Monthly Archives: June 2015

JOH

Dear readers,

I have written the below section not so much in chronological order, but just observations and thoughts on President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

I missed the President Juan Orlando speech last night. I was falling in and out of sleep with Titantic on the TV in Spanish. “SOY REY DEL MUNDO,” shouted a dubbed Leonardo di Caprio on standing at the front mask of the boat looking out to sea. I bet JOH felt similar a year or so ago. Then the scandal came.

Apparently all the Honduran channel’s programmes were cut and were directed to JOH’s speech, wanting people to talk about the welfare of the people, which I don’t know if is in tongue in cheek after the recent scandals with him using the health service funds to fund his own election, or whether it is a very naive and honest attempt to divert the attention away from what looks to be a sinking ship (there’s a big hole that needs repairing). In other words, he is cacking himself, along with his cronies, for badly exposed. The whole notion of redirecting channels to his speech screams “dictator”, and trying to sabotage his opposition’s image (Nasaralla) with less than glamorous Photoshopped photos of him drinking a beer. It kind of reminded me of the Miliband bacon sarnie photo on the front page of The Sun on the day of the election. It may have swung the election for some, but this has backfired on JOH and the newspaper El Heraldo, as many Hondurans see it for what it is; feeble. Maybe it was the timing of the “bacon sarnie” article, but this was very poor timing by JOH, especially with all the marches of late. Closing off the public street around the President’s House was also a poor decision. Whether you call it an act of aggression or a defensive measure, it has done nothing to repair his cracked reputation. Paying people to go on pro Nacionalista marches really is the pits. Dignity lost.

There are rocky waters ahead for this government. Scandals and repression has made the people rise. I remember when I first came to Honduras there was a large Resistencia on the streets, an organisation with connections with Partido Libre, ran by the ousted leader Mel Zelaya, against the people who are now and still in charge, also known as golpistas, who pretty much run the country and taking large slices of Honduran pie (public funds). While those marches were big, they were often met by force and a little disorganised. Now the marches are organised, hitting the right spots, whether it is the American Embassy, Ministero Publico or Hospital Escuela. They also has the middle classes protesting. This is interesting. Former Nacionalista voters are fed up, too. Nasaralla seems to be the hero, or at least helped gather momentum, tearing up Oscar Alvarez live on air, uncovering the scandals of one of the most dangerous men in Honduras. Nasarralla ran in the election as the Anti-Corruption party leader, but he is also a footy pundit. He hasn’t come out, although there is widespread belief that he is gay, due to his slightly camp ways. Why understate it? He’s like a beautiful flaming queen! You might be asking what his sexuality has to do with all this. Well, in a country with so much homophobia and machismo (maybe you read the story about Stephen Fry and his gay partner feeling discriminated against for their sexuality in Roatan (I personally think the SF incident was less about homophobia and more about the great difference. You can see gays walking around hand in hand quite a lot in the Bay Islands compared to Tegucigalpa, due to the liberal lifestyle. I think people would stop and stare and make comments if they saw a 60 year old man and 20 year old woman walking down the street together hand in hand, as well), homophobia has been rife for many years, but especially under the Pepe Lobo government, where LGBT groups and gay people in the street have been attacked or even killed without any police investigation (sometimes even attacked by the police). You have to admire a man, with such mannerisms, to come out all guns blazing against these mafia-type dictators.

I haven’t been able to go on a march yet, due to events or unexpected needs for marriage paper work etc, but they have hit the international news. CNN Español is covering it, which is the last thing that JOH wanted.

No doubt that JOH is an intelligent man. He has, however, made some grave errors. A year ago everything seemed to be going well. I thought the country’s security was improving. I felt safer. But it was all a smokesreen, propaganda. I was bought by it. The coming weeks will be interesting.

“Tension, in the long run, is a more dangerous force than any feud known to man.”
Criss Jami

I asked Pamela if she would like a revolution in Honduras. “Yes,” she said, “but not on my wedding day.”

Watch this space.


Hoy, La Vida en Corto – Julio Cesar Anariba

Dear readers,

On television last night was a dedication to Julio Anariba, our dear colleague who passed away two weeks ago. Unfortunately I missed it. I have recently moved home, which I will tell of in an update soon (two and a half fantastic years in Las Colinas will now be followed by a few months in Residencia Maya), so I have been busy preparing the new abode while also trying to settle paperwork with the parish where we are getting married.

Apparently there is an event at UNAH today, but again I am needed elsewhere. Here is a small dedication to Mr. Anariba provided by Allan McDonald. I hope you like it.


Catholic Journey – Part Four

Dear readers,

Back in March or February, you might remember that I posted some prayers on the blog. They included the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Apostale’s Creed. I was studying them for a very important event that was to happen on 7th April on a Saturday night. I must say, the former two I still remember quite well. I confess, I am hopeless at remembering the Apostale’s Creed. Mainly because it is so long. It’s nothing to do with not believing it or taking issue, as Priests are known to have said on Youtube videos. I have trouble remembering all the lyrics of my favourite songs. I don’t remember God Save the Queen (nor do I want to), so remembering prayers isn’t always easy, which is a problem as I have to learn the Rosary and the Mea Culpa (known as the Confiteor), which is below.

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters,that I have greatly sinned,in my thoughts and in my words,in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,all the Angels and Saints,and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

This one I like because it involves thumping on the chest when you repeat “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”. I have to learn these in Spanish, which I don’t mind, but during a time that I have to remember 101 million different things for the wedding paperwork, it was left me a little tired.

Back to 7th April. Thanks to friends at Espavel, who I’d been having classes with for over a year, they helped arrange that I have be given quite an amazing Catholic combo, by having the confirmation, baptism and Holy Communion done all at once by no other than the Cardernal Oscar Andres Rodriguez, who was one of those tipped to be Pope. It is a very traditional event here, celebrated at Semana Santa.

Tia Sofie was desperate to be my Godmother (to teach me devillish tricks), and my soon to be brother in law, Juan Jose, as my Godfather. A couple of days before the big event, I had to give my details at the Cathedral. The problem was, on the sheet that I had to present my details, it only had space for one or the other of my Godparents, so I wrote my Godmother’s name, soley on the basis that she is older. I didn’t think it would have much bearing. When we arrived at on the evening though, there was just space for one, as there were 14 or more people also receiving these sacraments, people of all ages too. We sat at the front and, I must say, I felt nervous. The prayers were floating around my head and I kept trying to revise them in my little black book, while trying to hold on to a candle. It was also extremely hot, being April time; height of the Honduran summer. The Cathedral was filling up fast, the musicians were buzzing around and people were being dressed up and decorated. Pamela’s family sat in the church midway down the aisle, while Pamela fussed over my tie. I don’t think I was quite as nervous as the guy next to me, an older guy, whose Godparent hadn’t appeared. I felt a lot for him. He was stressed, racing around, trying to communicate in silence with his family as they frantically called this person to see where the hell they were. But I think the worst was the inevitable sense of disappointment, the realisation that this person chosen to be a Godparent does not care enough to be punctual on the one night as a Godparent that he must be punctual. The church organisers were asking questions, which increased the anxiety and embarrassment in the poor guy. We all tried to calm him, especially my Godmother, but we could no longer once the lights dimmed and the ceremony began. However, after a long wait for the procession to start, we had all had time to become chummy with each other, mainly out of excitement. So, when this young man did appear with an inappropriate grin on his digit, we all blanked at him. The way Tia Sofie did it was so amusingly direct that I had a really hard time stifling my giggles. He deservedly looked like an eejit, and made to feel like one too.

Going back to that moment though. When the Cathedral’s lights dimmed and people hushed to silence, and the dancing flames of the bonfire at the front church cackled and sprayed specks of light through the door. A siloutte appeared at that huge oval door of various bodies bobbing slightly and silently, lined like a Holy train. By the use of the word Holy, you can of course work out by that I mean the clergy. The music began, and the train marched forward down the aisle slowly, igniting candles from a large giant candle from the fire outside and swinging incense of Holy Smoke, filling the atmosphere with a soothing aroma (which unfortunately seemed to have little impact on the poor stressed guy to my right). I had a problem with my candle, however, in that it was spitting burning wax on my hand and arm. To try and deflect it, holding it at an angle so it would pour down one side on to the floor. Being the giant tit that I am, I forgot that I had a woman in a wheelchair sat to my left with her leg propped up a little too close for comfort (claustophobia set in thanks to the cramped space). Half way through standing up singing along to a hymn, I felt a tapping on my leg, and it was the woman looking up at me and pointing at her leg where I was dripping hot wax on to. This was being filmed on national tv. Panic, panic, panic. I then tried to move the candle to my right but it was too close to the man’s shirt (he was already upset about not having his Godparent there. I didn’t think setting him alight, or anyone alight, would have been appreciated. Excommunicated on the night of baptism, I am sure that it may have happened in the history of the church, but I did not want to add my name on to such an infamous list), which meant having to hold the candle at a long arms length directly in front of me. An elderly couple, who sat facing me on the other side of the aisle, looked at me as if I’d ten heads or more. When we blew the candles out, I let out a sigh of relief.

I forgot to mention that the event lasted for nearly four hours, which seems to many like a heck of a time. I’ll be honest though, it flew. There were seven readings that re-tell the Resurrection of Christ, accompanied by chants, hymns and prayers, many of which were celebratory and happy. It made me forget that I had to read the prayers in front of Honduras and a few hundred people in the church, like I was told would happen. I’m not great in front of large crowds, so it had left me nervous. It was beautiful though. Life changing. A term so often used but it was. At the end of the readings, we were all called forward by the cardenal. The bishops blessed us one by one. I was then called forward to have Holy water poured on forehead. Unfortunately I held my head little too far forward and the water splashed right through my hair. The cardenal had to then get a towel to dry my tie and hair. A right Holy dunking. Step one passed; baptised.

Capture

The confirmation involved us having to agree and confirm our believe in the Holy Trinity and in the Lord. No need to recount prayers in front of everyone. Step two passed: confirmed.

The third and final part, we returned to our seats while the Cardenal chanted communion. We were then called forward to take the bread of Christ. I then made more of an idiot of myself by waiting to receive the blood of Christ too. I stood like an idiot for a couple of seconds, but was told to sit down by the Cardenal in a slightly frustrated tone. I was then complete. Catholic and proud. I had received Holy Communion.

It was the end of the ceremony, but not the end of the night by the looks of things, as people danced around the altar and sang songs and Priests splashed the church goers with Holy Water, which sent Pamela’s mother running (she said she didn’t want to get her hair wet). On the way out, I was met by Juan Paolo, by tutor and friend from Espavel, who gave me a mini Rosary. It was a beautiful night that ended late.

I am Catholic for life (if I don’t commit any major mortal sins that makes me ex-communicated). Therefore, the Catholic journey is for life. I’m pleased I’ve embraced it. I have since been more involved, and Pamela wants us to join in with a couples group once we are married. I will go into this in the coming updates. If I could give anyone any advice though, especially those who need or want more spirituality in their lives; embrace it. Go to your local church, and speak to someone about it. If you don’t like it, you can go elsewhere to another faith. For me personally, it has helped. I think this is as good a moment to finish now.


The Night’s Voice

Dear readers,

I can’t sleep. Here’s a poem to pass the time.

The night’s voice

Eerie does it speak,
Screaming volumes of solitude,
As anger and frustration seep from my thoughts and echo silently the dawn’s air.
The drunken hoot,
A territorial howl,
My enemies in the dark deathly glare.
A girl’s wail of passion,
A waving echo of a pistol,
The useless sinful desire to crush those who undermine me.
The tired engine drawling,
A ghostly shake of the door,
I pray for my frustrated mind to let me be.
The blurred neon lamps,
That once made the evening loud,
I want to embrace its lonely light.
A calming breeze,
A sleeping balm,
Please carry me in tomorrow’s fight.


OHCA advert

Dear readers,

I forgot to mention. I was cast in a TV commercial for an organisation called OCHA, which takes injured or unwanted pets, rehabitates them so they can be adopted. It all happened very quickly. On one random Saturday evening in April, I received a desperate phone call from my mate Teresa Galeano, who used to do my job at Dowal School. They needed people from different cultures and backgrounds to help in a commercial, and they needed us the next day. It was to represent that, like humans, animals have different characters and personalities as well (or something like it). I knew that Teresa was passionate about helping and recuperating ill-treated animals, and so I was only too happy help.

Off we went after Mass to the Universidad Paedologica close to where I live in Las Colinas (though not for long) and were met by various dogs that were due to star with us. I was shown various pictures of how these dogs looked before, injured, some with bones sticking out and left for dead. There are no formal laws to prevent the cruelty of animals in Honduras. In fact OHCA have been campaigning for change, and there have been petitions circulating. I think congress are crapping themselves about illicit cheques exchanged between Nationalist politicans and the IHSS (Honduras’s NHS) recently. This might be a welcome distraction for them. Anyway, on a very hot Sunday with restless dogs and humans, and after waiting nearly two hours, we were finally called upon to act. The lines we were given were not hard, maybe not the best prepared, but it’s funny how easy they are forgotten when we have to say them on camera. My partner on screen was a girl from Vietnam, and there was also a guy from northern Honduras and a girl from the US. After various takes, we were done. Pamela was hungry, me too, so we went for lunch. Later in the week though, I received a phone call from someone in the organisation asking if they could re-record my voice as the microphones didn’t pick it up too well. I said yes but when I arrived at the said time, the badly organised production team wasn’t there. They ended up dubbing my voice. I sound a bit more Catracho by the day.

This should be on TV soon. It has been on in the cinemas. I have tried to add it but WordPress is doing it’s wholly best to ruin my greatest TV achievement to date. Here is a link to the Facebook page. You can see it there (so f–k you WordPress!).

https://m.facebook.com/OHCA.HONDURAS?refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fes-es.facebook.com%2FOHCA.HONDURAS


Catholic Journey – Part Three

Dear readers,

I still go on Thursdays. Circle time. We read the day’s reading, discuss topics like the importance of confession and the beautiful humility of the faith, a daily exam which puts things in perspective and that chance to ask ourselves about our actions. The peace it gives me, reslots the faith within me which life and work extracts. People often thinks the faith is all about feeling guilt, and sometimes, yeah, I feel it. But it gives me a moral compass. A guide to good living, so to speak. And I now pray to God everyday. Apologise for sins, thanking him for what I have and pleading to help me more. It has been an important change.

About October time, Pamela and I went to a certain church. I won’t say which, nor will I say who we spoke to. We don’t want to disrespect or cause gossip. We went to enquire about me being Baptised and Confirmed by the Catholic Church. The person we spoke to was a priest, but he was not at all impressed, especially when we told him that I’d been having classes at Espavel. He pretty much said we should go back there, and we did. Juan Pablo, my tutor, was in touch with Father Javier, a fantastic gentleman who is the spiritual director at Espavel. He is great. Loves zombie movies, reads Graham Greene and thinks Manchester has a great music scene. Opus Dei is known for its rigid and traditional ways, not always in the best of light thanks to Dan Brown (not that I’ve read any of his books (neither will I)). However, I have never met such a welcoming group and I feel touched with the way they have embraced me, inviting me to retreats and asking about the wedding plans.

To cut a long story short, Padre Javier helped organise it so I would be Baptised, Confirmed and recieve Holy Communion by the Cardenal at Semana Santa, one of the most important dates of the Catholic calendar.

This I will talk about in next update. Now though, I want to include a song by Coldplay called Midnight. It’s about not giving in at a time of struggle, fighting on when you feel alone and believing in yourself. Coldplay are brilliant. I don’t care if people say they’re too popular or they’re too stadia rock now. Chris Martin is great.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BQeMxWjpr-Y


Yet getting even closer

Dear all,

Yet another poem as the day draws near. A month and ten days. Something more for Pamela. I can’t think of a name for this poem. I will let you readers make that decision.

You are my torch in my darkest hour,

In a garden of roses, you’re my prettiest flower,

You are the sweet in the sweet and sour,

You’re the hand on my back if I begin to cower.

Your embrace conducts warmth as your laughter conducts my laugh,

You make me feel my glass is filled more than half,

You don’t care if I commit another silly gaffe,

Because it gives you more material to give me chaff.

“You make me happy,” I hear you say,

“Put a smile on my face and make my legs sway,

“The day I met you is my happiest day,

“Though I must admit, at first I thought you were a bit gay!”

To spend a life with you gives me a joy I can’t describe,

This is why you motivate me to write these millions of poems I scribe,

Us and the future kids, our happy little tribe,

And day after day, giving each other those cheeky little jibes.