A little back story: despite its many problems, we wouldn’t trade our Embassy-assigned housing for anything for two reasons. First and most importantly, it’s the closest house to the Embassy in the entire housing pool. Second, our neighborhood is crawling with street cats.
While we aren’t exactly “cat people,” we are most certainly “pathetic creature people.” It didn’t take long for us to start leaving food out for the poor gatos de la calle, which somehow evolved into a few of them sleeping in our compound and following us around. Our cadre of cats has had many iterations over the past 15 months as they all eventually disappear. We’re down to our last two cats: the grandkittens of one of our OGs (original gatos).
For a couple weeks now, these two gatitos have been spending their nights in a shoebox on our front steps. Being street cats, though, they spend their days climbing the roofs and walls around the neighborhood. They’ve always come back when the dinner bell rings, hence our concern when one of the pair didn’t return on Sunday evening. We launched a small search effort around the street to no avail.
Monday came and went with no sign of her, so we assumed the worst. Until Tuesday morning, when her cries could be heard from across the street. Looking up, we saw her running around our neighbor’s roof, apparently unsure of how to get back down. Naturally, our neighbors are out of town and their yard is ringed with electric fencing, so we didn’t dare try to go after her. Figuring she’d get desperate enough to find her way back to us, we went about our day. 10 hours and many check-ins later, she was still up there screaming.
So, what’s a gringa to do in Honduras when your cat is stuck on a roof? You sure as hell aren’t calling the fire department. Luckily, it was a good day for my Spanish and I was able to explain our situation to the guards posted outside the building behind our neighbor’s house. To my surprise, they a) understood me, b) let me in, and c) spent 30 minutes helping me recover the kitten not once, but twice.
After using food to coax her off the roof and into their compound, she had a second freak out and hid inside the engine block of a car parked in the lot. Whether they felt bad for the kitten or for the poor gringa chasing her around, they sure went out of their way to help me, crawling underneath the car to rescue her.
Eventually, I called J and asked him to bring the other kitten as persuasion. Upon hearing her brother’s meows, our wayward kitten came flying out of the undercarriage. As happy as I am to have them reunited in our yard now, it’s the help of the two Honduran guards that really gives me that warm-and-fuzzy feeling.
Due to the language barrier and the security situation, we rarely find ourselves interacting with locals, particularly outside of the Embassy. This is especially true for me, since I work from home and spend most of my day in my house. The bulk of my interactions with locals involve perfunctory conversations with cashiers, waiters, or other service-related individuals. Even 15 months in, I still don’t know what the average Honduran is really like. (I choose not to count many of the Honduran “elite” with whom we rub elbows at restaurants and shopping centers, as they often give a bad impression of Hondurans and humanity in general.) But if this saga was any indication of the kindness of Hondurans, we’ve been missing out.