November 16, 2013

Honduras is a small world

This amaryllis gets up to 6 spectacular blooms at a time

Honduras is a small, small world! Every now and then something happens to remind me just how small Honduras is. The moral of the story is to be nice to everyone because you never know how it might come back to bite you.

These beautiful flowers (Amaryllis, I think) are a frequent reminder to me of that. Here is my story.


El Jefe wanted to have some pants made. To a gringa, that seems an odd thing. Only the very rich have their clothes tailor-made in the US. But okay...I hope they turn out well because I know you're going to have to pay for them no matter what. What you do is go to a sastre (tailor) or costurera (seamstress), get measured for what you want, and then he or she tells you how much fabric, zippers, etc. to buy. You come back with the materials and a day or two later, voila!, your clothes are specially made just for you. J had heard about a good tailor and went to his house to get started.

As J was ringing the bell, a man walked up and asked what he wanted. "Who sent you?", he asked suspiciously. "I only take clients who have referrals from my current clients." He rattled off some important Ceibeño names from his client list. Needless to say, J was somewhat taken aback. We don't run with the "important" crowd. J mentioned his friend's name, and although the friend wasn't on the sastre's 'A' client list, he reluctantly agreed to make an exception, probably due to El Jefe's charm. Everyone likes El Jefe. The sastre made it clear that his prices are his prices and no exceptions!

El Jefe was so surprised about the experience that he came home and told me all about it with raised eyebrows the entire time. Who turns away paying customers in Honduras? We laughed about it because most people are begging for customers, promising the moon whether they can provide it or not. But I imagined that the tailor has had some cases where the person never came back to pay for the work. Our TV/electronics engineer has about 500 TVs, stereos, radios, and kitchen appliances stacked to the ceiling in his house that people never came back to pay for or never went to buy the parts needed for the repairs. I kind of admired the sastre for valuing his work and sticking to his guns about his clients. Not easy to do in this economic climate.

So J got his pants. They fit well. When he brought the first pair home, I inspected the work, as I have some heavy sewing experience myself. The pants were well done with all the little touches that are supposed to be there in a well-made piece of clothing. I was impressed. Not long after that, J decided to go back to get another pair. After dropping off the materials, he remarked to the sastre what a beautiful garden he had. He pointed to some 'lilies' (all bulbs are called lilies by many) and said that his wife would love those. The sastre dug up/pulled up a whole pile of bulbs and gave them to J for me!

What a nice man, I thought, while going through the bagful of goodies! I wonder what else he has? So when J went to pick up his second pair of pants, of course, I had to go, too, to check out his garden. Nice!


A year or two later, some very good friends were visiting from San Pedro. J was driving us around, giving a tour of La Ceiba, when the wife mentioned that her brother lived near where we were. She asked if we could stop by his house for just a minute to say hello to him.

Yep. You guessed it! The brother is the sastre.

After the initial "What a coincidence!", forgetting just how small a town La Ceiba is, I had a moment of "what if" thoughts. What if J had left in a huff at the initial 'are you good enough to be my client' meeting?' What if he hadn't been satisfied with the pants? What if I had pointed out something that needed to be corrected (unforgivable!) and insulted the sastre's work? Ooooh, that would have been uncomfortable and hugely embarrassing. As it was, the sastre gave J a hug and me a hug and a kiss and asked how the lilies were doing.


Every time I look at these flowers, I think about the tailor and how nice he was to give them to me.

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