I got there at 10am sharp, worried that I would miss the event, with my yellow ticket and quite excited to see them all. I had left the house late and was cursing myself, saying, “I can’t make jokes about Hondurans being late if I start picking up these unpunctual habits”, so I caught a taxi directo, knowing it’s quicker and safer than a taxi collectivo, but also more expensive. Funnily enough, and I shouldn’t be too shocked, the event was an hour late. Stressing for nothing. In the meantime, I helped a lad called Maynor with his English homework. He studies every weekend at a unversity close to my house. Like many students in Spanish speaking countries, he has “miedo de ridiculo”, fear of the ridiculous, meaning he would rather not say much in the fear of making a mistake. I’ve noted this about Hondurans, that they know a lot more English than they let on to, mountains and volcanos of vocabulary that come out in swarms when you least expect it, but then they keep it stum out of lack of self-confidence. I always say that they should adopt a braver attitude when learning languages, not be scared of making mistakes, because you can come out with the best stories (I still remember learning Spanish with friends in Valencia and getting mixed up between “pollo” and “polla” at the the dinner table; two quite different things! Go on Google translator to find out if you don’t know what these words mean).
Maynor has always been a bit more quiet and serious, though chilled, compared to the other lads in Casa Domingo. He’s never said anything about his home life. He’s a private soul, about 18 years old, hailing from barrio Los Profesores in Comayagüela, often referred to as rather uncharmingly as Tegucigalpa’s ugly sister, otherwise known as “the poorer half of the city”. Los Profesores has it’s problems with poverty, for sure, and usually and unfortunately, poverty comes hand in hand with violence. There’s also issues with flooding in the neighbourhood too.
Maynor wasn’t impressed by the English homework he had been set. He had to do a presentation of a song, talk about the meaning, the vocabulary, any verbs or phrases he was unsure of etc. Most young people in their 20s are very particular about what music they do and don’t like even if glides over a few genres, and let’s just say that James Blunt, You’re Beautiful, is not one of his, or many people’s, favourite song.
When I asked him what music he did like, he led me over to the computer, started up youtube, smiled with a devilish attitude, and typed in Hells Bells. It seems that, with help from looking at the lyrics and having a dictionary in hand, much of Maynor’s English vocabulary derives from listening to songs by AC/DC. He sat there, looking at me proudly, reciting the lyrics with a nice Spanish lilt, without looking at the computer screen or monitor:
“I’m a rolling thunder, a pouring rain /
I’m coming on like a hurricane /
My lightning’s flashing across the sky /
You’re only young but you’re gonna die…”
Then we looked at James Blunt to look at the homework and on his face appeared the same look of disgust I’ve seen when the name James Blunt is mentioned. I don’t care either way, but Maynor pointed out very clearly that the UK can lay claim to have some of the best and worst music in the English language. I kind of agreed with him, not to neglect other great/shite music artists from English speaking countries, but when you think of Oasis, and then One Direction, he has a good point! I said James Blunt was pretty much the Enrique Iglesias of English music; cheesy and crap, which he seemed to agree with
We started going through the James Blunt song, and I asked him what he thought of it. His instant response was; “una mierdaaaa”, which I think doesn’t need to much translation, especially if you know a little French and have heard a universal word very similar to the above one. He asked me what I thought about it, and I replied something upon the same lines, just a little less crude. When it came to the meaning of the song, I asked some concept questions about whether it is a happy or sad song? Does dear old James win the heart of the girl he’s wittering about? Why not? Maynor looks at me a little lost. I then ask, “do you think James Blunt have confidence in himself? No. He doesn’t. He doesn’t talk to her. He misses the opportunity. The song is about lost opportunities.” Maynor’s response was to giggle at the sentimental rubbish that I’d just come out with and cheekily snigger the word “mariposa” (meaning butterfly), which I still don’t know if he meant for me or Mr Blunt, but I saw him writing down exactly what I was saying to use for his homework. Git! I’d unwittingly played a bigger part than I intended to for his homework.
It was quite obligatory of me afterwards to introduce him to Oasis, which I could see struck accord with him (as it does with most people). He knew the songs Wonderwall and Stand By Me, but Live Forever he hadn’t made him sit and think for a few minutes.
It was a nice moment, sitting there, listening rain outside as he replayed it a couple of times. He then shook my hand, thanked me profoundly, and then we were interrupted by Andrea, who let us know that the graduation was about to begin.