We were driving along the road between Aguilares and Suchitoto. The Grandfather sat beside me as we bumped along the way. The Grandfather's face shines as he spins his tales, remembering moments of his life as they come to mind, often repeating phrases and smiling broadly when I understand. He talks with his hands, and sometimes gives my shoulder or arm a little whack when he wants to be sure I agree with him on the significant points of his stories.
"Grandmother was Honduran. A tall woman with blond hair. She traveled to the festivals in Chalatenango and there she met a short man with very dark skin. It was unusual, a tall, beautiful woman with a short, dark man. He was my grandfather. They built a life together and settled over there in Suchitoto. There are no papers, no records for the births of their children. But they built a life and a family and had a big property. There is a grand hill over there and they owned about one third of the land on that hill...
"La Señora was a wealthy woman. She had what you might call a farm and she managed the hacienda and all of the workers. All of us children learned to work on the farm. La Señora Delfina made sure we knew where our bread came from. In this area of Guazapa, we grew up. A lot of this land in this area was owned by La Señora. Well, we had our riches."
La Señora Delfina was the grandfather's mother. He always calls her La Señora.
"So...you are of the original fourteen families?" I gave the grandfather a little whack on the arm.
"Hahahaha, well maybe so. The truth is that during the war, papers were lost. There is no proof of ownership. Many things were lost..."
"This road has many memories from the war," I said.
"Once I was riding along this road. It was just me and a German driver. There were military troops all around us. We came to a place in the road which was well-flooded. We couldn't go back, so we had to go forward. We planed across the lake of mud, sliding and sliding and we made it to the other side. We kept going forward to Suchitoto. Military shooters were up on the rooftops and all around the town. They asked us why we were in town and instructed us to turn around and go back. We said we couldn't because of the flood. We had to leave. We walked for hours, carefully because the guard was all around. Well, we survived the long walk."
Maybe this story loses a little in the typing, but imagine The Grandfather's grand gestures describing a great flood of mud on the road before us. Picture a well-lined face looking up at remembered sharp-shooters with a finger raised as guns were raised. Feel the little whack on the arm and hear the chuckle: "Well, we survived the long walk."
"You should write a book," I said.
"I have thought of that," said The Grandfather.