Wedding three – Roy Padgett and Valeria Tomé
For those who’ve been reading my blog for the longer term, the groom’s surname might serve as something of a reminder of my first few months in Honduras. Cast your mind back to 2011, when I wrote frequently about my clashes with a Mormon granny in the small town in Tatumbla, just outside Tegucigalpa. Her name is Blanca and she has something of a reputation for being difficult. It were a traditional house in a rural town where cock’s call or the first bus to Tegucigalpa’s horn awoke you at dawn, and it stood in the shadow of the department of Francisco Morazan’s tallest mountain, Uyuca, which I once scaled but got a mass of garapata and mosquito bites. My make-shift bedroom was in the living area just outside the kitchen, where she would fry pig’s ears on Saturday mornings and invite Mormon missionaries, largely from the US and Republican-loving, doing their time in Tatumbla and trying to convert a coffee loving, beer drinking Brummie, to a faith that, well, prohibits the two beverages plus many more luxuries that I made doubly clear I was not prepared to give up. Mami Blanca had lived alone for many years and suffered from many ailments; bronchitis and depression being two of several. I must admit, it was nice to live without some creature comforts but Blanca’s health and restrictive rules were beginning to get to me, and I guess it began to show because her son, Roy Padgett, offered me to move into his beautiful house up the road in Linaca; something I jumped at, but I had already my mind up to move to Tegucigalpa soon after. However, the month or two of living with the Padgetts went fast due to the wonderful fact that it was just plain fun, and a massive thanks goes to Roy (senior), Xenia (mother), Danny, Christian, Andy and last, but most definitely not least, Roy (junior), who I am proud to say attended his wedding last week and his name sits at the top of this post. Countless waffles/pancakes on Sunday and non-stop piss-taking in the evening. I missed them after I left. It was a warm home.
I’ve not lost touch with the family. From time to time, I caught up with Danny for coffee but we seemed tied up with different commitments, and I felt an awful mate when he hurt himself in a fall and I failed to visit him. When I began working at Dowal School, I learned that Roy worked there too. Being a Liverpool and Motagua fan, we found that we never talked about matters professional, but just our mad lust for football (a lie of course, topics of movies, girlfriends (now wives) and families also made up a large percentage of our conversation). One of the strange discussions we have is supporting our national team. He follows England (he has English ancestors hailing from Yorkshire if I remember right) and I follow Honduras, and we both accuse each other of having blind hope for our adopted chosen teams. I guess we are both right to laugh at each other.
It was a beautiful wedding at Roy’s home to a lovely lass named Valeria who I’ve been fortunate enough to bump into frequentely. They always look happily in love and I’m thrilled for them. The Roy I lived with seemed shy and frustrated with a few elements of his life (maybe it was because Liverpool were playing really s–t at the time). The Roy I know now is confident, happy and chilled with life. Suffice to say, he’s a changed man, and Valeria has played a huge part in that.
I must admit, as well as the wedding, I was dead excited to pass through Tatumbla and by the house. The granny has since moved to Roatan (if that doesn’t make her happy . . .) so her house was put up to rent and now looks to have lost its character without her nagging spirit. I was reminded of the night I was locked out and had to sleep on a steel bench where underneath lived tortoises. Apart from the newly laid road entering the town, nothing has changed in the four or five years I’ve been away, which is a good thing as it leaves the place with a sprinkle of a kind of traditional gold dust, with aromas of wood burning at fire places and villagers running and gossiping happily around the stoned streets, which I feel is lost in many towns with the rise of globalisation, etc. That distinct lack of convenience and creature comforts is an endearing quality, salt of earth and real conversations again. Something more genuine and socially healthy about it. Another reason I found returning to Tatumbla exciting was, and maybe this is brought on with all the recent Star Wars publicity, the bizarre feeling of nostalgia and deja vu, which I also felt the first day I ever arrived there. It’s something to do with the rolling hills of pine trees and small communes and amazing sunsets and starry nights; it somehow reminds me of Yoda’s planet in the Empire Strikes Back or the Ewok’s village in Return of the Jedi, giving me a cute sentiment of coziness I felt when I first saw the movies as a child. Maybe that gold dust I was talking about is actually of the Hollywood sort. I always dreamt of a friendly yet furious furry creature jumping out in front of the car with a spear, yet all I got was Andy Padgett (I hope the world’s greatest Oasis fan is reading this!).
Creeping along the dusty 3/4 mile road that stretches from Tatumbla’s Mormon Church to Linaca’s focal roundabout which has a charming park in the middle, stuck behind a truck and then a tuc-tuc that somehow managed to hog both sides of the road, annoying an already tired Pamela who’d traveled from Choluteca in southern Honduras that morning. You take the first right and then a left down and then up a dirt road that I remember had a hybrid kind of rat and dog snapping at wheels and leaping up at windows as drivers sped past. Whether the dog rat has fulfilled its deathwish or it was just having a quiet day, I’ll leave that little unimportant life mystery to the Gods to re-tell. This stretch of road leaves a layer of muck on all cars, and ours was no different as we parked along a very narrow country road that scales the side of a hill. We then climbed the drive and up the windy path with beautiful branches sprouting exotic flowers, leaves, aromas and rustic photo frames of Roy and Valeria. The day was clouded over but it was bright in spirit and it wasn’t long before I got to introduce Pamela to papa Roy; full of mischief as always.
The ceremony was in the garden, fully organised and laid out by the happy couple themselves. While waiting for it to start, Pamela was busy going bonkers with her new selfie stick which I wanted to lunge into the field of annoying gadgets which we all know sits at the gates of hell. Saying that though, it would prevent Pamela from fully exercising her photography talents, which you can see below.
Old Dowal friends appeared which was great as I never properly had the chance to say adios to many of them. Roy stood smiling at the make-shift altar, with music whistling away in the breeze to Ed Sheeran. The attendees grew quiet with silent excitement and smiles and all that could be heard was the light breeze shifting dead leaves from one random spot to the next with music. At that point Pamela whispered in my ear, “What were you thinking when I was walking down the aisle?”
My response was, trying to be humorous and rather loudly, “¡Apúrate maje!”, meaning in less than charming Honduran Spanish, “Get ya skates on, dude”, just at the moment Valeria was tackling the slow descent of a small but tricky hill in her wedding dress.
Heads turned and the looks I received from Pamela snd attendees were full of profound scorn. Note to self: just be romantic and quiet when your wife asks you such questions.
The pastor delivered a lovely speech about life and marriage, after of which the vows were made and Roy planted an snog on Valeria’s lips that won him plaudits.
Next: food time, which was perfect everyone was starving, and it was brought to us by no other than Roy Padgett Senior, owner of the restaurant Mami Luz, famous for its soups. I got to catch up with family and former colleagues, which completed a few circles for myself, in terms of catching up the past. All good though.
A blessed day to say the least. It was great to see Roy join the club (he introduced to Motagua; I felt it was only correct of me to do the same for him). We saw the newly-weds cut the cake and said our goodbyes. Like everyone did, I wish them a long happy life together.
To be continued.