Communities and Babies

There are many reasons why Pete and I often extol the virtues of slow travel – some are due to it being inexpensive and less exhausting then constantly moving every few days. In fact, our website name is even quite misleading. We chose it for the (not so) clever play on our last name (Heck + Hectic = Hecktic…get it?) but it doesn’t really describe us as travelers at all. While there are times when we have been hecktically running through the streets to catch a bus or will explore a town at a hecktic pace as we only have a couple of alloted days, we generally prefer to take our time wherever we go.

Besides saving money and enjoying the leisurely pace, we love to get involved in the community and learn the local culture.  From volunteering to playing competitive baseball, none of these experiences would be possible if we were bouncing from place to place.

And just a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a baby shower for one of our Honduran neighbors we have gotten to know well. I was, of course, thrilled to attend!

We met Jolien on the long, dusty road from our side of the island to the main highway. It is almost a four mile trek, and not many people have a vehicle to drive it. Pete and I have taken to calling the Land Rover our “Roatán taxi” as we often are picking people up heading to and from work, school, or to town for groceries. Some of the expats in our area warn us of this practice and of one day picking up the “wrong” people, but it hasn’t stopped us. Every one we’ve met has been friendly, very polite, and always thankful for the assistance.

We often find Jolien toddling along the road, either carrying her nephew or bags of all sorts. It is a slow go for her, being largely pregnant, and we will always pull up beside her to offer a ride before she even knows we are there. While we are driving she excitedly talks about her baby girl that is on her way, and she unabashedly answers any questions I ask about the baby’s name (Julie), or how she is going to get to the hospital when the baby comes (we are now on call in case her original driver falls through!)


One day during a drive she invited me to attend the baby shower being held that upcoming weekend.  I was excited to be a part of this with her, as well to see how the local customs compare to the umpteen baby showers I have attended back home.

While so much of it was the same – an impressive spread of good food was available (beef fried rice, bread, coleslaw and cake), we played ridiculous games and there was a table full of presents for the baby – there were some very interesting differences:

>> The shower was not hosted by a friend or family member – it was all Jolien. She made all the food, bought all the decorations and served all the guests. I brought a batch of homemade cookies, but I was the only other person to bring anything.

>> Some of the games were truly ridiculous (but fun)!  For the first one, three people were forced to bottle feed three other people a sickeningly sweet juice, with the first one to finish being declared the winner.  Another one was just a series of personal questions for the mama-to-be, where the participants had to try and guess the correct response.  Jolien sat and shyly nodded or shook her head at all the answers, clearly embarrassed by some of them.


>>
Perhaps the most intriguing difference for me was the fact that Jolein didn’t even know half of the guests. They were friends of friends or just random people who heard that a baby shower was going to be held at that place, at that time. To me, this is a true demonstration of an effective community – while a lot of the gifts were quite simple (a single bottle of shampoo or a couple of bottles), this collective effort from relative strangers will do so much to help this young mother welcoming her first baby.

I chose my own gift carefully, wanting to get Jolein something useful that she likely wouldn’t be able to afford herself.  After having watched countless young mothers struggle to carry babies, bags and other things without transportation, I bought her an infant carrier such that she can carry baby Julie close to her chest and allow her hands to be free.

And I have one more gift to come, a collection of photos from the event that she can keep as a memento. That one will be in exchange for a visit and baby cuddles when Julie finally arrives. 🙂

 

27 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • April 11 2011

    “…slow travel” indeed. Clearly you would never have such a rare and wonderful opportunity were you following the typical RTW traveler pace. Reminds me of why I likewise am looking forward to settling down in Vietnam for a goodly while. Learning from/getting involved with the locals for me, is what traveling is all about.

  • April 12 2011

    To see the similarities of this baby showers with North American ones reminds me that the world is quite small, and how very similar we all are.
    Teri recently posted..Talent Overload!

    • April 12 2011

      SO true. And one of the biggest benefits of travel is learning this first hand – that we are all the same peeps, all in need of the same things.

  • Christine
    April 11 2011

    Making connections like these are just one of the many reasons why I’ll always prefer slow travel. I love that so many members of the community came to show support for the woman.

    • April 12 2011

      It was a pretty cool experience, and we will always advocate slow travel for these reasons. Although, we are finding, the more that we do it, the harder it is to say goodbye to each place. It’s hard to leave all our new friends behind every time!

  • April 12 2011

    I really like the idea of traveling slow and getting to know some of the locals. You guys have certainly mastered it.
    Mike Lenzen recently posted..Booked!!! The Countdown Begins…

    • April 12 2011

      Thanks Mike! This has been the longest we’ve settled since leaving home, and there are big benefits to it!

  • AC Murphy
    April 12 2011

    Thank you for this precious report from Roatan! I have picked up many a mothers and their children and long for the time I can return to do it all over again…until then I will live vicariously through your blog:) what work and studies are you and your husband doing on the island?

    • April 12 2011

      You are welcome! We are currently here house sitting, and during our time we’ve both been volunteering at the Sandy Bay Alternative School. Pete also coaches baseball and plays for the Sandy Bay Pirates! We’ve been keeping very busy.

  • April 12 2011

    This is definitely why I love slow travel too. Relationship building around the world is the most special perk.
    Kirsten recently posted..It’s Better in The Bahamas

    • April 12 2011

      Thanks Kirsten, we couldn’t agree more. 🙂

  • April 12 2011

    Que linda! I found the shower differences really interesting…that’s so wonderful that you got to experience something like this. Sounds like a really nice community to be a part of and I’m sure your gift was really appreciated.
    Andrea recently posted..Argentina Rocks- New Travel Day Rising

  • April 12 2011

    i can surely see the benefits of no rushing or traveling at a hecktic pace. This really allows you to meet and get to know people, really make friends along the way.

    • April 13 2011

      Thanks Kirk, it really has allowed us to meet some amazing people. And we’re LOVIN how you spelled *hecktic* 😉

  • April 13 2011

    it’s good to see you folks taking things s-l-o-w. It makes a world of difference. I spent 2 months in Guatemala for work and got invited to an amazing beach wedding. Those kind of memories will last a lifetime…
    Raymond recently posted..Travel Photo of the Week — Hijacking Hotspot

    • April 13 2011

      Very cool, and we can’t wait to spend some time in Guate. When you immerse yourself, you get to experience what the true culture is all about.

  • April 13 2011

    Interesting to spot the cultural differences, isn’t it? In norway, where I live, there are no baby showers. But at other occasions (birthdays and the like) like in Honduras, people do throw their own parties.

    • April 13 2011

      I agree, it’s so interesting to learn how each culture does things differently (or the same) in comparison to our own.

  • April 13 2011

    It’s great to hear about cultural differences at an event like a baby shower- you almost never hear of these types of things! What a great opportunity to be a part of her life and the community!
    Jillian recently posted..Barefoot Running

    • April 13 2011

      Thanks Jillian! Yes, the differences were almost as startling as the similarities…if that makes sense! 🙂

  • April 15 2011

    It’s touching my heart to read that a half of the people there didn’t even know her before. What a lovely community. I love Roatan, I love Honduras. And even though I’m not there anymore, I love reading little great things about it that I don’t know before. Make me smile 🙂
    Dina recently posted..Paddleboarding 101- How to Paddleboard from Honduras to Belize

    • April 15 2011

      It is a pretty special place!

  • April 15 2011

    I love these insights into the community you are in. It’s amazing how the similarities bring out the differences, and vice versa.
    Theodora recently posted..I Get A Driving License!

  • April 17 2011

    That is remarkable how strangers come. That does seem to be the greatest sense of community, just being there for people you might not even know.
    Suzy recently posted..A Little Taste of My Travels in Ireland

    • April 17 2011

      I was really stunned by that as well, and thought it was sooo cool. I can’t imagine that in our North American culture – everyone would be so weirded out!

  • April 29 2011

    I loved this story, and especially enjoyed that people showed up who weren’t even invited.
    Not your typical travel experience on Roatan!
    Anita recently posted..Please- Don’t Be A Pretentious Traveler

    • April 29 2011

      That is for sure!! It’s one of the big benefits of traveling show, to be able to make relationships and experience things beyond the normal tourist stuff.

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