Headed to Honduras: Connecting with my family and culture as a second-generation American
All my life, Honduras was somewhere I never really thought about, it was just the place where my parents grew up. The place I would hear stories about on the news and the place that some people are desperately trying to flee from.
My dad didn't want me to go for my safety, and after 16 years of my mom trying to convince him, he finally said yes. But after hearing all the stories from my dad, I didn't know how to feel. I was worried about my safety. I also had no idea what to pack, or what I needed on the trip.
With all these worries in my head, I definitely needed to talk to someone other than my parents. So, I asked the most Honduran people I know: my Abuela and my Tia Aurora.
“You're going to hear about the stories about murders, about gangs, about how people are leaving the country,” said Tia Aurora Diaz. “But there's no incentive [for] them to show the rest. At least to show, 'no, this is still a place for people to visit and go on vacation.' It's perfectly safe, but you just have to be careful.”
My grandma also weighed in.
“Y también que se cuiden… que …” said my grandma. “Que.. y van a disfrutar el país y van a conocer lugares bonitos, porque Honduras es bonito… pero hay que andar con cuidado también.”
Here, she’s telling me to be careful but also have fun because Honduras is a beautiful place. My grandma always wanted me to go to Honduras with her, so she could show me these beautiful places herself.
Having more conversations about Honduras made me feel more at ease. The day for the trip finally came, and my dad dropped us off at the airport. We said our goodbyes and the plane took off for Honduras.
Before I knew it, I arrived at the place I only heard stories about when I was younger. When I first walked out of the airport, all I could see were the lights of the houses across the city of San Pedro Sula.
I thought I would see everything my family described: the mountains, street vendors selling mangoes on the side of the street, local restaurants. But the city was shrouded in darkness.
My cousin Nelson picked us up from the airport and drove us to my cousin Capy’s house. Nelson and I ended up hanging out the next day, and he took me ziplining. While we were ziplining, I asked him about his tattoos. He has a bunch on his arm, and each one has a story.
“Aqui hay demasiado gente con tattoos…” Nelson said. “Esto tiene significado… esto mi princesa Eva… esa mi llave… ese el nombre de mi hijo… este fue mi primer hijo, este.. Este… este….”
He pointed to each tattoo and told me what it meant. Some represent his children, while others tell the stories of his life and the people he's close to. Talking to him felt a lot easier than I expected, and when I met the rest of my family, it felt like a click. They made me feel like we were close even though it was my first time meeting them. It's funny because even though I had no idea who they were, they knew everything about me. Even from a thousand miles away, they were able to watch me grow up through my mom’s Facebook page.
I wanted to see more, so my grandma took me to see the town where she’s from, called Progreso.
“Where are we right now? We are in front of a church, and this is a park, and there are lots of games," my grandma told me. "It's very pretty and it's raining. I'm so happy that I'm with my grandchildren, spending a good time with my girls.”
While we were in Progreso, I met more of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. They all reminded me of my grandma. I could see where she got her personality, and how she was brought up. It made me understand who she is.
Now I could picture what I’d been hearing from my mom and my grandma my whole life. I got to taste the food, see the sights, and most importantly, connect with my family. Seeing my grandma talk to the people she loved, the people she would call every day, was refreshing.
I can’t really explain it, but when I was there, a weight lifted from my shoulders. All my worries about my future disappeared.
My life in Durham is so busy. I have so much going on all the time, it's hard to find the space to just be present in the moment.
In Honduras, those moments look like waterfalls formed by the Rio Lindo. There were parties filled with people dancing and singing, and even a circus.
This made leaving Honduras extremely hard — especially leaving my family. Even though I’d just met them, I felt so close to them and when I went to say goodbye, tears were running down my face. I didn’t want to leave somewhere I now consider a second home. I learned a lot about myself during my trip to Honduras. Even though I spent such little time there, I’ve never been happier.
After my trip, my mom and I talked with my dad on the way back from the airport. He asked us how the trip went. I hope one day my dad gets to see what Honduras is like for himself. I hope we will be able to see it all together someday.