Football, fireflies and frijoles

Olympia (Honduras) played Pumas (Mexico) at the national stadium in Teguc last week. Electric atmosphere, including four appropriately Mexican waves going round the stadium: an explosion of flares, confetti and fierce national pride.

Spent the weekend in La Esperanza, a small village in the mountains: properly local with traditional dress, cowboy hats, horses. Cut into the mountainside was a beautiful shrine to the Virgin Mary, and we climbed above it for panoramic views of the pueblo.

Flagging down one of the ubiquitous pick-up trucks that billow clouds of dust in their wake, I asked the driver if he could take us to the nearest beautiful waterfall. We weren’t disappointed: a great cascade plunged into the forest, a shimmering rainbow at its base.
A fistful of Lempira never seems to go down; in fact it swells immeasurably when you break a 500 (about £12.50). Food is largely frijoles (refried beans), tortillas and meat.

I’m now working at Lancetilla Botanical Gardens in Tela, on the Caribbean north coast. We hitch a pick-up into town every couple of days for beautiful sunsets and palm-fringed golden-sand beaches. The gardens are in the middle of the rainforest and we live in huts on stilts, surrounded by jungle.

A lizard lives behind our curtain to filter out more offensive insects, and we’ve befriended a loyal pair of dogs, christening them Monty and Python. Monty tends to trot quietly behind us; Python prefers to slobber like a thing possessed and try to eat Monty. At night the grass glitters with thousands of fireflies as if sprinkled with fairy dust, and the forest chirps and twitters.

Tela, Honduras – 17th March 2005

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