During our afternoon stroll, we could see there was a lot more activity in the central park than normal. When we inquired, we learned that there was going to be a big Christmas festival and people were setting up their stalls to sell everything from tacos to cotton candy. We couldn’t help but notice Christmas ornaments with the faces of cute little kids. Emily, the director of Casita Copan, explained that all of the proceeds from the festival food sales would provide funds for the orphanage and free daycare program available for single mothers. She added that the biggest reason for child abandonment in Copan is the financial burden so their goal is to be preventative and support mothers before abandonment is even a consideration. It was amazing to watch the teenage boys, who were raised by the orphanage, serve up horchata while the single mothers ran around preparing plates of local food to give back to the organization that supports them. All of the locals know of the great things happening at Casita Copan and tonight it was obvious that their booth garnered most of the business.
The sun set quickly and the town square sparkled with Christmas lights. A loud sound system played Latin versions of traditional carols, adding to the merry atmosphere. Switching between your mom’s carrier and my shoulders, you were a hit as always as we mingled with the locals. Everyone stopped to pinch your legs and smiled when they noticed you were naked. They could have been smiling at us as well since everyone was dressed up to the hilt while we all looked like a family of vagabonds. You loved dancing to the music and watching the vendor with all the toys and balls that flashed like strobe lights.
In the distance, we could hear the familiar sound of the Honduran high school competition percussion bands and when we strolled to investigate, we noticed thousands of people lining the streets, watching hundreds of kids and teenagers walking behind the Christmas float. Literally all 10,000 inhabitants of Copan Ruinas came out to celebrate and the energy was infectious. Santa drove on the back of a flatbed truck yelling “Ho, Ho, Ho, Feliz Navidad” and students of all ages, dressed in costumes, followed behind, dancing to the seductive rhythms. When the ultra tanned Santa saw the little white naked baby, he reached out to give you a special Christmas wish and your intrigue quickly turned to fear. In a union of empathy, all of the locals said “ahhhh” knowing it was the first time you had ever seen Santa and we agreed that our experience and photos far outweigh the typical mall experience.
We danced all the way to our hostel and commented on how today was the first time it felt a little like Christmas.