lovely kids. We found ourselves looking forward to it, and when you need Spanish-speaking confidence, kids and animals have more patience than anyone else we know!

The next day or two consisted of relaxing around town, and spending time with the girls who brought a little amiga along called Alma to play with their gringos. Little girls tend to speak very quickly, high, and giggle a lot when they speak Spanish, so they tested our listening skills to the limit.

We had a relaxing time at the hot springs, soaking until the heat got too much for us, and the 6km walk there and back was great exercise. Unfortunately, the fun stopped around this time for Ed who developed an infected toe. Of course, he didn´t want it to hurt, neither did he want to take painkillers or antibiotics and he was seriously concerned for a while that the infection would spread and he would lose the leg.

I am pleased to say that logic eventually prevailed and Ed agreed to take the antiobiotics and it healed up within about 24 hours - no loss of limb either.

But, back to the girls´ house, or ´casita´ (little house) as it more correctly was. They seemed to have 2 bedrooms for 6-7 people and a very small living room. The toilet was outside and didn´t have a door, only a shower curtain (but spotlessly clean). When I visited it (sitting behind the shower curtain feeling a tad vulnerable), a little voice from outside asked if I needed paper. Conveniently enough, there was a paper-sized hole in the curtain to pass it through!

Another interesting thing about the family was that the mother was entirely comfortable with the girls going off with two complete strangers. It was really refreshing to mix with children who haven´t been taught to be stranger-paranoid, who climb trees, fall off, laugh and do it all again. The children were physically very affectionate too, they would hug us often and play rough and tumble.

But, to the ´False Teeth´ part of this entry - the girls´ house had a tiny sign out front advertisig dental services which we thought was odd. As it turned out, Blanca (the mother) with suspiciously white, straight and health-looking teeth (for a Honduranean) made false teeth from the comfort of her sofa, still able to watch the latest telenovela or soap-opera at the same time. We were fascinated to watch her stick each pearly-white tooth individually into some gum-shaped pink stuff. When I asked her where she learned this skill, her response was ´a friend showed me!´

Luckily for Blanca, she should never be lacking for work because in our experience Honduraneans love sweet things. Lots of people either have teeth missing or a glinting gold-tinted smile.

Again, another tough goodbye, but we left promising post cards from our travels and hoping we could see the little girls again in future.
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