For the past week I’ve been staying in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. You’ll find all the amenities of plush five star hotels, fast food restaurants, and megamalls, but you’ll hardly come across another traveler. Because of the low volume of tourists, hotels are considerably more expensive and in order to be relatively close to a “backpacker’s budget,” I was staying in a place that intermittenly had water, where I bathed myself with a tub of water and a bucket. However, looking back on it I was quite fortunate. Water shortages here are frequent, making water a privileged commodity and there I was with a garbage can full of it. It also makes you realize how little water you actually need to clean yourself.
Yesterday I found out my former hotel was notorious for its late night sexual solicitations. I guess that would explain the unannounced 2AM instrusion I receieved, followed by another one at 3AM, by a fellow who proceeded to offer me a blowjob in exchange for a room. It was then I decided I had enough of that place. Yet actually my entire neighborhood could be considered a red-light district as my current hotel, located across the street, is also known for prostitution. Despite the constant army marches of ants and the occasional cockroach, my new room is a huge improvement. It did, however, cost an additional 20 Lempiras, which is equivalent to a little more than $1 USD, but I’ve been trying to live in accordance locally and that 20 Lempiras could buy you a meal, or for me, my daily licuado and rosillas.
The owners of Hotel Mariposa are Chinese, as I also find the red-light district to simultaenously be the Chinatown of Tegucigalpa. Therefore to most local Hondurans I don’t stick out; most assume I’m another immigrant. But to the local Chinese, they know I’m not from around here. I find myself isolated in a lonely cultural category, kind of how it is for most Asian Americans in the United States. By trying to bridge that gap, I seem to be using my Mandarin almost more than my Spanish. Yesterday, I was tutoring English to the young daughter in Spanish and explaining it to the mother in Chinese. It earned me a free wonton soup dinner for the night. Makes me grateful for all my parents gave me.
True, the capital city doesn’t have the exotic beaches or underwater excursions that Honduras is known for, but there’s life here; the day-to-day struggle to make it and that, has always been so much more real to me.
(Toilet that wouldn't flush)
(My tub and bucket for showers)
(My room, more than enough)