21st December 2011 & Sin Nombre – Part One

Dear all

It’s been a few days since I’ve done an update on the blog. You may wonder why I’ve put 21st December in the title of the update. Unfortunately this is the date that I’ll be returning to England. I’m sad and quite upset about it, obviously, as I wanted to celebrate Christmas and New Year in a culture quite polar to my own. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of it, but our visas run out on 5th January. We have been told that the flights are booked up and too expensive for our class of ticket around these dates, as people are travelling back home to the UK after spending the festive season in the states. I was originally trying to find a flight that would pass through New York on
the way back (a city I’ve always wanted to visit, even if it were just for a day). To have this news is a bit of a kick in the teeth, not to say that Christmas with my family back home would be a bad thing, nor do I not want to see my friends. The only chance of us going home on 3rd or 4th January is if someone on these flights realise they can’t afford the journey or their ticket is cancelled. Emma Kneebone (my fellow volunteer) and I are living on a prayer with this really. I don’t like saying it and it makes me seem quite cruel and selfish, but I hope the economic crisis royally buggers up another passenger’s xmas so we can go home on our preferred flights. Either that or I might just have a marriage of convenience to extend my visa for a few days. That’s how
desperate I am to stay for xmas and New Year.

I am thinking of the future at the moment and what I want to do with myself when I return. I really like Central America and I am starting to look at jobs for the future. Tegucigalpa, despite its dangers and violence and corruption, is growing on me in a peculiar way. It has a charm. A very gritty one. The old colonial buildings, colourful, falling apart, but with metal bars covering the windows and doors, give it a distinct bohemian feel. There’s a bubbling art scene, maybe inspired from the lack of security of the place, the rubbish that litters the streets, the smell of sewage or people pissing up random walls, the kids lying around or frustrations and robbery of the people
by corrupt politicians. It’s got its appeal, no matter how filthy it may be. Maybe it’s knowing the date of my return to the UK that’s triggered this affection for the city, but I felt it growing on me beforehand. In a way, it reminds of Birmingham. Many people from outside the city slag it off (rather arrogantly may I add) and ignore it, without actually appreciating the little charms of the city and how important it is to the country. It’s a lot better than people make out. Even though I don’t recommend people stay in Tegus for long, it’s somewhere they should just experience for a couple of days, whether it’s to do the touristy things (that could be done in two days at most) or see
the “barrios marginales” and shanty towns sprawling up hillsides and across the valleys. It has an edge to it that’s intangible, untouchable and hard to describe. There’s something in the air here, or in the baleadas!

For the past two Sundays, I have returned to Valle de Angeles, which is where I went in my first week in Honduras. It also has a thriving art scene. There’s beautiful little artisan shops (there’s a bit of tourist tack as well) but it’s always nice to sit down, have a ‘patela’ (like an ice-lolly, but with real ingredients and a lot tastier) and pupusas. I’ve befriended a lovely Irish colleen here called Hazel and she’s brilliant. I’ve also been introduced to a lot of her friends, who many are artists and they go to Valle de Angeles a lot. It’s a thrilling place. There’s always traditional Honduran dances taking place in the Central Park and stalls around selling beautiful and original gifts. There are plenty of tourists around, which can be annoying as the pavements are small and you end up bumping into people while trying to browse the stalls. There are also many Americans who make no effort to speak Spanish to the locals (not all, but some). It reminds me of English people in Benidorm, and many of the other Anglo-invaded resorts scattered around “las costas” of the Iberian Peninsula. But that’s where the similarities between Benidorm and Valle de Angeles end. I had to do one touristy thing though, and that was to have a caricature of myself, which you can see below. The worrying thing for me is that it has all my facial features but it doesn’t really look like me. It looks like Niles
Crane for Frasier.

 

 

 

 

 

The mural is made of bottle caps. From the left, Davide, Hazel, and me

 

a mural made of bottle caps

 

Table and chair made out of Coca Cola bottles. Seriously, it was!

 

The Saturday just passed I want to Hatillo with ICYE, which is just outside of the city. We went to a vineyard that produced blackberry wine. The location was beautiful and it was nice catching up with a few people (although the moody French girl was there too, still not speaking to me after Utila, still without an explanation, but it now makes me giggle). I was a little unsure if I liked the wine. The sweet wine was too sweet and the dry wine was too dry. I’m slightly ignorant and conservative about my wines: stick
to grapes!

Vinyard

 

While I was at the vineyard, there was a prostitute march going through the centre of Tegucigalpa. It was more about women’s rights than the rights of prostitutes. Recently, apparently, the president Lobo passed a law banning short skirts. I would really love to see the Government forces trying to police that, especially with the humid weather we’ve had of late. My advice to Lobo is, if by any tiniest chance he’s reading this, concentrate on the poverty and the bloody Maras taking over the barrios, and stop pissing around with silly laws like this. Wolf man (“Lobo” means “wolf” in Spanish).

Marcha de putas

Part 2 continues . . . . .

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About Nicholas Rogers

I am an English journalist/copywriter living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and I have been here since 2011. I originally came to work with Casa Alianza, which supports street kids and vulnerable youths. I then stayed on, after meeting Pamela Cruz Lozano, who calls me her adopted Catracho. I work freelance journalism and I have my own translation business. Why did I come here? For the challenge, to open my mind and get out of my comfort zone. I love literature and I've written a book with street kids. I write novels, short stories and poetry, all of which you will find on this blog, as well as a lot of information about Honduras. View all posts by Nicholas Rogers

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