Monthly Archives: August 2011

Pespire – Part Six

Hi all

Monday 8th August 2011

We got to meet Moises and his strange looking dog that looked like it should have bigger legs than it had. I have no idea what breed it was, but it was a nice friendly mongrel (no one can seriously breed a dog on purpose that looks like that!). I can’t remember what it’s name was. Maybe one of the Guides can remember. They feel in love with him. Throughout our time there, someone wiped beige paint on his tail. So we’ve got pink baby chickens and a black and white and beige dog wandering around this little town.

Moises was a professional painter and lived very close to the school. He would be guiding us through the whole process. There was somewhat of a communication problem between him and me. I didn’t understand his Spanish and he couldn’t understand mine. I have been told that I have small Spanish twang from my days living in Spain by quite a few Hondurans (funnily enough, Spanish people don’t think so), but his accent was spoken with a strong lisp, and he spoke very fast despite repeated attempts to get him to slow down. When I spoke in Spanish to him, he just looked confused and asked Rudolfo for a translation from my Spanish to a Spanish he could understand. He would also forget to tell me things. There was one time where he asked to me fetch two panes of paint from the school and bring them down a steep hill. I knew we were painting the school beige, but there was also ocre, which he didn’t want and forgot to tell me. He laughed. I didn’t. He learned to communicate a bit better after that. And not to laugh at someone carrying the wrong panes of paint up and down hills due to his forgetfulness. Nonetheless, he didn’t go by Catherine’s and Kris’ “Honduran time” stereotype and was on time everyday, worked overtime, and worked very, very hard.

Sarah Korytko and Tashina LaFlammne Hordiuk

As you can see, we filled in the tiny crooks and lines separating the bricks to start off with, then we used the rollers to go over it. The walls were like sponges. They pretty much ate the paint. You could spend an hour dabbing in the gaps and going over it only to find more little grey spots that needed filling. It could be a nightmare. I was very particular with it and it took me hours to do it, while the Guides sped through it. Later on during the time painting, Tashina was renamed Machina because of the way she steam-rolled through her work, “of excellent quality,” said Moises (I think).

Marcia Wendy, the host mother, had to go Siguatepeque (near Lago Yahoa, to those who really must know) and her children had to stay with their gran in San Lorenzo, which neither were delighted with. Rudolfo and myself would be eating at a restaurant, friends of Wendy, for much of the week. It was nice, I must say, but four or five days of eating beef, beans and eggs with tortillas, as well as mudongo soup (cows intestines – seriously, it is), I was sick at the sight of the place, and of beans. I didn’t want to see another (my love for them as returned, for Hondurans who are concerned). That was the dish for lunch and dinner. Oh yeah, and Coke or Sprite for a drink, which I won’t complain about after sweating my backside off in Pespire’s heat.

We then went back to work for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Because of the way the sunset, we had to keep changing where we were painting to be in the shade. Moises was used to it (or he was sun-worshiper or a complete lunatic) and was happy painting any old wall at any time of day with his squat little dog.

On the night, Rudolfo and I had heard that some of the girls had been riding on motor-cycles around Pespire. I think motorcycles are dangerous even with lots of padding on a properly laid tarmacked road. Funnily enough, Pespire doesn’t have tarmacked roads! We had to put an end to it. Also on the Pespire grapevine was that three of the Guides had been lip-locking (apparently the Canadian way of saying snogging) with the locals. Two of the girls had also kissed the same boy, which I thought was hilarious, and probably gave a plucky young Pespiran a big ego. I won’t name the girls (all the Guides know who they were). There was also a need to sort out a few communications problems a couple of girls were having with their families, as well as take Emma and Shayla to the local clinic, run by a doctor who was laughing all the way to bank while we were in Pespire.

We finished at the house of the La Familia Nieto Matamoros, who were playing Monopoly with a few Guides. I had joked with the family by saying I was a fantastic dancer. Everyone who really knows me knows that I hate dancing and I’m very shit at it. I won’t pardon my French about it either. I’m really that awful. I was put on stage and made to dance for the family and some Guides, and then became the laughing stock. I didn’t help my own cause by repeating, “Soy mejor que tu” – “I’m better than you”. To add insult to injury, they had me trying to dance to reggaeton! F–king reggaeton!!

After a while, we played more Monopoly. Kris, although a lovely, generous person, showed a darker side of her character by bankrupting everyone and buying up whatever she could get her hands on. The precious little Maria Jesus, who I think I mentioned in the last post, also kept robbing from the Monopoly bank, which I found funny because she wasn’t even playing. But when anyone in this part of the world starts robbing banks at the tender age of nine, then you’ve got to wonder what lies ahead for her.

Later on, two of the sisters from the Familia Matamoros (Katia and Candidá (she preferred to be called Candy)) wanted me to do some translating for them into Spanish. They had five or six songs on their mobile phone, but I can’t remember them all. Two of them that I do remember are Green Day (Boulevard of Broken Dreams) and Eminem (Love the Way You Lie), neither which I knew off by heart. I received a great hand from Shayla and Sarah on trying to understand the songs in English first! But here I was, translating two songs I didn’t know in the tropical paradise of Pespire! It was all quite surreal and beyond my wildest dreams, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

I am going to end this update with the two songs above, with the lyrics in English for the girls to learn from. They will probably never read my blog, or understand it for that matter, but it’s purely for your entertainment. Enjoy!


Back to the realities on the street

Dear all

I have been writing a lot about Pespire and kind of neglected what’s been happening in Casa Alianza as of late.

Since the riot, the kids seem a lot calmer to an extent. They still keep asking me for drinks and money which is really doing my head in now. I bought some Cadburys chocolate for them last week and now they are well and truly taking the piss, excuse my French.

Just a couple of realities of life on the street here in Honduras, a million miles from the sleepy streets of Pespire.

One girl entered just the other day. I’ll call her J. J is from Villa Vieja, a rough neighbourhood that I used to pass everyday when I lived in Tatumbla. The area is poor and full of Mara gangs. J was brought to Casa Alianza because her neighbour, a gang member, had been trying to force her to be a prostitute. Her mum had brought her. She didn’t like Casa Alianza, mainly because of the noise and running about and everyday chaos of the kids. She was small, sweet and seemed very naive. She didn’t trust many people in Casa Alianza but she would chat with me a little bit, telling me the little bits of English she knew. She was quite teary and was missing her mum, and mainly, she was confused as to what she wanted to do. J decided not to stick around and left. Because of the way of the Maras, I fear for her future. As I said, this is a reality on the street. Many kids have the same problem. The boys get recruited to sell drugs and kill. The girls get recruited to sell themselves, and on the most part, both sexes feel they have no choice in the matter…..especially the girls. It’s almost like a curse to be pretty to be on the streets.

The second child we’ll call R. He’s from San Pedro and arrived in Casa Alianza last week. He was living on the street and had a serious case of ADHD or autism. I’m not a psychologist. He was very rough and ready, thumping people hard or hugging them. He had great problems registering what I or anybody else was saying. I think it was his repellent to authority or discipline. You couldn’t say no to him, or he’d thump the tables or you and go mad. It reminds me of working with people with learning difficulties, which I did many moons ago for a couple of months after I left college. I tried to talk to him one on one but he didn’t like answering questions. He’s small and hefty and very strong. Because he gets wound up very easily, the other kids play on it a lot. He was abandoned on the streets and has taken many drugs. I have no idea how old he is. Maybe 13, judging on his size, height and mannerisms. Casa Alianza is not the place for him and staff are trying to find a place that can cope with his ways. I don’t know if there are many centres for him, but hopefully they can find somewhere for him soon. I can tell one thing, because of his behaviour and mental health difficulties, many people have shirked responsibility for him and let him down. It’s sad. Just 10 minutes in his company is enough. He’s a huge handful. But I wish him all the best and I hope he goes somewhere that will help him tackle his issues.

R has inspired the poem below.

R

Thumps and hugs and huh, huh, huh,
Bulky, small, hunched shoulders,
He says his past is a blur.
You look him in the eye and tell him to behave,
He laughs and screams and bangs the table,
His discipline is buried in a grave.
He cannot follow instructions and he’s a lost and angry soul,
His parents and family abandoned him and it’s he who’s paying the toll.
He puts on a straight face then laughs about something no one knows,
Then he’ll jump on someone’s back and then their frustrations grow.
Drugged on the streets of San Pedro and he’s done it for many years,
He’s seen so much death that he no longer has any fears,
Yet he’s only 13, enough to bring the hardest to tears.
 
There’s nothing we can do for him as he needs one to one help,
Someone who can come to him when he thumps, screams or yelps,
I don’t know who will do it but I wish him all the best,
But he doesn’t register when I say goodbye to him, 
Everyday he listens to me less and less. 
I’ll miss his husky voice and his suffocatingly tight bear hugs,
When I try to escape he laughs, then bites, then tugs.
“Bye bye, young fellow, and please don’t hit me,
Hopefully one day you’ll learn what you’re doing,
And it’ll set some of your demons free.” 

 


Pespire – Part Five

Dear all

Saturday 6th August 2011

It was an early rise. I met Kris and Katía, one of the many Matamoros sisters I was telling you about yesterday, outside their house. I had only met Katía the day before while we were painting the wall. She’s a leader in the Girl Guides and is very sweet. I have been ribbed a few times by Kris and her sisters, that we should be a couple. I can’t see it happening, but Kris has “shot-gunned” the role of maid of honour if anything like that were to happen.

Anyway, the mission was to get into Tegus, get Kris’ rucksack, go to the Girl Guide office, then get out. The Girl Guides would be busy painting the walls back in Pespire while this mission was being fulfilled. We got a six o’clock bus. It only took a couple of hours. All the way there, I had a craving for baleadas. These fixes just come on. Can’t help it! Two hours later and we were there. Tegus. The sweet city of smog, Jesus Christ statues, Maras and taxi-drivers trying to rip off gringos. It felt a bit strange going there for a day, knowing that I lived there. Somehow the city seemed different. Calmer. Maybe that’s the affect Pespire has on you. It chills you out. Ironic, being that it’s so f–king hot. We had to wait a short while for American Airlines to get their act together and give us the bags. We also had to wait for another Guide leader in Tegus to meet us. In the meantime, we went to a baleada eatery and I satisfied my craving. Tegus Airport has lots of large fake ornaments from Copan Ruinas. I didn’t remember those when I arrived in January. Anyway, we caught a taxi to the Girl Guide office in the Guadalupe area of Tegus. Kris was after the green and white Girl Guides of Honduras uniforms. She had to make do with the scarfs and lots of badges. We then got a lift back to the bus stop in Comaguela for buses back to Pespire. The lift was in a wonderful light blue Volkswagon Beatle that I wish I’d taken a picture of. Unfortunately, my camera picked up a fault and I lost a lot of pictures of beautiful views of valleys on the way back to Pespire, so if I had taken a photo, there was little chance it would have survived.

For some reason, the journey back to Pespire was nearly four hours long. Funny, considering it was only two hours to get to Tegus. The traffic was bad to get out the city, but then again, it’s always bad. It took an awful long time. On the way back I built up a craving for banana crisps. I told Kris about the three most important ladies in my life:

  1. My mum
  2. My future wife
  3. A banana crisp lady
(I hope my sister isn’t seething from saying this. She, of course, is very important to me too). In true Kris McGee fashion, she asked Katía if she could make banana crisps. Katía said yes. More ribbing took place. “There you go! Your banana crisp girl could be your future wife as well!” I think were Kris’ words.
When we got back, I went to a Pespiran cyber cafe and saw what was happening in Britain with the riots. I didn’t know what to make of it really. I’ve heard it was just opportunist yobs. I’ve also heard it was about gangsters. I don’t know. Honduras seems quite civilized in comparison, depending on where you are. I heard the Primark store in Birmingham City Centre was looted. I think Birmingham has the worst looters in the world. If you’re going to loot (not suggesting that you should) at least do it in shops where you can get some valuable items. Can you imagine being sent to prison for looting Primark? Pathetic.
I was then invited to a birthday party. I am really gutted my camera wasn’t working because I got to see a piñata being destroyed. There was also a quartet playing marachi music. It was fun. It was hilarious watching the kids with blindfolds over their eyes trying to whack the piñata. One woman got to close and nearly lost her head. They go mad. It’s even funnier when the piñata breaks and the sweets fall out. The kids just dived into the floor, clonking heads and slapping people out of the way. I have decided that I want one on my birthday. I have informed the family.
That night there was a party in town. I went to see what it was like. I could hear the music from the outside and those who read my blog will know, I think regaeton is shit. It was also 120 lempiras entry. I could buy at least 15 baleadas with that so I thought no, I’ll save my money to get fat instead. I ended up getting drunk with a yank called Briton. He’s a Peace Corp volunteer from Minnesota who will be in Pespire for two years. Good luck to him!
Sunday 7th August 2011
A day at the beach! We went to a place called Sadania (or at least I think that’s how it’s spelled). I collected lots of narrow long shells for the children in Casa Alianza to make necklaces from, drank lots of coconut milk, took the piss out of a girl called Gabriella, threw Jean Franco into the sea a few times, ate fresh fried fish and got sunburned. I also had a delightful little drink that consisted of ice, honey and a fruity syrup which is perfect in the heat. The Guides got to go in the sea, which is amazingly warm. It’s quite murky because La Tigra, the island, is volcanic. When you’re from a country where the sea is truly f–king cold, you can appreciate why I enjoyed it so much. I think the Guides spent more time in the sea than out of it, which tells you how nice it is.
Here are a few pictures of the beach. I’ll continue with the next weeks events in the next update!

Nicaragua in the distance

 

 

Jean Franco (host brother) and me

 

 

Gabrlella, who I was taking the piss out of. Funnily enough, the two fingers she is displaying is for peace, but because she's swearing (I think)


Pespire – Part Four

Hi all

Gosh, it’s hard remember certain events that happened nearly three weeks ago. I’ll do my best though.

continued Thursday 4th August 2011

I forgot to put in my last post that on the evening of the 4th, I played bingo for the second time. I didn’t win any trips to Costa Rica this time unfortunately, but I was introduced to the Nieto Matamoros family. Amazingly, the mother and father are parents to eight daughters, and they also care for a granddaughter (one of the daughters went to Spain to work). Kris McGee lived with this family, and I was informed, unsurprisingly, that the father does not get a word in edge-ways. I got to meet the identical twin sisters in the family, Claudia and Elgina. I will never be able to tell the difference. They not only look the same but they behave the same way in every way, like giggly, funny little devils. They make me laugh, and it was they who invited me back for their birthday last weekend. I also met the granddaughter, Maria Jesus, who is adorable. The three of them were very giggly and I think it’s something that runs in the family because they are all like that. All seven of them who I have met so far. We played bingo with Rudolfo and my host brother Johan. I kept teasing Maria that I was going to win. She made doubly sure that I wasn’t going to by messing around with my bingo card. A lot of the time while I was in Pespire, she would stick out her tongue and run off laughing, or just ignore me completely. She is a sweet kid though, and I felt sorry for her with her mother in Spain and her dad had left while she was young, but she was raised like a sister in the family.

Kris McGee and Maria Jesus

Friday 5th August 2011

As stated in the last post, the next day, we had a morning of activities at the school we were painting and we finally cemented our feet in the community. As always, we were left waiting for 30 minutes or so for things to get going but all was good, as we got to nip in to a few classes to see how they were taught. As soon as the cameras came out, the kids became lively and started posing, although this often happens when I bring my camera to Casa Alianza too.

 

 

I found the tuck shop in the school quite funny. Many of the kids were hiding away small packets of nachos or lolly pops. Some generous little souls would pop a lolly pop in your hand. I made the mistake of going to buy some nachos myself, only to find myself offering them to everyone and leaving me with the crumbs at the bottom of the packet. Some of the kids were a bit plumpy too. I think this tuck shop has a lot to do with it.

The activity they had for the Guides was a football match against the school’s girls team. Some of the Guides were not accustomed to playing “soccer”, however, they were all willing to give it a try. We were already one Guide down (Shayla) after she had a water bottle dropped on her toe (she would have to eventually have her toe nail removed). First the Guides had the riotous task of handing out stickers of the Canadian flag to some of the 600 odd kids trying grab at them.

From the left, Madi, Shayla, Tashina

 

Guide: Emma. Child: dunno

 

After we got through that, the game started. It was being played on rough concrete and in heat. The kids had an advantage as they were used to the torrid conditions and they had home support. They were given even more of an advantage when the Guide, Emma, unfortunately slipped and cut her leg quite badly. She had to be taken to the clinic by Rudolfo. The Guides eventually lost the game 2-1 but they played well. Tashina stood out as the star player. She worked very hard for the team and put in some hefty tackles. Sarya as well was great.

Pic: Sarah Korytko

 

Pic: Shayla Boutwell. Injured victim: Emma Walsh

 

After the football, we got to see an event which I’m not sure was traditional, but it was entertaining to watch. Each class in the school had, what I think was, a beauty queen. Each beauty queen had a sash across her body and a cowboy hat. The boys also had cowboy hats and cardboard cut-outs of horses. The boys had to gallop across the playground with the horse, jump and hook a wire through a hoop that was tied to string held up high (but in reach for kids). On each hook was the class number and a girl’s name. When the boy was successful, he won her sash and a kiss on the cheek. One plucky tall kid managed to get three. As you might expect, he had a very wide cocky smile on his face and walked around like stallion. The beauty queens sat in a row, batted their eyelids and looked all very pretty. The pressure for them to kiss the boys must have been immense. All the kids stampeded around and roared “beso, beso, beso”. It was quite “machista”, but funny nonetheless.

Pic: Sheliza Ismail. Beauty queens

 

After the event, we went back to our abodes and met up later for a painting session. This time, half of the town’s kids wanted to help. Confusion doesn’t begin to describe the events. We were still working on the under-coat of paint, but it was being splatted everywhere. It was decided after that day it would be a “Guides only” activity, although the odd bit of help from the locals wouldn’t go amiss.

 

Pic: Sheliza Ismail. Chaos.

 

That night, the Girl Guides of Honduras had yet another activity set up for the Girl Guides of Canada. I felt sorry for the Guides this time. They were put into a five-a-side tournament against girls who played week-in week-out. This was also done in front of the eyes of all the Pespire locals, who were making a high-pitched yelping sound that sounded like a small dog in pain. The Girl Guides were already knackered and two people down. A couple of Honduran Girl Guides joined in, but my gosh, this was a different class of football to the school. Sheliza was in goal and she did very well at first, but then the team were soon over-ran and they ended up losing 15-0. The team they were playing against were also a bit physical and let the Girl Guides know it too. The Guides kept going and I was proud of all them. They were out-classed, the spectators were laughing and jeering them in a language they didn’t know, which wasn’t nice for them, but well done to them. I’m sure if it were hockey, they would have thumped them (metaphorically speaking).

Pic: Sheliza Ismail

I went back early. The next day I would be going to Tegucigalpa to help Kris finally retrieve her rucksack from American Airlines. Also, I would visit the Girl Guide office for Honduras!

Read about it in Part Five, which I’ll update in the next day or so.


Pespire – Part Three

Dear all

So, we’re carrying on from where we left off after our first day in Pespire. The first full day was about to begin!

Thursday 4th August 2011 

The next day, we got to experience an assembly and the Girl Guides were given an official welcome from the school, Monseñor Turicos. There are just under six hundred kids attending this school, which according to the website, they have twenty-three teachers to teach them all – if the teachers turned up that is (as Kris found out one morning when she went in to observe, that a couple of classes had no teacher and they were just left to “read”). They have a kindergarten and then a 1st to 6th grade, similar to the USA. I imagine they attend this school until the age of 12 although please correct me if I’m wrong (I don’t know the yankee system). They then go to a high school or learn a skill. School starts very early in Pespire. They start 7’ish and finish at lunch-time. The rest of the day is spent in a hammock, or when the gringos are in town, they help to paint (sometimes, depending on the heat).

There was obviously much excitement for these kids, seeing gringos come thousands of miles to paint their school walls. There were all sorts of songs, fits of giggles and pointing. I am kind of used to this already at Casa Alianza. I was unsure what the Girl Guides thought of this. Because it was all in Spanish, the Guides understood very little and it was quite hard to translate it all. I think the message came across though…..“Thanks for coming!”

After the welcome ceremony, we got to meet the town mayor, who happened to be the boss of the host mother I was staying with, Marcia Wendy.

Lord Mayor and Wendy, my Host Mother

We then had a tour around the town, which allowed us to go into some of the houses where the Girl Guides were staying. Some were rustic and quite humble, which I quite liked. Many of the houses were connected on to businesses and shops that they had. We got to see tortillas being made traditionally on what I think was a clay stove. It was like the Black Country Museum, for those who have been.

 

A tortoise (which wasn't cooked on the stove above, if you were wondering)

I must admit, there is a growing trend here I have seen recently in Tegucigalpa and Pespire, that I think is strange and a bit, well. . . . . freaky. I have seen people selling baby chickens with dyed feathers in either pink or yellow. What these chickens look like later in life is beyond me, and if they’re safe to eat is another. Sarah and Shayla’s family, as it happens, had two, of either colour.

We then went to a college in Pespire where they teach school-leavers basic skills or career-wise professions, such as electricians, plumbers or in construction. I talked to one of the teachers for most of the 10 minutes we were there, but some of the Guides who were observing the classes mentioned that the books they were reading were over 20 odd years old and what they were learning was taught in Canada when they were 10 years old. The kids in the class were 15 and upwards. I don’t want to come across as judgmental, but I think it shows how humble the school and town are. They are happy with this, which is admirable more than anything.

After, we went into one more house then we went for lunch. After lunch, the girls played some games at the school while they waited to get their Dollars changed into Lempiras (done by Rudolfo – the bank in Pespire made an absolute packet in commission while we were there!). Not many kids were around but one or two got to see games played Canadian Guide style. We went back to the cutting and slicing and yelling game that Sarya taught a day or so before, and a plucky Honduran Guide tried to teach me a kind of Honduran patter-cake, hand slapping game which I couldn’t get to grips with.

 

After the games, we went to see the project. The exterior walls were to be painted beige and ocre. The first day, we found a shady area of the wall to put on the under-coat. We managed to get quite a lot done, but because it was the first day for everyone working in this intense heat, we finished a little earlier to play more games in the central square of the town. There was one game that I remember from my own days of Scouting that was called Crocodiles but in the Girl Guides of Canada it was called Ladders, which involves running and skipping over legs. It brought a lot of attention from the town and many people joined in which was nice. One boy in particular started running in any old direction he fancied during the Ladders game. I think he made a name for himself as the village clown!

 

 

 

 

After these days events, I personally was exhausted. Lack of water if anything. The next day we were in for another treat from the school, as well as the town, which will be updated in my next upload.

 


En Pespire (poem)

Hi guys

I went back to Pespire at the weekend and I wrote this poem, dedicated to the beautiful little town and it’s wonderful people.

 

En Pespire

When I go back home,
Where my head sits back in it’s dome,
I’ll remember these moments in which I roam,
…..en Pespire.
 
Where the locals grow mangos,
Dance to reggaeton, punta, and tangos,
Salsa, rock, or some sort of fandango,
…..en Pespire.
 
 
Where the foliage is green,
The stray dogs are mean,
But the delinquency is unseen,
……en Pespire.
 
Where the electronic fans work the most,
The boys and men boast,
While the women cook, care and roast
……en Pespire.
 
Where the cross sits on the hill,
The women walk past to thrill,
Spreading rumours that run off the reel
……en Pespire.
 
Where there’s an exotic breath of oxygen around the town,
Their skins are golden and a sultry brown,
Carne, frijoles and tortillas turn off the frowns,
…..en Pespire.
 
 
 
Life starts early and stops at mid-day,
Anything you want fixed will be met by a long delay,
Somehow it encourages people to stay,
……en Pespire.
 
Paletas are eaten and water bags are bought,
Wet Willies are demolished and Comal pans are sought,
There are yelps and screams while the football games are fought
……en Pespire.
 
The heat will knock you down,
To the dozens of hammocks that hang around,
Only sweet squeaks from birds and the fuzzy cackle from a radio makes a sound
……en Pespire.
 
The storms and lightening clean the air,
News comes from the next town that there’s a fair,
The rain calls it off but no one cares,
…..en Pespire.
 
 
The kids will make you laugh,
Cold water will be your bath,
It’s okay to have sweat marks and look daft,
……en Pespire.
 
The people they care,
They give everything and they share,
They smile and sit and stare,
……en Pespire.
 
So when I go back home,
Back to that funny old dome,
These are the wonderful things that I’ll miss,
The people, the heat, the food, the peaceful bliss,
…..en Pespire.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pespire – Part Two

Hi all

Before I get started with the blog, I just want to update you on a couple of things that have happened in the last couple of days. I’ve heard about the rioting back home. It seems to have caught on here.

  • Back in Tegus while on the bus on Monday (I know I always say I won’t catch the bus again but I always do), it drove past a strike taking place near Hospital Escuela (which is where I had the fright with the Maras a couple of months ago, and before that a thief tried to rob a woman with a knife behind me on the bus). This time, the police set off a smoke bomb near by to stop the demonstrators, who looked to be students. The smoke started pouring through the bus windows. Everyone was choking, screaming and shutting the windows. Once woman fainted. For some bizarre reason, the smoke bomb had no affect on me and felt super human and immune to it. Maybe that’s from living in Birmingham: I’m used to the smog! I helped a few people off the floor and gave them a bag of cold water to cool themselves down. Unfortunately I had to get off the bus not far from the riots (the demonstration had turned into brick and stone throwing) to get to where I had to go, so I got off, went into a petrol station, had a coffee and watched as students threw stones at the police. I don’t know what the riot was about but I wish I had my camera.
  • The second bit of rioting was at Casa Alianza while I was away. Nineteen kids have been thrown out after they rioted when staff were on a training day and some temp staff were put in place. Doors, windows, tables and chairs were smashed. They were also smoking. What exactly, I don’t know. It was all fixed before I got in yesterday morning although noticeably there were less tables. A number of the kids that I’ve interviewed for book have been thrown out and I was surprised some of them were involved. I saw some wandering around aimlessly outside at lunch time yesterday and today. Disappointment is the first word that comes to mind, and then stupidity.

Back to the Girl Guides, who thankfully never rioted (much).

Tuesday 2nd August 2011

Baleadas for breakfast, if my memory serves me right. Delicious. Some of the girls were a little unsure but on the most part, they were wolfed down. We then had ice-breaker activities and talked about the project, Honduran life, culture shocks they might have and various activities. One of the Girl Guides, Sarya Ross, introduced us to a game that involved standing in a circle, pointing, yelling, chopping, yelling and pointing, and being alert. I was crap at it. It would become a popular game later while in Pespire, which brought many strange looks but lots of laughter.

In the meantime, Rudolfo kept calling American Airlines to find out what was happening with the missing bags. Somehow they managed to send four of the bags to San Pedro Sula, and were then sending them on a flight to Tegucigalpa, and then driving them down to Valle de Angeles. Then other staff at American Airlines said this was incorrect and that the bags were being sent to Tegucigalpa. In the end they got there late at night. I don’t know how, I don’t care how. But it was good to see the girls’ spirits uplifted a little, even though they didn’t seem down at all. Luckily the missing bag that was still in Miami (where they had caught a connecting flight) belonged to Kris, the leader, who I wrote a poem about yesterday. The reason I say lucky that it was Kris who lost her bag is not because I dislike her or wish bad things happen to her. It’s just that Kris takes life in her stride and goes with the flow. She has been arrested for not carrying her passport while wearing a bikini when she lived in Brazil. She lives a bit. I hate to think what it would have been like if she was pissed off about it. She had to wait until the following Saturday to get it back. While waiting for the suitcases, we sat in the restaurant watching the CCTV cameras that were on the TV. There were nine cameras in all, but on camera six was a big spiders web. Every so often a spider would crawl over it. It was an arachnophobia’s nightmare, seeing the legs and ten eyes peering back up close. I’ve personally never had a problem with spiders but I could understand the screams. We then set a task for girls, to find all the nine cameras around the grounds. If they found all nine, they would get an ice cream from Kris. They didn’t find them.  No ice-cream.

Pic by Shayla Boutwell. In picure, Sheliza and Kris

 

Wednesday 3rd August 2011

The next day, we had water-melon for breakfast. The reason I remember this clearly was because I took an unused piece of melon, went to the aviary and started feeding the parrots. The first time I came to this hotel (I can’t remember the name of the hotel, sorry!), I remember feeding the birds pistachio nuts. They survived that so I thought they could eat some fruit too. Other Girl Guides soon followed with pieces. The parrots seemed to enjoy it but I hope it didn’t give them the runs. There were about six macaws stuffed in a small aviary. They looked lethargic and ill. They deserved a bit of fruit!

Pic taken by Girl Guide Shayla Boutwell

We then did a bit more training with the Guides and taught them some Spanish. Then we headed down to the main town of Valle de Angeles to look for gifts and change money. The bank, rather strangely, didn’t accept the American dollars, so the girls had to make do and get ripped off by the shops instead. Valle de Angeles is famous for being a bit pricey and it’s “dulce leche” (sweet milk, but it tastes more like fudge, giving me memories of Brixham in Devon). Luckily there were enough lempiras floating around between us to get any goodies.

Dulce leche Pic: Shayla Boutwell

We then made our way back to the hotel and then set off for Pespire. I think everyone felt a bit travelled out by this point. We stored our bags in the Mayor of Pespire’s office and then went to play more Girl Guide games – lead by Marcia Wendy, the Guide Leader and my temporary host mother. She is a delightful person with a lovely round face and wide cheeky smile. In the blazing heat, she had us all jumping around to games called Guavas, and Tierra and Mar, which is a bit like Simon Says but a lot quicker. I sweated a smell I didn’t know I could produce. It lasted with me throughout my time in Pespire as well. It’s scorching. Forty degrees C throughout the whole year except for the month of December where it drops a bit. I have lived in Seville which is 50c in the summer, but at least the Andalusians get a winter. The sun pounds this place.

After, we went to collect our bags and then the girls went with their host families. I met my host brothers, Jean Franco and Johan: both really sweet kids. I felt a bit guilty as Rudolfo and myself were taking over their bedroom. I helped Johan with his English homework but both of us were knackered. I then went to use the shower. I kept turning the knob but nothing was happening. It was then I was shown how to use a pila, which involves pouring cold water over yourself from the main supply that sits in what I can only call a huge sink and the water comes from a hole in the wall. I think the shower fitting was put in just for decoration. Also, the toilet was manual flush i.e. you pour water down the bog to wash away your cack. Nonetheless, it was refreshing. I loved it in fact and it felt like I was going back to basics. I can’t see the idea catching on back home, especially with our winters! Marcia Wendy giggled delightfully when she first say my face though. The best shower I’ve had in years (although there are a million mosquitoes ready to suck your blood lurking around). It was lights out for me.  Tomorrow, our welcome from the school “Monsieur Turicos”. It was going to be a long, long day.

Part three will come in a day or so!