Monthly Archives: January 2016

11 Spanish words to make you laugh and give you mind-bends

Dear readers,

Learning a language is a brilliant way of understanding the psyche of a culture. Spanish has been a hilarious adventure for myself, and making faux pases have been fundamental in my learning a language and created great stories.

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When I first moved to Spain a good ten years ago, I learned about a cultural/learning complexity called miedo de ridiculo. The meaning of ridiculo I guess you know, but the full meaning of the phrase is “fear of the ridiculous”, or more so, “fear of making an arse of yourself”, which I always found ironic for culture that prides itself on being charmingly extroverted, warm and friendly. This psyche is especially detrimental for language learners when starting conversations and practising new vocabulary. English has many irrationalities and oddities about the pronunciation, especially in phonetics, which leaves learners from the romantic languages a little tongue tied and hesitant to learn. The Latin languages have many semantic clues to guide speakers in how to pronounce words, such as accents and upside down question marks and exclamation marks at the start of sentences. We English have little of that and we often learn via a telling off at school or a clip round the ear. Whether there’s a subconscious introvert treading water within the Spanish/Latino culture, I don’t know. Without wanting to sound like a clown or too proud, this doesn’t really affect me, nor other Brits for that matter. We open our mouths unsophisticatedly, grunt noises, point and repeat the noises until we feel our output has been deciphered (either that or we just say it loudly in English). Maybe it’s due to our dark self-mocking sense of humour, which doesn’t always travel well (just because we mock ourselves doesn’t mean we should mock other cultures (someone tell Jeremy Clarkson)). Then again, maybe it affects us more than I realise; we’re not known for being the most linguistically diverse people, but I think it’s more laziness than lack of confidence in trying. 

I’ve compiled this list of Spanish vocabulary over years. Lovers of the hispanic language should enjoy it, and I daresay, new and old learners will be scratching their heads. More so, I hope the peculiar and/or humorous translations make you giggle.

Some I have seen written in books, others I have heard on the street or been taught in class, by friends or by my wife. Due to proximity and where I’ve been residing in life, the majority derive from Spain and Honduras, with maybe a few from Peru (being a big fan of Mario Vargas Llosa I am). In no particular order, here they are.

1. Ano/año
An oldie but a goodie. You know you’ve seen that little squiggly line above the n in Spanish. You’ve read it in books, on football player’s shirts, on billboards while holidaying in the Iberian Peninsula or on the news. You’ve thought, “why do they do that? How is it different from the common little n?” Well, let me tell you, it makes a big spanking lot of difference, and Spanish speakers will be laughing, especially from looking at the precarious example above.

First off, ñ is pronounced like the English n but with a y sound after it, as if to say enyeh. But n and ñ are two separate letters in the Spanish alphabet.

Now to the above meaning: año means year, whereas ano means anus. In context, you think you would know the difference if someone makes the mistake. In most cases you’re right. However, there scenarios where it is important you know the difference, and one is talking about your age. Like in French, the Spanish use the to have verb to say how old they are or how long they have been doing something. For example, tengo 36 años (I have 36 years). Now I think you know where I am going with this. A simple slip of that little squiggly line could make me seem like a vulgar freak of nature or I quite literally am talking out of one of my many 36 anuses.

2. Tutearse
I have been told of this verb before, and it slipped my mind until the other week while reading El Héroe Discreto (The Discreet Hero) by Mario Vargas Llosa. It’s a strange verb because we don’t really have a direct translation with just one word in English; more of a phrasal verb. It means to be on familiar terms with someone, to enable to refer to someone using the more informal pronoun tu (meaning you) rather than the formal usted commonly used in Latin America. I like it because it almost sounds a bit flirty (“Wanna tutearse with me?”). Also, if you say it quickly enough, it almost sounds like tutu and I like to think it could mean the verb for wearing a tutu. Or even better, getting flirty while wearing a tutu.

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3. Coger
I was warned about this one before I came to Latin America. The difference in meaning is widely known. In Spain, it means to catch. In Latin America, it means to fuck. So, for wonderful word play, to coger un autobus could get you a few funny looks on this continent. If you wish not to fuck the bus in Latin America, it might be wiser to use tomar, meaning take.

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“To coger or not coger …?”

4. Pisar
Like above, this is another example of a perfectly innocent word for the Spanish, and something vulgarly unacceptable for people in Central America.

In Honduras, pisar is yet another verb to fuck, whereas in Spain and other parts of Latin America it means to step or trample on.

So, you can imagine the giggles throughout Honduras when the Spanish popstar Alejandro Sanz released the song “Pisando Fuerte”. I will leave you to work out the meaning of fuerte.

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Alejandro Sanz: He wants to “Pisar Fuerte”. Very bold of him.

5. Cipote
Now it’s Spain’s turn to be mortally offended and Central Americans to look around in wonder about the fuss. Cipote in Spain means dick while in Central America it’s a sweet word for child.

Oh the shock and horror, when Casa Alianza won an award for children’s rights by the Spanish UN, and top diplomats came over from Madrid to hand over the award, only to hear the educators referring to poor street kids as little dicks.

6. Pupusa
Yes. In all different languages over the world, dirty minds use food stuffs to refer to parts of the human anatomy. Quite how pupusas, these lovely fried tortillas hiding inside a spread of gooey quesillo (a type of cheese), chicharrones (pig fat) or frijoles (beans), take the name of a lady’s private parts is beyond me. There’s something symbolic I’m missing out on here.

Because I loved pupusas so much when I first arrived in Honduras, I used to call my wife by this name. That was before I knew about its perverted connotation. Calling your partner pupusa caliente in front of her parents is not the wisest thing to do in Central America. Take note.

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7. Muñequado
Another word found courtesy of Mario Vargas Llosa literature. It caught my attention because I thought it might have been related to the word muñecowhich means doll. By adding ido or ado to the end of a verb in Spanish, it often turns it into a past participle – similar to adding ed to a verb in English. I didn’t think muñeco could be turned into a verb, unless it meant something in the line of getting dolled up.

Nope. Not in the slightest. The word originates from the Andes and it means to be jumpy or nervous. A word you are not likely to use anyway. Never mind. ¡Gracias Llosa!

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How cute! A doll to make you nervous!

8. Embarazada
In the world of ESL, this is what we call a false friend, meaning a word in your target language that looks very similar to something in your native language, but doesn’t mean that at all. Embarazada is probably the best example.

In English we would quite understandly believe that embarazada means embarrassed. WRONG! The word means to be pregnant. It can bring about various humorous linguistic faux pases. I can think of a couple below:

An English speaker getting it wrong in Spanish:

Anna: ¿Que pasó, Michael?
(What happened, Michael?)

Michael: ¡Díos mío, Anna! ¡Estoy tan embarazada! Yo pegue a mi cabeza en una farola en frente a una chica guapa!
(My God, Anna! I’m so pregnant! I just banged my head on a lamp post in front of a beautiful girl!)

Anna: ¿Sí? No sabía que los hombres pudieran quedar embarazada!
(Oh right! I didn’t know men could get pregnant!)

A Spanish speaker getting it wrong in English:

Miguel: Congratulations! How do you feel, Ana?
(¡Felicidades! ¿Como te sientes, Ana?)

Ana: With a lot of pain. I’m eight months embarrassed.
(Con mucho dolor. ¡Tengo ocho meses con pena!).

Miguel: Your boyfriend should have used a condom then.
(Tu novio debió que usar un condón pues).

Ana: What?!
(¿Qué?)

Let’s face it, the second example could have been played out into a giant telenovela. Creative idea alert!

9. Dieciséis
My wife told me about this one while she was chuckling along to Arturo Sosa’s Historias Cortas del Alero Tom y Otras Hierbas. I mentioned it on my blog a couple of weeks ago. The book contains a lot Caliche words; kind of the local dialect. Dieciséis actually means 16, but in Honduras, somehow or other, it can also mean something is more or less.

Apparently this word appears in Sosa’s book. Yes, I don’t get it either.

10. Hortera
Now, I really don’t know if this word is spelt correctly, but it was very perplexing for Spanish and English/American friends while I was living in Spain. Hortera doesn’t really exist on this side of the Atlantic. Spanish friends told me that it kind of means a trend or behaviour that is naff, of bad taste or nasty, but it is stronger than that, but not quite as strong as disgusting.

Some of my Spanish friends were obsessively vexed by this lack of translation into English, and one in particular from the Basque Country admitted that he had been trawling through English dictionaries determined to find the exact meaning.

Well, it’s been 10 years and my friend still hasn’t come back to me. So, to clean this up, if I had to define someone as hortera, I would say Katie Hopkins or Donald Trump.

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Katie Hopkins: Reina Hortera del ano … I mean año (silly me!)

11. Alero
In Honduras, this word means a good buddy or friend, or even wing-man. I like it, often using it myself. I then saw it in another Mario Vargas Llosa book, but it meant part of a roof. In other parts of the Spanish speaking world, it is the forward position in basketball.

I prefer the Honduras meaning though. It’s much nicer.

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Nick y su alero Jordan

If you have any other similar words, please add them in the comments below.

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No Hay Nadie Como Tu – part seven

Dear readers,

21st July 2015

It was a Tuesday and I woke up very excited to see my cousins, while knowing the haste to the wedding was truly going to kick in, especially as the wedding decorator/planner was not answering to calls, I had all sorts of legal documents I needed for the wedding, the new job and immigration floating around my head. Stress always seems to come in twos and threes, no matter what wise men say about planning effectively ahead of time (believe me, I try to). I think it’s because there’s nothing wise about Honduran bureaucracy, or wisdom about it’s slow pace which seems to be run by lethargic devils.

There was also the predicament about my cousin’s luggage that had been left in transit at one of the airports coming from Cuba. Toncontin would be a well visited airport that day, as my uncle and aunt would be arriving as well.

Jordan, forever the gentleman, was sleeping on the sofa at myz apartment, refusing to take the bed, even though the sofa was a foot too short. I wondered about the state of his back and mind. But he seemed content. Sunshine, great coffee and cheap beer seemed a great consolation. We hopped over to Casa Bella to meet Sam. Hannah had already gone to retrieve her baggage with Pam, so I decided to be the tour guide around the city centre, which geographically isn’t the centre of the city at all, but more towards the north. We stopped off at the Galeano store in Palmira, which has made quite a stylish name for itself as a social enterprise that raises money and clothes through selling cool designed tshirts and a funky coffee shop, for children and families living in poverty in rural areas throughout Honduras. By the end of the Honduran stay, I think my family had bought enough tshirts and coffee to keep the project running for a few decades.

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We then strolled into the bustling centre where we stopped off at the Iglesia Dolores, the market nearby (to try a legendary baleada) and the cathedral, but was unable to fit in MIN (Museum of National Identity).

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(Photos by Jordan: used without permission)

As I had a tight itinerary and a family of hungry mouths, I took them to Cafe Paradiso, a place I’ve had quite a long affinity with. It’s a bohemian cafe, book shop and artist hangout. It’s also where I took Pamela on our first dates, where Hazel and I used to catch up and talk at length of tales and the complexities of Honduran life and where I was once chased by a dog. It is a place I knew my parents really enjoyed the first time I brought them. Artistic, green, nice food and something alternative. It has featured on my blog a few times. The family really seemed to enjoy it. Right up their alley, really.

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(Photos by Jordan: used without permission)

It was here though that I had to get my legal hat on though, when I received a phone call from my lawyer to get things ready for her on the ready. I then made off to get those things done, taking a whole afternoon, while the family went back to the hotel. When I got back, my uncle and aunt had arrived, but then Pamela and I had to pretty much confront Alejandro, the wedding decorator, to find out what he was up to. Cool as a breeze, he showed us that all was pretty much set.

I don’t know what time we were finished, but the gin and tonic I felt that night was richly deserved.

22nd July 2015

I will be quite honest, I can’t remember much about this day, other than going to the mall, going to confession, buying masses of wine for the civil wedding and having to do more legal stuff.

Don’t worry, the next day I would remember quite a bit better: it would be the civil wedding day.

To be continued…


Enlofio Hernandez & The Fun of Blowing Things Up

Dear readers,

Two quick stories.

Enlofio Hernandez

For those who follow my blog, you’ll know in my five years in Honduras I’ve become acquainted with many-a-taxi driver. Some good, some bad, but the majority being most entertaining. Many come from similar walks in life (quite poor), though all have an array of amusing/sad stories to tell, anecdotes to share and curious minds with a million burning questions for me to tackle. For a writer they’re an inspiration. They’re one of the reasons I feel quite content to live without the convenience of having my own transport and spending large chunks of my budget on taxis, even if it means risking my life by having detours at break neck speeds through less than safe barrios. Living in a gated community, taxis are my way getting a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on which way you look at it) dosage of real life. I miss the days of Casa Alianza.

Yesterday’s experience was one of positive astonishment, involving a taxi driver belonging to the name of Enlofio Hernandez; an unusual first name which makes me wonder if I’ve mis-spelt it. I was so astonished by his driving skills, I don’t think any of my prose will give him the credit he deserves, so here’s a photo of this gifted chap.

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While going to teach a private class in Palmira in the late afternoon, I stepped out the gated community paradise that is Residencial Maya to find a taxi driver doing some maintenance on his car. I never enjoy the stroll up to the main road to catch taxis. The sad looking slip road looks lonely and quiet and like bandit territory (I know for a fact that it is). So I asked him if he could take me and he said yes. He was there to collect his wife and he asked if I could wait, which I happily agreed to with a nod.

In the late afternoon, the traffic is aplenty coming and going from the neighbourhood, which can clog the place up due to the many parked cars that makes my angelic wife belt out less than angelic names for fellow drivers. This day was no different. Yet, this man managed to reverse at speed around three blind corners with substantial obstacles and on-coming cars, without touching curb or vehicle, with the calm intensity of Mr. Miyagi, while talking about his wife who’s a nurse and the negative affects of alcohol to the body. He then stopped and bellowed his wife’s name out the taxi window. She never came. He shrugged pleasantly then we got on our way. It goes to show crazy drivers don’t necessarily cause crashes and what being a teetotal does for your driving skills. This gentleman makes Stig from Top Gear look like a novice. When I applauded him, he humbly shrugged it off like a man oozing genuine confidence and merely boasted that it’s something to do with the fact that he’s been a taxi driver for 38 years. I got his number, suffice to say.

The Fun of Blowing Things Up

Yes. We are well into 2016. That should not prevent me from reminiscing the pyromaniac traditions of bringing in the New Year in Honduras. I don’t know if it’s the same throughout Latin America, but it is substantially more celebrated than it is in the UK, which I’ve never enjoyed that much. Bad memories, more than anything.

Here, people buy firecrackers until they’re coming out of their ears. All fireworks are dangerous, for children reading, but there is one in particular which is pretty much a bomb, and name, mortar, doesn’t leave much to the imagination. This leaves craters in the ground and fireworks going off for miles around. Last year some cruel bastards near La Ceiba attached some to dog. They received very little sympathy from the police, newspapers, the courts and Pamela’s granny, let me tell you.

Last year I was very much involved, firing up all sorts of experiments in front of the abuelos house in Kennedy. These experiments often involved slipping firecrackers in empty beer cans to see what devastatingly fascinating holes I could make. Unfortunately, one experiment involving two crackers caused one explosion then launched the other in air and landing on Pamela’s cousin’s arm, leaving two little marks that looks like a vampire’s bitten her.

This year I was calmer. Kind of. I was keener to stay sober and watch the big bangs at midnight. It is spectacular but foolishly dangerous. A bit like Guy Fawkes back home, they have a bonfire with a dummy or mannequin, and name it after the country’s “pendejo del año” (bastard of the year); kind of like a pretend lynching. 2015 was a good year for pendejos in Honduras, however, and there were a few contenders. Here’s a list:

1: Juan Orlando Hernandez –
The President of Honduras allegedly used money from the IHSS (the Honduran NHS) to fund his own election campaign. Let me restate that, allegedly, so not to offend Nacionalistas.

2: Rafael Callejas
Former President of the Republic of Honduras and now ex-President of the Honduran FA, who went down in flames in December courtesy of the US Federal Court for various counts of corruption to do with FIFA and CONCACAF. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s been nominated for “pendejo del año”; during his term as president, he received seven counts of corruption and was accused by an aide in the Bush White House, resulting in denying him US visa status.

3: The Rosenthal Family
They are said to be the richest family in Honduras and second in Central America. It all came crashing down spectacularly in October 2015 when Jaime Rolando Rosenthal, owner of the now defunct bank Banco Continental, his son Yani and his nephew Yankell (former owner of the San Pedro Sula  football club, Maratón) were arrested in New York by US authorities for money laundering charges, and they are believed to be part of various narcotic syndicates. Their assets were seized, including a various mansions, media organisations and a crocodile skin farm, which left the reptiles starving to death (some lions, apparently). Lord knows how many jobs were lost in the end, but believe it was more than 10,000.

4: Donald Trump
This name ring any bells? Yes, this man is not liked in Honduras for the same reasons he’s not liked in most parts of the world. Honduras’s beef? His derogatory views on Latinos, but also being a powerful, dangerous pantomime villain with his finger on the button.

I think Donald won it in the Cruz-Lozano-Rodriguez household.

In Kennedy, the bonfire was in the car park in front of the Abuelos house, as it always is. Frighteningly, some folks left their car way to close to the bonfire, and alarm bells were ringing when they doused the dummy in petrol and attached a ton of mortars.

Here should be a video but it isn’t downloading too well. The pictures I took don’t quite sum up the booms.

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And the below picture is of what happens if you don’t use fireworks responsibly. A drunk launched it from the other side of the car park.

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No Hay Nadie Como Tu – part six

Dear readers,

19th July 2015

The whiff of capitialism. Colourful images. Voices bellowing around your conscious, saying “buy, buy, buy.” Tegucigalpa has more malls than people. That is of course bare faced lie, but you get my point. Most the malls are fashioned like those from America, selling a great variety of the same crap, much of it over- priced, and includes a cinema showing mainly Hollywood blockbusters. True, Honduras has been producing a line of movies, some of which are coming out soon. Off the top of my head, there are ten malls in the city alone, and only two have book-shops (but not including Christian bookshops) which is rubbish for an avid writer/reader. I really hate to say this, but thank God to the tax-dodging, mailing enterprise, Amazon. I am sure that soon I’ll be relying on it to sell my very own books in the near future. I know there’s more to e-books than Kindle, so I will stop my whining now and get on with what happened that day.

On the whole, most malls here are very safe to walk around, air- conditioned and suit most consumer needs, which make them rammed at the weekends. Pamela says they are fairly new to Honduras, and she grew up in a more traditional, less violent era (90s), when the city was smaller with less people, and had only one or two malls. Things have changed rapidly and consumerism now has its colourful branded mits wrapped around Honduras’s neck. My negative descriptions will have you thinking I’m dead against them, and in a way I am, as I grew up with parents who taught me to make better use of my time than wandering around these vast complexes. Unfortunately I do find myself going to these places more often than I wish, but out of irrational need; usually waiting for people or buying junk that I feel I need for whatever reason, instead of going to smaller, more traditional shops that are still aplenty, but are a pain in the arse to get to if you haven’t got your own transportation.

The first morning though, the family wanted to get out the hotel, especially my sister who needed exercise as she was due to do a giant run back in the UK in the following months. Pamela and I had to meet with the wedding planner at the hotel where we’d be having the reception, so it made sense to go to Mall Multiplaza. My sister’s eyes lit up at the sight of some of shop’s logos. She commented that they were cheaper than the UK, but not massively. My parents saw it as a culturally void shell, much like I do (apart from the bookshop), and Jordy and my brother saw it as “cheap as chips”. Probably not what they expected traveling across the world to see a gringo mall in the heart of Latin America.

As we were paying a lot for the hotel for the wedding, they let us sit at around the pool for free (they made their money back in the massive rounds of alcohol beverages we were buying), while we waited for the wedding planner who didn’t answ his phone nor showed up, putting Pamela and I on the edge somewhat. But sunshine and alcohol can put a smile on any stress.

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We then got had dinner at Tacontento, a Guatemalan taco restaurant which is colourful and has piñatas hanging from the ceiling and cheap beer. Everyone loaded their bellies and Ben fell more in love with refried beans. Later that night, my cousins Hannah and Sam would be arriving. Unfortunately, not with suitcases.

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That night, Jordan and I drank beer and spirits while correcting my wedding speech, remembered our university days, corrected the world’s wrongs (i.e. more so, the UK’s and David Cameron’s wrongs) and listened to songs by Calle 13 and Akala (who also sing about wrongs, rather than drunken inspired ways of correcting them). We also laughed about the girl in the local pulperia who wears indecently short shorts and did Family Guy impressions. Behaving like kids until I don’t know what time we turned in, although the wee hours it must have been.

To be continued…


The Local Chemist is Shut

Dear readers,

I’m currently tripping while writing this. Not from meddling with any pleasurable or illegal narcotics. Far from it.

This is an unpleasant and boring antihistamine high, taken rather foolishly on an empty stomach. It’s had a maddening affect on my mind, as you’ll see from the poem below. I took it as I’ve had an allergic reaction to some insect bites. No idea what it was. I’m guessing garapatas (mites) or fleas. If it were garapatas, it would be a full circle, especially as I was close the same place (geographical location as opposed to place on my body) to the first time I was mobbed by the little bastards, which is at Uyuca (near Tatumbla); the highest peak in the Francisco Morazan. I feel like a meat feast or piñata for bugs at times. I was there to look at land some friends had bought. These are some of the views they will have, as will the bugs (if they stopped chasing me):

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Yesterday, the bites swelled and itched like crazy. I’ve two sitting next to each other on my right index finger, above the knuckle, and swelling makes the skin tight on the bone and the finger a little inflexible. I have another on the side of my left wrist, so it bangs off random things in a big unwelcome reminder, making it itch even more. The swelling has deflated since but my student last night said it looked similar to her wrist after she broke it once.

This morning I went to a local chemist. I had lots to do so I went early, only to see it wasn’t going to open until 10. It was 8.30 and there was no point in going home, so I bought a note book, went for a coffee, wrote a prayer and a chapter for my book, as well as this poem. I call it literature therapy. Helps with anger issues. I wrote it after two cups of coffee: the beverage that bursts open creativity in all souls, no matter how furious.

It is inspired by John Cooper Clarke and Spike Milligan. You’ll see why.

The Local Chemist is Shut

There are no good enough excuses for the local chemist being shut.
Think before you speak afore beginning your next sentence with “But …”.
I’ve two bites upon my finger and I think I’m gonna die.
Might as well jump in front a bus for a holy, unheroic goodbye.
Colliding toxins beneath my flesh furiously bash like angry Earth plates;
While hissing pus in blistered globes gleefully oozes, bulges and inflates.
I await these venin-filled volcanos to erupt in a stinging, sulphuric mess;
Those around’ll promptly drown in lumpy pus rivers, I stress.
Molten gasses of blood’ll smother sunlight leaving mankind damned and dead;
Lava-filled skies’ll fall with toxic mites that’ll feed on our decaying heads.
And all this ‘cos the darn local chemist is shut;
I warned you not to begin your next sentence with “but”.


No Hay Nadie Como Tu – part five

Dear readers,

All my family came over to Honduras for the wedding. It is sometimes strange speaking to them on Skype. All they get is a rectangular computer screen’s view of my life and world. The tastes, aromas, heat and sounds are alien to them. The experiences of joy and frustration they can sense in an intangible way. But that’s it. They can’t feel it. No matter how I explain it or they read about it. Good and the bad. They can taste the coffee I send them but they don’t get the “When in Rome” warm experience of sipping it in the sun on a pleasant balcony with the Spanish chatter floating from somewhere in the breeze.

Similar, they can hear and read about the violence on the news but, as my sister found particularly restrictive, it’s the loss of basic liberties based on fear and paranoia, preventing you from living everyday life as you would back home. Like going running in the street with you iPhone strapped to your arm or walking home drunk from the pub at night, which is hard to get used to. You just don’t want to risk it. It’s like having an atmosphere of fear which you feel us both rational and irrational at the same time, somewhat hyped in the national and international media, provoking claustrophobia, frustration and trauma. There are safe areas too to run or stroll around at full leisure, such as Villa Olimpica and the many gated communities, but it can be frustrating if you don’t know the lingo or where to find them.

It wasn’t an enormous shock to much of my family and friends. All of them are well-travelled and lived or stayed in countries known for their own security issues.

  • My parents came here in 2011 and have travelled through various countries in Africa.
  • My brother Ben has travelled around the world, visiting many South East Asian and South American countries.
  • My sister Elizabeth had done her overseas medical training in India near the border with Pakistan, as well as worked at a hospital in the northern areas of Birmingham where gang shootings were an everyday occurrence (I always remember my sister telling us how brave the night nurses and trainee doctors in the A & E unit in the face of so much abuse from violent pissheads).
  • My cousin Hannah has also travelled in South America, living in Colombia for an unknown duration, as well as living in Sri Lanka and visiting India and South Africa. Not to forget squatting in London and once staying a night in a Paris fire station.
  • My other cousin Sam has lived in South Africa, visited Sri Lanka to see his sis, and travelled throughout Europe.
  • My Uncle Pat and Aunty Gill have travelled the world a few times, especially when their offspring have started different projects around the globe.
  • Jordan Kenny, my best man and great friend, grew up in Manchester. That’s enough preparation for Honduras, one might think. But no, Jordan has gone one step further and lived in Moscow (Russia I hear isn’t the most racially tolerant. Not easy for a mixed-race boy like Jordí) and the Freetown, Sierra Leone.

You might think my stereotypical view of the world is pompously and ignorantly Western. However, in each of the various locations listed above, we would have all taken precautions based on the reputation that lie before them, which kind of prepared them for Honduras where worst case scenarios happen at an alarming rate. I won’t give you any statistics, of which 99.999% are bullshit anyway. What’s the value of the amount of violence or a murder rate, which are inaccurate, manipulated and fiddled with anyway, next to the emotional loss of someone you love through an act of violence? We humans shouldn’t really need a figure to put something in perspective when violence is involved. The act itself should be a big enough deterrent.

They saw my world, who I am now, how I’ve changed and saw with the their own eyes that the majority of Hondurans are loving, kind and compassionate people and that the bulk of countries problems is driven by a small yet powerful elite, but we will come to that in later post. Most importantly, they were happy to see I’d settled, have a loving family and loads of friends.

18th July 2015

Some family members felt I’d taken substantial time thinking about accommodation for their stay in Tegucigalpa. Sorry to say, but that was far from reality. I’d had a list of requests family members but I’d had my eye on Casa Bella for some time, and it ticked all the boxes apart from the one of having a swimming pool. Big hotels with monotonous corridors, unfascinating art and a particular corporate atmosphere aren’t warm enough for a warm family. Besides, they’re over-priced and have too many pillows.

I’d been to Casa Bella on a couple of occasions two years previously when they were holding events for small coffee producers from outside Tegucigalpa. The rich aromas ponged the place out in the best way possible. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s colonial and cosy once you walk in. Wooden, shiny, warm and tasteful, with a cigar room and courtyard with rustic benches sat around a small delightful streaming waterfall, and rooms named after indigenous and ethnic groups in Honduras. The receptionists were great, communicating in one way or the other in a form of Spanglish, ensuring my brother and cousin got vegetarian food, and helped my parents with Spanish (they’d been having classes in the run up, but the speed at which Hondurans spoke, mixed with caliche, and befuddle even speakers from Spain on occasions. It can lower the morale of new learners, as much as native speakers). There was one receptionist who kept getting our dates wrong (a month before the arrival I got an urgent phone call asking where my family were (the email reservation said Julio, not Junio)). I found the exchange funny and the service pretty much perfect.

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The Family Rogers and a certain Jordan Kenny arrived late morning via Miami and by the time they came out, it was lunch time and everyone had the munches. Dropping the bags off at the hotel, we raced off with the Familia Cruz Lozano to Valle de Angeles, armed with churros de malanga y tajaditas, which Jordan wolfed down. I always remember Jordan at university with a bag of Walkers crisps in hand or with crumbs from a demolished packet scattered in his jumper and putting people to sleep with his breath, usually with the yellowish Prawn Cocktail. Either that or Skips. The families were of course pleased to meet, and the drive to Valle no doubt left the British side of family gawping at the stunning landscapes of pine tree hills rolling around the road. I’m still that way now.

We stopped at the family favourite restaurant, La Florida, on the edge of Valle which serves up delicious chunks of meat but gives you the sweats for up to a month. Anafres for the vegetarians; my brother has since fallen in love with refried beans. While waiting for food, various beers were chugged and Pamela’s father went through at least half the uses for the word “puta” with Jordan. Jordan replied with some indepth explanations of various British English expletives too. In between them, I translated, and my laughter didn’t help; it just made them more profane.

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After the grown men had played on the swings and petted the animals in mini zoo, we then all walked into town where we tried to get cash from the machines. Liz realised later that some fecker had cloned her card and looted some cash from her account. She got it back eventually but enjoyed belting out the word “puta” like a native a lot in the meantime.

We went to a small cafe/handicraft producer named Barro Verde and sipped on their majestic juices. It was obvious the British side of the family needed a refresher in the tropical heat.

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Jet lag was catching up with a few, so went back to the hotel. The next week would be a busy one.


Historias del Alero Tom y Otras Hierbas by Arturo Sosa

Dear readers,

This update largely applies to Hondurans, people interested in Honduras, linguists interested in the Spanish language, or people up for the craic. A lot then.

It’s about a book Pamela’s been reading, written by her former photography tutor. His name is Arturo Sosa and his book is Historias del Alero Tom y Otras Hierbas, meaning Stories of Buddy Tom and Other Herbs (herbs meaning stories; not food spices nor narcotics). He can certainly count literature and humour among his array of talents, judging by Pamela’s gushing report. Pamela was lucky enough to get her book signed by Señor Sosa while buying the book, along with a little treat for me (more about that later).
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Since then, the only place to find Pamela has been within the pages of this charming red book boasting a sensual drawing of a woman on the front cover. Chuckles quickly turn to sniggers then to rolling around on the floor trying to recite lines she’d just read through throes of giggles like a crazed lady, while I watch on wondering whether to give her a tranquilizer.

It’s about Arturo Sosa’s gringo friend Tom who meets a Catracha. I don’t want to give you any spoilers. So I’ll shut up about the plot. But having cast my eye over it, there are some wonderful musings and Hondurisms which made me chuckle (after Pamela explained them, naturally). One in particular threw me, which is when someone says “dieciséis” – the number 16 – to mean “more or less of something”. I don’t get it either. Something like Tegucigalpa rhyming slang. Full of codes that only they know.

I won’t say more. I just recommend you buy it. Judging by the joy it’s given Pamela.

At the same time, Pamela bought me this beauty.

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As Alan Partridge often gloriously says, “Back of the net.” Read this blog post. Maybe then you’ll realise how much I wanted it.

https://elcatracho1.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/10-favourite-books-part-20-honourable-mentions/

Not only that, I have managed to get my hands on a mug. Not any ordinary mug, but a Eduardo Galeano mug. 2016 is going to be good.

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