El Mayoreo

Dear readers,

It seems that Friday 13th came a week late in Tegucigalpa. Not for me personally, but for many who make a living selling food, and people who like to sit and eat the food, in the Mayoreo market near the stadium. I for one enjoy the pupusas and baleadas, if I get the chance (not often considering I have work Fridays and most Saturday mornings; the days in which the market is in town). I am 99% sure that 100% of Tegucigalpa’s residents have eaten there at least once, a place frequently visited by the former US Ambassador, Lisa Kubiske by all accounts; the arts and farmer’s market for Capitialanos for over 30 years. In a nutshell, it sells some of the best genuine street food in the city.

Since I’ve been living in Honduras, from 2011, I’ve always tried to visit. Like in all markets, it’s a great place to buy fruit and veg, seeing your money go to local people; not to the fat cats who own La Colonia or El Paiz supermarkets. It’s also great to get acquainted with the local lingo (if you want to be thrown in at the deep end). You have to break a little sweat to get there on occasions, especially with the clogged up traffic with quantity of people, and especially on hot days. I don’t mind being ripped off a little. It’s still cheaper than supermarkets. You get a great amount for 100 Lemps. You end up waddling home with huge splitting bags if you’re not careful. It’s fresh, too. The first time I came I was waiting for a bus to go home to Tatumbla after a kind of party weekend in Tegucigalpa. Not on market day, but on match day when Motagua was playing. The area doubles as a car park on said days. Nearby is the bus stop for the needed bus, which goes every two hours or so on Sundays, so I was sat there with the people who charge the punters. I was sat there with a rucksack which screamed, rob me. On the other side of a wall were the notorious Revos, one of the hardcore support groups, who sometimes mix with the Maras. I was crapping myself, needless to say, although nothing much happened.

I took my parents there once, and I ate there a few times with Hazel, while she was living here. I’ve gone by recently to see how much parrots cost, as well as cages. And if I want something junk-like, I can be sure it’ll be sold there. You can let out a guilty giggle at misspelt English words (deriving from a poor education, unfortunately), my favourite being a sick-pack of Coca Cola (if you’re unsure of the mistake, it’s supposed to say six-pack), which I can sure I have mentioned before.

On Friday, approximately midday, an explosion took place, so horrifying, that it is likely to shatter memories like mine for many years. It sadly cost the life of a two year toddler named Briana Reyes, who had 50% of her body scolded, 70 or more people with 2nd and 3rd degree burns, and $50,000 of produce damage. It started with a gas cylinder with a faulty valve. A naked flame set the immediate place alight. Unfortunately supply gas cylinders were stored nearby, which blew the place up. Witnesses have stated people were falling around on fire, while people trying to save others got terrible burns in the inferno. Luckily there’s a fire station extremely close and Hospital Escuela isn’t a million miles away. The fire inspectors stated that the gas cookers looked as though they hadn’t been inspected in years. The authorities, rightly so, are quickly passing through new laws to ensure cooking equipment is safe and new.

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People here have reacted in caring fashion, donating masses of burn creams to Hospital Escuela. There apparently 40 odd people still in hospital being treated.

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As I said above, horrific. Everyone feels wary now, in market spaces or anywhere with gas cylinders. As the press have pointed out, these accidents happen more than people think. It’s sad, but we have to count our blessings that more people didn’t perish. RIP Briana Reyes.

The same day saw a different explosion at a chemical plant that does experiments with concoctions that pecures beans. This chemical is apparently toxic (why they use toxic chemicals to pecure foods, especially one that is eaten everyday here in Honduras, is beyond me. Then again, I’m not a scientist. What do I know!), and in an explosion, it pumped a whole load of it into Tegucigalpa’s already contaminated air. A message went around on the social networks saying that Loma Linda and Las Colinas (where I live) are likely to be infected, and to be extra careful eating food or going to restaurants in the area (Nacho and I laughed we’re extra vigilant in that anyway, so nothing new there!). Apparently this chemical burns your insides, although the whiff of the chicken the reeks of fish coming from next door does the same.

Joking aside, this was Friday 13th disguised as 20th. A sad day for Tegucigalpa.

About Nicholas Rogers

I am an English journalist/copywriter living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and I have been here since 2011. I originally came to work with Casa Alianza, which supports street kids and vulnerable youths. I then stayed on, after meeting Pamela Cruz Lozano, who calls me her adopted Catracho. I work freelance journalism and I have my own translation business. Why did I come here? For the challenge, to open my mind and get out of my comfort zone. I love literature and I've written a book with street kids. I write novels, short stories and poetry, all of which you will find on this blog, as well as a lot of information about Honduras. View all posts by Nicholas Rogers

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