Lily Rosibel Henríquez de Flores learned some traditions from her mother and some from her father.
Lily's mom was a homemaker, she passed away seven months ago. She had so many jobs! "She was our teacher, our doctor, our coach, our judge in many quarrels, but one of the nicest things I learned from her was that she was very industrious, she was very artistic, very creative, very imaginative."
Lily learned to sew "at her mother's knee, picking up the colorful swatches she dropped, and we asked her if we could use them to make doll's clothes!" Lily's mom used her sewing machine to dress her seven daughters. She made children and adult's clothing and items for home décor. Lily remembers she picked up the remnants and patches of fabric her mother disposed of and made doll's clothes with them!
Her mother made dresses and also made handbags, aprons and embroidery work. Lily tells us, “Aprons are something women used then, maybe in my great grandmother's times, to cover their nice clothes and women wore them at all time. They had huge pockets for money and things, which women used instead of handbags!” Lily's mom sewed decorative aprons with bright colors or lace.
In Honduras, it is common to know how to sew. "It is part of our culture to do work with our hands. If something is broken or torn, it is fixed. If it can't be fixed, one gets used to do without it."
Lily's dad was a good cartographer… Well, back then, when there were no satellites or digital maps, census workers had to make their own maps and land surveys, and Lily's dad was excelled in the art of cartography. He instilled in his children a love of books and good public speaking skills.
She now practices her oratory skills at church, and telling stories at home. When asked to share her talent with us, she shared one of the most traditional stories of Honduras, the legend of La Ciguanábana.24
"This is the story of a woman who was deceived by a man she dearly loved. And he deceived her because he was a "tunante." We use this word to describe a womanizer. A man who seduces a woman, he uses sweet words to entice her and to get her madly in love… our culture is like that… men say beautiful things and behave politely or give women gifts to win a woman's heart. Then the woman, Ciguanábana, fell so madly in love with him that she had eyes for no other man. But then she realized that her man was seducing another woman, then another, then another. She felt very hurt. She hurt so much, that she died of love. Before her death she promised revenge on every "tunante" man.
The story, and the most mysterious part of this legend, is that people say to have seen the figure of a woman near the rivers and ravines of our country. The woman has a long beautiful and flowing head full or hair, her body is curvy and very attractive to the masculine eye. The man comes closer to say hi to her, because he wants to make her fall for him. But the woman doesn't show her face. When the man is close enough to notice her features, she covers her face and flirts to get the man to come closer. When he comes closer to her to whisper gallantries in her ears, to beg her to accept a written note, to whistle or throw little pebbles near her to gain her attention, she suddenly uncovers her horrible, demonic face. The man is stunned, petrified, speechless. When that happens, the man faints. The legend claims that many men have died, or ran away, or never spoke again at the sight of the woman. So this is the story of La Ciguanábana, a woman who died of love, she seeks revenge maybe from the afterlife. She is also known as La Llorona, "The Weeping Woman".
After this legend, she is ready to recite a poem. It is a poem she and her brother were taught. It speaks of the traditional work ethic in her family’s Honduran heritage.25
Niño, niño, trabaja
Abre la segunda tierra
Porque en sus entrañas encierra
Mil tesoros para ti
Si procuras con afán
Ser un hombre honrado y consciente
Lograras tu felicidad.
Work, my child, work.
Open up a second plot of land.
Its womb holds
A thousand treasures for you.
If you strive to be
An honest, conscientious,
And hard-working man,
You will reap much happiness.
Listen to Audio 67: Lily narrating La Ciguanábana folk story. Audio by Rafael Casco.
Photo 66: Lily Henríquez de Flores. Photo by Rafael Casco.
25 Translation by Coral Getino.