Monthly Archives: August 2014

Black Flower

Dear readers,

We all get them, bad days. Where you’re not sure whether your career is going in the right direction and if you feel ignored. Confidence drops and motivation slips. The best thing to do is to keep your head up and have faith in yourself. Keep looking forward and something better will come along. As soon as doubt weaves its way into your head, the weeds rip you to pieces. I’ve been there, and I’m having one of those days today.

There seems to be a grotesque amount of quotes from famous people made these days that get plonked on the internet from famous people. I’m going to include one right now, from a journalist, social activist and converted Catholic named Dorothy Day. I am going to put myself on the line now and admit that I do not know much about her. This is what she said:

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I saw this after I wrote a poem, funnily enough. But we’re pretty much saying the same thing. Writing is my way out of misery (that and family and friends and last but by no means least, Pamela), so here is a little poem for me more than anything. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy it.

    Black Flower

Out of the cold depths of doubt,
Blossoms a black flower of despair,
With it’s weeds entangled in your head,
Suffocating confidence, whispering, “Go back to bed.”

Cut it, shred it, clean your mind with fine thoughts,
Take deep thoughts and smile in the mirror,
You know it’s just a passing time,
And soon enough, you’ll be feeling fine.

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I Think of You

Dear readers,

Here’s a quick poem for Pamela.

    I think of you

I think of you,
My future wife,
Your naked arms embracing me,
With a smile,
Calming nerves,
Setting me free.

In private,
Or a room full of people,
I always feel your love.
Hand in hand,
There for each other,
Through life’s hard shoves.

Lovers, best friends, soul mates,
Whether through God or fate,
We’re together.
A pact,
In joy,
That’ll never sever.


“The Search”

Dear readers,

I don’t want to sound soppy, but every single person in life has a journey. Nobody has a perfect journey. If they do, they are a bit boring in my opinion. Highs and lows like a roller coaster and all that. What I love in my life are chance meetings with people who’ve gone through something tragic, and coming out the other side still smiling, or on a positive journey to find themselves. I went through quite a serious bout depression about 13 years ago which left me with suicidal thoughts, but I climbed out of it over time, and I now look back on it with pride of having escaped it. In my case, I was just lost and overwhelmed with life. But when I compare to other people’s experiences, it doesn’t seem that bad. My mother and father went through one hell of a time in their youth, but they raised a great family, had wonderful jobs and are now happily retired. They are a true inspiration.

Two years ago, through meeting friends of friends, I came across a fantastic guy who would like to be known by his initials JD. He was working for a US organisation with my Irish Catracha sister, Hazel. I met him a handful of times. As always in life, we run around in circles and we don’t always get to catch up as much as we want with friends, but whenever we did, we got on well and I thought he was a top bloke. I remember one of the first times I met him, he told me he was Guatemalan but his Spanish wasn’t great (no offense, mine was a bit rusty at the time as well!). It confused me a little, and I think he caught on to my confused face and told me that he was adopted when he was very young and was brought up in the USA. Even though there are many millions of cases like this, it always blows your mind. You can’t imagine the complexity of emotions that the person went through. But JD was always a friendly, positive person and was a good laugh, but I did have a feeling that he was on sort of journey to know himself and his background a lot more. He didn’t say anything. I just felt that. In a positive way of course, and I remembered telling myself that. I often wonder if this was telepathically transmitted to him. I hope it was anyway. It was at the back of my mind, and then today he decided to put the information of his search online. Having read it, I asked permission if I can put it on my blog to share with you. It is very moving, but one of courage as well. A wonderful journey.

JD said that if you are looking for your biological family in Guatemala and have any questions or would like to discuss his experience, feel free to leave me a comment and I will pass it on to him.
Special thank you to JD.

    The Search

I was adopted from Guatemala when I was four months old and grew up all of my life in the United States.” I have used this line countless times in my two years living and working in Central America. To the person asking the question,this is an explanation of why my skin is brown and my Spanish is different, but to me, it is an explanation of exactly why I am here, currently in the middle-of-nowhere Latin America.

I always knew I was adopted from Guatemala. I remember sitting at the kitchen table when my parents asked me if I would like to have a sister. I remember them leaving me at my grandparent’s house while they flew to Guatemala to pick her up. I remember, one of those photo memories, when my grandparents took me home and my sister was there playing on a light yellow blanket on the living room floor.

My parents cultivated a Mayan pride in my sister and I by making sure we watched all of the TV specials about the Maya on PBS and by collecting all of the National Geographic magazines with Maya articles. I had a hand-made doll and a Tikal t-shirt as souvenirs from Guatemala.

I understood I was Guatemalan, and yet, for almost seventeen years of my life, I never considered or questioned my roots. People used to ask me if I ever wondered about my biological parents and I would tell them, “No, my parents are my parents. I don’t think about it.” And I didn’t think about it, at least not until one night when a friend, who oddly enough is much more like a second mother, planted a seed that changed it all.

I always thought finding my biological mother was about me – about finding some sense of closure – until that night when my friend said, “Maybe she wants to know you are all right. That she made the right choice.” It hit home with me,mostly, I think, because I could infer by her tone and the look on her face that she had given up a child for adoption and wanted to know that she had made the right choice.

I never fault my biological mother for giving me up for adoption. I grew up in a wonderful safe home and had a childhood full of mystery books, Sesame Street, Legos,and countless other adventures and opportunities, not to mention good medical care and sufficient nutrition. In undergrad, I read a UN report that cited 1984, the year of my birth, as the year with the highest number of deaths,murders and disappearances, during the Guatemalan civil war. Now that I live in Latin America, I am intimately familiar with the poverty and hardship from which my mother’s decision spared me. Her choice to give me up was just a choice, one that I understand and for which I am grateful.

I have often thought about meeting my mother since the seed was planted twelve years ago. You could even say my life revolved around the realization of that dream. In some way or another, my pastimes, studies, and career moves were all directed at gaining the skills and abilities that would allow me to get on a plane to Guatemala and start searching. When I accepted a job that required I move to Honduras, I knew I was close – literally a country away.

In 2013, I made monumental progress toward the goal of finding my mother when I visited the orphanage that handled my adoption in Guatemala. Through the wonders of Google I was able to place a call, send an email, ride some rickety buses, and before I knew it, I was sitting in a room at the Agua Viva Children’s Home in Chimaltenango, Guatemala with a folder of documents I had never seen before spread out in front of me.

I have seven siblings – three half brothers, three half sisters, and a full brother who is only a year and six months older than I am. My mother gave me up for adoption when she was thirty-three years old. She was illiterate. She had been married and her husband passed away leaving her with five mouths to feed.Her next husband left her and went to the US. My father was abusive, alcoholic,and provided no economic assistance.

My mother left my father while she was eight months pregnant with me, taking my seven siblings with her. She did not have a place to stay. She found work in tortilla factories, earning less than $1 a day. They moved around a lot, went hungry, and slept on floors.

Soon after leaving, my mother contracted malaria and was hospitalized. This is how Agua Viva, the children’s home, became involved and how this story, my story,came to be. The documents explain that Agua Viva cared for her in the days following the birth, and saw to my sibling’s temporary placement into several homes while she decided what to do in the future. One of her decisions was to give me up for adoption and the chance for a better life.

I obtained a wealth of identifying information for my mother, my siblings, even my father,who I had never before considered finding. I have the names of the towns where my mother and father are from. Unfortunately, I do not have anyone’s national ID number, the one key that could unlock the puzzle of their current location.

I only had five days in Guatemala on that trip. I had come so much closer, yet I had to leave before I could follow-up on all of my newly acquired leads.

At this point, August 2014, there is really only one thing left to do. I made my decision two weeks ago.
I am going to Guatemala to find my family, to dedicate myself to the search until it reaches an end. It could take time – time standing in lines to deal with bureaucracy, time riding on buses, time visiting my parent’s towns. Or maybe it will take no time at all. Maybe the search will end with me laying a lily on a gravestone. Either way, I am not stopping until I know that I have given it my best effort.

When I find my mother, if she is still alive, I am not going to barge in to her life.I am going to send her a note asking if she would like to meet me. I hope she says yes, but if she says no, well, then she says no.

I do not have the expectation of tearful greetings and warm hugs. That could happen,but the experience could also be quite sad. Even if she is happy to see me,perhaps it will be a painful reminder of the difficult past.

I am not going to ask my mother why she did it, why she gave me up. I have a good idea about why she made that decision. I am going to ask about her life after1984. I will tell her about Pinckneyville, where I grew up, about my first visit to Guatemala, about going to grad school in New York, and about my latest work and travels. More importantly, I will tell her how I spent the last twelve years wondering about and planning to find her.

After the potential meeting, that imagined first conversation, lies an unknown. I can imagine events that could happen, but I have no idea. The possibilities are limitless. Maybe I will leave the encounter having met brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and an entire family I never knew existed. Maybe we will part ways with a hug and no plans to meet again.

The amazing thing is, in less than a month, I am going to Guatemala to find out. I have a place to stay, contact with an attorney, a search plan, and a page full of addresses and leads to follow. My story will no longer be centered on my birth and adoption from Guatemala, nor on my perpetual journey to find my biological mother. With all good fortune and a blessing from the stars, I am writing the final chapters of that story, and in a few short weeks, a new story will begin– the story of my life after having met my biological mother.

End

JD said that if you are looking for your biological family in Guatemala and have any questions or would like to discuss his experience, feel free to leave me a comment and I will pass it on to him.


Art Tax, Tegucigalpa

Dear readers,

Honduran politicians are at it again. Instead of creating black holes to filter public funds into secret accounts, they are now putting taxes where there really does not need to be taxes. Coming from Birmingham, England, which is a cultural HUB in the West Midlands, a place where you can find arts events every single day of the year in all corners of the city, I didn’t really know what I would make of Tegucigalpa’s bohemian art scene before I came here. I found in many quarters that it is as big (if not bigger) than Birmingham’s, but the output and quantity of “art space”, for artists to actually show their art, is very small. It means that some artists take to the streets doing murals and graffiti. Some of it is great, some of it isn’t. There are only three or four places quality enough to show their art (if that).

For musicians, it’s even harder. There are very, very few areas for them to have gigs, especially for rock bands. Bars come and go at a rapid rate. I’m not saying the places that are open are bad: it’s just very small, especially for a city with over one million people.

Maybe there is no culture for it, but I know many artists in Tegucigalpa who just need an opportunity to get off the ground. However, with this new tax, it’s going to be even harder. Artists, whether they are painters or musicians or writers, won’t be able to afford it. What this means for the bohemian art scene is unknown, but it doesn’t look positive. With the violence, poverty and insecurity, people turn to art as an escapism. Hondurans need it. Tegucigalpa needs it. This is why I am asking if you would please sign the below petition to the mayor of Tegucigalpa to make sure that this tax does not go ahead. This tax will more than likely end up in the pocket of a politician anyway. Thank you.

https://secure.avaaz.org/es/petition/Nasry_Juan_Asfura_Zablah_Alcalde_de_Tegucigalpa_AMDC_Honduras_Eliminar_impuestos_municipales_a_presentaciones_artisticas/?dKAokib


Tour de Reino Unido – part dos

Dear readers,

After having a good bash on the corrupting little immigration swine at the airport this time last week,  on the same day I received my ID card for my residence. I’m now officially a businessman and the co-owner of Top Translations. Now I’m busy getting the business going while working. Getting a website together is hugely time consuming. I’d prefer to do it in blog format. It’s easier to maintain more than anything. Here’s a link to my Top Translations facebook page. Please like it as it’ll get more publicity. https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1451459151791492&ref=bookmark.

Talking of Facebook, I announced getting my residence by saying the following.

“”Tu bandera, tu banderrraaaa. Etc etc” Sip, tengo residencia Hondurena!”

The “tu bandera” part in reference to the chorus of the Honduran national anthem, which means your flag. The rest of the status you can make out for yourself. However, as good French friends have pointed out, the words in French mean something quite different. Quite perverted in fact. It’s apparently the future tense for the verb “getting a hard on” or “having a wank.” As you can imagine, this terminology doesn’t come up on Google translator and I haven’t yet checked if there is a French version of the Urban Dictionary. Considering in the 5th verse of the Honduran anthem the French are mentioned in a positive tone, I think the cheeky bilingual lyricist knew exactly what he was doing putting in cheeky innuendos like that. Then again, it could be a perverse way of saying that Honduras must (should) stride forward (if you know what I mean. Wink, wink.)

Sunday, 6th July 2014

The first flight was a short one to El Salvador, quite a picture seeing the volcanos when going in to land. Just 30 mins in that airport and we were then pushed through security to our second flight going to Miami.

We arrived at Miami Airport, met by a friendly yet kind of sleazy border patrol man who wanted to know the martial status of our relationship and was not far from asking if we sleep together. He then exclaimed something I already knew and that was ‘she’s hot’ which I replied with a courteous ‘Yes, I know.’

We passed through all that and were met by Telemundo’s favourite superstar presenter Ana Jurka, who refers to me as Harry Potter and the craziest English person she knows. Another English person she knows is David Beckham (now you can see how privileged we felt to be in Ana’s presence). Ana is one of Pammie’s best mates, a Catracha who does quite an amazing job presenting sports at Telemundo over in Miami. Her husband Joshua is the son of Christian preachers who have lived in Honduras since the 80s (I think) and have a school in Valle de Angeles. Joshua is quite an amazing host, who could see that we were hungry and whisked us to an Italian restaurant full of cool and cute rooms and that served portions that can only be described as American but I’m still pretty sure the four of us demolished a portion that in England would be sufficient for 10 people. Having a couple of pints kind of sent me into a daze and I can’t remember much of the day, but somewhere along the line this picture was taken.

image

We got to Cooper City where Josh and Ana live with their dog Buddy, a big Golden Retriever. It’s a very new complex where they live, although the heat and humidity did send me into more slumber. Joshua made a lovely fish dish in the evening, and I’m sorry, but I can’t remember much more about the day. Zonkness doesn’t begin to describe how Pam and I felt. And it’s how I feel now, so goodnight.


Photo by the museum wall

Dear readers,

On Sunday, a large number of Pamela’s family, Pamela and I went to the MIN museum (Museum of National Identity) in the centre of the city. I’ve been numerous times to the museum, a grand old building which was the city’s hospital many moons ago. It has lovely tiled floors, beautiful old closed courtyards, curved staircases, with a very colonial air to it. There is also a permanent exhibition about the history of Honduras, a big TV digital thing about Copan Ruinas and various temporary exhibitions (‘yeah, like all museums’ I hear you say). Like most cities, Tegucigalpa has a thriving art scene (unfortunately that might be taken away with the new art tax coming in. Politicians aren’t content with creating big black holes to swallow up public funds; it seems they want the people to have no art outlet as well. Artists are poor as it is. Yet McDonalds, Burger King etc. get called tourist restaurants and don’t have to pay taxes – there is a petition that I will be putting online in the coming days).

Anyway, back out of the rant. Currently at the MIN they have something about women dressed in black and crying a lot which I didn’t understand but I think is related to Honduran folklore, there is an exhibition promoting the coral reef with various videos, a montage of Polaroid pictures of funny graffiti on toilet walls, a big ball of teeth, various nude paintings, a colourful gallery of painting from a Costa Rican artist who I can’t remember the name of, a newish cafe which sells good coffee and nice cakes (though it is often understaffed meaning that you have to wait a little for you food/drink) and an umbrella exhibition, which has lots of umbrellas attached to cover the street. It doesn’t work with rain. I was still getting very wet. But the umbrellas are very colourful and create many great reflections in puddles lining the streets.

Anyway, while outside having a beer, I took a picture of Pamela, which is below.

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I love this picture. She looks very much the beautiful person that she is. As always, I wrote a poem about it. Pamela will probably kick me because of the ending, but I hope you like it.

Photo by the museum wall

Seeing you backed to the museum wall,
Makes me want to undress you and watch you clothes fall,
Take you by the hand to the direction of my bed,
There’s no point in restraint with these thoughts within my head.

Seeing your smile and your eyes glisten,
Awaiting upon your words that I’m dying to listen,
“I love you, chichi, with all my heart.
“But right now, baby, I really need to fart.”


Central American Adventure – Part Eight

Dear readers, this piece I started three years ago or so when I was on a wonderful trip around Central America. I cannot remember the rest of the days, as in what happened day by day, but I thought I would leave you with this. It’s quite moving reading this and thinking of how much I’ve moved on, and remembering this wonderful holiday.
—————–

Dear all

Monday 28th November 2011

We decided to stroll the island at leisure today and see what wildlife we could find. In other words, dad and me wanted to arse around with our cameras while mum actually took note of the wildlife. It was a nice walk, quite windy to start off with, but the turquoise waters and horizons cays were rich. The only annoying thing was when dad was trying to take a perfect picture of a pelican on a small jetty when a big thick prick of a yank walked past wanting to get up closer to the pelican, knowing full well the pelican would fly off. That was the first time in a long time I heard my dad use the word arsehole. I was a little shocked.

We then had a late ferry back. We stopped for lunch. One of the things I noticed with the man serving was that he had a teardrop tattoo and MS13 tattoos on his arm, meaning he was or is in a violent gang and the teardrop symbolizes that he’s killed someone. After that, we went to the boat and saw a dolphin. That was better than seeing the waiter anyway.