I think this will be the last update about the project in Pespire. It has been nice recollecting the memories and the fun we had there. I am sure some of the Guides had other experiences they would have liked to have shared. Feel free to send me your favourite memories and I will be very willing to put them on the blog. I will be returning to the trials and tribulations of Casa Alianza from here on in.
Saturday 13th August 2011 continued…..
We then made our way to the dining room for lunch where there was very companies having functions and meetings. It was full. I remember one of the companies was Cerveria Hondureña, or something like that, which is a bit like a brewery. I really should have taken the opportunity to make some contacts and see if there were any volunteer beer tasters needed. Oh well. It wasn’t forgotten that it was Sarah’s birthday. We had a cake for her and all the staff in the restaurant sang “feliz cumpleaños” in true marachi style, drums and hand clapping and whistles an’ all. From the look on Sarah’s face, it seemed that she’s not a girl comfortable with lots of attention, especially 200 people smiling at her and clapping. She smiled back and was probably biting her tongue and thinking, “F–kers!”
After lunch, the girls bought some coffee that was made on the site of the hotel. Catherine was annoyed the Guides didn’t get to see how coffee was made. The Guides wanted to go shopping, so off we went to San Pedro Sula.
It was an hour’s drive or so. I can’t remember the name of the market we went to but we went to but it was artesian and fairly safe as markets go in Honduras’ cities. There were hammocks and bracelets and lenca pottery and more hammocks and t-shirts and more hammocks and spirits and more hammocks and coffee and…..well, you know what’s going to come next. I bought a lovely small Lenca pot for 65 lemps (just over two quid). Catherine pointed out that it had a tiny crack. It is the style, as it is quite old. I also felt quite jealous of Kris buying a comal pan (a tortilla pan) in Pespire so I bought a nice small iron one for 100 lemps (just over three quid). Kris was quite adamant that she wanted an iron one, which was not easy to find in a small town in Choluteca. I found one straight away in San Pedro. Ha ha Kris. Catherine also pointed out there was a dent in it. Thank you, I thought. It was tiny but she has very, very high standards. I also bought a nice big mango, which had no cracks or dents in it, and I shared it amongst the Guides and Guide leaders that night.
We met back at 4:00 outside the market, only for two Guides not to show up. It is always worrying in a dangerous city like San Pedro Sula when two teenage gringas don’t show up. You automatically think the worst. They were still shopping in the end, but the market was closing up the doors (with shoppers still inside. Doh!). Rudolfo and I were running in and out the market trying to find them when I caught the eye of a young woman with blond hair and bust-ful clothes, who I must say, was quite pretty in a very slutty kind of way. I was sweating in the humidity and a bit worried about the girls, but the transcript below, translated of course, describes the situation:
Girl: Hello, handsome. Your eyes are beautiful.
Me: Many thanks. Have you seen two girls? Gringas? A bit taller than me?
Girl: No. What’s your name, Papi?
Me: Nick. I’m a bit busy right now.
(I was walking fast at this point. She was keeping pace).
Girl: I’m Silvia (fake name, I can’t actually remember it). Where are you from?
Girl: Wow. That’s far. Is it beautiful?
Me: Yeah, more or less.
Girl: I think it’s beautiful, like you.
Girl: Do you like me?
Girl: You want to see me?
Me: I need to find these two girls, you see.
Girl: 1000 lemps and I’m yours.
Me: Err….no thanks. I have to find these girls and go.
Girl: Okay, but if you change your mind, have my number.
Me: No thanks.
Girl: Don’t you like me? (with puppy dog eyes)
Me: I’m a bit stressed right now, but you do look nice, yes. Goodbye.
Girl: Bye bye then.
That was the end of that. Luckily the Guides returned unharmed and full of bags of gifts. We then made our way to the hotel that wasn’t far from the airport. They were quite swanky pads. Kris managed to get a Diet Coke for her son in the shop there. He likes trying Coca Cola in different countries. He went to Europe on a cruise last summer and had a Coke in every country. I don’t know how many countries he went to, but it was a few. I wonder if he’ll do the same with Amstel Beer in 10 years time.
That night we had pizza in the hotel for dinner. Catherine pointed out there were no spoons on many of the tables. There was on Rudolfo’s. Rudolfo offered his. She accepted. It was nice pizza too. There was a mix up in the order (we got more than we needed, which was nice) and we had lots and lots of doggy bags.
After, we had a reflexion meeting. It was nice to hear the girls thoughts, how much they enjoyed it, what they enjoyed, what they found hard, how they’d grown and taken so much away from the experience. They exchanged stories and I reminded Madi and Jessie of their funny cock-up in Spanish. During a couple of lunches, their host family asked if they enjoyed the food. They replied, “Mucho gusto”, which means, “Nice to meet you.” I can see how they got mixed up, as “Me gusta mucho” means “I like it very much.” I couldn’t but laugh when Madi described the host family’s confused reaction. It was true what I said that I was very proud of the girls. Many of them hadn’t gone to a village like that, especially in a rural Honduras where it is slow, quite poor, very different to the style of life they were used to. They overcame many challenges with great acclaim and they were mature beyond their years. I drew comparisons with my own experiences in Honduras and the challenges with language and culture I’ve had to overcome. I have to say, I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of it (apart from the conflicts with Mormon grannies and Casa Alianza on occasions). I feel I’ve grown a lot. I love Honduras. I think it is one of the most fascinating countries on Earth. The people are friendly, funny and charming, not to forget humble (unless you’re a fat loaded politician, or something similar), the natural beauty is staggering, and the beans, no matter how much I complain about them, are f–king brilliant. They don’t teach this stuff at universities or in text books. You have to come here and live it out. You have to learn the difficulties that the people have to put up with, day in, day out, but mainly with a smile. It’s admirable, but sometimes you do wish there were some sort of revolution here to kick out the bad apples (thieving politicians and Maras). You can’t see it happening as people are quite passive here. Some people say we Westerners, from England, Spain, USA or Canada, or wherever you might be reading this, are very lucky. Financially we are, despite what you read about the recession. We’re fat cats really. But seeing people smiling and getting on with life, like the kids in Casa Alianza, it makes me think that we have a lot to learn from Honduras. I think of my own complaints. They’re nothing. It’s just greed. Pathetic really. I put it behind me. I love this country and want to stay here. Finding a way to live is the problem. But I do feel like ‘Nick “El Catracho” Rogers’
To conclude the reflexion meeting, everyone learned a lot. Even Rudolfo, who has been on these projects before. The Guides did a very commendable task and the experiences will live with them for a lifetime, I hope.
That night, I went to bed late. Stupid really. We had to be leaving the hotel at 4am. We got to San Pedro Airport. I would now like to launch into a tirade about the Cafe Americano staff there. They need customer service training pronto. I went up to the counter and said good morning. No reply. “Are you open?” No reply. “I’m here. Hello.” No reply. There were no excuses. The staff talked amongst themselves and could see I was there, blatantly ignoring me. “What’s the matter with you!” “Yeah, we’re closed,” a girl said, and walked away. Bitch. I was desperate for caffine.
It was then time to say goodbye to the Guides, who were eating cold pizza before they went through security. I was sad to see them go. I am glad they enjoyed themselves. As I said, I hope the experience lives with them and they have taken something valuable away with them. Waving goodbye, smiling and nodding. Yes, Rudolfo and I knew what you were saying Kris. Hahahaha.
I am now going to finish with this final picture in the airport. It’s been a pleasure.
For me, it was a five hour trip back to Tegus (home), and a return to the realities of the street kids.