Yes, I am a gringuita who married a Nicaraguan. He has family in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the United States of America. But that’s not the family I am describing today. Today I am thankful for my Honduran family and for everything that they taught me along the way. They are the family that took me in when I was just a gringuita with no thoughts of marrying Moya. They are the family that loved me, the chelita, just as I was and allowed me to share in their struggles and their triumphs and fall in love with their culture and their life. Today I am saying thank you to Tia Doris, Fernando, Mama Tela, Miriam, Carlitos, Fanny, Papi, Waldina, and Mami Tila.
The Carcamo family “adopted” me when I first visited Honduras in 2006. I went with a mission group and stayed behind to help the mission organization get Christmas supplies ready to deliver to the children. I was alone… until the Carcamo family rescued me. They took me to their house to stay and to Choluteca to play soccer. They talked to me in rapid Spanish that I didn’t understand telling me about every tree and plant under the sun and what their uses were. They explained the rules of soccer and the rules of life in Honduras. I spent weekends with them when I was teaching at a nearby school and eventually when I moved to the other side of the country, I still came back to spend a week a month with them at their house. They are my family and that won’t ever change.
They took me into their house, into their lives, in a special way. They weren’t a “host family”. They were never paid a penny to have me in their house, but they took me in with so with more care and enthusiasm than I had ever experienced in my life. They gave me shelter, food, and most importantly love. They taught me how to be Honduran and how to appreciate life.
It started out a little rocky. I remember the first time we went to wash our hands in the pila before dinner. I followed the girls, but they wanted me to go first. I had never washed my hands in anything but a water faucet. I didn’t know the proper etiquette to washing my hands in the pila. Did I need to dip the bowl of water first? Did I need to pour water on my hands and then use soap followed by a rinse? Do I put the soap on before I wet my hands? Am I allowed to dip more than once if needed? I was freaking out inside. I’m not sure how I did it or if they thought it was strange, but I remember being terrified of doing it wrong. I made it through, and after that I paid really close attention to how they washed their hands. I learned that there is a general way it is done, but that everyone does it different—same goes for washing clothes. Phew!
They taught me that being poor wasn’t the same as being unhappy.
They taught me that while Honduran men work hard, Honduran women work harder.
They taught me that you should always have extra food for surprise visitors at lunch and dinner time.
They taught me how to love Honduran soccer, tops, and piñatas.
They taught me that you can’t judge a family by their house.
They taught me how to make traditional desserts and I taught them how to make sugar cookies.
They taught me Spanish without even trying. They just talked to me like I understood every word they were saying, and eventually I did.
They taught me not to go out in the midday sun and how much of a difference the shade can make. (I don’t know about where you live, but where I live there isn’t much of a difference. Man, where they live there is a huge difference!)
They taught me all about not rushing and about “la hora hondureña”.
They showed me what family was all about.
They taught me everything that I needed to know culturally. They prepared me for my future husband (even though I had yet to meet him). I will always be forever grateful for the role they played, and continue to play, in my life. I was so excited when I was able to take my daughter to visit them last year. I hope to take her back soon so that they can teach her to be Hondureña de corazón like they taught me to be.