Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mum and Dad

Dear all,

Living faraway from home, it is inevitable that homesickness, thoughts of the home and family creep in from time to time. Even though I will be back in England for a month in two to three months or so, the sub consciousness part of that funny old brain can play messed up games with the emotions. I’m not sure what it is this morning, but I woke up missing my parents. So, I have decided to write them a little poem.

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Mum and Dad

Even though they’re just a message away,
Even though it’s just a plane ride for a day,
The physical separation stings my emotions,
And it can’t be cured with technological potions.
I don’t need advice or a special embrace,
Though I’m positive I’ll get a granny pinch with kisses upon my face.
I just want to see them smile and check everything is well,
To apologise for when I was a kid when I regularly raised hell.
Everything I’ve needed was given to me with love and more,
Everything they taught me prepared me was for what life has had in store. They’re the pillars of who I am and I feel that I’m standing tall,
With an understanding crash mat below in case of an unexpected fall.
It won’t be long until we are back together,
Drinking tea, watching tv, laughing at the English weather.
They are the strongest people who I know,
But we’ll be coming with Honduran coffee to bestow,
We’ll be laughing at them as they bounce off walls,
Dancing to salsa, furious with England’s style of football,
I love them so much and this is a poem for them,
And I’m very excited to see them from now and to then.

Here’s a nice little positive note that I saw on facebook too.

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Semana Santa – Part Seven

Dear all,

– On the Thursday, in the late afternoon, we took a nice sunny stroll back to the cemetery, where Santiago thankfully refrained from jumping into any tombs, though I think that was because Mami Mina (granny) was keeping a close eye on him. I don’t know why the family insist on going there, as it didn’t seem they were showing their respects to anyone in particular, although Mami Mina did show me where her mother was buried. She died from asthma when Mami Mina was in her early twenties, strangely in June 1966, when England won the World Cup. I really enjoy talking with Pam’s grandparents about life here 50 or 60 years ago. The stories and cultural changes are enthralling. Here’s a couple of pictures from the views from the cemetery.

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– We then took a walk to a place called Whale something or other. It’s like a sheltered circle on top of a hill with a few large boulders to climb upon, which is what is exactly what Juanjo (Pam’s brother), Ale, Andrea and Santi (cousins) did. Tia Sofie told us how she used to bring her boyfriends up here, and then she let out a dirty chuckle. It was nice taking in the fragrances of pine and chatting with Pammie and Marsela (cousin) in the sunset. Mosquitos had a field day with my soft chele skin and English blood, mixed with iron from extreme red bean overdoses. We then took a long journey walk home where I left some of the family in hysterics about how Papi Milo likes to do sneaky parps while watching the world go by at the front of the house. He often looks like a lion protecting his territory. He’s a gentle lion, non-fierce, and always friendly to passers by. When he shakes your hand though, be sure that he’ll crush every bone in that very limb!

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– We then had a barbecue, a real meat feast, which left me parping for days, truly excruciating whiffs for anyone close by, but wonderfully delicious nonetheless (the food, not the parps). I asked Tia Sofie to teach me how to make tortillas like hers, as hers were one of a kind, being thick, wholesome and nicely flavoured with God knows what. I have become known as a tortilla scoffer. I need at least 7 with every meal. Anyway, Tia laughed at me and said I would never be able to learn. But I insisted she taught me, and she took me through the process. Suffice to say, I didn’t learn and my attempt was pretty feeble, falling apart as soon as it went on the comal pan. I blame it on the family who stared at me while trying to do it, laughing at me and goading me, making me unable to concentrate. I got drunk after that. It was a stressful experience, tortilla making.

– The next day was Good Friday. Apparently there was a church procession, where they carry the cross through the town. There was some confusion about the time of it, but nobody really cared to see it ( mainly because it was around midday when sun was at its highest!). That was the only interesting thing that passed through the town that week and I managed to miss it!

– The next day, it was time to leave. Drooping faces throughout the family, with the thought of reality to return. Then again, I would have internet access again. Hooray. I enjoyed and appreciated thee week and the company a lot, after a few really stressful weeks with work. Pamela’s family, even though they already know me, got to know me and my sense of humour even more. I feel more involved now, better understood, viceversa too. A very successful week in my eyes, and one which I have very much enjoyed writing about. Now, back to reality. DOH!


Semana Santa – Part Seven

Dear all,

– On the Thursday, in the late afternoon, we took a nice sunny stroll back to the cemetery, which Santiago thankfully refrained from jumping into any tombs, though I think that was because Mami Mina (granny) was keeping a close eye on him. I don’t know why the family insist on going there, as it didn’t seem they were showing their respects to anyone in particular, although Mami Mina did show me where her mother was buried. She died from asthma when Mami Mina was in her early twenties, strangely in June 1966, when England won the World Cup. I really enjoy talking with Pam’s grandparents about life here 50 or 60 years ago. The stories and cultural changes are enthralling. Here’s a couple of pictures from the views from the cemetery.

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– We then took a walk to a place called Whale something or other. It’s like a sheltered circle on top of a hill with a few large boulders to climb upon, which is what is exactly what Juanjo (Pam’s brother), Ale, Andrea and Santi (cousins) did. Tia Sofie told us how she used to bring her boyfriends up here, and then she let out a dirty chuckle. It was nice taking in the fragrances of pine and chatting with Pammie and Marsela (cousin) in the sunset. Mosquitos had a field day with my soft chele skin and English blood, mixed with iron from extreme red bean overdoses. We then took a long journey walk home where I left some of the family in hysterics about how Papi Milo likes to do sneaky parps while watching the world go by at the front of the house. He often looks like a lion protecting his territory. He’s a gentle lion, non-fierce, and always friendly to passers by. When he shakes your hand though, be sure that he’ll crush every bone in that very limb!

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– We then had a barbecue, a real meat feast, which left me parping for days, truly excruciating whiffs for anyone close by, but wonderfully delicious nonetheless (the food, not the parps). I asked Tia Sofie to teach me how to make tortillas like hers, as hers were one of a kind, being thick, wholesome and nicely flavoured with God knows what. I have become known as a tortilla scoffer. I need at least 7 with every meal. Anyway, Tia laughed at me and said I would never be able to learn. But I insisted she taught me, and she took me through the process. Suffice to say, I didn’t learn and my attempt was pretty feeble, falling apart as soon as it went on the comal pan. I blame it on the family who stared at me while trying to do it, laughing at me and goading me, making me unable to concentrate. I got drunk after that. It was a stressful experience, tortilla making.

– The next day was Good Friday. Apparently there was a church procession, where they carry the cross through the town. There was some confusion about the time of it, but nobody really cared to see it ( mainly because it was around midday when sun was at its highest!). That was the only interesting thing that passed through the town that week and I managed to miss it!

– The next day, it was time to leave. Drooping faces throughout the family, with the thought of reality to return. Then again, I would have internet access again. Hooray. I enjoyed and appreciated the week and the company a lot, after a few really stressful weeks with work. Pamela’s family, even though they already know me, got to know me and my sense of humour even more. I feel more involved now, better understood, viceversa too. A very successful week in my eyes, and one which I have very much enjoyed writing about. Now, back to reality. DOH!


Semana Santa – Part Six

Dear readers,

– On the Wednesday, we went for a nice stroll as a family up to a small chapel on a hillside overlooking the town. I know it was Wednesday because I wanted to get back in time to see the Copa del Rey final, an el clásico affair, between Real Madrid and Barcelona. More about that in the next bullet point. It was nice to talk about names of the babies that Pamela and I will one day have. One criticism I have of Pamela and her family are their unoriginal and such boring taste in baby names, all very saintly and Catholic, which doesn’t stand out from all the other Joses, Juans, Marias, Alejandras and Andreas in this bleeding country. Every name I suggested was discarded with venom and considered not Spanish enough. “Er… the would be father is not Spanish!” I’m trying to consider something right down the middle, but as always, Tia Sofie is trying to dictate the matter with her cheeky militaristic mind.
“How about José?”
“How about Juan?”
“How about Alejandra?”
“How about Santiago?”
“BECAUSE THERE ARE ALREADY 50 MEMBERS OF THE BLEEDIN’ FAMILY WITH THOSE BLEEDING NAMES!”
I eventually told the whole family that they would have NO bearing on the names of Pamela’s and my future children because their suggestions are, quite frankly, dull and of poor taste. Get over it. They like to be blunt with me. They now had yo deal with my bit Brummie bluntness. The walk was nice, nonetheless, even though my leg ached. Pamela saw a beautiful child that she wanted to adopt on the way up. Santiago, who often refers to us as Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie, pretty much said it loud enough for the parents to hear that we wanted to buy their baby. Pamela laughed, embarrassingly, and flapped slaps at Santiago. Anyway, here are a few of pictures.

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– We got back in time to buy a couple of six packs of beer to watch Real Madrid and Barcelona beat each other up. I love the way most the world still points its patronising finger at the UK for the hooliganism element of the game, even though it has somewhat died off (except with Millwall), but not say anything as Pepe hacks down Messi, Ramos punches Pique and Dani Alves swipes at Modric which ends up in Joey Barton esque, handbagged mêlée. It’s not passion. It’s pathetic. I’ll tell you what passion is. On that particular Wednesday, it came from a certain Welsh man named Gareth Bale, who showed the Spanish how to use will and might, having been nudged off the pitch, overlook it (instead of rolling on the ground trying to get a fellow professional sent off) and pace down the left wing, barge into the box and skip the ball past the flailing keeper. He really should be able to do that with his eyes closed, being that Real paid £85 million or so for him. The majority of the family support Real Madrid, and I do follow them over Barca, but only because I hate the hypocrisy surrounding Barca, the tiki-taca that bores football fans and purists to death and this “Mas que un club” attitude. The Barcelona squads of the past, the Maradonas, the Romarios, the Rivaldos, the Ronaldinhos, were far more exciting than the team now. Show ponies maybe, but more joyful to watch? Certainly! I am very much enjoying their discomfort at the moment, just like I’m enjoying Manchester United, with a similar superior attitude, slide down the table. It’s great! Saying that, Madrid isn’t much better with its repulsive taste for buying players for obscene amounts of dosh while the country is in deep recession. Not a club of the people, you might say. I also don’t approve of its Franco past. It seems a bit unnecessarily proud of it. I hope that Atlético Madrid wins the Spanish league, because I feel it’s good to break the El Clásico dominance, the team has a ferocious support and the team is based on hard work rather than money, much like Liverpool. I was pleased Bale won the game anyway, and I reminded the family that the Premiership is far more exciting than the Spanish league, and you see goals like Bale’s every bleedin’ week. They gave me a ‘How modest!’ look and then drifted to other parts of the house.

– There was a beautiful eclipse one night, apparently. It was one in the morning though, and tiredness won me over. I missed it.

To be continued . . . .


Semana Santa – part 5

Dear readers,

As stated in the last update, the whole Semana Santa week is kind of a hazed blur. This is not because of alcohol or any substance abuse, but because we were just so relaxed in a kind of positive “echar la hueva” mode (can’t be arsed). I will try to summarise what we did in bullet points:

– I remember watching a suspenseful thriller with Hugh Jackson called Prisoners which was good. I think that was Tuesday. But because it didn’t finish in time for the family to go on a walk to the cemetery, we missed a very dark humoured prank of seeing Santiago climb into a tomb. This upset Pam’s granny no end, a very direct and conservative lady who let him know that he should never, ever do that, ever.

– On one of the mornings (I thnk it was Wednesday), I helped grandpa deshell the tarmarind. My early rise mode meant I was up before the others, but I wasn’t forced to labour (though the dictator Tia Sofie likes to think I was). It’s a delightfully sticky task, which can be irritating if the shell breaks into little pieces and sticks to the tamarind, as it needs to be picked off. It’s a tropical fruit, very brown and not very pleasing to the eye, but the sharp sweetness is very good  way of making you feel alert in the morning. Pamela came, not to help mind, but to eat a few. I then began to eat a few. As did grandad. I don’t know how much more juice granny would have had if we hadn’t have scoffed so much. The juice is a great way to start the day,  as the sharpness tingles straight to your spine, brilliant for me as I had given up coffee for lent and I was looking for healthy substitute. Tamarindo seems to be it.

– In the many hours that I was sat with grandad (who I should refer to as Papi Milo; neither of the grandparents like being called grandma or grandad) on the wooden chairs in front of the house, we chatted about how times had changed, how much the town had grown, the loss of some of the conservative values of the town (which struck me because the town seemed very conservative still), where he was born, the safety back then, though there was plenty of battles and family warfare in the town, over land and sex scandals (everyone loves the latter). Like in other towns, I’d heard of “ley del pueblo” (law of the town, but it’s better translated as law of the people). This means that people take law into their own hands, the police brush it under the carpet, it stays hush hush but everyone knows who did what, as (they believe) it’s for the good of the town. Pamela had told me that eight years ago or so, there had been a mara gang forming, practicing extortion, robbing houses and people, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. I’m not know how many there were or how old they were, but one night there were several gunshots coming from the area they hung around, then the next day they weren’t there. As simple as that. The police turned a blind eye, washed their hands of it, a nuisance dissolved, less work for them, and conveniently no bodies showed up. The families of the gang members seemed not to have kicked up a fuss about it (one member seemed to be a distant relative of Pamela), maybe due to shame, so the chaos frizzled out. Having worked with street kids, I found it all very horrific. When I asked Papi Milo, he looked at me, smiled his forever welcoming smile, as well having full knowledge of my work with humanities, and gruffly said, “The town doesn’t do human rights.” The dark secret that everybody knows about remains just that. Think the Wicker Man. Lives sacrificed for the peace of the town. How different this culture is.

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– Another thing that many people talk of is ghosts. There seems to be there have been many sightings and hauntings in town. I used to think it as nonsense. However, I too have experienced a couple of supernatural goings on, which left me a little spooked. The first time I was here (I’m pretty sure I told you in my blog), while everyone was out and
I was reading a book in the bedroom, I saw a strange black shadow at the door. It stayed perfectly still. I thought it was just the trees swaying in a reflection, but this wasn’t moving. I ignored it and put it down to my playful imagination, so I turned back to my book. When I turned back again 5 seconds later it had gone and I felt a huge shiver go through my body and all my hair stand up on end.

This time around, I was a woken about 3 in the morning to the lights in the living room being switched on and off. I found it weird and went to investigate. No one was around, not a sound or peak, and the lights were left on. The next morning I asked the family if there was a problem with the electrics. They said no. I told them what happened. Some people had spooked faces. Others just shrugged it off. I like to believe there’s a reason for everything. I believe Pam’s granny is behind it and giggles about it while she plays with the lights. Bless her.

To be continued . . . .


Semana Santa – part four

Dear readers,

To be honest, I can’t remember much about the Easter Week. I’ve been back  six days, and it’s not that I suffer from memory loss, but the week just seemed to blend into a happy haze of reading, eating, writing, drinking, snoozing, snapping away at mosquitos, watching movies, aimless strolls around town and taking the piss out of people (I had my fair share of it too) in no particular order. No need for internet or looking at the watch. Time zoomed but at a strangely larthargic pace. I’ve no idea how many beans I ate over the days, but I think after some long bouts on the loo, my iron overdoses were leaving the family holding their nose with some pretty unique aromas. It’s a quaint little town, meaning ‘Mines of Gold’ in Spanish (the Spanish extracted it and then left, as they did right over Latin America), about four hours from Tegucigalpa (two hours on good roads, two hours on dirt roads), very pretty surroundings, dusty, slow, well kept but could even cleaner, proud cowboys, rancheros and campesinos looking on at me with a mix of awe and curiosity, as if they’ve never seen a white boy before, making me feel like a bit of a monkey in the zoo. Pam’s father told me that there was an agricultural school run by North Americans some years ago, and they sometimes had missionaries coming to spread the word, so I was automatically tbe gringo to them (I’ve come to loathe the expression now. Pam’s aunties seem to know this. They seem to like to wind me up with it too, coming up with some cock an’ bull greasy excuse that they say it with cariño (with love). In return I call them maje, which is not rude, but not a polite way of saying ‘dude’, claiming it’s also with cariño, which they often show me a sneaky middle finger. I often have to repeat myself by saying the UK is not in the US, it’s actually very different and most of us don’t share the same beliefs of Americans. We’re a small island with a big personality, and I don’t give a shite if they call yanks gringo, we’re not gringos and never will be. I understand that North Americans often refer to Latin Americans as Mexicans in a rather derogatory way, which I know would extremely piss off a Honduran. How would they feel if I called them Mexican? It doesn’t go down well, suffice to say). I remember it from the last time I was in Minas de Oro. I remember it being a bit more hostile though. I’m not keen on being centre of attention, as opposed to popular belief, which made me feel a bit uncomfortable, as it would to anyone. This time I received more alluring looks and smiles from the womenfolk of the town, much to the dismay of poor Pammy. Her cousin Santiago suggested that I be pimped out and marketed as “Fruta exotica” to the Minas females, which the cheeky mare began to consider. Talking of mares, I joked with people that there seems to be more horses than people in the town. This is in fact not true. It’s just fun to say it.

On the first morning, still being in the work routine, I woke up at 5’ish. I hate it when this happens. There was also the morning calls from cockerels and twittering birds in the trees, which may seem sweet and cute and natural when it’s written down on paper but it’s anything but that when you’re trying to sleep and it’s your f–king holiday. I tried to read in the dark for a while without trying to disturb others in the room. I got up and decided to go for a stroll. I wanted to see the mist rolling around the town’s surrounding mountains. As Minas de Oro wears tradition on its sleeve rather proudly, and it bears the same stoned roads as when the town was founded, which makes driving a bit precarious, and walking more so. I went out walking aimlessly around the town in the morning anyway, believing I was doing the right thing before the sun became too hot. I walked past various rickety gates holding back aggressive dogs (although some gates were a bit too rickety for the comfort of someone who hates damn mutts). While getting myselfa little lost (trust me to get lost in a town that’s virtually impossible to get lost in), a nasty little rat of a dog pounced at me making me lose balance on the dewy stones and scrape my right knee off one, getting specks of dust in the wound. I was too panicked to think of the stinging. When it did come, as well as the rivers of blood, it came at its intense, throbbing best. Also on my mind was the piss taking I would receive from Pam’s grandpa, which he did without fail during lunch. It left me a little immobile for the next day, meaning I couldn’t go in the giant paddling pool in fear I would dilute the water with my blooded knee. The only pain-killer close was beer, so I took full advantage of that. Almost two weeks later, it’s all scabbed up but it still looks painful, although now it’s itching me to pieces. Damn tropical heat! Here’s my scabbed knee anyway.

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To be continued . . . .


Marie Alvarenga

Dear readers,

I would like to dedicate this post to my friend Marie Alvarenga, who is now spending her last night in Honduras. Dame Alvarenga, which I never called her but she would have adored me if I had, is a US citizen who’s been living im Honduras for the last four years or so. She’s in her late 50s but lives life like age is nothing less than a lovely digit dressed in glamorous sparkly digits that need to be celebrated with a Thanksgiving sized turkey and lots of chuckling. She’s off the wall, but still with her feet on the ground. Her husband Pierre is Catracho and a specialist car mechanic with brothers in and cousins and uncles in high places. I can’t remember why she came out to Honduras in the first place. She has been CEOs in banks and organisations in Hawaii, and she has a son in Las Vegas, who has a Catracha girlfriend and who the Dame is going to stay with for a while. She’s had an exciting life, but it seems she’s fed up with Honduras.

I got to know her through working at Academia Europea and I took over her class so she could manage the place. She could be delightfully blunt, like when she gave me her class that consisted of “one bright one and two dummies”. I liked tge bluntness, especially if I could get her talking about Republican Mormons. It was the US elections when worked there together and she was not scared of offending Republicans. She was almost not afraid of sacking impunctual and lousy teachers, which she did with a calm fierceness which I admired.

We worked together for three months until I left for what I thought was a job (it turned out not to be) and unfortunately she was given the chop by a late paying owner with the business acumen of the Chuckle Brothers (Google them if you don’t know who they are). I must admit that I loved watching her arguing with the Academia Europea’s bitchy receptions in a Spanglish I’d never come across before. We were back in contact after I embarrassingly got her a job with a dodgy Texan life coach company with a manager who had the calmness of an angry depressed rat on coke and pills. We lasted two weeks. We stayed in touch and then we would drift as we got busy with other jobs. I kept promising myself to get in contact but I would always get side-tracked, which I regret. I would have loved to have listened to her talk some more. She could talk for US and Canada and maybe the whole of Latina America combined. I used to think she would make a lovely talkshow host but I think she probably wouldn’t let the poor celebs get a word in. Bloody gringa. She’s probably calling me “damn limey”. A great dame. She also swears like a trooper. Love it.

I will miss her even though I haven’t seen much of her of late. Even though we’re from two different countries and cultures, I guess we’ve leaned on each other a fair bit, especially when understanding cultural differences and shocks while adapting to Honduras; kind of a crutch when homesickness subconsciously kicks in.

I wish her and Pierre the very best for the future and I hope to see them again soon. They’re a wonderful match. Wonderful people.

I’m going to leave with a clichéd song about. Don’t you forget about me. Simple Minds. What else would do?! http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CdqoNKCCt7A