Monthly Archives: October 2011

Dedication to the kids & recent news reports about Honduras

Hi all

This isn’t going to be a big update. First off, there was a newspaper article in the Guardian back home that referred to Honduras being the most murderous place in the world -http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2011/oct/10/unitednations-development-data. Having had a good read through the article and analysing how the stats were gathered by the UN crime and drugs and whatever department (murders as per every 100,000 people). I think it is a slightly unfair statistic and unfair reflection on Honduras. No doubt that Honduras has a murder problem, mainly between gangs and narco-traffickers, but I cannot see how it has a higher murder count than places that have a war going on, such as Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia. Life is cheap here but, as stated, amongst the gangs. The majority of Hondurans were very ashamed of the report and, I think, slightly angry. Apart from NGOs and the current government that is, who were probably proudly boasting the statistic to receive more funds. Apart from having a gun held up to me I have never really felt I was going to be murdered. Neither have my friends. Touch wood. There are dangers here and I have spoken about them a lot, although they mainly consist in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, some parts of Mosquitia and Olancho. I have also spoken in previous updates about how generous and how friendly Hondurans are. I feel very welcomed by people and it makes me want to stay here for the long-term. If you go to Amapala, Pespire, Ojojona, Copan Ruinas, Santa Lucía or Utila (when there are no angry French girls there), you are in paradise. The people, like the country, are of two extremes: very beautiful, or very dangerous.

The problem I see for the country is that, under this government, just like the past governments, is corruption. Pepe Lobo and his cronies just don’t care. A statistic like this will come out but all they will do is rub their hands, ask for aid (preferably in the form of cash) and then rob it, and then leave innocent people to suffer, live in poverty while the Maras govern the poor urban areas. Meanwhile, any resistance that pops up, they just squash it with heavy military police and accuse them of being terrorists. They also kill journalists (I would love to put a video on this blog from Youtube about this but I would fear a bit for my own safety – maybe on my return to England). This country needs a change but I have no idea where it will come from. How Lobo was allowed in anyway was very dubious. I only hope that very bad karma comes back and bites him and his clowns on the arse one day. If you can stare at people living in poverty everyday, and then rob them, you’re a very, very cold person. It makes me very angry to see. Furious in fact. I wonder how Hondurans feel. I love them for their patience, but it’s time they really did stand up to this nonsense.

Talking about some of the people at the bottom of the ladder here, the street kids, I went to Picacho with them today. I’ve been there before, by myself. It’s the big Jesus Christ statue for those not in the know. It was more fun going with the kids but like always when I bring my camera, they swamp me. It was great to hear some of them stand over the great views and say out loud in English, with a heavy Latino accent, “I love my city”. Here are a few photos (trying not to show their faces):

 

Being around them today made me realise how much I will really miss them, even though there are days I could bellow words of hellfire at them. They are really sweet and want to share whatever they have with you, whether it be crisps, drinks, wool, hugs or whatever. Sometimes if it feels they are just take, take, take, but other times they are give, give, give, and you can have a good laugh with them too. They say hilarious things. Sometimes they’re ill-discipline can make you cringe when you’re out and about, other times they can make you laugh hysterically. For example, up at Picacho today, there was a big sign saying, “Don’t eat the fruits from the trees”. What we had was 41 kids clambering over the trees, stripping it bare and then spitting the peelings out at their comrades. When the security guards came to stop them, they paid no attention and told the security guards that the sign wasn’t big enough. Anyway, here is a song that the kids love, by some smooth smuck from New York, Prince Royce “Corazon Sin Cara” – “Heart Without Face”. It’s a bachata that kind of gets everyone singing on the bus on day trips, or on the dance floor in Casa Alianza. Prince Royce embarrasses himself with a few lines to “all the ladies out there” during the song, so I’m including it for your comedy value too. But on the whole, the lyrics are sweet and romantic, about loving someone whether they’re fat or skinny. I’m not a massive fan, but the song reminds me of the kids, and I suppose it always will.

 


Proyecto Casa Domingo

Hola todo

Last night I was invited to another project that helps street youths in Honduras called, as you can guess from the title, Proyecto Casa Domingo. It’s a wonderful project that takes in six kids, with a mixture of pasts and problems. They are usually a bit older but it’s a bit more hands on than Casa Alianza. The staffs are able to teach the kids to be more independent, by letting them cook for themselves, help them sell things in the market which they have made, such as bags, bracelets and tortillas, more one to one assistance with homework, counselling and life skills like punctuality (maybe I should go there!). It gives the kids a structure and a framework, so they can mature into adulthood. Casa Alianza send many of the older boys there. The reason I got to visit was through a kid who was in Casa Alianza, called Kevin, who wears a woolly hat in the photos below. His story will, I think, feature in the book I’m writing. He ran away from home due to horrendous domestic violence from his step-dad, at a young age. He then got into drugs, but has been clean from them for some time and is making great strides in life. He is a good kid and mature for his age. He has grown a lot since being in Casa Domingo and seems a lot more confident, stable and independent since moving there. Ana, runs the project, I have met outside of Casa Domingo, is from Barcelona in Spain. The project has been around for six or seven years now and is mainly funded by the Spanish government, in a series of projects founded by them to help the integration of youths. I was very impressed. I had dinner with them, fish and banana crisps and beans, and for dessert, coconut flan, made by the kids themselves. I donated a three litre bottle of Coca-Cola which they didn’t refuse. Here is a link to the website and blog below. They’re in Spanish, for those who can read it.

http://www.injoca.org/hnd_inicio_sp.htm

http://injoca.blogspot.com/

And these are some of the pictures I took.

 

 

I have been doing some research on orphans in Honduras recently. There are, according to newspaper reports, 200,000 orphans in Honduras. There is a child population of approximately 3.5 million – that means about 6% of children in Honduras are orphans, maybe more. The worst thing is, the lawyer charges to adopt in Honduras, and all over the world for that matter, are horrendous. It puts people off completely. There are solicitors charging $10-15,000, which makes it very hard for people who want to change the lives of children. I agree with certain red-tape and the safeguarding of kids, especially with the problems with sex-trafficking and child abuse in Central America. I’m not saying that this is the main reason for the high amount of orphans here. Social problems and poverty amount to the majority of that number. Just something I thought I would include. Feel free to leave your views on this subject in the comment section below.

 


Juan Luis Guerra

Hi all

The Juan Luis Guerra concert was fantastic. I don’t know how many thousands of people were there. It was brilliant seeing everyone dance to the Caribbean/salsa/bachata rhythms. It’s a shame my camera ran out of battery. My friend Marlon Jav took a few pictures of the group I was with. There’s one below.

I have been listening to Juan Luis Guerra all day today. I am going to include a song of his, obviously filmed on a bus, with some wonderful dance moves which I think my young niece Ella will like. It is certainly better than the Venga Bus. I like the girl with the curly red hair in it. Can’t think why. Maybe I’ll write a poem about her. One of the best concerts I have been to. Certainly one of the most fun! The song’s called La Guagua and it makes me want to live in the Dominican Republic. Who knows! My next adventure after Honduras could be there.

The next video I am going to include is by Coldplay, a salsa version of Clocks, with Buena Vista Social Club. It was played at the concert before JL Guerra entered the stage. I really like it. I don’t care if you don’t. I do. It’s my blog. I’ve heard it on the radio in England before so some of you might be familiar with it. Listen to it below. Until next time.


Gunshots and Juan Luis Guerra

Hello everyone

I have completely forgotten to tell you about my time in Costa Rica. I hope to do it in the following updates. I also forgot to tell you that I had a gun thrust in my face last Friday. I was with my friends Hazel and David in Colonial Palmiras quite late at night, walking down the road in torrential rainfall. We were looking for a taxi to take us to some bar when we heard gunshots behind us, about two blocks away. I thought it was best that we took shelter in a nearby building where there were security guards. When I approached, a security guard just thrusted a gun in my face and told to go away. It wasn’t so much that he put the gun in my face, but the fact his hand was shaking that made me a bit nervous. “Don’t make any sudden movements,” I told to myself. I told him that I was a gringo and I had no gun, and that I had approached him only because we heard gunshots and we wanted to get off the street. He didn’t seem to care and told me to move on. I did so, joined Hazel and David and we headed to a petrol station where there were now armed police who had heard the shots and a lot of nervous people. We then jumped in a taxi and after a minute or so, Hazel and me had the following conservation:

Nick: Fuck me, that security pointed a gun at me.

Hazel: Did he?

Nick: Yeah!

Hazel: Oh.

And that was that. The rest of the night passed by fine. We went to a bar and watched a small man play live music (I can’t remember his name but he was from the Dominican Republic and he played John Lennon’s Imagine in Spanish). There is a jolly green photo of him below.

And here is a video of John Lennon’s Imagine with Spanish subtitles, sung by the scouser himself. Maybe I should play it to the nervy little security guard with the shaky hand.

Apart from that, there is nothing much new to tell you, only it’s been getting really cold here. Not -15c or anything, but cold enough to give you a chill. I’ve grown accustomed to tropical heat. It makes me a little worried about returning home to the snow in December. I think I’m going to spend the whole of January in the Botanical Gardens in Brum to get over the withdrawal symptoms. Why can’t England be a tropical country? Shit country.

I have been doing lots of writing for the book this week, so I’ve been a bit of a hermit sat behind the computer. Also, David Beckham was in Tegucigalpa on Thursday, as his club LA Galaxy were playing Motagua in the equilivant of the Central/North American Champions League. LA Galaxy won 1-0. It was a crap game and a crap performance from Beckham and I wish I could get those 90 minutes back. All the girls screamed when he touched the ball. So what! I get that every time I walk through Central Tegus, and I’m better looking. Just not as rich. Honduras seemed happy that he was here though.

Tonight I’m going to a Juan Luis Guerra concert. To those not familiar with him back home, he’s a very famous musician throughout the Latin American, known for playing lovely chilled bachatas with thoughtful lyrics. I’m going to include a song of his I like below. Enjoy.


A Noel Gallagher inspired poem (as well as by a very nice Catracha)

Dear all

I bet you are getting well and truly sick of my shrines to Noel Gallagher. Well, I don’t care. I would get a tattoo of him on my chest if he told me to.

I have just re-read what I’ve just written and agree with you that it’s a bit spooky, but it sounds quite funny so I decided not to edit it out. Anyway, there is a girl who I think is beautiful but I chose not to do much about it as I am leaving in a couple of months or so, and in that time, there is a lot of book to be written. Writing is my passion, my life, and to write a book has always been my first love. Whether Casa Alianza publish it is down to them. I don’t care too much now. I have put in the effort, even if they haven’t. I will try and publish it in England, either way. I’m going off on a tangent. I’m not going to name the girl. I’ve not known her that long, but she’s cool. Enough said. My emotions are in the poem. It was also inspired by Noel Gallagher’s new song, “If I Had A Gun” . Here it is.

A poem for someone

You wander around in circles and I wonder if you know who am I,
I can’t help staring into your eyes and I try to prolong when we have to say goodbye.
My words hide behind my tongue because I’ve only two months here,
And heart breaks do my head in, as well as fill me with fear.
Your eyes are full of life and you pass some of that to me,
And I love the way you chuckle at my cheeky flirting and glee.
You’re the only person in the world to me, the only soul I want with me now,
Every time I see you, I feel the need to lower and bow.
You’re a very beautiful person and you have a heart of gold,
And it really annoys me that I’m not that brave or bold. 
I hope you travel to my shores one day, and I could tell you how I feel,
In a five star restaurant in London, or over a fish supper meal.
Wherever you are, whoever you love, you’re happiness is more important than my own,
And I hope this is just a crush, a passing emotion, a loan. 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


Ricky Martin

Dear all

In the last couple of weeks or so, there has been a lot of controversy about the Latin American pop star Ricky Martin coming to Honduras. There were lots of reports coming out that Ricky Martin was banned from entering the country to perform a concert because he was openly gay. Originally he was, but it seems to have been overturned after Pepe Lobo went to the States and probably got a bollocking (a risky figure of speech) from Obama and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transsexual) groups. There seems to be some confusion, as I have read reports that he is not actually banned (though Pepe Lobo’s cronies and Catholic right-wingers in Government seemed to want to ), but children under 15 or 16 are banned from going to the concert because they are apparently a bit risqué. I personally don’t know. I think his music is a bit shite anyway. I don’t know how his concerts compare to those before he came out the closet. Either way, the Honduran government, religious or not, should really think about the message they’re sending to the rest of the world, especially if the country wants to develop and modernise itself. A senior interior ministry official, Alberto Espinal, has said the special restriction on the Martin concert is “to protect the mental health  of Honduran youth,” even in a country where there are regular performances from regaton groups that promote sex and violence and glorify drug kingpins without any restrictions imposed on them by the authorities. They’re making a mockery of themselves. What on Earth are they afraid of? While gangs are murdering one another and politicians are killing journalists and robbing the country blind, they seem to have more pressing worries than Ricky Martin and his risqué concerts. Yes, this is a Catholic country and there is a lot of machismo, but it’s also a Latin country and Ricky Martin is a huge Latin star. It’s like George Micheal (another artistic who I think is completely and utterly overrated) being banned from the USA. Oh wait, he was……

pic found on the internet, but is this the image that Honduran authorities want to show of itself around the world?

My mate Hazel showed me a clip from the Irish comedy Savage Eye, which pretty much sums up the situation, and makes the Government here making a ridicule of itself. Here it is.


Which Way Home

Hi all

A very, very quick update. This is the documentary I recommended in the last update, Which Way Home, about unaccompanied minors travelling from Central America to USA by train. I have found the full documentary on Youtube and I have posted it below. It has been on Channel 4 back home and it was made byRebecca Cammisa, who has turned out to be one of my heroes overnight. Very, very moving. Please watch it if you get the time. It’s a real eye-opener.

It has affected me personally. I have been talking a lot with a kid at Casa Alianza recently who is about 17 years old. I’ll call him B. He has tried to go to the US twice before. He has no parents. His brother is in Virgina. He wants to go again. He’s going with a boy who was in Casa Alianza in January. I have tried to make him think twice, but he is adamant that he is going. That’s that. But when you have nothing, just one member of your family living thousands of miles away, what would you do? Even if it meant losing your own life. Bravery is an understatement.

It reminds of the unaccompanied minors at the Refugee Council, who travelled from Afghanistan or Iraq or Africa alone. Then you think of all the kids who don’t make it, and it really hits home the problems there are in the world, what really is important life. Wayne Rooney missing three matches in the Euros for kicking someone? Fuck off. That’s not a problem. That’s a fair punishment for stupidity. Poverty, war, violations of human rights. And then you have dictators killing, soldiers raping, politicians robbing, gangs murdering, and peoples consciences go out the window, whether it’s Pepe Lobo or Robert Mugabe or David Cameron getting chummy with the banks.

These experiences really make you realise how lucky you are, but so frustrated at the same time.