Published: October 22nd 2008September 21st 2008
As the plane slowed down to land on the runway upon descending at the San Pedro Sula’s International Airport, I wondered about my maternal grandfather’s own arrivals in Honduras during the first half of the last century… His business trips to this country set in motion a long chain of events that ultimately produced the reason for my current visit to this lush and beautiful place.
After having five children with my grandmother, my grandfather decided to start a new family in Honduras. In due time, he had three children with his new wife and lived happily in this country for some time. The relationship eventually ended though and he returned to his own country to form yet another family there.
But something extraordinary occurred in a way that to this date, I do not fully understand. Somehow my grandmother’s family and my grandfather’s Honduran family met and became a very close extended family. My early memories have always included these wonderful family members and the deep love between them and our side of the family.
My cousin Josefina’s oldest daughter Jousie is now getting married and though I am recovering from my extended and exhausting Amsterdam trip,
I could not miss the grand event (I actually had to travel to Honduras with only a short stopover in Atlanta to pick my sons up and refill the clean clothes in my suitcase).
Shortly after our arrival and check-in at the Hilton Princess in San Pedro Sula, my cousin Lorena arrived to help us get acquainted with the city and the key locations for the wedding. She took us to her mother’s (my Aunt Fita’s) home where we met several family members.
Since I had not been in Honduras since December 1994, it was amazing to see the changes that had taken place in almost 14 years… My cousins’ children blossomed into young adults and formed a veritable beautiful family!
During the rest of Friday, Sergio, Joaquín, and I joined some of the activities leading to the wedding the following day, including a visit to the church and attending an evening party hosted by the groom’s family. It was a great opportunity to meet Nicholas (Nicky), his parents, family and friends.
The wedding ceremony was planned to start at 7:00 PM Saturday… Considering that one thousand guests had been invited to the wedding, Sergio, Joaquín,
and I arrived at the church at about 5:50 PM with plenty of time to secure good seats… On hindsight we could have delayed our arrival by another half an hour and we still would have been the first guests to arrive.
The long wait was worth every second! The ceremony was amazingly beautiful with a full string ensemble and a choir performing classical music by Schubert, Wagner and other composers. Several family members participated in the ceremony, including my nephew Fernando, his father, Salvador, and my niece Grace performing the Ave Maria… They are all accomplished singers and their performance was breathtaking!
Following the ceremony, we all headed for a nearby country club where the huge crowd of guests celebrated Jousie’s and Nicky’s wedding. Some of the guests worked on the celebration until past 4:00 AM on Sunday. Sergio, Joaquín and I left relatively early at about 2:00 AM.
Though we had gotten very little sleep during the entire weekend, the three of us decided to take advantage of a full Sunday in Honduras to visit the Copán Mayan ruins. These plans only took final shape during Jousie’s and Nicky’s wedding reception.
As of Sunday
morning, it was still unclear how many of our family members (if any) would join us; the party the night before would make it difficult to depart at the planned 7:00 AM target, but we set up an early checkpoint so that we could coordinate the trip right before departure. In the end, my cousin Lorena and several of my nephews and nieces would join us in Copán, but they departed San Pedro Sula at least thirty minutes after we did.
The expected two-and-a-half-hour drive to the Copán site became a three-hour drive because of extremely poor road conditions. At least two large mudslides had completely erased portions of the road and motor vehicles were being detoured so that bulldozers could clear the mess. Aside from the large mudslides, there were also other hazards (e.g. potholes and sinkholes) that forced a rather slow driving pace.
In spite of the road challenges and lack of sleep, we were rewarded by excellent weather the entire day. Having Sergio, Joaquín, and some members of our Honduran family in Copán made it a much different experience to the solo experiences that I usually have when I travel.
Copán was one of
the most important sites in Mayan history. At the most Eastern boundary of Mayan territory, this site is famous for the rich record of hieroglyphic inscriptions found there. Aside from the famous “Hieroglyphic Stairway” that recounts the site’s dynastic history with over two thousand hieroglyphs (which we were able to see up close), Mayan glyphs appear everywhere in the site, on stelae, on walls, and even on various sculptures.
Copan also showcases several examples of the Mayan “false arch”, an architectural device that Mayans used to enclose areas between walls or columns… Though not as advanced as the real arch used prominently by Romans in their public works, the false arch appears to have served the Mayans well as they built their monumental works.
Aware of the demanding walks up and down the Mayan monuments in very hot and humid weather, I tried not to be too ambitious about my coverage of this great Mayan site. The “youngsters” in the group were having visible trouble keeping pace with their crazy uncle. On the upside, I was truly enjoying their presence and lively conversation. I just need to return to Copán one day and spend a few days exploring
.. at the reception
this great city, as it so deserves.
When hunger and thirst were menacing to produce a mutiny in the ranks, we left the Mayan site and headed for the nearby town of Copán Ruinas for a nice lunch in one of the local hotels… This was another great opportunity for Sergio, Joaquín and me to get to know more about our Honduran family.
There are more photos below