Monthly Archives: Aug 2018

Scorched earth

Dear readers,

Spoiler alert: this might turn into a rant.

Look at the image below. Scorched and burnt. Not to dissimilar of a WW1 war zone.

But no. This is Miraflores, a middle-class neighbourhood in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Just three days ago, the land was green, teeming with wildlife. Small flocks of birds skipped through the grasses finding seeds while critters of all sizes burrowed in the earth. It was a pretty sight to open the curtains in the mornings and enjoy the fruits of nature before my eyes.

Now, not so much.

Two days ago, we came home to find the back rooms in our home with a haze of smoke and pockets of grass still on fire over the land. We wondered about calling the fire brigades to snuff out remaining flames. We couldn’t hear anyone close by controlling the fire. The damage to wildlife was done. We were now a little afraid for our own abode. It wasn’t much, but enough to worry us, seeing how bush fires have destroyed so much acres of land in the US and Europe. Luckily the Rain Gods helped us out. The fire died. But like I mentioned, the damage is done.

It’s not our land. I don’t know who’s it is. Nor do I know why they destroyed it. Are they burning it to grow new crops or to build? It’s a growing area; we could find ourselves with neighbours to the back in a couple of years. I don’t know if the people didn’t care about the environment or are uneducated: burning land is a common practice here. II also have no rights to the land. The Alcadia might have a say, especially over the burning of trees. But on the whole, nothing can be done. The damage is done.

I’m not asking for the goodness of the property, or my own enjoyment of seeing nature before me, but I do plead folk for a little more care looking after your planet. You only have one. We know people have to eat and grow crops, but there are ways of treating the land to do so that doesn’t involve burning it to ashes.

Honduras es bello: keep it that way.

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Tropical Aromas

Dear readers,

Honduras is going through its rainy season. I love this moment of the year. Funny, being from England. One would have thought I’ve seen enough rain for one lifetime. But this morning, on the bus to work, I had a wonderful reminder of the joys of living in a tropical climate: the flora. The rains had soaked the lands and the flowers and plants were bellowing out with aromas.

As you can expect, it’s alien and surreal to eyes from Northern Europe. Colourful and sultry leaves and petals, natural artefacts you only see in green houses in botanical gardens, and the nectars that tickle your nasel hairs and whet your appetite; that’s if you haven’t fainted already from the blasts of artificial humidity.

I want my garden to smell like this. A choir of aromas, singing in the rain. I’m often walking past gardens nicking palm nuts or using discarded mango seeds to plant things. I know people who often snap off flowers and try to use the pollens. I might start that. Sorry neighbours.

As always, it has inspired a poem. Enjoy. Make comments if you wish.

Tropical Aromas

There’s nothing quite like sweet aromas after a tropical storm;

The pines, the pollens, the sultry perfumes the plants form.

A million piece silent orchestra with the fauna in the gallery,

Noses swallow delicious scents while not adding a single calorie.

The sweetness sways in the airs before the fierce heat comes,

Like gasses of fresh juices as luscious as the ripest exotic plums.

Water droplets wet your hair while your head drifts against a pane;

You feel a million miles from home and your native freezing rain.

The electricity has gone and you don’t care when it returns;

Not bothering if your computer crashes or if your phone burns.

You’re in your own haven and wish this moment lives on,

Future worries are a laugh and past pains are bygone.

The wind is in your sails and you’ve no clue where your bus drives,

Fruits of nature resurrect your body and you’ve never felt this alive.

You have life in your lungs and happiness in the cloud’s gloom,

And rolling hills of green smother you while tropical flowers bloom.


Infestation of stinging ants

Dear readers,

I loathe them. I really hate them. I don’t like the thought of killing animals, but I make exception with stinging ants and mosquitoes. Spiders, snakes, scorpions, whatever, I don’t like, but I don’t wish to see them die painfully. With stinging ants I do, regardless if they are God’s creatures, although I’m positive they were sporn from the devil. Stinging ant genocide is perfectly acceptable. There. I’ve said it.

We’ve had a few infestations during our time living in the house. It doesn’t help living next to barron land. They tear through the garden and kitchen like evil pilgrims, looting all available from beautiful leaves and flowers to the dog’s food to our nosh. It’s the sting, though. Why the sting? Yes, I know it’s for defence. But why do painful? You’re already causing emotional distress and an annoying inconvenience of taking our belongings. Why a bastard bite with it?

I know these things happen in other countries, but it seems the closer to the tropics you are, the more painful it gets. I bought some venom which nearly knocked me for six due to the fumes; a chemical more toxic than Trump’s diatribes, but it works. Ants melted on the spot. Don’t worry, our dog is being kept far away. But I must admit, I feel most happy seeing an ant suffer terribly before me after just biting me on knuckle.

What’s worse, these ants could be the Argentine sort. On each of them I can see Diego Maradona’s angry little face scowling my name. I can feel them on me right now and I can’t sleep. Full of alkaloids and spite.

If anyone has any other tips of keeping ants away permanently though, let me know.

The experience, as most experiences do for me these days, inspired a poem. Here it is:

Queen’s Knight

Bite, bite, bite,

That’s how I like to fight.

Nipping through crannies, dodging spying grannies;

With not a crumb of contrite,

As I’m the queen’s knight.

I’d walk through poo for her,

I’m sometimes her chauffeur,

A royalty dounced in myrrh,

It’s our duty to be her spur.

Death of punishment if I hear a slur!

Sugar, caviar or crack,

I can carry the lot on my back,

Nutting debris out of my track,

Giving it all and taking no flack,

No water or spray can stop us,

Watch yourselves or we’ll come back.

So don’t come near our nest,

Or your scrotum we’ll infest,

And out of jest and zest,

We’ll nip your wife’s breast,

To defend our queen’s crest.

You’ve been warned.


Nostalgia

Dear readers,

It’s funny how as we get older, all memories feel like yesterday, merged into a jumbled and disordered box. Filed under happy or sad, wonderful or horrific, but rarely in chronological order as they played out. More often they come galloping through little clues. And this weekend I’ve had a few of them, randomly. Seeing a student I taught in the first couple of my seven or so years in Honduras, chatting to old friends from university online, catching up with my uncle and aunty in Skype, seeing a movie which reminded me of the neighbourhood I grew up in Birmingham and my old cat Huey, listening to the song Today by The Smashing Pumpkins which I used to put on repeat on holiday vacations to Cornwall, reading an interview in the Guardian with Irvine Welsh talking about Trainspotting impacting a generation (one of my favourite books might I add) or making a bowl of custard, reminding me of desserts after roast dinners on Sunday with the family.

I’ve always had a sweet tooth.

Why it’s come flooding back is anyone’s guess. Symbols of nostalgia. I’m content more than anything, but I believe I find it hard to put the memories in order is because life goes by so quickly. It’s true what they tell you, kids. It’s not deep or profound what I’m saying; it’s very obvious, in fact. But I feel my conscious is trying to tell me something; whether it’s to not to let life slip away, realise things I’ve learned through memories, good and bad, or get back in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in a while.

Midlife crisis? Maybe. But it’s a mellowed conflict, trying to understand my experiences and why the memories flood back over one weekend.

It’s hard to conclude, as my nostalgia is disjointed and my learning from such memories are random at best. However, I’m sharing a quote from a writer I’ve written about before on my blog, Albert Camus, to try and sum up and soothe my concoction of emotions boiling in my conscious, and gain a better understanding of deciphering nostalgic events and what I take from it.

Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.


Two morsels of beef in my teeth

Dear readers,

Yesterday I had food stuck between my teeth. I’d no floss on me, causing me agony all day, which became excruciating especially on the ride home from work: a very slow one and a half hours. The only thing I had to distract me was this poem; four stanzas of Limericks about the pain.

Two morsels of beef

Two morsels of beef in my teeth,

Wrapped around my gnashers like a wreath,

They’ve tortured me all day,

This oxidizing mouth decay,

Why do such small things cause my life such grief?

—-

My dentist tells me to floss some more,

“Or rotten gums is what you have in store.”

But I show him my finger,

He says “Stop being a whinger!”

Giving me mouthwash before showing me the door.

—-

So I sit here feeling like a tit,

And you readers probably don’t like me a bit,

But the doc cost me a bob,

For scratching morsels out me gob,

Now he’s barred me for calling him a thieving shit.

—-

I know I shouldn’t react,

But my gnashers don’t feel intact,

‘Cos there’s beef in me teeth,

And I can’t get relief,

Until these morsels of hell are ransacked.


Jimmy Jazz by Roddy Doyle

Dear readers,

I’m leaving you with a quick review of a short story written by one of my favourite authors and biggest inspirations, Roddy Doyle.

Doyle isn’t as well-known in Latin America, but I can see why, as the quick wit dialogue and play on words in the English language I’m not sure would translate well into the romantic languages. In short, his books are enthralling, emotional and brilliantly depict working-class life and humour in Dublin.

I downloaded the book for free, and it’s probably the best contemporary free short story I have read since having Kindle. There’s a lot of self-published shite on there, and it’s sometimes seeking out the sweet from the shit to find a decent read when you’re skint. In Doyle’s case, you’re usually promised great work, even if it is free or if not very cheap.

This book is like a scene taken from the novel The Guts, which I read earlier this year. This short story is like a taster or a deleted scene taken from the novel, but funnily enough, I found this better, funnier, compact (obviously, being a short story). It’s from the Barrytown series, following Jimmy Rabbitte and co. I won’t say much more. Doyle fans will know all about it. The curious fans should read Doyle’s debut novel, The Commitments, and read on from there, to learn the trials and tribulations of the Rabbitte family, all of which are written with sharp wit and great characters colliding with each other. I also recommend The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, which is about domestic violence and is probably the best written book I have ever read.

Few writers write better dialogue than Doyle. Irvine Welsh is at the same level as him, another of my favourite writers and inspirations.

5/5. Hilarious. Emotional. Wit. Poignant. Free. You can’t go wrong.


Poem about ENEE

Dear readers,

ENEE is the public institution that runs electricity in Honduras. It’s curling roots sliver down to hell, managed by the devil. No, I’m not going insane. These are well known facts, and nearly all Hondurans believe so, too.

Joking aside, I feel the need to rage against this awfully run machine after it cut our electricity for over 24 hours recently despite us having paid our bills, and they had evidence of this in their records on their funny little computer screens. They kept lying about when they were going to switch it back on, and all of this was done without an apology. They are a law to themselves and the service staff define a derogatory noun commonly used in this corner of the world, pendejos. To those not in the know, look it up.

I have no idea what the ENEE stands for – Energy Non-Efficient Eejits, maybe? They are known for incompetence and scamming the working man, while charging the minimal to the banks and other institutions rooted to hell.

Complaining and arguing with this institution is useless, especially the private arm of the company, EHH (Electricity Hell Hole), where customer service and helping people is least of their priorities. Therefore, to vent these angry emotions, I wrote a poem. It’s immature and crap, while also being great therapy.

I feel a bit better for it already.

ENEE

ENEE is a lump of poo,

And nine million Hondurans think so, too.

It cuts out lights, gives you cold showers,

And the ugly staff kill the mood and pretty flowers.

It sucks out your energy and eats up your plata,

The bosses give themselves bonuses while their kids get consistently fatter.

The engineers can’t fix problems and they don’t know a thing,

Charging you thousands while connecting cables with string.

They have no competition and they do what they like,

A dark lawless corporation, similar to the Third Reich.

Tiny bills for the rich and bankrupting for the poor;

Those who run it are rotten to the core.

Karma will haunt them if they don’t change their ways,

A failure of the state as a public institution decays.

A day will come when folk will rage against the machine,

And poor old ENEE will be nothing but a has been.