This summer would’ve made six years since I last stepped foot on Honduran soil. With my often-hectic schedule, I didn’t sit and really think about my upcoming trip to my parents’ home country. I ran my pre-trip errands, packed up my maletas (suitcases) — one filled with clothes and toiletries, the other filled with hair care products for women in Ciriboya, a section of Colón, Honduras — and sent the last of several text messages and emails to friends and colleagues about my trip. But not once did I actually sit and think about my return to Honduras. When the cab driver pulled up to JFK International Airport, I felt a knot forming in my stomach. As I walked up to check-in, anxiety set in. And as I waited to board the plane alongside my parents, a million and one questions came to mind: How will my Spanish sound? Will the products meant for the women and girls get sent to aduana (customs)? How will my family react when they see me? Can I really go without the Internet or connectivity for two whole weeks?
It’s funny how God has a way of easing your worries. After fastening my seatbelt, I said a prayer and swapped fear with faith. As the plane landed, it was clear I was home.
I’ve visited Honduras when I was six and twice in my late teens and early twenties, but this trip was different. I had a greater appreciation for my culture and country. I chose not to pay attention to whether or not I placed the accent on the right letter or rolled my “r”s perfectly, but that I was experiencing each and every moment. Like the moment my Abuela showed me how to pick the perfect guanábana and make freshly squeezed juice; the time the parental unit and I kicked it with my tios and primos by the beach, grilling and sharing laughs, or riding at what seemed like lightning speed across an open field on my cousin’s moto as punta (a traditional Garifuna form of music and dance) blasted in the distance.
I spent a few days in Roatán, hitting up the clear water beaches and checking out the touristy locales of West Bay and West End. However, when I think back to my recent trip home, it’s the time spent in el campo that has me longing for my return On our last night family filled the front yard of our home, trading childhood stories and commenting on current events. Love and laughter were present. Once everyone left, bags were packed, casabe (a bread made from yucca) included, and items were placed back on shelves for the next stay. My goal was to get a full night’s rest to prepare for the trip back to New York, but I could barely sleep.
That morning I fought back tears as the van taking us to the airport pulled out of the yard and onto the red-dirt-filled road. Several of my aunts and uncles, who’d gathered in the yard to say bye, grew smaller and smaller in the back window as the car advanced. My uncle’s question, “When are you coming back?” was still fresh in my mind. Although I was returning “home,” to a place I had known since birth, I knew I was already there, the place where generations of my family established as their home. The place that I had come to know as home.
As Maya Angelou once said, “…the truth is you can never leave home.”
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