Category Archives: June

“Gripe” – the worst poem in the world!

Dear all

As expected, my cold has got worse so I have not been able to go into Casa Alianza. It’s the third or fourth cold I’ve had here in Honduras. Personally I blame the Casa Alianza kids (bless ’em!). On Saturday, there was a Scout meeting, which reminded me of when I was in the Scouts. There were many questions about Baden-Powell and they all seemed impressed that I had been to Brown Sea Island, which is almost a sacred island of the Scouts (I think it’s where the first ever camp was). The problem came when they asked me to make knots and set up a tent. I couldn’t and they looked at me very disappointed. I wasn’t allowed to join in with the clapping and dancing.  It was good for a couple of the illiterate kids to join in and to learn the Scout movement. They seemed more bemused than anything. I have been invited to the next Scout camp. I, personally, think camping is really shit. Hotels are there for a reason. Call me a wimp, but I hate the cold and I hate the rain, which is one of the reasons why I came to Honduras – to escape (even then, there’s plenty of rain here). I also hate mosquitos and insects that bite, which is bound to happen here, and I find tents claustrophobic, flimsy and not very waterproof. And starting fires with twigs and stones: sod off, don’t be cheap and get a Zippo! In fact, what was Baden-Powell thinking when he started off this juvenile cult? I might still go for the experience, but I wasn’t fond of it when I was young and I definitely not fond of it now.

As I have been off the last couple of days, I have had plenty of time to write this poem about being ill with “gripe”. It have used lots of tissue paper and taken a few aspirin and I think I’m over the worst of it. The worst thing is, I’ve not got my laptop as I’m getting Windows reinstalled, so I can’t do much for the book I’m writing. All I need to do is edit interviews at the moment, which are saved on a separate disk. This is probably the worst poem I have ever written but because I am so bored stuck at home, there is no creativity playing with my brain cells. I feel I must share it with you nonetheless! 

Clouds block creativity,
Either that or it’s “el tos”,
That evaporates your energy,
And turns your thinking to candy floss.
Here they call it “gripe”,
Back home they call it “the flu”,
Here they say it kills you,
For us it turns our faces blue.
I want it to die
Every germ and droplet of snot,
paracetamol and tea work slowly,
Because I’m still talking like a robot.
Two days in bed,
I feel I’m going mad,
I can’t wait to return to work,
I never thought I’d be so glad.
Whoever gave this to me,
I hope they have it worse,
Because this doesn’t feel like an accident,
It’s definitely a rotten curse.
So please gripe,
Please go away,
You’re not welcome in my body,
Go forever and a day!
Tell your crappy friends,
All the viruses, infections and diseases,
They’re not welcome either,
Rabies, scabies and definitely not herpes.
All I want
Is to be left alone,
To be clean from the lurgy
And not whine and moan.
But it really does get me,
As snot runs from my nose,
And as my body stiffens,
I feel myself begin to decompose.
I’m so, so bored,
Waiting for it to go,
To give to someone who deserves it,
When it goes, God only knows. 

To finish off, Carlos Bogran, the father I lived with, asked if I could put a video on my blog of Rex, his dog, a few months older. “Of course,” I replied, as there might be some German Shepherd lovers reading this. So here you go! Give us away: Rex!



Honduran prisons and cut feet

Dear all

I wish you all very well. This will be a lot shorter update. I hope the title didn’t confuse you: don’t worry mum, I’m not locked up. I actually went with a kid to visit his dad in prison and to a dance competition in the youth detention centre. It was interesting experience being surrounded by convicted murderers. Then again, walking down some streets here you might come across a few unconvicted murderers, so in a way, the prison is probably the safest place. I do not want to tarnish all Hondurans with this brush though. I won’t speak about the child visiting the child visiting his dad too much because he’s very ashamed and he put a lot of faith in me to accompany him there. To write about it in detail would be quite disrespectful to him, I feel.

On Wednesday I played football in bare foot , which made a huge blister and burst. It took up half my left foot so I’ve been hobbling around the past couple of days. I also have a cold coming on, so expect me to feel sorry for myself in the next update. I didn’t get much sympathy from the street kids or the nurse at Casa Alianza for playing football in barefoot. They said my feet were too delicate, which took all my masculinity away, even though I have run a marathon in the past. I was called
‘tonto gringo’ (‘stupid gringo’) a few dozen times. Next time I play I’ll be wearing steel toe-caps to seek revenge.

I’m going to leave you with a song by a Mexican group by the name of Cafe Tecuba that I’ve grown to like. It’s rocky and funky. I hope you like it, and thanks for reading!

Charity do’s in KFC, Friday Night knife fights in Nacaome & scorching Amapala – Part Two

Dear all

Part two continues …..

We then went in search for a place to stay. We were sent to a few places on recommendation, but we settled on the first place we asked about in the end; only 100 lempiras a night (3 quid), in the centre of Amapala (and it had a fan (with only a near transparent curtain blocking off the bathroom – but it made it more bohemian in my book)). Amapala is trying to lure in tourists. The main tourists we saw were Honduran. We did feel like the only gringos on the island but that felt good too. I felt we’d come off the beaten track a little bit. It was still developed enough, but it felt like Midwest cowboy town from the last century at times, just with a Latin touch. We then took a tut-tut (motorbike taxi kind of thing) to Playa Grande (Big Beach, if you were wondering the translation) and past some wonderful flora on the way; slightly more tropical and less celtic than Ireland or Scotland, but beautiful just the same. Because it’s a volcanic island, the sand is dark. Wooden beach bars and restaurants and fishing businesses lined the beach while other islands sat in the Fonseca Gulf in front of us. I was amazed by the calmness of the sea. The islands act as a breakwater. I got to see El Salvador. We saw kids helping their families bring in their catch from the sea and kids playing around in the small waves that made the surf (the sea was warm, but not because of the kids!). It felt authentically Central American. People living their lives and Hondurans on holiday, a million miles from Utila, which seemed more gringo’ed. I kind of preferred Amapala for that reason too. You can find the bars in Utila in many places around the world – Amapala seemed one of a kind. And that was why I like it so much.

We then went to a bar and drank lots of beer while we waited for Hazel’s boyfriend Davide to arrive. He had some journey to get there, which involved walking down some dark lonesome country roads to Coyolito to catch the boat, because his lift decided to drop him off half way. Finally, he got there about 8ish in the evening and we had our second fish of the day. Not as good as at lunch, but we still scoffed them.

The next day, we got up leisurely and I went to a shop to get my tourist t-shirt with Amapala written on it. We went back to Playa Grande to have a swim. It was also here where we realised my sun-cream didn’t work. My body was stiff with pain. To see how red I was, see the picture below on leaving Amapala. We had to get back as time was ticking by fast. We caught the boats, buses and coaches back to a stormy Tegucigalpa. I had to sit with a girl who had shit on her shoe and who stunk of vomit; karma getting revenge for Friday.

I will probably go back to Isla de Tigre to see more of it. It needs more than one day. It is definitely a highlight of my time in Honduras and I recommend anyone travelling through Central America to visit. It’s a little out the way but it’s a cheap get away, and it really is just that, a getaway, from everything.

On Monday I took the day off at Casa Alianza to deal with my sunburn and other things. On Tuesday I was back to the grind and I had an interview with a kid from Olancho, who has an accent so strong that I can barely understand a word he says. They say people in Andalucía cut their s’s out of words. I think the people from Olancho cut out consonants all together. The kid has had an awful time. He was abandoned by his parents, beaten up repeatedly by his step-mum, forced on to the streets when he was 10, he joined the Maras, developed a serious drug problem, started stealing from the Maras to feed the drugs, and has nearly been murdered five times by the gang. He is 17 now. He broke down into tears during the interview. It is not the most original song to dedicate to someone who has been through so much, but I love this song and, as the kid is really suffering coming off the drugs, so here’s “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.

Charity do’s at KFC, Friday night knife fights in Nacaome & scorching Amapala – Part One

Hi everyone

Last week, I ended the post by saying I was going to the South of Honduras to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life. It’s something else I can now tick off on the list of things I’ve done before I die, which I hope isn’t too soon. First though, I want to mention a fundraiser I went to in an unlikely little haunt called, as you can guess from the title of this post, KFC. Yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken, in Blvd. Morazan in Tegus. I didn’t know KFC threw events like this for charities, being a big fast food chain and what not. It was certainly for a noble cause. I can’t see them doing the same at Robin Hood Island in Hall Green, but there you go! It was a week and a bit ago that I went, and it was in aid of Nueva Esperanza (Hope in Honduras) which I wrote about a month or so ago in an update you might remember –, which is a day care centre run by the church in a Reparto Por Bajo, quite a poor, dangerous area of Tegus. 20% of the meals bought that evening went to Nueva Esperanza. There were Christian songs and recitals and plays and recitals. After all the free refills of a sickly sweet fizzy strawberry beverage I had, I think I almost put KFC out of business. Nevertheless I was bouncing off walls by the end of it and had enough energy to dance all night. It was nice to raise money for someone elses cause especially after so many people raised so much money for me to be here. The rush of it all reminded me of the poetry evening I organised last October and it brought back fond memories, even though I was quite stressed at the time! There were a lot of American missionaries as well, which also reminded me of my first month or so in Tatumbla with the mormon family.

The next day, it was arranged with Hazel and a girl called Lidia that we would go down to the south to keep Lidia company in a project she was doing with turtles in the forthcoming weekend. As it turned out, Lidia couldn’t go due to a rotten cold so Hazel and I went anyway for the craíc. We went on Friday after a drinking many units of Salva Vida (beer) on the Thursday. We had lift at 7am the next day through Hazel’s work to go down and visit some medical centres and hospitals in remote towns and villages in Southern Honduras. I’ve not felt so rough in a long, long time. A mixture of hangover, heat and windy mountainous roads left us stopping for me to be sick. Twice! Not my proudest moment, I must say.

We got to San Lorenzo in the south. I was warned about the intense heat. I was a little smug and arrogant about it, having lived for a few months in Sevilla in Spain, I felt I could survive any type of heat. After all, I thought, San Lorenzo sits on the coast of the largest ocean in the world. How hot can it be?! Unbelievably, there is no breeze at all. It’s heat, heat, heat, polverising you, killing you. I was a state. We went into a restaurant and I had fresh king prawns in garlic for breakfast. I’ve never done that before. It was delicious. We then stopped off at some medical centres in villages and then went to Nacaome, a big town. While Hazel was busy, I talked with her colleagues mum who was driving us. There is a very lazy attitude in the south. You can ask for directions from people and they just look at you – ironically with frozen stares (despite the heat) – as if you’re speaking in some language from Mars. I have been told, because of the poverty, they are quite depressed in the south. A majority of people in the south move to Tegucigalpa to find work – it’s only two hours north and 50 lemps to get there (less than 2 quid!). The land in the south is arid in places, because of the heat, so it can be hard to grow crops. However, you can still see rolling hills of green around. It’s not all desert. In fact, I saw very little desert. The south doesn’t get the tourists (they usually go stick to the north) so for the locals it’s quite strange to see foreigners around. They rely mainly on what they catch from the sea there too. Near the town, it’s quite common to see pigs strolling around and chickens everywhere. I didn’t take many pictures while we were there, just in case of theft, but I found this picture of a Nacaome pig in Google, pinched from a website.

It is a little backwards there, but more about that later. We had to visit one particular town in the middle of nowhere which we were warned has many bandits on the long stretch of road there, so we were escorted by the medical centre in Nacaome. I cannot remember the name of the place. We all got in the car rather nervously and made our way down a gravelly road almost expecting some gang to pop out of nowhere and take everything. It never happened, thankfully. We saw the state of the medical centre. Hazel and her colleague did their surveying and architectural stuff (it was a different language to me, but I could see they weren’t impressed with what they were seeing). Another organisation who had been working on it made a complete mess of it. It did look like a building site from an untrained eye point of view. My hangover and the heat made me lethargic and sleepy. I then went off to get snacks and a drink, but I was told not to walk around this sleepy little village by myself as it was poor and dangerous. I was given a lift, and yes, they were right, the people did look a little dangerous. I bought a few snacks but the looks I was getting from the locals were far from friendly. It made me think of the Wicker Man, the Honduran version, so I got back to the centre and we got going back to Nacaome soon after.

Hazel’s friends then dropped us off at a cheap enough hotel. We had little choice but to stay there because when we arrived, the heavens opened and they remained open until about 10:30pm. It was an okay hotel, although the toilet reeked of sewage and the air conditioning was broken, which would have been unbearable if we were anything above half-awake. Luckily, we weren’t, and as soon as we got into the room, we pretty much collapsed into sleep. We agreed that we would get food about 7pm but our bodies and minds said no, and before we knew it, it was 10pm and our stomach’s were growling that they were empty. We hit the streets and looked for somewhere to eat but everything was closed and it seemed very quiet and eerie. There’s a reason why there aren’t many postcards of Nacaome by Night, and that’s because it’s not a very colourful place, apart from a karaoke bar/possibly a brothel, with lots of neon lights playing 70s/80s cheesy latin ballads and there seemed to be a few trannies walking around. All we wanted was something to eat and drink, honestly, and there was nothing else open. It was like walking into a scene in the Mighty Boosh. They made me feel at home with a big poster of The Beatles on the wall though, so at least they were welcoming. We still decided to depart from the place sharpish nonetheless. We had our water. Now we needed food. Luckily we found a pulperia on the other side of the street still open. I didn’t trust the place even before I could smell the place (it smelled horribly of dog hair, and I f–king hate dogs); a man was shouting and being aggressive with a woman. The woman was shouting back. They saw us and smiled and said they were closing. They were kind enough to sell us some snacks which were like cheesy Wotsits. That was our dinner. We were famished. We accepted it. Then a man who had lived in New York for eight years or so wanted to practice his English. He was drunk and we were tired, but we tried to be polite and leave quickly. On the way out, the man who was shouting at the woman then suddenly had a man wielding a machete in his face. I didn’t believe what I was seeing at first. Hazel did and said, “Com’on, let’s get the f–k out of here!” so we went sharpish yet again, almost legging it, not wanting to see what was going to happen next. We heard behind us someone kicking or punching something metal. Not quite a knife fight, but it seemed to be the only thing happening in Nacaome on Friday, so we have to make the place sound interesting somehow.

When we got back to the hotel, we ate our snacks and watched a crap American film about a couple adopting a baby. They fall in love. That’s all you need to know. You can tell that from watching the front cover of the DVD cover. It has Katherine Heigl in it. That’s all I can tell you. I can’t remember the name and I don’t want to burden you with it so I’m not going to research it. It will be a memorable film for two reasons: 1) I saw it with a hungry stomach in Nacaome with my mate Hazel 2) the classic line in it, “Darling, you have shit on your face”.

The Saturday morning’s weather was certainly sunnier than the night before. There is an expression about the heat in Nacaome but I’ve forgotten what it is exactly. It’s something to do with the devil taking off his sombrero. It is also the hottest place in Honduras, apparently. Anyway, we paid for the hotel and then we went to the bank to get some money to have breakfast. Our stomachs were now screaming at us to be filled. On the way to the bank, we bumped into a colleague of Hazel’s who offered to drive us to the bus-stop in San Lorenzo, which is only 10 minutes away, but as we were starving, it felt like 10 hours. We caught the bus to Coyolito that took us up mountainsides that looked over the Gulf of Fonseca. The thirty odd scattered islands in the area, mixed with the rivers going into gulf, gave the landscape an Amazon look about it. I wish I’d had my camera handy but my mind was on food.

We caught a colectivo boat from the small Coyolito town, which had great views of the amazing inactive volcano, to Isla El Tigre, where the main town Amapala is. Both Hazel and myself commented, as soon as got to the island, how similar it was to a lake or loch in Ireland or Scotland – apart from the tropical heat and the fact that here the scavengers are pelicans, not vicious seagulls. It had an atmosphere about it, one that almost feels like time’s forgotten, this is especially evident in the centre of Amapala when you can see crumbling buildings and houses that almost like windswept down. It was a quiet bay we arrived in, not quite in the centre of Amapala as we would have liked but it was nice enough. We ignored the calls from the tut-tut drivers to take us somewhere on the island and we found ourselves a restaurant pretty much straight off the boat to have yet another fish breakfast. It took some time for the food to come to the table, due to the fact they hadn’t caught our fish yet, but the way of life in the south is slow anyway that even people in Andalucía in Spain might think is slow. We saw the fishermen come in with the fish anyway, and my stomach has never squealed in such delight when I started munching on it. I’ve always been a meat man, but this fish was up there with the best steaks I’ve had. And it was only around 4 quid. We both agreed that it felt fantastic to get away from Tegucigalpa and work and see somewhere completely different. I also took pictures of the bay, which you can see below.

Part two continues!

21st December & Sin Nombre – Part Two

Part 2 continues

Hi all

In my last post, I voiced my concerns about some of my
colleagues at Casa Alianza. Last week, however, I had great fun. On the Thursday,
I went to watch the lads play at a small stadium in Colonial Kennedy (which is
the largest neighbourhood in Central America, from what I’ve been told). You
basically turn up and play against any team which is there at the time. First
come, first served, kind of thing. The kids had been waiting all week and were
extremely excited (it was Honduran half-term). I feared for the team at first
because their opposition looked a fair bit older, and bigger, when I first saw
them. Wow was I wrong. I have mentioned before that I have played against the
kids in Casa Alianza and been humiliated by their skills. They did just the
same to this team. They ripped into them. The opposition looked as clueless as
the Man Utd midfield against Barcelona. Casa Alianza were the first to every
ball, doing tricks that Ronaldinho would be proud of, and moved the ball around
so well that the England team need to come and get advice from them. They
played with a lot of heart. In 45 minutes, they were winning 6-0 and the
opposition had barely mustered an attack. The opposition then started fighting
amongst themselves, which bemused a lot of the kids. The bad losers then
forfeited the game at half-time, which was a terrible shame because the kids
were enjoying themselves. But then again, the kids were toying with them, like
a cat does to a mouse before it kills it. They were showing off and you began
to feel for the opposition. I think the opposition just had come for a friendly
kick around, not to be traumatised like street football specialists.

On the way home, I saw a wonderful bit of loyalty from the
kids that I will never, ever forget in my life. As we were strolling down the
road to catch the bus, we unfortunately came across a Mara gang, tattooed up to
the eye-balls, quite literally. The Mara gang seemed preoccupied with something
else, even though they were definitely staring at the gringo in the crowd (me).
Almost systematically, like in the animal kingdom when a pack of animals
protect their young when predators lurk, the kids at Casa Alianza started
surrounding me and saying, “Protect the gringo”. They then started making a
hissing sound at the Maras and showed their middle finger, which I thought was
very brave (as well as hellishly stupid) but I was touched all the same. The
Maras looked confused and not sure what to do, especially when the kids started
picking up bricks and sticks. These guy could have easily have shot them but
they thought better of it. In hindsight, I think it may have been less about
protecting me, and more about the anger the kids feel towards the Maras,
especially the way the gangs terrorise neighbourhoods. It’s quite common to
find a child at Casa Alianza who has lost family, lovers or friends at the
hands of the Maras.

The next day I went to a street dance competition which the
kids were participating in, also in Colonial Kennedy. Many different centres
that help the youth around the city came and it was nice to see the kids
enjoying themselves. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the power circuits
and the music kept cutting off, which of course consequently stopped the kids
dancing. It was a shame. They got through the day anyway, but the results of
competition didn’t go Casa Alianza’s way. They are not very good losers, my
Casa Alianza friends, and they approached the judges in a way that I can only
describe as riotous. To call the winners “zorras” and “putas” was a bit
uncalled for, but I must admit, it was incredibly hard to stifle my laughter. Their
ire was from the core. They started throwing food and stamping on chairs. The
anger continued when we got back to Casa Alianza, mainly with the girls, but I
decided to go home at that point in case I said something contradictory to
their belief that might get my head ripped off. If there’s one thing I have
learned about the kids, they are very, very, very determined people. I’m being
educated: the teacher has become the pupil.

I want to finish by recommending the film Sin Nombre. It’s
about immigration and the Maras in Central America. The journey starts in
Tegucigalpa but a majority of the film is set in Mexico. I am writing a chapter
in the book all about immigration and it’s been most useful, especially since
many of the kids I have interviewed who have tried to get to the USA have told
me how realistic the film is. It won many awards back in 2009. If you liked
City of God, this will be up your alley. I really liked it. Please see the
trailer below.


This weekend I’m going down to the south of Honduras. Apparently it’s very hot. It’ll also be the same time I will see the Pacific Ocean. Can’t wait!!

21st December 2011 & Sin Nombre – Part One

Dear all

It’s been a few days since I’ve done an update on the blog. You may wonder why I’ve put 21st December in the title of the update. Unfortunately this is the date that I’ll be returning to England. I’m sad and quite upset about it, obviously, as I wanted to celebrate Christmas and New Year in a culture quite polar to my own. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of it, but our visas run out on 5th January. We have been told that the flights are booked up and too expensive for our class of ticket around these dates, as people are travelling back home to the UK after spending the festive season in the states. I was originally trying to find a flight that would pass through New York on
the way back (a city I’ve always wanted to visit, even if it were just for a day). To have this news is a bit of a kick in the teeth, not to say that Christmas with my family back home would be a bad thing, nor do I not want to see my friends. The only chance of us going home on 3rd or 4th January is if someone on these flights realise they can’t afford the journey or their ticket is cancelled. Emma Kneebone (my fellow volunteer) and I are living on a prayer with this really. I don’t like saying it and it makes me seem quite cruel and selfish, but I hope the economic crisis royally buggers up another passenger’s xmas so we can go home on our preferred flights. Either that or I might just have a marriage of convenience to extend my visa for a few days. That’s how
desperate I am to stay for xmas and New Year.

I am thinking of the future at the moment and what I want to do with myself when I return. I really like Central America and I am starting to look at jobs for the future. Tegucigalpa, despite its dangers and violence and corruption, is growing on me in a peculiar way. It has a charm. A very gritty one. The old colonial buildings, colourful, falling apart, but with metal bars covering the windows and doors, give it a distinct bohemian feel. There’s a bubbling art scene, maybe inspired from the lack of security of the place, the rubbish that litters the streets, the smell of sewage or people pissing up random walls, the kids lying around or frustrations and robbery of the people
by corrupt politicians. It’s got its appeal, no matter how filthy it may be. Maybe it’s knowing the date of my return to the UK that’s triggered this affection for the city, but I felt it growing on me beforehand. In a way, it reminds of Birmingham. Many people from outside the city slag it off (rather arrogantly may I add) and ignore it, without actually appreciating the little charms of the city and how important it is to the country. It’s a lot better than people make out. Even though I don’t recommend people stay in Tegus for long, it’s somewhere they should just experience for a couple of days, whether it’s to do the touristy things (that could be done in two days at most) or see
the “barrios marginales” and shanty towns sprawling up hillsides and across the valleys. It has an edge to it that’s intangible, untouchable and hard to describe. There’s something in the air here, or in the baleadas!

For the past two Sundays, I have returned to Valle de Angeles, which is where I went in my first week in Honduras. It also has a thriving art scene. There’s beautiful little artisan shops (there’s a bit of tourist tack as well) but it’s always nice to sit down, have a ‘patela’ (like an ice-lolly, but with real ingredients and a lot tastier) and pupusas. I’ve befriended a lovely Irish colleen here called Hazel and she’s brilliant. I’ve also been introduced to a lot of her friends, who many are artists and they go to Valle de Angeles a lot. It’s a thrilling place. There’s always traditional Honduran dances taking place in the Central Park and stalls around selling beautiful and original gifts. There are plenty of tourists around, which can be annoying as the pavements are small and you end up bumping into people while trying to browse the stalls. There are also many Americans who make no effort to speak Spanish to the locals (not all, but some). It reminds me of English people in Benidorm, and many of the other Anglo-invaded resorts scattered around “las costas” of the Iberian Peninsula. But that’s where the similarities between Benidorm and Valle de Angeles end. I had to do one touristy thing though, and that was to have a caricature of myself, which you can see below. The worrying thing for me is that it has all my facial features but it doesn’t really look like me. It looks like Niles
Crane for Frasier.






The mural is made of bottle caps. From the left, Davide, Hazel, and me


a mural made of bottle caps


Table and chair made out of Coca Cola bottles. Seriously, it was!


The Saturday just passed I want to Hatillo with ICYE, which is just outside of the city. We went to a vineyard that produced blackberry wine. The location was beautiful and it was nice catching up with a few people (although the moody French girl was there too, still not speaking to me after Utila, still without an explanation, but it now makes me giggle). I was a little unsure if I liked the wine. The sweet wine was too sweet and the dry wine was too dry. I’m slightly ignorant and conservative about my wines: stick
to grapes!



While I was at the vineyard, there was a prostitute march going through the centre of Tegucigalpa. It was more about women’s rights than the rights of prostitutes. Recently, apparently, the president Lobo passed a law banning short skirts. I would really love to see the Government forces trying to police that, especially with the humid weather we’ve had of late. My advice to Lobo is, if by any tiniest chance he’s reading this, concentrate on the poverty and the bloody Maras taking over the barrios, and stop pissing around with silly laws like this. Wolf man (“Lobo” means “wolf” in Spanish).

Marcha de putas

Part 2 continues . . . . .

La Conversación

Hi all

It’s been almost two weeks without an update. I’ve been very busy which I will tell you about in the next update. In this update, however, I’m going to include two poems that have been inspired by a couple of girls in Casa Alianza.

The first one is quite shocking with some similes that might offend, as well as a bit of swearing. If you are offended, I apologise. I wanted to make the poem to be as hard-hitting as possible to reflect the pain she’s been through. Yesterday, she told me a bit about her story and was understandably upset. She asked for my advice on a subject that may have left psychologists struggling to respond, never mind volunteers. Today I bought her a little journal to jot down her thoughts for the psychologists, as she felt she wasn’t as forthcoming as she should be about her feelings and experiences (she thought they might classify her as insane), and the journal might help her a release a lot of tension. She’s had an awful time, and like many children at Casa Alianza, she’s a survivor more than anything else. Here it is:


La Conversación (i)

Time ticks by, as well as thoughts in my mind,
Why am I ignored? Why are people blind?
Why is my family in this fucked up state?
How did I come to this dysfunctional fate?
Questions fill my loaded head,
I don’t want to be alive, I don’t want to be dead.
I’m always in transit, a stateless being,
And when people look at me, I’m afraid of what they’re seeing.
No one can advise me on what to do,
They’d run a mile, if they knew what I’d been through,
Maras and barras and drugs have fucked my life,
Making wrong decisions have left me cutting my wrists with a knife,
Violation to my body has fucked up my worn-out brain,
That night remains imprinted in my memory as my darkest, bloodiest stain.
Why has God given me this life and why does He hate me, hate me, hate me?
Why does He fuck me up and why can’t He let me be?
I don’t want to feel this sadness, nor do I want revenge,
I cannot change the past and I’m too weak to avenge.
I want peace, I want solace, I want to be listened to and be loved,
I don’t want to be left alone or punched or kicked or shoved.
Please gringo, help me out with my life,
Take away this pain, this ira, end this rife.


I am pleased to say one thing. After 30 mins of giving the journal, she’d filled in the first few pages and the psychologists have also thanked me. There’s nothing like giving yourself a pat on the back.

The second poem is in Spanish, and I imagine that Spanish speakers will find it a bit rusty and the grammar horrendous. The girl in question left Casa Alianza today after being there for about a month. She was quite mature for her age but she had problems with her behaviour and self-esteem. She did enjoy me teaching her English from time to time, and I have to admit, I will miss it too as she had a great sense of humour. I got her talking about her hopes and dreams and thoughts, which I always do during the interviews for the book. While she was talking, I jotted them down into a few stanzas. I write it in Spanish first and then in English below.


La Conversación (ii)
Triste tal vez, y felíz tambíen,
Acá una mes, mas o menos,
Para escapar la casa y mi madre,
Y sentir paz.
Voy a escribir un libro,
Todo sobre mi vida,
Ganaré mucho dinero,
Y reíré sobre los problemas que los tengo.
Tendré un nombre diferente,
Y seré una doctora,
Para salvar vidas con mis manos,
Y ayudar gente con su dolor.
Quiero ver el mundo,
Inglaterra, Estados Unidos, China,
Para saber India y disfrutar Australia,
Y aprender culturas y idiomas nuevas.
Ahorita quiero olvidar todos mis problemas,
Y no sentir triste sobre el pasado,
Para mirar en el futuro y sonreír,
Con esperanza.

In English:

La Conversación (ii)
Sometimes sad, happy too,
Been here for a month or so,
To escape the house and my mother,
And have the feeling of peace.

I’ll write a book,
All about my life,
Earn a lot of money,
And I will laugh about the problems that I have.

I will have a different name,
And I’ll be a doctor,
To save lives with my hands,
And helping people with their pain.

I want to see the world,
England, United States, China,
To know India and enjoy Australia,
And learn new cultures and languages​​.

Right now I forget all my problems,
And do not feel sad about the past,
To look into the future and smile,
With hope.


I think on the that note, I will end by playing the Smiths classic “There is a light that never goes out”, a song known for it’s intense lyrics (and for being a bit depressing – like this update!), but it’s still a favourite of mine. While finding this song on You Tube, I found the song sang in Spanish. It only seems fitting that I include it in this blog, so please find it below.