I have been fortunate to have camped in waterparks,churches, and restaurants (aka loncherias/fondas/comedors/sodas). What makes it hard to want to travel in planes and hotels ever again are the families who let me call their home mine for a night. I try and imagine what I would do if a sweat soaked stranger hauling their life in bags, on a bicycle, asked to sleep in my yard.
When I crossed the dusty, eerily quiet border into Honduras it was late afternoon, I ignored the money changers who were trying to help me with my bike up the stairs and put on my game face. At the bank, bored guards with machine guns were flexing and wouldn’t let me bring me bike in so, I exchanged and spent $0 in Honduras. I was feeling mighty fine considering I didn’t know where I was going to stay and the sun was setting soon enough. As I sped along I heard an “hola” chirp from a little girl waving. I stopped to ask if the nearest village had a hotel and the 3 women on the porch just stared at me. I did look crazy, I’m certain.
In the few days I set out alone I was sleeping and, unbelievable for me, eating very little. I was in some sort of turbo focus mode. So I just came out and asked if I could camp and they said of course. I felt relieved and, behind the adobe house next to the cows, started to pitch my tent. They all watched, then one woman picked my tiny one man tent up and brought it into the house. They pulled a chair onto the porch for me and I offered some peanuts which the woman poured into a big bowl and ate with a spoon like it was cereal. That’s my style.
They were very curious about my travels and were probably the most positive of anyone I had met. I couldn’t really gauge what the dynamic was but learned that the little girl’s mother had passed away and she was being raised by this family friend. It was pitch dark at 6 sharp as it is in these parts and they insisted I sleep in their hammock, not my mat on the ground. I immediately crashed onto the dirt floor as the hammock shot out from the wall, pretty sure I am the largest person to have ever sat there.
I slept well but was startled in the night when the grandmother was putting a warm blanket on me. Woke up around 5, which is normal to me now and we went and bathed and washed our clothes in the river which felt odd for a minute but then I got over myself and whipped my top off and washed away the grime of the day before, ready for a new layer of bug juice and to cross into Nicaragua, cycling through Honduras in one day. I had never stayed in a place with so little materialistically but was given comfort, well wishes, and homemade cheese and tortillas, which meant the world.