Monthly Archives: November 2011

Yuscaran – Part Four

Dear all

As expected, since my last entry, I have not had much time to update my blog because I have been travelling throughout Honduras, Guatemala and Belize with my folks, we well as celebrating my birthday which was yesterday. I am now 32. I often say that, like a cheese or a good wine, we get better with age. Well that’s me all over, may I say so myself. So I am going to dedicate a Noel Gallagher song to myself, one of his new ones, AKA….What a Life!, as well as my time in Honduras and Central America.

I am writing from events over a week ago. I will keep it short. After visiting the strange little museum, we knew we had to head back to catch the last bus, or have to find a hotel in Yuscaran, which would have been difficult on the little money we had. We took a few more photos of us posing by the church, which you can see below, bought some churros and got on the bus. The ride back was magnificent. Stunning. With the sun setting behind the Zamberano mountains. It was truly wonderful, although slightly ruined when a very overweight women with a BO and farting problem made me have to hold my nose part of the way home. Also, the bus driver was playing rancheros, some of them by Vicente Fernandez, which I have written about before. I closed myself off and looked at the stunning beauty smacking me in the face on the other side of the window, making me feel even more like an adopted Catracho: proud to be seeing my adopted lands in such glory, with lush green valleys and the tropical incense seeping through. With the florescent colours pouring through the bus, it inspired me to write this small poem.

The last bus from Yuscaran

Vapors of wildlife fill my body,

Once polluted by toxins,

Now gushing with sun rays,

Poured in by the florescent sunset

As the bus rides into it lethargically.

Rolling hills of lush pine,

Stray beats of a ranchero enter my mind,

Otherwise it is blank,

Only the joys of nature entering my bloodstream,

And the smiles on faces around me,

Leave my worries under the carpet another day.

Here are a few pictures of us posing anyway.

 

 

 

For some reason, I don’t know why, the moment reminds me of the song Secret Garden by Bruce Springsteen, with it’s orchestra. Not so much the lyrics. Something did it, so here it is. It’s the tune from the film Jerry Maguire, which is not a bad film to be fair. Also a little song for Pame.


Yuscaran – Part Three

Dear all

In this post, I am just going to throw in a few pictures, as well as mention that I am going away for a couple of weeks tomorrow. My parents are coming to Honduras, we will be going to Copan Ruinas and then Belize, and then back to Tegus, so I do not know when Yuscaran part 4 will be up. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not. Anyway, here are a few pictures of Hazel, David and myself posing and a few more ornaments in the museum.

 

 

 

 

I am going to finish off this update by dedicating a little song to my girlfriend,Pamela Cruz, which I know she loves. I won’t be seeing her for a couple of weeks which we’re both kind of gutted about. The song is by Marc Antony (to those not in the know, it’s one of few dozen ex husbands of actress/singer/divorcer expert Jennifer Lopez). The song is salsa, which I have decided I am now an expert at (although I am often laughed at), and it’s called Tu Amor Hace Bien, which roughly translates as Your Love Makes Me Good. I have heard it when I’ve been out and about but I’ve never really known who it is. I would like to finish off by saying one of Pamela’s phrases, “WHAT IN THE WORLD!!” Here it is.

 


Yuscaran – Part Two

Hola todos

I am going to complete the second part of my trip to Yuscaran which we went to on Sunday, but first I would like to pay a glowing tribute to taxi collectivo drivers in Tegucigalpa, especially those which go to Cerro Grande Zona 4 where I live. The cars, which they have to rent I have been told, as well as pay Maras a chunk of their earnings, are often falling apart. Many don’t have handles to wind up the windows, the locks on the doors are buggered and there is more times than not a cranking sound every time they make it up the steep hill to the kingdom on which I live. They have to go up a winding hill, dodging potholes (there are plenty) while collecting 12 lempiras from customers and giving out change all at the same time. I am not great at multitasking, nor are most men, so I really appreciate what they do, and keeping great concentration at all times. They also get nagged at customers, and sometimes assaulted and mugged, or have to hear annoying little gringo voices from the back of the cab saying, “Esta esquina por favor”. So I have included the famous scene from Taxi Driver, in honour of these brave men who take to their white cabs everyday.

Anyway, back to Yuscaran, once we finished looking at the scary statue of death, we went on with our aimless wander around the quaint little town. Hazel and myself would often tickle David because we knew he hated it.

We then came to some stunning views which looked over the plains of the departmento (kind of like a county, province or state) of El Paraiso, which looks into Nicaragua. The streets were narrow, and the buildings were colonial Spanish, which reminded me of walking around the sleepy towns of Andalucia or my friend Sandra Bellvis’ town Vallada (which is in Valencia and well worth a visit by the way). It was an enjoyable stroll. We then came across a nice little bar looking over a courtyard, which looked more Italian than anything. It was nice just sitting and chatting about nothing in particular on a balcony, enjoying the warmth (we were also getting a kick out the fact that it was freezing back at home). The men in the bar looked like real Latin American cowboys, who were smoking, drinking and listening to really awful karaoke music in the dark. There were also huge hornet wasps hanging around. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the bar, but here are a few pictures of the views across El Paraiso and of the town.

We were then to a very bizarre museum called something like Casa Fourteen. It wasn’t actually called that but the name sounded like it. They had random objects lying around the museum, from horse saddles, to harnesses, to bear traps, to old television sets, to tables of old typewriters. We found out later there were newspaper cuttings from the Titanic there. We failed to see them. We were too busy posing for pictures of ourselves, which I will include in the next blog entry. Here are a few of the strange ornaments in the museum anyway.


Calle 13 – Latinoamérica

Hi all

I just thought I would share this link on my blog, introduced to me by Marlon Jav. It has wonderful lyrics, to those who can understand Spanish, and the video is beautiful. It reminds of places in Yuscaran which I went to today. Calle 13 is Puerto Rican and sing mainly hip-hop, but if you have been to Latin America, I’m sure you will enjoy it and identify with the song. I certainly did.


Resistol, snacks at Casa Alianza & finally made it to Yuscaran – Part One

Hi all

In the last post, I told you about Gabe and the 400 lemps he generously donated to the kids at Casa Alianza. This has been now used to treat the Casa Alianza football team to snacks and drinks on Friday which went down very well. If Gabe is reading, the kids loved it and I will send you the pictures in due course. It was appreciated by all. Thank you.

On Tuesday, it was my friend’s birthday. Her name is Luz. Happy birthday again, if you’re reading. We went to Chili’s. I have written about this place before. It is expensive by Honduran standards and is quite Americanized, but it is tasty and I do find it funny when I go there. I went there in my first week in Honduras. It was one of the volunteers birthday, Melissa, and I remember all the staff at the restaurant came out with maracas and drums and bells and whistles, to play to her “Happy Birthday”. Well, Luz didn’t go without. Hazel and me are thinking of going there some time to say it’s our birthday and get the attention just for the sake of it.

I also want to say “adios” to Emma Kneebone who returns to England tomorrow after 11 months here in Honduras. She came out the same time as myself and it was quite sad to see her go. We shared some Guinness the other night, brought back from Salvador by Lideny (it’s not sold in Honduras. These poor Catrachos are missing out. So am I for that matter). I’m not sure shared is the right word. I drank her Guinness and my own, but we shared memories anyway, of the stop off in Houston on the way to Honduras and how excited we were before we came. We both agreed that our favourite thing about Honduras is the people. They can by mad and dangerous, but on the most part, they are so friendly. Neither of us want to leave. I should be coming back in January anyway. But we have both fallen in love with Honduras. Lideny, who was a volunteer in England the year before, made sushi which was delicious and her cousins made wantons, which were equally muy rico. Lideny is Honduran but speaks English like a posh lady, she has a lot of British shrines in her apartment and I like to call her Mary Poppins (she pretends to hate it but really she loves it). I haven’t seen much of Emma throughout the year but I wish her the best. If you’re reading, I hope your brother’s concert goes well. Take care. And remember, “cabeza” is “head” and “cerveza” is “beer”.

This week I have been writing about drugs. I have read that up to 90% of street kids in Central America have taken some form of drug. The most common is the dreaded Resistol, which is a shoe glue, that the kids put in used bottles of pop and sniff it. It’s so popular that the street kids are often referred to by the unsavoury nickname, “Resistoleros”. I have written about this before. It basically melts their brains, destroys their nervous systems and gives them all sorts of breathing infections. There are no statistics about how many kids die from it. The company, HB Fuller, have had all sorts of criticism and abuse thrown at it, but they still happily sell it in Honduras, without age restrictions. HB Fuller make millions of dollars in Central America due to this. You have to wonder how much of this shoe glue is actually used for mending shoes. I have read that HB Fuller have allegedly said it’s society’s problem, not theirs. A nice way to avoid responsibility and continue making millions. At least 83% of street kids have tried, or taken, some kind of solvent. It’s tragic. When you see what it does to kids, the way it turns their faces grey, their eyes sunken and directionless, they’re driven mad by their need to get the drug, you do wish that HB Fuller would come down, see what it does and take more responsibility of their products. They’ve claimed it’s not toxic. Possibly words of someone who has been working in the Resistol factory for too long.

Today, after about 5 million attempts, I finally made it to Yuscaran. I was not let down either. It was beautiful. It was a lovely warm day for it too. It’s a quiet town without much happening, and people are happy to sit and stare at you, especially if you look like a gringo like Hazel and me. David Soto came along too. It’s unfortunate that mi amor Pamela had to be in Tela for work. I was basically walking around making wise-cracks about everything all day. Nothing really new there then. The day didn’t start brilliantly because I left my bank card in my room and I hadn’t much money on me (and an empty stomach). Luckily Hazel helped out all day. We got a bus that was en route to Danlí and then got where the road goes off to Yuscaran. We waited for 30 minutes for a bus, which didn’t seem to be coming, so we caught a lift in a pick up truck. There were some amazing views going into the town, but there was a really annoying pop song going through my head at the same time. For some stupid reason, hanging out with Hazel makes me remember all the cheesy Irish pop songs of the last 20 years or so, and not any good traditional stuff that I actually like. I have no idea why this is. Hazel doesn’t resemble any trashy Irish pop songs (apart from B·Witched. hahaha). Anyway, on the back of the pick up truck today, the below song was going through my head. It’s So Young by the Corrs. Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me, reminding me that I’m going to be 32 years of age in a week or so, and I’m dying to hang on to my youth.

Thank fuck it wasn’t West Life really, eh! The Corrs, I am sure you will agree if you’re a male heterosexual or a lesbian, are slightly better to look at too.

Anyway, when we got there, we wandered around a bit aimlessly around the old Spanish colonial town. It sits in the shadow of a glorious hill. Like most small towns in Honduras, there is a central park. This is by far the best central park I have seen. It has a wonderful working fountain and a nice wooden bar, which was unfortunately closed. It was like a small tidy jungle too, with queztals crying from the trees.

On our aimless wander, we came across a shrine of death in some house. There was a statue of, what I think was, the angel of death looking over a body (not a real one), but with photos of real people on the walls nearby. I was a bit mystified and spooked by it, but I still took a picture of it to spook all of you!

It is quite late at night, so I am going to stop there and start part two of this tomorrow. By the way, the stats on the website said there have been over 4,000 views of this blog. I would like to thank all of you for following. It’s been lovely reading your opinions and thoughts.


Maná and Gabe Bryan

Hola todo

101st update. Wow. I am really impressed with myself, I must say. Not as much as I was impressed by Maná last night. I knew of Maná from my time in Spain and I really liked them. They were founded in Mexico in 1978, so Wikipedia says. I had never envisaged in seeing them live. If you don’t know of them, well, you’re a loser. Ignorant b—–d. They are probably the biggest band in Latin America. Think of them as a Latin American U2, to an extent. If I’m right, it was the first time they’d gone to Honduras. It was a real treat. Like Juan Luis Guerra, people turned up in their thousands and danced and sung and jumped up and down a lot. The stand beneath me was shaking. But unlike Juan Luis Guerra, it’s more rock than salsa/funk/reggae. The drummer is probably the maddest I’ve ever seen, Alex González, nicknamed El Animal (good reason too). He was standing on his drums while playing them, then playing them while he was positioned backwards, and he had great long drumming solos, so I imagined it went to his head a bit. I went with mi amor Pamela, her mother and her friends, and was kindly treated to the ticket. It was romantic and brilliant. It makes me want to stay at the moment. And so does she! I didn’t take my camera because it’s big and it might get robbed at a stadium like that. Pam took some pics which I hope to put up in the coming updates. Anyway, here is one of my favourite songs by Maná. No Ha Parado de Llover, which means It Hasn’t Stopped Raining. I’ve liked it for some time. I love the acoustics.

The night before, I was asked by Casa Alianza if I would tour around a man called Gabe Bryan around Casa Alianza and Tegucigalpa. He was great. He had come down from New York for the weekend, as you do, to visit Casa Alianza, but couldn’t speak much Spanish. As not many staff at Casa Alianza can speak English, but I was quite happy to help out. His friend had worked in Casa Alianza many years ago and he had told Gabe to go down. Gabe loved it. He was really taken with it and said it was a real eye-opener. The kids lambasted him with humourous questions about the USA and the cost of just about everything he was wearing. He found it funny. It reminded me of when I started and I was being asked if I knew Wayne Rooney (which I think I said yes to). Within ten minutes he had all the kids hanging off him. He kindly donated 400 lemps to buy them something. I’m thinking of organising a party for them or an activity. After, he treated me to a meal in El Patio, which is a famous restaurant in Blvd Morazan. We had a combo for two, which really should have been for half of Honduras. If you love grilled kebabs, it’s your cup of meat. We were stuffed.  Anyway, if Gabe is reading, Casa Alianza is very grateful for the donation, the kids especially, and I’ll get them making those bracelets for you before Tom comes!


100th post!

Hi all

A century of posts! Wow. I have had nearly 4000 people enter the site and read my work. 3980 of those hits has probably been me admiring my own work, but there you go. I think that I’m ace.

The book has been really slow this week. I have been reading up about poverty and there have been statistics from the UN, INE (National Institute of Statistics) and various other places that state that Honduras has 60% of people living in poverty and 39% living in extreme poverty. Many of the stats conflict and confuse, which often makes me remember my favourite statistic: 99.9% of it is bullshit. One statistic in particular is the unemployment level here. INE (which is really government statistics) claims it’s 4% of the population. I can honestly say, that is the biggest load of gobshite I have read in my life. I have also read 28%, but this has no clear source, and people at work say it’s more. Some people work informally, such in agriculture, which is below minimum wage and it isn’t taxed (i.e. illegal) so it’s never registered. How much unemployment there really is, nobody knows. It’s a real killer though, because nearly all the themes of the book, whether its gangs, immigration, abandoned kids, sex exploitation, domestic violence etc, have ties with poverty. Whatever the statistic, it doesn’t quite explain the cold reality of starvation and how it feels to go without. No number can account for that. You just need to ask a few kids at Casa Alianza and the reality hits home. It could be one of those things that is wrong with the world. UN are busy collecting data about poverty without actually going in and getting their hands dirty. Yes, funds and organisation are needed. But simply saying Honduras is the third poorest country in the Western hemisphere doesn’t help morale and it doesn’t inspire the Hondurans to make huge drastic steps to change that. Their hands are tied by yanks, the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch and corruption. I’m no expert in these issues, but there seems to be a lot of talk and no action. Saying that, the economy is improving here, but who will benefit from that is anyone’s guess.

On a dark note (it’s about Halloween, but it’s definitely more cheery than poverty), I had a great Halloween night. I went dressed in a hybrid of the Joker and a mad doctor in scrubs. It should have been a zombie, but David Soto is an expert at facepaints and we all decided the joker facepaints looked better. We had tried to make our homemade facepaint with sunblock and baby powder before he showed up, but it was more of a mess than art (a bit like modern art really). It was for Marlon Jav’s birthday. Here is a picture, courtesy of him, of me.

I won’t lie to you, I was wasted by the end of the night. Tequila, thanks to a very special person who I will speak about in the next paragraph. And so was Marlon (wasted I mean). He managed to find the energy to have an argument in Burger King and fall asleep in Denny’s (an American eatery) before the night was through. There was also a dropped cake. Brilliant night.

During the night, I met someone. She was dressed as Cleopatra (I know this is the wrong spelling but I can’t be arsed to find the correct spelling). So there you have it. The night that Cleo and the Joker met! An interesting match I would say. We have been in close contact ever since and I think she’s brilliant, beautiful, funny, bright, sensitive, caring and I’m really happy to have met her. The most happy in a long time. It’s strange that we have met near the end of my stay here but who knows what will happen. She’s great and I really like her. Her name is Pamela Cruz. It’s not often that someone turns up in your life like this. I don’t want to embarrass her by uploading a photo of her but I am going to embarrass her (and rather cheesily, if cheesily was ever a word) by dedicating a song to her. It’s Temptation by New Order. It’s fitting that this is the 100th update too, also dedicated to Pam x