by Analisa and Jeff DeGrave
Hues of blue, green, brown and misty white
Sin duda, the highlight of our travels with the Farmer to Farmer delegation to Honduras, was our time in the small community of Río Negro. Located in the cloud forest of Montaña de Comayagua National Park, Río Negro has a pleasant climate and a landscape that defies the camera’s technological ability to capture the depth of its beauty, one that is defined by hues of blue, green, brown and misty white that comes in with the clouds. Our first night in Río Negro we saw this vista lit up by the warming red and orange hues of a sunset while every day after it included a palette of vibrant flowers, electric-blue butterflies, and the deep greens and reds of coffee plants. Rainbows would occasionally appear through the foliage during our hikes through the cloud forest as if this colorful visual effect were dropped into the landscape by Walt Disney himself by request of our skilled Farmer to Farmer presidente, Andy Gaertner.
The brilliance of a night sky
While some of the houses in Río Negro have electricity powered by the micro-turbines installed by Adalid and Hector, at night the community is dark, as the city of Comayaguas’ electric grid does not reach the community. Without the light-pollution to which we are accustomed, looking up at the sky we stood silent in awe of the brilliance and expanse of night. Only in Alaska and the Boundary Waters have we seen such entertainment by the stars and moon of the evening sky.
Like our fellow Farmer to Farmer companions in Honduras—Andy, Zac, Deb and Pete, we stayed in “eco-huts” while in Río Negro. We had the pleasure of spending two wonderful nights at the eco-hut of Lucio and Ana Luisa Yanes. We arrived late in the evening after enjoying a delicious and lively dinner at Avilio and Betilia’s home. The ever considerate and helpful Hector dropped us off at the driveway to the Yanes’ home, and with the use of our flashlight we walked into the darkness to meet our hosts. Lucio and his grandson kindly escorted us up the steps to our eco-hut. Lucio invited us to light the solitary candle to show us around the hut. In the terminology of what one might find in an on-line hotel guide, our hut was “tranquil, spacious, clean and very quiet; private bathroom and a ‘direct from the cool mountain stream’ shower were included; gracious and friendly hosts; delicious and generous breakfast available upon request; magnificent vistas of the cloud forest. And a curious canine friend to greet you in the morning.” Having purchased a bottle of Avilio’s homemade wine (made of passion fruit, cashew fruit and naranjillo), we enjoyed the tranquility and candlelight of an early Valentine’s Day as we heard the rain gently tap on the metal roof of our tropical “cabin in the woods.”
We met our host, Ana Luisa, in the morning when she invited us to sit down for breakfast in the kitchen of her house. At the table we were drawn to tantalizing smells of our morning meal and the vista of her kitchen window. From this window, Ana Luisa and her family have a spectacular view of the valley—one of those views that is permanently frozen in one’s internal scrapbook. As Ana Luisa prepared our tortillas by hand on a traditional grinding stone, she explained that fewer and fewer families use this technique due to the affordability of pre-made tortillas. I guess technology has its downside, too. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast of rice, beans, meat, eggs, tortillas, cheese, and vegetables—and, of course, coffee. Taking in the view of the valley and savoring our breakfast, we laughed at the Yanes’ dog, who tried to dodge the eye of Ana Luisa while perching his head and paws onto the outside windowsill to inspect this morning’s fixin’s. You can see by the photo that our mornings came with what was perhaps one of the most beautiful breakfast window vistas one can every imagine. At no additional charge.
Back home in Wisconsin as we reflect on our brief time in Honduras, the most enduring memory of our experience in Río Negro is the generosity and character of our hosts. The Hondurans’ hospitality, generosity, and kindness were truly the warmest colors of all.