Monthly Archives: March 2014

Omoa – Part Three

Dear readers,

Well, the last time I wrote about this trip, we were leaving Tegucigalpa with a car of booze, a few hours later than anticipated. 8 or 9pm if I remember right. I had a can of Four Loco (cherry flavour I think) in my hand which was going against recent diet plan: to cut down on caffine and very sugary substances to enable me to sleep better. One can has the same strength as three beers, so they say. But we had a nice mixture of tunes and tipsy banter buzzing around the car and I was chilling in yonder after a long day’s work, balancing my can and eating chilli peanuts while everyone got steadily and merrily drunk, as towns, villages, cities, farmyards, petrol stations and the vast haunting mountain and valley landscapes whizzed by in the tranquil darkness and pleasurable twilight breeze, with just random dots of light and the moonlight beam to give us a scattered glimpse of what it looked like on the other of the window.

I was looking out for road signs to get an idea of where we were in relation to how long it would take. I saw that we were drawing near Siguatepeque, which pretty much sits pretty much in between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa in the mountains and is usually used as a resting place. It’s history goes right back to colonial times when it was used as a kind of religious retreat/training. There are also indigenous Lenca tribes from there, as well as Mexican Nahuatl immigrants. I’ve only stopped by once to go to a supermarket. I can’t remember if it had much of a personality or not. I know many people from there but end up moving away. I know that on the roads nearby this little city that you can buy honey. I’ve been told that they put all sorts of chemicals in it and I shouldn’t touch. It couldn’t be worse than a Four Loco. Anyway, it was here that Jano’s car clunked out. We were in a kind of drunken/tired stupor but the predicament helped sober us up quickly, as did the night mountain chill as it was 10/11pm. Fabricio did what he could thinking it was the battery, but we had no jump leads. We called mechanics and super Erick went off looking for mechanics in Siguatepeque late on Friday. I didn’t want to say it, but I wasn’t holding out too much hope.
An hour passed with random conversations, when a guy pulled up and did something to allow us 10 minutes of power to get to a garage and hostal. The garage was closed and the hostal looked like a great setting for a horror movie.

While we were there, a taxi pulled up and two guys in their 20s got out, then two girls from the back. The guys looked like geezers from Essex (don’t ask me why) and the girls looked no older than 16, and it all seemed a bit dodgy, especially when they started asking us if we wanted to buy cocaine. They were friendly enough to be fair, but I was tired and feeling antisocial so I retired to super Erick’s Land Rover and began fascinating conversations such as, “This car may well have been manufactured in Solihull,” which got me a few strange looks. I forgot that no one was from my neck of the woods, nor gave much of a s–t either. Fatigue, frustration and Four Loco; I blame it on that.

After what felt like a long while, a pick up truck came to take the car to San Pedro Sula. I slept pretty much all the way there. Jano had called his friend Cinthya who lived in an area that I have forgotten the name of, and was brilliant and generous and crazy enough to let thirteen or so complete random tired and drunken strangers crash in her cosy one bedroom studio apartment at stupid o’clock in the morning. I slept with  contacts in my eyes and on a lumpy towel, no fault or blame on anyone, but suffice to say, my mood could only be described as bitchy the next day. We went to sleep not knowing what was wrong with the car, and left with only the dream of being on the golden sands of Omoa. It was all good fun though!

To change the subject completely, I saw Her yesterday and I loved it. Joaquin Phoenix is an actor that I like a lot. I also enjoyed the script and the originality of the plot, though I can see why that some might not like it, mainly because it’s a love story between a man and an operating system (as stated, I liked its originality, and I liked the way the lead character was written. Pamela’s mother thought quite the opposite, “what kind of pendejo falls in love with his computer?!”) One thing Pam and I both liked was the soundtrack. So I’m adding it here. Score by Arcade Fire. It’s chilled, mysterious, sensuous and slightly Brian Eno’ish. Enjoy.

Her – Score by Arcade Fire

To be continued ….

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Football, fútbol, voetbal, futebol

Dear all,

Football, fútbol, voetbal, futebol. In the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand they call it soccer (and what they call football is just a weaker, diluted, with padding, version of rugby). Whatever you want to call it, it is frequently known as the beautiful game, with its silky skills, last minute goals, drama, flair, elephantine stadiums, the passionate fans, Carlos Valderrama’s hair, Ruud Guillet’s 80’s tash, Ronaldhino’s smiling buck teeth, the  rags to riches stories of idols and stars. We all know the coined ‘beautiful game’ phrase, but we all know that it is not always that beautiful, with the obscene amounts of money, the ridiculous amounts of corruption riddled through FIFA (the president Sepp Blatter knows nothing about it apparently), the failure to use instant replays to help referees with impossible decisions, the politics, the sex scandals, the sackings, the hooligan element, and Birmingham City’s/England’s long ball tactic, as well as Barcelona’s/Spain’s overhyped tiki-taca, which bores games rather than excites them.

This year, the Premiership has not been this open for years. The same goes for La Liga. The Champions League is also incredibly exciting. And while I feel desperately sorry for David Moyes who has inherited an imbalanced squad from a wily Sir Alex who knew it was time to jump ship, as well as emotionally imbalanced Manchester United fans who are whimpering over a few unwelcome results (try being a Birmingham City fan) by flying messages for Moyes via aeroplane over Old Trafford, nonetheless, I am thoroughly enjoying watching Manchester United’s fall from the heavens. One must not forget the world cup this summer. In my opinion, the past few tournaments have not been as good, whether it’s because players are just to knackered or the Champions League now takes priority, I have no idea, but if FIFA are insistent that the world cup should not to return to the birthplace of football (i.e. England. Rigged elections and Blatter’s Anglophobia ensure it will never reach British shores again in his lifetime), without doubt the second best place to stage the world cup is Brazil, the other Mecca of football. Not Qatar. The samba will hopefully add a beat to the world cup, even if Honduras and England get squashed in the first round, which has been lacking for some time.

Well, this week another world cup also kicks off in Rio, which also pronises drama and fantastic skills. Casa Alianza Nicaragua (https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001667595711) are taking part in the Street Child World Cup (http://streetchildworldcup.org/rio-2014/), which is something very special to me. Having first hand experience of playing against street kids in Honduras, seeing how damn talented they are, being dazzled with skills that I didn’t know were humanly possible, with bare feet (my delicate soles were torn to pieces within seconds), most can’t afford a pair of boots, all of them use the sport to forget about their problems with drugs or issues at home. They play with a passion that would get them scouted by the top teams in England. The opportunity very rarely comes their way though. Some of the kids like basketball, but all of them play football.

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CAH playing in Barrio Chile

I stopped in Managua, Nicaragua, for one night after having to leave the CA4 (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua) for visa reasons. I didn’t get to go to Casa Alianza due to my short stay, so I can’t say that I know too much about the children’s footy skills. I remember looking in the Lonely Planet guide and I read about a bar which is a great meeting place for artists and writers and just about anyone who’s bohemian, and luckily it was not too far from the hostel close to the bus station. I think it was called Carmichaels or something like it. When I got there at 5’ish, it was still light and sunny. The looked bohemian although maybe a bit too rundown than I thought it would be from the outside. It was closed for the evening which I thought it was a little strange because it was the night before new year’s eve and I’ve heard Nicos like to party rather hedonistically. Also outside the bar was a group of 10 girls between 12 to 16 years old dressed not too provocatively, but I soon realised why they were hanging out there after they told me the bar was closed and propositioned me sex in exchange for money, in a very, very direct, yet experienced way. I said no and asked them how old they were. They said 18 and I said politely that I did not believe them. I told them about Casa Alianza, which they said they had heard of. I risked getting my phone out on the street to find the Casa Alianza number on my phone (stupid thing to do when I look back now, but I thought it was necessary at the time) and gave it them. They said thank you and said they would call in a half committal way. They asked me what I was doing in Nicaragua and where I was from, I told them and then they started telling how much they liked David Beckham, which reminded me they were still just kids, with the same idols, with the same crushes and the same cultural tastes as other kids, yet they were working in this profession at such a young age, in broad day light, in a kind of up market neighbourhood. To be honest, I’ve not seen too much of this in Tegucigalpa, even though I know it happens, but what happened still kind of shocked me. Nicaragua has a higher poverty level than Honduras, although they say it does not have the same gang culture or level of violence compared to other Central American countries. The girls asked if I knew how to get back and I said more or less. They wished me a safe trip home and say hi to Honduras for them, which I promised. That is my link to Casa Alianza Nicaragua and street children in Managua.

David Beckham, Gary Lineker, Pele, and Sir Alex Ferguson are all supporting the Street Child World Cup, which encapsulates the slogan, “I Am Somebody”. There are also many big sponsors, such as Vitol and Save the Children. I have also noticed that it has been published in the British media, and I will include some links below. In Nicaragua’s group is Argentina (who they face tomorrow), Burundi, Philippines and Tanzania. I obviously hope they win. I can’t say who is likely to or who the favourites are. As we know, football is a funny old game. What I love about it is that street kids will be able to meet from all parts of the globe, the majority have probably never set foot on an aeroplane, and play the sport that they love. I hope there are many scouts interested. I hope you follow it. I will be. Well done to all the staff who organised it, getting visas, passports etc.

BUENA SUERTE NICARAGUA. And good luck to the English girls team too.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/28/street-child-world-cup-brazil

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/international/taking-it-to-the-street-world-cup-to-help-children-kicks-off-in-brazil-9219968.html

Just to finish off, I will be ESPN’s official Honduras blogger for the world cup. I CAN’T WAIT!


Omoa – Part Two

Dear readers,

Tomorrow it will be two weeks that we went. How on earth did that happen? Why the f–k is time moving so fast? Who sped up the clocks? I want my youth back. Give. Now. Working in a school continuously reminds me that I’m old. My thoughts are old. My interests lie in a different generation and they’re more IT literate than I am and learn more useful things in school than I did and I can’t reverse time. Some days, a deep jealously comes upon me and makes me want me to bite them and pull their hair or suck out all their youth from their innocent minds.

Joke.

They’re alright really. Sweet actually.

Anyway, on that Friday I thought the plan was to leave work and meet Pam, Jano, Erick, Ellie, Fabricio and a couple more of Jano’s friends at a shopping mall close to work called Novocentro which has a nice Thai restaurant, a nice but expensive book shop with a cafe, another nice cafe, a small theme park, a nice lady who does great back massages, a place called Delicias Seattle which is owned by a nice chatty man called Marco who doesn’t like yank beer and does a great club sandwich as it happens, an alright cinema, but apart from that the mall doesn’t have much. The neighbouring bar does, especially in terms of memories, as it was there that Pamela and I met and snogged like teenagers. LP Bar. Not the classiest venue in Central America but you’re always guaranteed of a random funny night, as well as the possibility of meeting your soulmate.

When I got to the mall, I saw Pamela with a blond haired girl named Melanie who’s from Idaho, or Iowa, or maybe I should just admit that I don’t remember. But she has a shamrock tattoo, and I have a four leaf clover tattoo, and it was St Paddy’s weekend. So there you go.

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We waited for Jano to leave work, which he did and then we went to his house to pick up two colleagues of his who were at a rave with another group of friends and if it’s confusing then it’s because I am and I didn’t know who knew each other and who didn’t but like in true Catracho spirit, they seemed friendly enough. One was called Derek and the other Felipe. I have never met a Honduran called Derek. I associate the name with plumbers. I don’t know why. But he became Derek the Honduran plumber who actually works at Samsung.

We jumped in the car and then picked up another colleague of Jano’s called Douglas. I associate this name with Thomas the Tank Engine. It’s Tom’s Scottish mate I think. But this Douglas was neither a train or Scottish.

I left work at 4 and now it was 6. We still needed to go to the supermarket to stock up. La Colonia as a matter of fact, which holds many funny memories as it was here I used to wait to be picked up by Don Roy Padgett (I work with his son who goes by the same name) on the way back to Tatumbla after a day at Casa Alianza. I used to wait with a Salva Vida beer or three and tank up for the evening before I returned to Granny Mormon. That was three years ago. Three years on and here I was stacking up on booze still. How things change! We met the birthday girl Ellie, her fella Fabricio, super Erick and a lovely girl called Eva from Leuven, Belgium, where Stella Artois is from (I told her that in the UK we call Stella Artois “Wife Beater” because it makes us violent, which I suppose I deserved a funny look for, but she was impressed with the one bit of Flemish I know, courtesy of my great Dutch friend and old housemate Dutch Matt, which is ‘nuerkan en der kuerkan’, meaning ‘f–king in the kitchen’). We then stopped off at a place to get a strange drink called Four Loco, which is full of sugar and energy and alcohol and sends you a little loopy. It did to me. Before I knew it, it was 8 and we hadn’t even left Tegucigalpa. It was at least 7 hours to get there. My Four Loco calmed me funnily enough. We were in good company.

To be continued . . .


Enanitos Verdes

Dear readers,

Last night I had the super privilege to see Enanitos Verdes, which means Little Green Midgets in English, at the Coliseum de Ingenieros in Tegucigalpa. To be quite frank, I knew absolutely nothing about this Argentine quartet. Having looked on Wikipedia, I’ve learned that they have been together for almost three decades though some band members have come and gone. Pamela told me before the concert that they sing mainly love songs about being broken-hearted with amusing lyrics in the Latin American Indie genre, kind of. It was also my first time visiting the Coliseum, which I’ve been driven past hundreds of times while speeding past it on Tegucigalpa’s ring road near Suyapa, but I’ve never known what might be lurking behind the walls of this odd shaped concrete mess of a building, built on a budget, but has a strange ugly attraction. It kind of reminds me of what is now the old Birmingham Central Library, a listed building with a charm that makes people feel sorry for it, as well as the RAC tower off towards the Bescot Stadium in Walsall. I have an unhealthy habit for comparing everything to random sites around Brum that a majority of readers neither know nor care about. Anyway, as stated, I’ve never known what happens inside. I’ve seen evangelical church meetings being advertised and Partido Libre rallies being held there. I’ve also heard its a great big basketball court. The mystery is over. You can see with your very own eyes what it looks like.

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The evening started by Pamela and I shamelessly scoffing a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder in her Juanjo’s car (Pam’s brother), which I consequently regretted due to conscience telling me that I shouldn’t really be eating at that place, but more so because it gave me a nasty case of the farts. The last thing Tegucigalpa needs is even more harmful emissions in the atmosphere. I felt paranoid because I was around Pam’s family and friends and I was unsure if they can hear or smell these emissions and they were just being polite.

After having problems with Jano’s car on the way to Omoa, Pamela and I had a feeling of deja vu when Juanjo’s brake lights refused to turn themselves off when we got Pamela’s cousin’s place near Villa Olímpica. The thought of the battery clonking out on us didnt thrill anyone. The only way to turn it off at the moment is to unhook the battery. Any would be robbers won’t be getting very far without this important piece of information. We got there anyway.

To hide the smell of the hamburger farts, I decided to dilute it with Coors Light beer, which gets its name by the way not because it lacks a sensible and fair amount of alcohol in beer according to customer rights, but also because it is light on flavour. Piss water actually. It was the only beer going though and it was 50 lemps a can, which is nearly £2, steeping up to English prices, bloody cheats. If it were Imperial or Salva Vida, I wouldn’t have cared too much, but this was Coors Light piss water.

Like all musicians, they came up on the stage late. F–king Argentine prima donas. It does my head in when bands do that, especially on a school night, and it certainly doesn’t build up the excitement. Impuntuality is not an artistic licence either. Anyway, we were up in the Gods, where we met Pam’s friend Alma (meaning soul) and her boyfriend who Pamela calls kebab (his real name is Fuad). I drank more and had a Matahambritas chicken burger which I think was the reason why I was hovering near the toilet seat all day today. I like Matahambritas usually but that burger was too lukewarm for comfort. We also took lots of pictures while waiting, like the ones below.

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Unfortunately by the time the band came out on stage, the battery in my phone had died out. So no photos guys. Sorry. If you have a complaint, send it on a post card to the band. Their fault. Not mine. Impunctual green midgets.

I liked the music when they started playing. They’ve a resemblance to Mana, but more romantic, more modern, and slightly heavier rock. I didn’t know the words or which songs were most famous, so I felt a bit left out when the three thousand or more people around me sang along to the tunes. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. Alma pointed out that I really should have listened to a few of the songs before. I agreed, but ignored her, to mock my own insolence of course. I’d heard one where in the chorus they sing whoahhh a lot. I don’t know the name of it though. One other song sounded very Sunday morning, which is the kind of music I like these days. Again I don’t know the name of it so don’t ask. Juanjo got to head bang. He likes to do that with his best friend who I must say looks just like him.

Anyway, the last 20 minutes were just for people who like guitar solos. I don’t think I personally can call guitar solos like that music. It’s just sound by guitar show offs. I don’t appreciate it. I wanted to get yo bed. I was tired. Boring and tired Nick El Catracho Rogers. What the f–ks happening to me?!

On the way out I saw some students from Dowal. My mother often spoke of this when she was a teacher, seeing kids in supermarkets after school and it confuses them. How dare Mrs Rogers leave the classroom! Well I had that same look last night. “WHAT THE F–K IS MR ROGERS DOING OUTSIDE THE LIBRARY?” This thought frightens me about myself. I need to get out more.

Everyone enjoyed it though. Me especially. I explore the group a bit more in the future. And I must say thank you to Pam for the ticket! Gracias amor!

Anyway, here are a couple of songs by Enanitos Verdes. Enjoy!

Song one

Song two – this one has a cool video!


Today is going to be a good day

Dear readers,

Sorry to those who are expecting an update on the next step of the Omoa trip. I’m still finding it hard to find time to concentrate and do it. I promise it soon.

This week I’m preoccupied with things to do with the business and residence. If you remember, I am setting up a translation business with Pamela called Top Translations. First of all, I have enjoyed the translation work that I’ve done so far and it pays very well. In fact I might be getting a lucrative little something through my housemate Nacho. Secondly, it will help me get residency and open up my options to make money in Honduras. The obstacles and process have been the cross between a horror ride and a crazy fun house at a fair ground (fun isn’t really the word. Time consuming is probably more appropriate). I want to get it out the way so I don’t have to leave the country for another few days again. I’ve seen enough of Tico Land. It’s expensive and nail biting but we’re nearly at the end of the tunnel.

Casa Alianza is pushing ahead with the book. It needs editing, which I knew would be the case, it has a foreword by Suzanne Vega and it’s getting an extra chapter. So pleased to hear. It’s been three years since I’d written it. I can’t wait to see the kids faces alight when they see their stories on page knowing it’s going to a great cause. Also, the street child World Cup is kicking off this week and Casa Alianza Nicaragua is playing. I will fill you in with their progress.

Also, a man asked me if I would write for the ESPN blog about Honduras at the weekend. Nice job if I can get it.

I also know a part Welsh, part Honduran lad who I should have interviewed on Saturday night but we got to drunk instead and he gave my girlfriend a good run for her money on the salsa dance-floor, a dance genre that I hear my bro and his wife are learning thousands of miles away in Worcestershire somewhere. I believe it’s too militant and controlled. Dance should be more fun and spontaneous and bewitching. Salsa isn’t. The lyrics are nice though and the bands play different flavours of rhythms. Anyway, he’s in Guatemala right now. He’s lived an amazingly interesting life. Expect an interview on here soon when he returns.

These nice little events have inspired me to write a poem. Hope you enjoy.

Good day today

Today is going to be a good day,
With sunshine filling our lives.
Some say, ‘Coome what may’,
But success comes to those who strive.

You are the dictator of your life,
You are the owner of your soul,
It can be shared with God, or husband, or wife,
And be ignited through freezing lumps of coal.

Breathe deeply if you feel stressed,
Stretch if you’re feeling tense,
Pray to God to feel blessed,
Speak up, don’t sit on the fence.

So enjoy each day as it comes,
Embrace it like it’s your one true love,
Don’t think of bills or sums,
And soak up the spirits from above.


Omoa – part one

Dear readers,

Omoa. I can now say that I’ve been there. It has been on my list of things to visit in Honduras since I came here three years ago. Honduras attracts, or should attract, many different types of tourist, whether they’re beach bums, nature lovers and birders (I feel very uncomfortable using this word for bird-watchers because for some reason it sounds as though it’s a euphemism for a perverse activity or some hocus pocus sexual position, like dogging per se. I think the origins of this terminology is yank, turning things smutty yet again, but it could just be my tainted mind), adrenaline junkies who like hiking, scuba, jungle rafting, there are party goers, and culture vultures, who like the Mayan ruins or Garifuna communities. Maybe there’s one other that needs to be mentioned and definitely not ignored, something of a darker note, which is sex tourism. More common in the North, but having worked with exploited victims in Casa Alianza, my conscience always tells me that I should always raise awareness or remind people of the exploitation throughout Central America and Caribbean; it’s a worryingly huge black market business that continues to thrive.

Apart from the last one I’ve just mentioned, most people obviously blend into a few of these types of tourist, and maybe some more which I’ve failed to mention. One of my personal interests falls into the culture vulture bracket, which is the conquistador and pirate history. In Trujillo I enjoyed reading about the fort and it’s rich, rich history, and I really want to see the remains in Lempira. Maybe the pirate element grabs my interest because many of them were English (and French, but a guide told that they weren’t very good or particularly bright pirates because they were always caught and were a bit feeble, especially compared to their English counterparts. Sorry to any French people reading this, but I felt it was important to remind you that you are far weaker compared to your ros bif cousins, even though piracy has a brutal, most unpleasant, negative and bloody history). Being that part of my family are from Cornwall, and without wanting to cast aspertions against the proud Cornish character, I sometimes wonder if some of my ancestors had been in these waters plundering and pillaging away, being that Cornwall was famous for its pirating.

Well, having known for some time about Omoa’s fort, as well as the long beautiful beaches, and after a few false starts to finally get there, I was hugely excited to find out that I would finally be going, courtesy of Pamela, a family event, and Jano, Pamela’s best mate. There were quite a few friends made along the way as well, and also a lot of alcohol drank. After a very busy and stressful time at work for many, this is just what we needed.

I feel it appropriate here to take a break from writing as my arm is stiff and do another update in the next day or so. But I will leave you with the nice little tune Happy by Pharrell Williams. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM&feature=kp

To be continued. . . .


Engulfed

Dear all readers,

Happy Honduran Father’s Day to all fathers first of all. They play a big part in us being here. Even though I’m not a dad yet (much to Pam’s frustration), I am often called Papi Chulo or Papasito (by Pamela) which meant I was given some cake from work. But moreso, a special great big thank you to my dad who has helping me a great deal of late.

Secondly, I’ve not been able to tell you about the weekend’s events in Omoa but I hope to soon. I have a lot to do for immigration an residence which is a great stress, but there is one clever way of getting everything done with a smile on your face, and that is by adopting the philosophy of the following Irish proverb (a belated St. Paddies Day tribute to family and friends):

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I have also been busy at work, as always. I have had a couple of projects on my plate which have swallowed a lot of my attention. One of which is advertising a book via creating a video. We’ve not filmed it yet, but I’ve written it, it’s the silent movie genre and it’s about punctuation. I wrote it and like it. Let’s just hope the kids do.

When I was coming home from work today, I had a nice little opportunistic photo. Don’t ask me why, but I associate it with Honduras and Latin America so much. Maybe it’s for the Catracho ability to entertain, do what they can to get by, or that passion/craziness/bravery gene pulsing through their veins. The reality is that the two lads live in poverty and that side of the coin should not, even though it often is, be ignored. I took this picture in a taxi today. It just reminds me how much I enjoy being here.

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My American friend Marie is leaving Honduras soon, which made me feel quite sad. For what she lacks in height she makes up for with a fierce personality which I personally think is brilliant. Even though we’ve not been in much contact of late, we’ve been through a fair bit together with Academia Europea and the weird Texan business. She has a strong personality and I’ll miss her. She told me that she likes reading my love poetry, which I find a great stress release. I wrote it for Pamela, but it’s also for Marie, just to put a smile on her face.

Engulfed

We sit engulfed into the sofa,
Our lips like our hands locked together,
Smiling like the happy idiots that we are,
Laughing off the stresses of heavy weather.

The love I feel for you cannot be equalled,
The emotions that stir cannot stop swirling,
The grip, the kiss, the pulse,
Makes the candle within me keep burning.