It was a hot and humid day like normal in La Masica, Honduras and all my 100 kids and their parents were already lined up at the gas station ready to start the parade. My heart dropped a little realizing that they all actually showed up on time, for once. Meaning that we still had another 2 hours to wait for the beginning of the parade, due to my overestimation of typical Honduran tardiness. But it was just as well considering we still had to feed all 150 people and I realized that most of the kids were still wearing their Sunday best, waiting to change into their costumes. Wow, these kids dressed up to come to La Masica to participate in the parade! OK, this is a big deal for them…
We served them their Wendys hamburgers and fries, graciously provided by CARE. Another point that made my heart drop a little. Here we are marching in a parade for the conservation of the environment and instead of choosing to hire a local group of women to provide the lunch or trying to use as little waste as possible, CARE decided to buy expensive hamburgers from Wendys in La Ceiba, out of a beautiful desire to provide something special for the kids. And all of that money that we spent on those 150 lunches will be now going back into the profits of a rich North American chain restaurant, when that money could have been invested in a local La Masica business. And we just contributed more trash to the environment before our environmental themed parade, in a community that already has a big enough waste management problem. But… anyways, the truth… I was grateful for the specialness of the Wendys hamburgers that day because it made the two hour wait less frustrating and ceased the complaints of the impatient parents who were thrilled that CARE cared enough to provide a special lunch for them and their kids. So anyways, another issue for another day, we can’t solve all the world’s problems in one day… we still had a parade to march in!
And so, we finally sandwiched our two-block long section of 100 kids and youth marching for the environment in between the beauty queen float and the armed narcotraffickers marching on their pure breed horses. Our environmental-themed exhibit was the first time a group had done something so creative and with a purely social message in the annual La Masica Carnival parade. Normally, it is just beauty queens, business advertisement, lots of punta music, pretty girls and drunk spectators. Oh god, should I have brought these children to this event…? Is this gonna be PG?? Are these parents gonna kill me? But nonetheless, we persevered onward providing a light of positivity and family fun in this annual parade! We were led by the fearless horse crew- leading our horse and buggy carrying the environmental mural the youth from Instituto Gonzalo had painted, next we had our “Water is Life, protect it!” banner painted by the youth working with Junta de Agua, and then the kids from Tripoly in their butterfly and flower costumes, followed by the kids from Tarritos in their paper-mache bird costumes and their giant moving and dancing snake, then came the band from Monte Negro school shakily leading our environmental song and chants, next came the trees walking alongside the river, held in the hands of the girls of Monte Negro in their flowing traditional danza dresses, next were rows of kids from Monte Negro, Naranjal, and Instituto Gonzalo carrying their homemade signs with environmental messages and noise-makers, and finally wrapping up our section were the cars from CARE and the Municipality throwing rambuttan fruit to the crowd and blasting music.
And while the march was definitely a bit too long and everyone was exhausted in the end, the kids were proud. Hopefully we inspired others to try something a little more community-focused and a bit more creative in the parade next year. And hopefully some of them are also now conserving their use of water more, realizing the importance of their forests, and inspired to protect the future quality of life for their children.