On Sunday I was on Alki Beach in Seattle, watching my kids squeal as the frigid waters of the bay lapped at their toes. My cell phone interrupted the calm I had managed to muster—it was my husband calling from our home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Ousted president “Mel” Zelaya was trying to land at Toncontín Airport in the Honduran capital.
My husband was at home, obeying security recommendations to stay in the house that day, and had heard a report that a young man was shot at the airport demonstrations. Television and radio then cut to a lengthy national broadcast, and he had no further updates. I was scheduled to depart for Honduras the next day, and was anxious to get home. “I think you need to change your ticket,” my husband told me, his voice edged with stress.
The Honduran military had blocked the runway with soldiers and equipment, and Zelaya and the Venezeulan plane he was traveling in were forced to turn back. I rescheduled my flight for a week later (a shout-out here to Continental Airlines, who is making these changes free of charge). My husband and I conferred by phone again on Tuesday, after talks between Zelaya and the de facto government headed by Roberto Micheletti were announced for today. Zelaya has said that he will accept nothing less than a restoration to the presidency, and Micheletti has declared that all is negotiable except for Zelaya’s restoration. Not a promising way to start, but the fact that the two sides might sit down together leaves my husband and me faintly optimistic.
My aunt and her family just got back from Roatan. She had arrived on the island the day of Zelaya’s ouster, and departed the day of his attempted return, but reported only calm waters, both literally and figuratively. My Coast Guard cousin was thrilled to have gotten his scuba diving certification—US $300 for certification, the course taught in turquoise Caribbean waters. Yes, there was a march one day. And a march on the island of Utila as well (search on “utila peace march” in YouTube for footage of this week’s demonstration). Nothing on either island that would give me even a moment’s pause.
Messages from Copán Ruinas, the cobblestone town that serves as homebase for the tens of thousands of visitors that explore the nearby Mayan ruins each year, echo the island accounts. Copán’s Chamber of Commerce reports that the archaeological park, museums, tourist services (hotels, restaurants, tour operators), and public services are all operating normally. The chamber also reports that the border with Guatemala (a few miles away at El Florido) is open as usual, and there is no presence of armed forces, or other gatherings or demonstrations at the border either.
I’ve got my fingers crossed for my return home.