Monthly Archives: November 2013

Pacman

Dear all,

I haven’t yet announced it, and the only reason I’ve not is because I’ve been a wee bit busy and distracted by the circus surrounding the elections and immigration things, that I am the new librarian at Dowal School in Tegucigalpa. I’ve already had a couple of weeks in the job, which has so far largely been counting books and doing the inventory before the now former librarian, Teresa Galeano, starts her new job at BCIE (Banco Centroamérica). To her great credence, she trained me up very thoroughly and she has done some great activities and seems to have virtuous artistic talents, a keen eye for recycling whatever she can find and a magnificent attitude with the kids.

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She’s also had convoys of patience while I’ve been reading out numbers during the book count (my seisentas and setentas – 60s and 70s – in Spanish can confuse people so it seems). Seeing her face when we thought there were 250 books missing was a picture, quite a shocked and furious one, though she’s been great at imparting all her knowledge about the library, given me plenty food for thought for activities and has been kind enough to bring me granitas de cafe a couple of times. I in turn have charmed her with my cocky sense of humour, brought in cake (I’ve had four different cakes for my birthday), pasta dishes, and Cadbury chocolate, though I don’t think she ate them ate the same time. At BCIE she will be an assistant to an English man, so I hope in some form that I’ve somehow prepared her for the stiff upper lip attitude, though I am not sure that I have this quality and, from what Teresa told me, he’s been in Honduras for 30 years or more, lured here by the charm and beauty of a fine Catracha lady (sound familiar?). All these years may have Hondurifed him and the stiff upper lip maybe tainted by the brown goo of refried beans in a baleada, but it does go to show that we Englishmen do hang around; a warning to Pam!

Being surrounded by so many books, education and stories is heaven to me. I have a huge thirst for knowledge, which I really should have had when I was at school myself. As well as the mountains of novels I look forward to reading, there are also nonfiction books about Honduras written by Hondurans, historical books and Honduran fables which I and I think many Hondurans never knew existed, which goes against the popular theory that Hondurans don’t write.  I’ve come across a few, such as Jorge Montenegro who has written books about Honduran legends and ghost stories for kids which are sometimes read out on radio at Halloween, though I’ve been left ignorant to the majority. Maybe it’s because they’re not promoted enough or that Honduras doesn’t have a strong reading culture (though that’s something I aim to change in Dowal School, especially amongst older kids), but I sometimes think it’s a very systematic technique the government use to restrict education to ‘the people’ and leave them ignorant to their dirty deeds. I have heard many times that critical thinking is not widely taught in public schools and does not have a significant section of the curriculum that dates back to the dictatorship, which might be the reason why Hondurans come across as passive and humble, whereas neighbouring countries have had a longer history revolts and revolutionary wars in attempts to stop regimes overwhelming the people. It seems to me, having seen what’s happened in this election, Honduras lives in a dictatorship that is disguised as democracy, and the yanks let it continue, as the current regime insures capitalism continues it’s  steady and overwhelming flow into the country.  But who am I to speak? I’m writing this update on my new Samsung S4 Mini! I dropped my last phone in a cab, giving the unknown driver an early, exuberant and over generous early Christmas gift.

Anyway, back to the books. As well as seeing many lush books, there are always a few which have crept along upon remained on the bookshelf for years with many people missing it as their scan shelves. One of them is about buying second hand cars in Illinois in 1992, but the below one is by far the best, the most retro vintage and a sign that our times is a throwaway culture. This game will survive the years, it’s still an arcade classic, and it’s so good that it has a guide that beats any of them today. Move over Grand Theft Auto, PACMAN is here to stay!

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Between the Red and Blue – part 2

Dear all,

Well, yesterday ended in a shade of blue, rather than red. The National Party, with leader Juan Orlando Hernandez, will be the leading president and party for the next four years (unless there’s another coup-de-etat, but I don’t think there is much chance of that considering Juan Orlando has so much power in congress and is popular with the military). I must say, I thought he was going to win, one way or the other, although I can’t say that I would have voted for him if I were allowed to. As stated in my poem, I can only hope he helps the poor, youth and people in desperate need of help, but fears are that he does not have much interest, and he is looking more so to put national police on the streets to bring law and order. These national police are riddled with corruption and often accused of extrajudicial killings. How much law and order they can actually bring remains to be seen. I am hoping, just hoping, that if he can penetrate the economy, it might bring more jobs, especially to youths and give them something to achieve (who will these jobs be open to though?). Hopefully he might do something about education, give everyone a fairer opportunity and access to it. The consensus of many (depending on who you speak to) that Pepe Lobo has been one of the worst presidents in Honduran history. I just hope that in four years time, we won’t be saying the same about Juan Orlando.

There were a couple of twists to the plot before the day was out, for sure, with accusations of ballot papers being found at SPS Airport marked with Juan Orlando’s name (before the election). There have been accusations on most sides of political parties paying voters for their vote. And then before all the votes had been counted and the official results had been released around 9pm last night, it was reported that Xiomara Castro (Libre) announced on Twitter that she was president of Honduras, which I think is quite comical. Whether this was out of desperation or an imposter, I don’t know, but it must have been done by someone “not in the right mind”.

Since, there have been accusations by the losing candidates that there seems to be 1 million votes uncounted for, but I can’t comment if that is true or not, or just hot-air from “bad losers”. It wouldn’t surprise me, as we all know, POLITICS is a very dirty game, whether it is in Latin America, Europe, Africa, North America or Asia. The U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kubiske, assures us that there have been 110 observers throughout the country making sure the voting is transparent and fair, even though there have been accusations of the U.S financially backing the Nationalist Party (maybe not the fairest of referees). The final results are expected through this morning. I doubt there will be any recounts and I expect the result to go through without a hitch. However, I am expecting more accusations and protests.

Here are a rough calculation of the main party’s results:

1. Juan Orlando – National – 32%
2. Xiomara Castro – Libre – 28%
3. M. Villeda – Liberal – 20%
4. Salvador Nasrallah – Anticorruption – 15%


Between the Red and Blue

Dear all,

This week it was my birthday. The 21st to be precise. 34 years of age. No longer will I have to hear, “la edad de Cristo”, (the age of Christ), which I’ve had to endure the entire year when I told people that I was 33 years old. I have been given three lovely cakes (as well as lush nacatamales by Mama Mina, Pam’s granny); one from my housemates, one from work and another from my brilliant girlfriend. A few pounds heavier and a couple of hangovers later, I am enjoying this afternoon in the sun awaiting the results of today’s national elections. I’ve been given plenty of chocolate to get on with eating, so expect so zitty-faced chele in photos on facebook. Unfortunately, just for the election weekend, it is also “ley seca” (dry law, sober law, or shite law, as I like to call it) so celebrating my birthday with copious amounts of booze has been constrained (well, not really, as we stocked up rather nicely a couple of days before). People mark their ballot papers, not with a biro, but with a finger print of brown ink, which makes people look as though they’ve been doing some very lurid sexual activities and not washed their hands.

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The reason for sunglasses in the above photo, I have somehow adopted the name Papi Chulo in my house, which kind of means Pimp Daddy. So, on my birthday, my housemate started playing a cheesy song by that name by an artist (if you can call her that) by Lorna, a young lady from Panama, which you can see below.

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And above is a photo of me standing over “mi mujer” like a Papi Chulo making sure she lights my cake. The candles state I’m 30. That’s fine by me.

I suppose it really is a red and blue weekend, especially for my Honduran friend Jess in Liverpool. She is an avid Reds fan now, and they of course played Everton (who play in blue) this weekend, battling out by what it seems like a very open 3-3 draw.

In Honduras, the clash, or the favourites, are the Nationalist (blue) and Libre (red) party. The Liberals, who are red and white, are also in with a strong shout, and I’ve heard many people talking about voting for the Anti-corruption party, whose leader is a football commentator and people question his sexuality more than his policies. The Libre Party was born out of the Golpe de Estado, the coup-de-etat, when Mel Zelaya was kicked out as president (who was leader of the Liberal Party, although he was let down, from what I hear, from people in his own party), and this in turn split the Liberal party in half. It seems to me that Libre party, whose leader is Mel Zelaya’s Mrs, is a little bit more popular than Liberals, but we will wait and see. I might be wrong. As for Nationalist party, well, Juan Orlando has a throaty rasp and sounds like Don Corelone. I am not saying he is a gangster, I’m just saying he sounds like one, just in case he is reading! That’s all I need to say about him! He is, many people say, supported financially by the US. This explains their thousands of adverts on television.

I have heard that some people are swapping their votes for a piece of power, on the promise of jobs that are hugely beneficial. I have also heard that ballot boxes were found already marked with a particular party’s vote at San Pedro Sula Airport. This could be just dangerous hearsay, so I prefer to keep quiet about which particular candidate this has been connected to.

I’m not sure which colour Jess will be supporting in this battle, but I have tried to be as impartial as possible. Being a journalist and a fan of the BBC (I a journo from the BBC yesterday in Mall Multiplaza as a matter of fact), I feel I have to be. I have been asked many times who I would vote for, and although I have socialist sentiments at heart, I don’t think I would sway to Libre, or any of them, as a matter of fact. As I said a few updates ago, a matter close to my heart, I stated that none of the candidates had mentioned anything about how they would help street kids and youths at social risk, which is ridiculously when you consider the amount of poverty and the fact that Honduras is demographically a very young country. No mention for special needs, medical care, hospitals or elderly. They guarantee that they won’t be corrupt, but everyone guarantee that they will. To me, as stated before, they have already lost my respect. Rather immaturely, when someone from the National Party called me on Monday evening last week saying that Juan Orlando would really like me to vote for him (even though I’m not eligable to vote), and who I would be voting for, my answer was, “Mis huevos, cabron!” If you want to know what that means, Google Translate it!

I fear though, that if Libre win, the National party will consider having another coup, and if the National party win, then the Resistencia will riot. Somewhere in the middle is probably best, so I guess, Liberals would be the most popular of the three leading parties. They are the party, however, who I think will finish third.

This election has inspired me to write a poem, as does most things. I wrote it in a coffee shop (not a dutch one). If I can’t buy beer on a Sunday afternoon, fuck it, coffee it will be. Hope you like it.

Between the Red & Blue

Lines and lines confined,
With all their hopes of peace combined,
To thieves of a political nature,
Who will chisle more at their country’s poor stature.
Military stand around with big guns,
In yonder, grim-faced, or making cynical puns,
About how people’s votes will count for little,
How the poor will toil from infancy ’til their bones are brittle.
They know the red and blue will corrupt and steal,
While the poor go without medical care or a substancial meal,
Violence will continue to pinch and erode their lives,
And those in power maintain to thrive.
On streets and television their jingles are heard,
Every one of them excruitating absurd,
As transparent and false as a hyena’s laugh,
As they think their people are really that daft.
People leave their voting stations with a coloured finger,
Journos sit by making notes that will minger,
Hoping to catch a strong opinion or two,
From proud voters championing that they’re red or blue.
The yanks hang in there, just sniffing around,
Making sure captialist seeds remain planted in the ground,
While Venezuela and Nicaragua look on closely,
Talking of socialism and communism rather boastfully.
We can only hope that the next leaders care,
(Unlike Pepe Lobo’s cronie fan-fare)
To close the gap between the rich and poor,
To stop street children from sleeping on dirt floors,
To stop violence and live in peace together,
As it seems Catrachos are coming to the end of their tether,
To educate everyone and permit everyone to strive,
Somewhere between the red and blue divide,
And try to restore some of that Catracho pride.


Casa Domingo (INJOCA) Graduation – Part Three

Hi all,

This is more than two weeks old, but I still think it is worthwhile adding. INJOCA (Casa Domingo) were running a salon course and a couple of weeks ago they had the graduation ceremony. It was delighted to be invited, and it was lovely to see a few of the girls I knew at Casa Alianza pass the course. Please find the pictures below. I am also including the Facebook page for you to obtain more knowledge about what the NGO do. Much of it is in Spanish, but you will understand what the organisation does and how hard they work.

https://www.facebook.com/AsociacionINJOCA?fref=ts

I would love to add photos, as I did take quite a few, but there seems to be a problem with it right now. I will upload these at a later date.


Radio Star

Dear all,

On Thursday, my tiny slice of fame in Honduras continued. I was on ‘Nergy FM, Black ‘n’ Soul, talking about ICYE, Casa Alianza and life in Honduras, along with Norma and Lourdes (staff at ICYE) and Julia (a current volunteer from Austria), with the DJ, Carlos, who went to Germany with ICYE a few years ago. There’s a lovely comradeship at ICYE, between new and old volunteers, and Carlos was keen to promote ICYE, talk about volunteering and get volunteers in Honduras on his programme. It was good fun. There were two interviewers, one of which was Carlos, although the other was in a different room. It was quite amusing, as I couldn’t understand everything the other interviewer was saying and I couldn’t lip-read him, to try and comprehend what was being asked. Also, his questions were quite long and substantial. Sometimes I had to guess the question, so I don’t know if my answer was coherent to the question. Nonetheless, it was brilliant fun.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/N-ergy-FM/176448442559069?directed_target_id=0

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Before that, I was at the ICYE office being videoed as promotion for ICYE. It was also fun, talking about and remembering experiences. The recording was interrupted a couple of times due to sirens and beeping horns, thanks to Tegucigalpa’s horrendous traffic at the moment. When the video has been edited accordingly and is online, I will post it on the blog. We then had a rush to get there. It shouldn’t been a rush, but Tegucigalpa’s traffic made sure that it was.


The Wild Party (The Lost Classic) by Joseph Moncure March

Dear all,

As stated in the last post, I am reading David Copperfield by Dickens. I derailed a little bit and started talking about the Honduran elections, which has annoyed me a little, especially in the regards to street kids and the complete indifference towards the issue between the three leading parties. Anyway, it distracted me from my main objective to introduce The Wild Party (The Lost Classic) by Joseph Moncure March .

Even though I am enjoying reading David Copperfield, it’s nice to have a break from it’s intensity. The other day, I went into a book shop in Novo Centre (I’ve forgotten the name of the bookshop, but it’s cosy and is a little less mainstream to it’s competing bookshop Metro Media in Mall Multiplaza) and I treated myself to the above book which I saw in a sale. You might have seen it before, and it might well be very famous to many, but I’ve never come across it. It’s set in the 30s in the Prohibition, a party full of infamy and sex (it also contains graffic artwork by Art Spiegelman, which could be classed as smutty, so it’s not for the under 18’s or people offended by such imagery (i.e. the prudes) and is written in the form of a long flowing poem. I’m so, so impressed with it, with the scandalous atmosphere and glamor of it, I thought I would advertise it on my blog. I’m not into cartoon literature that much (although I used to think Garfield was brilliant) but this is interesting and fresh. There is culture in Honduras, whether it is local or international. You just have to look for it. It’s a welcome break from David Copperfield, as well as the Honduran elections.

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More on the Honduran elections

Dear all,

I said a couple of weeks ago that I was reading David Copperfield, the Dickens classic, which I have been enjoying immensely. Mainly because of the style and flow of the writing; rich, compelling, strong characters, and a strong storyline. I also like it because of the social commentary of treatment of treatment. Dickens, who was obviously known for bringing the plight of kids in the Victorian age to the surface, gained a lot of respect from this. Not only for literates, but also from people who were culpable of treating children with disdain.

Honduras needs a figure much like it now.

In the Honduran elections, which take place in two weeks time (I’m fed up of the bunting and posters littering the Tegucigalpa streets, especially of the guy who is running to be a deputy in Liberal Party, Gabo, who in my opinion looks the cross between a pervert and a drunk), not one candidate has talked about what they will do to help street kids or vulnerable people. Libre, Liberal and National Party. It’s a serious issue to the country. The plight of Honduran street youth. The indifference. I guess it’s not in the plans or not a serious issue for these rich folks, whether they classify themselves as left-wing, right-wing, socialist, communist, traditional, patriotic or demanding change. Youth is ignored, and the culture is corruption. I fear the result of these elections, whichever way it goes. It’s a massive shame, because the people, like always, deserve better. As always, it will be left to IHNFA (an under-staffed and under-resourced government department), as well as NGOs to pick up the pieces.