Saturday, June 28, 2008

Finding Something Special

Tegucigalpa has a certain charm to it. Sometimes you have to look hard for it, but you can usually find something here that will make you smile. Sure, there’s the air pollution that makes it hard to breathe sometimes and forces you to dust and mop the floor much more often than you otherwise would. And the drivers here, good grief, you’ve seen nothing like them!! It’s survival of the bravest! You have to constantly be on the lookout for a car coming at you in your lane! And the motorcycles…no rules for them!

Last night about 15 of us departed from the embassy in 2 motorpool vans to head for a little ray of sunshine in this city of poverty and struggle. We all climbed into the vans and soon found ourselves on very narrow streets, made even narrower by parked cars on one side. At times, I expected to hear scraping as we inched by the cars and sometimes even driving up on the curb. We saw shops that we knew we’d never ever want to go in as well as people standing on the street that we’d never want to meet in a dark alley. We were grateful for the very dark tinting on the windows of our van.

We continued to make our way through these narrow streets for about 20 minutes. Fortunately for me, Sam, one of the marines, was in my van. I asked him if he was prepared to be in this part of the city. He nodded yes. I felt safer.

Finally we arrived at our destination and we were directed to 2 parking spots. Waiting for us were armed guards…and when I say armed, I mean the AK47 variety. We got out of the vans and approached the door of the old building. Once inside, we found seats, noticing that the guards were now posted at the front door and, along with another person taking tickets, scrutinized everyone who entered.

It was a beautiful old building, built in the late 19th century. The ceiling was gorgeous, painted red and gold in an intricate pattern. Three crystal (?) chandeliers hung from the ceiling, providing most of the light in the room. Along both sides were box seats, slightly elevated and above them, another tier of seating. With the lights in the box seats, you almost felt like you were outside on a beautiful evening…lots of white stucco and wooden doorways.

We had arrived for a performance of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Honduras at the Teatro Nacional Manuel Bonilla. Yes, we were at the Symphony! It was a special program with selections by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Henry Mancini, Stephen Sondheim, John Williams (Star Wars!) and George Gershwin. For 2 hours we enjoyed wonderful music by a small, yet very talented young group of musicians. Billed as “Un Concierto de Independencia II,” it was a celebration of our Independence Day. How special was that??? A few times during the performance, you could hear car mufflers and smell exhaust from the street outside. Just a subtle reminder that I was at the symphony in Tegucugalpa, not Fort Worth.

So you see, even in a place like Tegucigalpa, Honduras to find something special, all you have to do is look hard. And at about $4.75, I knew I had found something special.

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