23rd July 2015
I awoke this day with something on my mind. Oh yes, I was getting married. It was just the civil ceremony today though. Usually the civil and religious ceremonies are a week or more apart. Because the family were here for a short period, we placed them two days apart, meaning stress levels were a bit higher than regular. More so for the legal documents needed. Everything needed to have an apostille and be an original. Birth certificates, evidence that I was single and not married, visiting the British consul, my parents having to meet lawyers in Birmingham and send things off to get signed. Lawyers. The world would collapse without them, but your pockets might not be as empty.
A couple of weeks before, we got the thumbs up from Tio Dago who was marrying us. The papers were ready.
It was an evening wedding, so during the day I took the family up to Picacho so their stay in Tegucigalpa wouldn’t be resigned to just shopping malls, visiting churches and being stuck in the hotel. Hannah wasn’t feeling great, and I think she was a little disappointed to see many of the barrios marginales hostile to outsiders and weren’t as open as some she’d visted in South America.
Picacho is one of my favourite places in Tegucigalpa. Taking a book, my music playlists and pen and paper, mixed with a breezy ambience, tropical gardens, warm sun and splendid views, it makes me dizzy with calmness. Since living here, it’s changed somewhat, becoming busier and more touristy, with zip-wires, playgrounds, and better places to eat. You now have to pay a whole 36p to enter the Jesus Christ statue enclosure; a magnicient work of structure that stands a bit lower than the one in Rio, but it’s lit up at night and acts as a compass bearing if you get lost in the city. You see, Tegucigalpa is a bizarrely shaped urban area with the centre situated in the northern parts of the city. In time, the city’s development has sprawled more southwards. It had once been growing northwards but the landslides during Hurricane Mitch pretty much bulldozed shanty town houses off the surrounding steep hillsides. Picacho positioned directly north, so if you’re disoriented and bamboozled by street directions, just look for Jesus, so to speak.
The merry maintenance man from Casa Bella drove us up in his mini van. To be fair, I don’t think it’s that mini but it certainly felt like it with nine of us (not including the driver) jammed in. I had no choice but to look out the window because if I turned my head a little to the right, my nose would have been making contact with my cousin Sam’s armpit, which was more sweaty than usual as he acclimatised to Tegus.
The road up to Picacho is windy with various splendid panoramic views of Tegucigalpa, which had the family ohhing and cooing. It also takes you through some Tegucigalpa’s most elite neighbourhoods, where you can see mansions, luxurious condos and stylish houses, not to forget the US Embassy’s house, grossly large surrounded by fiercely guarded white walls with electric barbed wire and angry gringuitos waiting on the other side with fully loaded guns, that stretches around a never ending bend on the main road. “A post-modern colonialist’s house,” I’ve heard it being called; by Americans! Without wanting to sound bias, competitive and/or snobbishly British, but the British Consulate’s house in Colonia Reforma looks far more tasteful. Very whitewashed and fancy with the detail and design of the building reminds me of the embassies in Belgravia, London, except being more tropical, with colourful gardens with exotic orchids and palm trees. From looking up from Tegucigalpa, you can see the affluence sprinkled up the hillside.
These neighbourhoods are also close by some very poor areas, which are less than safe to wander around, such as Reparto, where an English friend, Helen, once worked and lived on a church project. She told me some of things she’d seen and heard happening there and it only confirmed how much of a world apart it is from the lavish embassies that sit only a little higher up the hill. Even though my sense of direction is pretty good, Pamela for some reason prefers to use the GPS app Wayz when we go up to Picacho. You can’t imagine how smug my grin is when Wayz starts guiding us through these dangerous neighbourhoods while people watch on curiously, hearing muffled screeching from inside the car as Pamela curses Wayz for yet again for sending us to our death.
Funnily enough, the merry maintenance man was taking short-cuts through these same dangerous neighbourhoods to get to the main road, while telling me to translate to the family that if they were to get out the van at that very spot they would be shot dead, chuckling in-between. A great way to calm the nerves. There was I, just 10 minutes before, telling everyone to have their cameras at the ready for the beautiful views. The merry maintenance man did do a great job of pointing out buildings and vegetation that would be of interest to foreigners though.
When we arrived, the family could finally see why I had insisted we visit Picacho. There they could feel for themselves the gorgeous aromas of pine tickling their nostrils, the tranquil ambience of watching a sprawling and scheming city before them while feeling afar its chaos, like the Gods of the Tegus, and the swirling ghostly breezes swaying through the trees, a sensation that the spirits are among them. Not to forget the oriental temple (I think it’s a replica Japanese Buddhist temple) and it’s surrounding gardens; a serene ambience perfect for life’s thinkers and meditators. It were the landscapes that blew them away, though, as always. See for yourself.
I have to state that some of these photos have been pinched from Jordan Kenny’s Facebook page yet again, which he has graciously volunteered unknowingly.
Now, this paragraph is more for men concerning bizarre hairstyles and bad hair days, and I will understand if I come across a bit narcissistic and shallow. It is more of a query than a drastic problem. I fully appreciate that many people have bad hair days, but do other men sometimes wake up and they feel that their hair makes them look like an 1990s lesbian? I believe I do. My wife thinks that I am an idiot that I think it, never mind mention it, in front of people, but I think I have a serious case for it. You see, my hair falls naturally into a side parting and quiffs over a bit with a point at the end, almost like KD Lang, but less attractive. It is almost a mimic of it, unwittingly. On good days I feel like I would make a great style icon for middle-aged lesbians. My bad days, less so. My wife says that I should stop thinking such things and get a job. I tell her not to worry, because even if I do look like a lesbian, I will still love her forever. It’s when I start looking like Boy George that she should start asking questions. On this day though, it troubled me that in my wedding photos that I would forever look like the man lesbian. Nothing against lesbians. I just wanted a different look on my wedding day.
We were then collected by the Merry Maintenance Man and we were dropped off at Cafe Galeano for a spot of lunch, before I went home with Jordan to tart myself up for my wedding. For those reading this who live in Tegus, may I recommend Cafe Galeano’s Zacate de Limon. It’ll make your head spin with calmness.
To be continued…