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La vida loca! Wished you were there? We did, so here we are on our big adventure! A year in central America, to make sense of this vida loca...

Rachel and Daniel have fun in Gracias!

HONDURAS | Wednesday, 14 January 2009 | Views [3330]

Dan getting down with the kids

Dan getting down with the kids

After Copan Ruinas, Dan took a fancy to head into the highlands.  So off we went via Santa Rosa de Copan to the small colonial town of Gracias (full name Gracias a Dios) in the region of Lempira. We stayed in a very nice hotel and sat shivering in fleeces and waterproofs in the open air restaurant. There was a definite chill in the air and hot soup never tasted so good! There are hot springs near the town, but the cold weather wasn’t encouraging us to get our clothes off! We explored Gracias instead.

 A fine old church

There are some fine old churches, lots of small shops, a market and a nice museum. The Honduran Tourism Institute has some pretty good interpretation displays, better than we’ve seen so far in Central America. Gracias itself is being groomed for tourism: roads are being paved and the town square is getting a face lift. There is even a billigual school targeting the poorest children and training them in IT and ecotourism (and English) so the benefits are shared more widely. That said it’s relatively unspoiled. It is a town of friendly people, going about its own business in traditional handicrafts and agriculture.

We saw the sights in morning. In the afternoon we were at a loose end and decided to visit El Castillo San Cristobal situated conveniently on the hill behind our hotel, more for the view than anything else. We no sooner stepped through the gate to walk up, than we stumbled across four scruffy, smiling kids also looking for something to do. They decided that we would be their entertainment and promptly asked us our names, where we were from and where we were going. Up to the fort we said, we’ll take you they said!

Me with the boys

We introduced ourselves (unfortunately I didn’t write their names down…). They were aged between 6 and 11, a younger brother and sister and an older brother and sister. They took us by the hands and proudly led us up the hill telling us “My Dad plastered the walls” and “My Dad laid the paving” of the restored fort. It was irresistible.

She made it to the top!

In the UK we would have been arrested for child kidnapping, but in this poor backwater of Honduras children have the freedom to be curious, without inhibitions and to make their own fun. They scampered around us and proceeded to climb up the flagpole, sit astride the canon and pose for photos on the digital camera – and then giggle at the result! For the hell of it we decided to get these pictures developed and laminated there and then, to give to new friends.

On the canon

Once again we were taken by the hand and led by the eldest boy into the centre of town to find a photographic shop. Adults viewed us with mild curiosity and smiles, but weren’t disturbed in any way. The shop had all the latest technology and the camera’s memory card was fed into the same Kodak machine you see back home in the supermarkets. The kids were fascinated by the whole process of seeing the photos come up on the screen, being selected for printing and watching them pop out of the slot below. They were passed from hand to hand and then to the shop assistant who prepared them for lamination.

Our young companions excitedly followed him behind the counter, standing at his elbow, watching his every move and fingering the results. The staff had amazing patience and never got annoyed at young hands flying around expensive equipment. At the same time, these children seemed to know the limits without having to be told. We are much less tolerant and kids are more highly strung back home.

We left them shortly afterwards with a record of our afternoon’s fun and headed for a well earned coffee. Who knows what their friends and family thought, but we’ll be remembered in Gracias and we won’t forget our time there either!

 

Tags: forts, fun, gracias, kids

 

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Argh!  Well, maybe not pirates this time, but dig the colour-coordinated bandanas!

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