Today I experienced the splendor of the SJBS “Cena Navideña” (Christmas Dinner). It was an all day affair that started at 9am this morning with the building of balloon arches, candy cane posts from PVC pipe, poinsettias fashioned from balloons and a near death experience hanging out of the back of an SUV, trying to keep an industrial-sized freezer owned by our lunch-lady Grace (who also drives like her objective is killing pedestrians) from catapulting onto the carretera. Excuse the run on sentence, you might have to read it a couple of times…but there was so much I wanted to tell and periods were going to disrupt my flow. Cena Navedena ended at 8:30 tonight with Grace hauling away plastic chairs in the back of her pickup truck stacked 5 ft. above her truckbed with her children riding on top of them. It all comes full circle. Needless to say, today was a uniquely Honduran experience.
Being one of two musically inclined teachers here, I played a large role in Cena. Too large, in fact. On guitar, I accompanied the 4th graders in their remix of Jingle Bell Rock entitled “4th grade wants.” “Fourth grade, fourth grade, fourth grade wants, presents for us and everyone else.” I also led my 7th grade integrado class in “Home” from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (you can see a rehearsal video here) with the seventh graders and “No Woman No Cry” with the 8th and 9th, along with a guitar/piano duet with 9th grader Henry who wrote a song about undying love of an 8th grader who is now dating his best friend. It was intense.
The largest honor that I was bestowed with, however, was not in the delivery of this message of love, but instead was playing the entrance music along with heartbroken Henry for the “Reina de Cena Navedena.” There is nothing more Honduran than the conception of the Reina. This coveted prize goes to a girl in the school whose family “raises” the most money for the school the year before (Disclaimer: this idea is the brainchild of the parent assoctiation… not of BECA… if you need a catchup on the difference, check here). As a reward for the funds provided, she gets to wear a princess gown and sits on a throne for the duration of the 4.5 hour cena navedena. The idea is essentially: Buy your daughter a crown! This year’s queen was a kindergartener. She wore a beautiful gown, lipstick and eyeshadow. She looked very sleepy. Her mother said that she didn’t get to take her nap, but she learned that beauty is tiring. Isn’t she regal?
The Cena lived up to all of the expectations of a Honduran event: there was chaos, electrical equipment failure, it lasted 2 hours longer than it should have, there was too little food, and too much noise. But this Honduran-ness is really in its own way special. And, lets be real… these kids are ridic cute. I am going to leave you with a few pictures and a link (click here) to a 9 yr old named Derek who is my hero.. and apparently the hero of the girl at the end of the video as well.
Feliz Navidad. In seven days I will be at the lookout on Oak Street, eating a Maui Bowl, scratching my head and wondering when I had woken up from the weirdest 5 month-long dream of my life. Then two weeks later, I will go back to that dream, torn between my desire to be back in a world that is filled with things and people that I love, one that mostly makes sense to me, and a world in which I get to sing with kids every day, get them excited about science, learn to play soccer and experience things that I couldn’t dream of.

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