Our ears started to feel the pressure as we climbed higher into the Honduran mountainside. As you leave the city and ease into the rolling hills right outside Tegucigalpa, it is as different as night and day. The city is a bustling mix of people rushing to and fro', curbside vendors selling their freshly-made tortillas, students in their uniforms rushing to class or grabbing a bite of lunch, and traffic. Lots of traffic. To this day, as many times as I've been a passenger in a vehicle on the streets of Teguz, I am still on pins and needles and am known to utter the occasional "gasp." It's not uncommon for a large bus packed with locals to come within an inch of your car before stopping on a dime in the middle of an intersection. With only an occasional street light there to govern the disorderly mess, aggressive horn-honking is just a part of the process and it is very loud and heard on a regular basis. So when Hollie takes me to one of my favorite spots outside the city, I know it's because she loves me so much that she is willing to go through all the chaos to get there. Driving in Honduras is not for the faint of heart. She's the best.
Valle de los Ángeles (The Valley of Angels or Valle as we call it) is an open-air market and is true to its name, located in the valley of the gorgeous hills about a 40-minute drive outside the craziness of the city. It is not desolate however, as you still see people offering their wares on the side of the road, mostly food as they roast corn and hope they'll be the one who gets your business as you pass by. There are places where you can buy fruit and the most gorgeous flowers grown right in the rich local soil. When you pull into Valle, it too bustles with the hum of conversation and laughter, the colors of the products offered, children playing, and the smell of delicious food. It's reminiscent of tourist attractions in any American city with t-shirts, jewelry, and vendors selling their handmade wares and novelties of every imaginable kind. The mix of people look mostly Honduran, but you see an occasional American or Asian person, and I always wonder if those people are tourists like me or live and work in the city somewhere. Most of the Americans we come across are included in the few that make Honduras their home and many work in the American Embassy. I have surmised in my years visiting that, unless it's beautiful Roatan off the northeast shore, no one would ever choose Honduras as a vacation destination. No one visits developing countries on vacations or one that's considered the murder capital of the world. Relaxing is what vacations are all about, and safety plays a huge role in your relaxation. It was brought to my attention that possibly many of the locals are from towns outside the area who are coming to this tourist attraction to explore for the very first time. I guess it's much like many Americans who have never seen Disney World or the ocean.
But you can visit Valle without having to spend "Disney World" bucks. Everything is reasonably priced and you can enjoy a day of lunch and shopping without breaking the bank. This is where I go to add to my small collection of hand-woven Honduran baskets. As you can see, there are thousands to choose from and every one is colorful and useful. It thrills me to know that they are woven by local hands. It's my absolute favorite thing to do at Valle and we try to go every visit. But if you visit often, then you know of places off the beaten path that are quiet and restful and one such place is Hollie's favorite coffee shop. We were gravely disappointed this visit to find this little cafe closed because the owner was vacationing in the US. The nerve of her, not checking with us first! Everyone needs a vacation I suppose! This visit we were excited to find a festival going on. Local schools were attending with their bands and dancers in traditional Honduran costumes, so I was elated as this is the first time I've been able to experience this. The Honduran people love to dress up, and it is not uncommon to see them at church in their fanciest clothes, jewelry, and shoes showing off immaculate pedicures. They are passionate people for good food, color, music, and dance. Experiencing the culture is always one of the highlights of visiting Valle when I'm in Honduras.
We had lost all track of time and realized it was getting late. Making our way back to our car (where a sweet man had kept watch over it AND hand-washed it while we were shopping for around $5.00! -- uh, repeat --that's parking, security, AND the hand-wash), we began the journey back home. We passed the roadside vendors still hard at work and the beautiful-flower growers and descended into the city, still quite alive in spite of the fact that the darkness was falling around us. Much to my delight (I don't like to be in the city after dark because I am a great big chicken), we pulled into Hollie's driveway just as the sun had ushered in the moon for its nightly watch and I sighed with relief to be home safely and with the satisfaction of our wonderful day at Valle. Then I welcomed a shower, my bed, and the quiet reprieve prepared for me on the ground floor of this place I call my second home.
Posted by CC
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