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Honduran Sunday

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Honduran Sunday

Copan Ruinas on a Sunday afternoon: rancheros in big cowboy hats gather in the village square with ladies in flowery dresses and dirty white aprons who are selling mangoes. Tourists walk by with big cameras pointing at things and taking photographs. Little brown boys in buckshot t-shirts play chasing games and laugh. Sunday is an easy day in Central America.

The market is open today and everyone is walking in the streets with their weekly supplies of fruits and vegetables. There are no supermarkets in this little village, there is no need for one. You can’t have what you want whenever you want it in Copan Ruinas. It is a relaxed, day watching, do it tomorrow Central American pueblo. Tranquilo.

Photo of Copan Ruinas

Village life moves by slowly on a Sunday afternoon. A ragged boy on a horse trots by making clop-clopping sounds on the cobble stone roads. There is not anything else to do but listen and breathe deep, look up at the blue sky maybe. I am walking through these old country streets with a bag full of bananas and mangoes and a really big cucumber. I just want to sit back and enjoy this day like the rest of the village. Everyone is just passing the day upon park benches, just talking about nothing much: soccer, pistols, girls, and probably cowboy hats. They really like cowboy hats here. The entire town is out in the streets today, and nobody has much of anything to do. So I walked through the town plaza with a smile on my face and continue down the hill to the soccer field. The games go on all day long. I found a seat in the shade and watched the players run back and forth after the ever rolling, often bouncing ball.

I think of the Mayan ball game which could possibly have been the precursor to soccer. In this game the players would try to score points by hitting an eight pound rubber ball with their hips, elbows, knees, and feet towards rings on the sides of the playing court. The ball represented a human head, of course, and the game was played for life or death. By ritual, the losers were promptly decapitated.

Those who oppose blood-sports, “are moralizing vegetarians of the flabbiest Hindu sort,” spoke Theodore Roosevelt. I think he would have liked the Maya.

Photograph of the Sunday Market of Copan Ruinas

I sit and watch the Sunday games and come to the conclusion that soccer is not the most exciting of spectator sports. The teams seem to never score any goals. I do not know how anyone wins. Perhaps they still sacrifice the losers here, so each game is played to a 0-0 stalemate? I don’t know, but nothing much is really going on the field.

But nothing much is keeping with the propriety of the Honduran Sunday.

The rest of the soccer spectators are sitting in the shade drinking cheap beers. These tough looking rancheros with cowboy hats and big shiny belt buckles know how to spend a Sunday afternoon. They are definitely not going to be chasing around any balls in the hot sun.

Today is Sunday and big white clouds pass overhead as lazily as the people living below. I have been planing on walking up the mountain near my room for the past week. I will hike up it on Sunday I kept telling myself. Today is Sunday, and I find myself content with just looking at it.

Who wants to climb a mountain on Sunday?

Who wants to do anything on Sunday?

Feeling idle now. Going to climb a Sunday mountain.

A little later . . .

Tried to climb a Sunday mountain and just ended up looking at it. It is Sunday. I lazily walked up to the mountains just to turn around and walk back to town on the dusty roads. I said aloud that I like Honduras. A pickup truck sped by and covered me in a cloud of dust. As it settled I looked out over the hills and watched a farmer’s field burn fertile in an orange melee with the setting sun. The air tasted blue. The Road was Open, and I walked back into the Sunday village.

With a big smile on my face.

Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Copan Ruinas, Honduras
March 9, 2008

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Filed under: Central America, Culture and Society, Honduras

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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