Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Halloween Romance

Hi all,

I don’t know much about Halloween to be honest. We learned a little bit about the history of it at primary school, I think, but then I didn’t pay much attention to classes and was usually concentrating on playing footy at playtime. There used to be apple bobbing, fancy dress and trick or treat, but I used to get bored of the latter because they would just give us sweets when I would want to play a trick. Anyway, before 2011, I’d lost a lot of interest in it and not gone to Halloween party in years. It was dead to me, excuse the very cheesy pun.

Then, in 2011, at a Halloween party/Marlon Jav’s birthday bash at LP Bar, I met a girl named Pamela Cruz Lozano. It was a funny old night, which saw her disappear for a stretch of the night to take her friend to the hospital, which we think was a case of trapped wind. Anyway, after a few shots of tequila, we were snogging like juveniles at the witches hour. Two years on, we still haven’t stopped snogging, shamelessly, in public areas, bringing lots of embarrassed and angry glares. Yes, it’s romance, but we also do it make people barf. This latter part is all a joke by the way. However, the last two years have flown by and have been great fun.

On this bewitching night, I was dressed as the joker; Pamela as Cleopatra. An unlikely couple, you might say, but then a boy from Hall Green and a girl from Miraflores is also just as unlikely. But romance blossoms from the most unexpected seeds.

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A year later, we were at another fancy dress party, this time as Bond (myself) and Pamela (femme fatale Bond villain).

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And this year, a very unlikely couple indeed, David Beckham and Pocahontas, although maybe a more Lenca version. Her cousin Santiago came dressed at a woman, although I’m suspecting he dresses like this every Saturday night. Pamela wanted me to go as John Smith (I asked her where I would find a John Smith beer bottle outfit in Tegucigalpa; suffice to say, she didn’t get the joke and she gave me the oddest look she’s given me in two years), and I suggested she came as Posh Spice, but she said no, which I can understand.

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I am going to finish off by wishing Juan Carl a happy birthday. He lives in the Casa Alianza residence. A brilliant lad who’s an expert dancer. It’s quite fitting, with his scary (but in a nice way), that his birthday is on Halloween. I am going to add Thriller by Michael Jackson because it’s Halloween. How original I am!

Thriller by Michael Jackson


Beraca Café

Hi all,

Wherever I am in the world, I also seek a place, a haven, whatever you want to call it, which I can call my own, that I don’t share with anyone and I can have a quiet moment to myself. It doesn’t always have to be that quiet, but a place of inspiration, where I can read, write and watch the world go by.

I had Parque Retiro or Estación Atocha in Madrid. I had a quiet little courtyard very close to the heart of city, while living in Seville, and then the whole Camona, just 30 minutes away from Seville, if I really wanted to escape the tourism and strange Seville snobbery towards outsiders. In Preston I had the Japanese Garden in Preston Park, or the saloon bar near the train station. In Birmingham I know of half a dozen places I can escape, many of them are also bars.

Tegucigalpa, being the chaotic metropolis that it is, you would think it can be a little tricky to get a moment’s peace. There are thousands of Espero Americanos, which frankly bore me to bits. However, there are a few independent cafes and restaurants which are quite easy to lose yourself in, be anonymous and feel safe.

In the next few updates, I will include a few charming finds, away from capitalism and characterless malls (the only shop I can actually enjoy in Mall Multiplaza is Metromedia).

First I am going to write about is Beraca Café. A few months ago, I came here to catch up with Danny Padgett, who I lived with briefly in Linaca (the charismatic grandmother of Tatumbla’s grandson). We sometimes meet for light conversation, with lovely soft topics such as racism and abortion, which brings eyes and hears in our direction. Due to it’s proxmity to Las Colinas where I live (the cafe is towards the back of Centro Comercial Centro America, where the cinema used to be, on Blvd Centro America), it’s a lovely place to sit in a rustic and homely decorated place, with settees, nicely laid furniture, which is open and airy. It’s situated in the lobby of the old cinema and one of the screens is now a church. They have nice coffee, though the coffee is nice in most places in Honduras (not from the canisters in conferences and meetings though, yuk) though the cakes, pastries and side orders sell it for me, along with the quiet and gentle air of the place.

Whenever I go, it is empty and quiet, which is one of the reasons I like it. However, because it is so tucked away, I don’t think it gives itself justice and it’s quite hard for it to promote itself properly. So, risking the fact that I might lose my peace and quiet nex time I go, I have decided to blog it and advertise it, having spoken to the boss briefly today (unfortunately I didn’t catch her name), who was obviously looking to sell her product. As I said, I’m already sold.

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If you live in Tegucigalpa or are stopping by (there is a Hedman Alas coach station very close by, with clear signals to the cafe, if you’re coming from San Pedro or else where in Honduras), stop by and have a coffee and brownie. Cheap prices for nice food, good atmosphere and nice coffee (they also play the Honduras matches on the great white walls, if you’re around in June/July 2014). To sit back, read a book and enjoy calmness while the city bounces around you (as well as escape the tram contruction that’s murdering the roads at the minute), this is the place for you.

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Now, sit back and listen to a relaxing tune from Goldfrapp.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwA4w1xiyKo


“Decisions – two lives, two cultures”

Dear all,

Yesterday I added a blog update about Pamela’s and my two year anniversary. It’s gone incredibly fast when you’re having fun, and it feels like only yesterday. I guess what keeps things fresh is being from two different cultures with so many differences, experiences and ways of thinking that we learn something new everyday. The fact that we fancy the pants off each other also helps, as well as feel that emotion for each other, the most misunderstood and irrational emotions known to man, an emotion that some psychologists and doctors won’t ever fully comprehend, which since civilisation has been the inspiration of a million songs, poems, novels, movies, letters, presents of chocolates, rings and flowers, kisses, slaps, humps, drinking sessions, sex marathons, weddings, children, families, and sometimes, unfortunately, murders and suicides (without trying to scare or worry anyone by the way. I’m emotionally stable, happy and sane (but isn’t that what an insane person would say?)), and this emotion begins with the letter L (and I don’t mean lust. Well, maybe a little bit). I of course mean love. And what things we will do for it!

Last week, I had some surprising news from a Honduran friend, Jessy Noe, who had been volunteering in Liverpool through ICYE. I emailed her to catch up with her and see how she was at CESAL, the NGO she was working for, only to learn from her reply that she had moved back to Liverpool to be with her beau, Karl Mottram. He had been in Honduras a couple of months before but unfortunately I never had to meet him. Of course, Jessy and myself have a couple of things in common in that we both decided to leave our jobs a little later in life, to volunteer in a far off exotic land, meet someone in this off exotic land, to miss families, friends and cuisine in respective maternal countries, and decide to be with this special person in this far off exotic land. Okay, if Karl was actually a Brummie (he’s a Scouser), it would have balanced the weights even more, but he’s from another of Britain’s great cities, which like Birmingham, remains so much better than Manchester! Anyway, she is now sorting out her immigration status in Liverpool. I remember from working at the Refugee Council, one of the old UKBA offices is based in Liverpool, but I don’t know if this is just for asylum-seekers. I hope the process is a little less chaotic than Honduras’, but I feel it might a whole lot harder, especially under this coalition.

She labelled her reply email, “Decision – two lives, two cultures”. The way I read this now, and maybe she feels the same, is that I feel I have two lives now, in two different cultures, in the way I behave, families, friends, the way I speak and do my business. I think what she means is decisions about relationships between different lives in different cultures, but we can read into it in different ways and find something to connect with. Beautiful either way.

About a month ago, with the NGO that Jessy was working with, I had the opportunity to visit a project called Centros de Alcance, which provide activity centres and opportunities for young people and families in some of the poorest, deprived and dangerous neighbourhoods in cities throughout Central America. It’s a wonderful project, and having spoken to other agencies and charities, the local people are making best use of them. I was meaning to write about it earlier, although through work and setting up the business, I’ve not had time. It was a chance for me to make contacts with various NGOs.

When we arrived in Colonia Estados Unidos, the barrio was crawling with security guards and military personnel brandishing big guns with their chests out, as Lisa J. Kubiske was in town. To those of you back home or elsewhere in the world, this name probably does not mean much to you; she is actually the US Embassador in Honduras. She was there, as I was, for the opening of this particular Centro de Alcance (Por Mi Barrio), which receives financial help from Fondo Hondureño de Inversión Social (FHIS), and USAID, as well as collaborations from Anti-Violence groups, Save the Children, World Vision and ChildFund. The building before was an abandoned school being misused by gang-members, from what someone told me. But now it was laden with computers, games, classrooms, activities and play areas. For opening day, they had the obligatory speeches from the VIPs, but the best part for me was when a 12 year old boy from the neighbourhood in his finest ranchero clobber and handsome cowboy hat sang lots of ranchero ballads, some of which were Vicente Fernandez classics, which left all the girls drooling for him and having a loud, proud and deserved round of applause. I didn’t get to congratulate him personally because he was busy making the important decision over which pretty girls he would allow to link arms with him. There were also some children doing Lenca dancing, and some slightly older children doing modern dance too. But the ranchero stud made it for me!

I am going to add some photos, but please do some research about these Centros de Alcance projects. They might appear in my blog in the future, especially as Casa Domingo is likely to get involved. They are much needed community centres, which have been doing a great job over the past few years now.

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I think I’ll finish off by playing one song from Vicente Fernandez to dedicate to young man who whooed the girls at Centros de Alcance. Then I’ll add a video of some well-known scousers, for Jessy and Karl.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A2ksLiT55U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3RYvO2X0Oo


Two year anniversary

Hi all,

This week, Pamela and I celebrate two years together as a couple, and I would like to say how delighted I am. I was also reminded by my parents that they are celebrating their wedding anniverary this week (1st November). So, while shops sell out of fluffy big pink cuddly hearts and teddy bears mid-February, we are celebrating a romantic time in the windy and cold months of October/November. And instead of buying these pink fluffy hearts (and don’t call me a cheap-skate), I have written a poem for Pamela, which I am plonking online, with a song and a photo! She complains that she doesn’t appear as nearly enough in my blog as she feels she deserves to. Well, until next love x Only joking x te amo x

Mi Sol

I encircle you 365 days a year,
I think of you every second of those days,
And your rays slash through clouds, rain clouds and thunder storms,
To bring a series of serene smiles from June to May.
You’re a bigger force than you would ever think,
You snap me away from a temper faster than I can blink,
Bringing me to laughter and a sea of calmness,
With no stiff words and a mettle that is harmless.
You make my Garden of Eden grow,
You make me feel warm with the same softness as a droplet of snow,
You make my hair more blond and my eyes more blue,
You bring serenity when the world is directionless and untrue.
You are my sun in more ways than one,
You light up my life, and his, and hers, and its,
You’ve gathered my bits and hauled me together,
You are my light, and you will always shine through any weather.

aaa


Entrepreneur, journalist, writer, teacher, tv star…..everyday, a new string to my bow

Hi all,

First of all, I forgot to mention, a couple of weeks ago, my moment of tv fame took place on Simplemente Dorys on a random Sunday. Some people saw it. I’m not recognised out on the street yet, but little by little!! Unfortunately I missed it as I had an urgent translation job to do. I’m hoping my friend Luis sends me a link and I will put it online. Here’s a photo anyway.

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Talking of translations, the business is going slowly at the moment. Pamela and I are now co-owners of Top Translations. I am in the process of putting together the website, which is more time-consuming than a blog. Part of the registeration process is having the news of it printed in El Heraldo. So, I thought I would paste a copy in my blog. See below.

newspaper ad


Honduran Elections

Hi all,

We’ve stepped into the final month of the Honduran national elections. I myself am sick of seeing Juan Orlando’s, Zelaya’s and Villeda’s faces pasted over every billboard, lamp-post, car sticker, flag, along with those of their deputy’s and mayor’s, as well as the constant tv advertisements (there have also been Juan Orlando shoes!!). I told Pamela that the sooner the elections are over, the sooner I can stop barfing over the smug grins and insidious eyes, pretty much faking every word they say and hiding the very well-known secret plans they have to embezzle desperately needed public funds into giant great big holes that will be covered up, sometimes with military and police assistance, with not a soul punished. But as Pamela reminded me, no one’s going to bother clean up the streets afterwards, so their faces are likely to be stuck around in my memory for a long time to come.

I like to try to paint Honduras in a more light to bolster tourism and get outsiders to understand the real Catrachos, who are very colourful, kind, hospitable, friendly, un poco loco, un poco sano, honest hard-working people who consist of 90-odd-percent of the country, and not the 10% who kill, steal and corrupt. There are delights of the wildlife and stunning landscape, the fantastic coffee, the Lenca artwork and tasty cuisine.

However, while reading the Guardian online, I came across this story commenting on the elections here. It’s a great newspaper, to those not in the know, far better than the tabloid and Daily Mail bog-roll. I am remaining neutral throughout the elections. I can see how the article might have a small sympathy towards Partido Libre, who many claim here is a communist for its links with Chavez in Venezuela. On the whole, I haven´t followed the promises or politics of Partido Libre, so I can’t say for sure if this is true. It comments on how the country has gone downhill since the coup in 2009, which I can’t say is true either, since I came in 2011. However, it suggests here, as do many, many Hondurans, that the country is poorer, that distribution of wealth is worse, and that Pepe Lobo (the President) has no clue. I probably do agree with the latter part. I comments on how Obama did not class the coup as illegimate, even though the majority of the Western hemisphere did (but that doesn’t matter, right?), which has brought quite a bit of disappointment in Honduras. Obama was seen a great beacon of hope for most people in the world, but especially in Honduras.

It also talks about Juan Orlando’s (the Partido Nacional’s president candidate) position in congress, and links with key government institutions, who will seem to be counting the votes. Very, very risky if you ask me, but that’s the situation. Also, his influence with the military and press freedom, which for a journalist, is also worrying.

It’s probably true, that Partido Libre are the most popular party, and probably have more voters. When I was in Trujillo early this year, there were flags flying everywhere, along with most of the north coast and campesino areas. But are they truely the party of the people? Many suggest that poorer are being lied to, false promises etc, while the Guardian suggests that there was far more equality. Some people have told me that they would even emigrate if Partido Libre were to win! I just don’t know. But one thing we have to think about; will their votes be properly counted? I know there were protests about this during the last elections that were silenced. Again, I just don’t know. I read and hear things that are impossible not to catch one’s ear.

Liberal Party? I think Villeda is the “Nick Clegg” of the bunch. There is also the football commentator (I keep forgetting his name) who is running for the Anti-Corrupcion party. I would like to say he is kind of the “Farage” of this Honduran soap opera, but no one would like to be linked with that name (although it does seem to have attracted a great many people who are just pissed off with the three mainstream parties, and demand change (just a hugely different one to UKIP’s)).

As I said, I try to keep my nose out of politics here, as it’s a bit too whiffy for me. However, if I choose to remain the “idiot gringo”, apathetic and appear innocent to all these whiffs, does that make me part of the system? Does it allow the mess to continue? I don’t know. I’ve no right to vote either way. The vote takes place the weekend after my birthday, which is a massive shame; alcohol is not to be sold during the weekend of the elections (homemade guaro, anyone?). I guess I will be hiding behind my horchata then!

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/29/honduras-democracy-presidential-election


“Regalame money”

Hi all,

I was sat in Plaza Miraflores the other day drinking a latte at a table and generally minding my own business on a hot and humid day in quite a busy food court, when my eye was caught by a boy walking around the tables asking for money. He was dirty, wore ragged Manchester United shirt, blue shorts, had a strong whiff, rubber shoes, no older than 12 maybe, but his face looked quite a bit older, especially by judging from the eyes. As they say, eyes are the windows to the soul, but kids on the street obviously age a lot quicker than the average kid who’s from a safe and secure background. I was surprised to see him in the mall without being spotted by the security guards, who usually shoo away anyone who they feel is “undesirable”. The boy came to a table where a young man was sat. A foreigner, with blue eyes and cleanish and cool attire. From his accent, I think he was French or French Canadian (maybe French Swiss who knows). From working at Casa Alianza, I know how persistent street kids can be, especially as they are often in survival mode and they have had to resort to begging, without having the education or know-how to make money through other means, as of yet. I could tell that the foreigner, who seemed quite young and hot and bothered, wasn’t having any of it. He first signaled the boy to go away, but the boy didn’t budge, and continued with sullen eyes and his hand out. The lad then stood up threateningly and shoo’d the boy away, which I felt was completely unnecessary. It obviously caught the attention of the security guards because one came over, grabbed the kid and dragged him away. While being dragged away, the boy showed his middle finger momentarily to the foreigner, which made me smile. The guy could see that I had been watching the whole episode. I think at that point, he could read my thoughts about him, felt a little regretful and embarrassed, and then left.

It was a bizarre moment, which happened in front of everyone. No one did anything to help the boy, me included, and no one cared. The boy wasn’t in the wrong. He didn’t do anything bad. Just begging. I don’t know if people felt uncomfortable, embarrassed or what. But the indifference reminded me of while I was working at Casa Alianza, when I would be on the streets conscience more than ever of people making wide-berths around a street kid, or how people felt “okay” again after the kid was removed a cafe, coffee shop or mall. It’d be done on the sly, but nonetheless, done.

It inspired me to write a small poem on the back of an Espreso Americano receipt about an ill-humored foreigner trying to deal with a kid who is persistently begging. I hope you enjoy.

“Regalame Money”

As I was drinking coffee,
A young boy said to me,
Regalame money, caballero,
Then I’ll let you be.”

I put a Lempira in his hand,
He then turned and looked at me,
“You have more than this, grin-go,
Give me a dollar or three.”

“No,” I said to him,
“That really isn’t fair.
I’m a bit skint, as well, you know,
This you don’t seem to care.”

“Tranquilo, Mr Gringo,
Stop thinking of your wealth.
I have no home, I’m feeling hungry,
I’m doing this for the bare minimum of my health.”

“No,” I snap back at him,
“Take the Lemp and run.
I only just manage to survive myself, you know,
Thanks to my rich mum.”

Who’s living the real cap-in-hand existence?