Monday, July 26, 2010

Our First Feria

We waited in vain for several weeks for our famed Feria de Vino y Chorros. It was supposed to be about three weeks ago, but they finally got around to having it this past weekend, which kinds of defeats the purpose since the harvest of chorros is actually over now. We heard restaurants were stockpiling them weeks ago, saving them up for the feria. Chorros are mushrooms, the kind of mushrooms that look like something from Super Mario, bright red spotted caps and beige yellow stems. Of course, since they were out of season already, the mushrooms served at the feria were a different type. They, like other varieties, can’t really be cultivated so they are hunted for in the wild. The vino here is not from grapes, it’s fruit wine. It has a much stronger flavor and is very alcoholic tasting. Not something you would have a glass of with dinner really.

Thursday they started setting up tents on the main road by the park for food and art vendors as well as a stage. This is when we realized it was a big deal. The last “feria” was no more than a few tables set up in a school gym, so this was a marked improvement. Friday we headed over in the evening to find that all the nicer restaurants in town had stands set up selling various platos tipicos with the addition of chorros. Chicken and chorros, beef and chorros, tacos and chorros, chorro soup. Friday we didn’t have dinner, but we arrived in time for a traditional Lenca folkdance. It was an amazing group of 10 or so Hondurans, ranging in age from about 12 to maybe 30. They were dressed in traditional costumes, big colorful flowing dresses for the ladies and blue button up shirts and cowboy hats for the men. It was such a fun show to watch. They danced for a good hour with about 3 costume changes in what reminded me of a square dance to songs ranging from traditional campo songs to modern Polache. It was possibly the first real cultural ‘thing’ I’ve seen here, so it was pretty great we thought.

After the dance, a band came on called Fenix Epocas (which doesn’t really mean anything). What a group. The lead singer was probably in his mid 50’s with glasses, the backup singer a 16 year old kid and the keyboardist looked perhaps like he was blind. But they were pretty darn good. They started off with what else but the Beatles! Of course, I was enthralled and started clapping and bobbing to the beat. Sadly, either people here don’t understand English (possible), don’t know the Beatles (doubtful), or simply just don’t find dancing and clapping in public to music very exciting (likely) because I think I was the only person dancing. I was, in fact, the only person that looked at all pleased about what was going on. Well, me and a small group of other gringo missionaries from Georgia. I looked like a complete idiot, I’m sure of this because everyone was staring at me. But the band continued, more Beatles, Rolling Stones, Take Me On, Another Brick in the Wall, Pretty Woman then some funk and disco. Still no one danced. I felt sorry for the band, they were doing great but no one seemed to appreciate them.

We headed down to the other side of the fair where other festivities were taking place. A big screen was set up where they were projecting modern music videos and teens were beginning to dance – this is the music they apparently like to dance to. We also saw a troupe of gypsy jugglers. Most of them weren’t very good except for one guy juggling with fire sticks. We couldn’t decide if they were gringos who were just so dirty and tan that they looked Latino or if they were actually Latino. Either way they just looked like regular hippie/gypsy types, I guess they look the same everywhere. Before we left, we headed back to see the live band and they had started playing rock español which people were getting a little more into.

Saturday, the feria continued and our friends, the couple from Siguatepeque, came to town to join us for the festivities. We saw multiple versions of the schedule claiming the parade was at either 10 am or 1 pm. It turned out to be at 11 am (go figure) so we missed most of it because we were walking around elsewhere. We saw the last few ‘floats’ go by with young girls throwing candy like you used to see in the US and some adorable kids dressed up as chorros. We then settled in for lunch. We chose the nicest restaurant in town because we figured it would be a good opportunity to taste how good the food while at a fixed price plate that we could afford. I had chicken and mushrooms, Nolan had beef and mushrooms, delicious! Neither of us are big mushroom eaters, but we thought they were pretty tasty. We perused some of the stands for a bit with some other volunteers we ran into, honey, pañuelos, broccoli, cheese from a jewish shop, dulces, fruit wine etc. There wasn’t all that much to see.

Later that night we headed back for more live music and dancing. This time there were four simultaneous acts. The first was a private party at the alcaldia for 150 lemps, we didn’t check that one out. The second was a middle-aged man lip synching to what sounded like Tom Jones in Spanish. Interesting. The third was a latin group with some brass. They were awesome, upbeat and funky so we watched them for awhile. Aside from the few folks dancing near the front, everyone else just stood and stared. This I can kind of understand, just standing and listening, but the last ‘act’ if you could call it that, was a DJ with latin pop playing. Again, a few teenagers were tearing up the tiny dance floor, but an even larger crowd was gathered, staring straight into a wall of 12 gigantic speakers with a DJ peeking out from behind. That I will never understand. There was nothing to look at! Honduran music culture befuddles us sometimes.

The night ended with a display of fireworks, my personal favorite. I don’t think, however, that many pyrotechnic specialists exist in Honduras because the show was, well, poorly timed. They would set off about 10 of the exact same fireworks in a row, one after the other. Then there would be a few minutes pause, then another 10 of a new kind, then a pause. Some of the bigger ones were dangerously low and looked as if they shot almost straight into the ground. We headed home soon after the fireworks ended. The crowd was probably 99% 15 year old greasy looking Honduran boys that were both a little intimidating and mildly annoying, so we decided to be old married fogies and call it a night.

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