June 6, 2008


An interesting phenomenon exists here in Honduras and that is the act of “gifting”. “Regalar” means literally “to gift or to give a gift” and is used widely…you can “gift” anything from food to children. Yes, even children. I will explain that in a bit. The trick with using the verb “to gift” is that it should be used in the command form. For example, “Regáleme comida” would be “gift me some food”. One of the best “regálame”s I’ve ever heard is when some girl during a medical brigade asked me to gift her my shirt (the one I was wearing!). “Regálame”s get thrown around a lot when the gringos come to do medical or water brigades. I am, for this reason, against just randomly handing things out to people. The kids start pushing and shoving, the adults get antsy and meanwhile all you can hear is kids screaming “Gift me that! Gift me this!”.

“Regálame”s can be used in much more common, less obnoxious ways. For example, at the beginning of my service I learned from my Honduran counterpart that when you are working in a community or passing through a community and you know someone there, you can always, at a moment’s notice, ask them to gift you rice and beans or coffee and some sweet bread. This is not rude or weird but actually a compliment because it means you enjoy eating their food. Also, if you are working in a community it is unusual to leave the community empty handed. “Regalos” that are common are: bananas, plantains (see pic below of bananas (mínimos) and plantains that we got gifted a week ago. They should start ripening soon!) coffee, any other fruits or veggies that are in season, frijoles (beans), and eggs. I even saw one of the Hondurans that was working in the community with us last week take home a chicken in a box that someone ¨regalar¨ed.

This week we were working in a community about half an hour from Danlí on a dirt road where the Episcopalian church is drilling a well. Part of the agreement that was made with the community was to feed the Hondurans that were working on the well (the Americans brought their lunches made by the cafeteria at the hotel they’re staying at). Luke, of course, prefers the Honduran rice and beans to a white bread bologna sandwich that the rest of the gringos were eating and asked the women to “regálale” lunch. They did and were more than happy to feed a gringo the food they cooked! The next day they brought him lunch again. Well, the word apparently got around the community that my husband likes the Honduran food and one of the woman leaders in the community (not the same one that had been cooking for the guys) apologized to me for not asking me over to her house for lunch with the other Honduran women that were working because she just assumed I didn’t eat Honduran food like the other gringos.

Now...the gifting of children…the family that owns the pulpería on the corner of our street has a “regalo” in the form of a young boy. When they were introducing us to their family members, they said the names of their children and then pointed to Daniel and said, “He was a gift”. This is nothing strange or out of the ordinary. I heard children called “gifts” many times now. It is common for aunts & uncles and grandparents to raise their relative’s children here…be it for economic or health reasons. I suppose there are worse things to be called than a “gift”!


Anonymous said...

Being called a "Gift of God" might be alright, but being "gifted" from my parents could stir rather dismal feelings of rejection.

Shawn Slaubaugh got hitched this last weekend and I was back in Iowa. Luke, I saw your folks. It's flooding like crazy there but everything is super green which is pretty nice.

Thanks for blogging. It's interesting and entertaining.

Hope all is well.

Mark Gingerich

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