Tag Archives: Honduras

Medical care

Dear readers,

I’ve now come out of hospital after two nights. It turns out I have a form of bronchitis (trust me; an Englishman to pick up such an illness in a tropical climate), as well as a cyst in my voice box, which shall be removed next week.

Suffice to say, it’s no fun being ill, especially when one is so used to being active. Pamela has accompanied me while I have been stuck on a drip, unable to move my arm.

Nonetheless, the nurses and doctors at DIME medical centre in Tegucigalpa have been excellent. They’ve cured me of my ailments with first class professionalism and care, on call 24 hours, with military-like punctuality when providing medication. I’ve had gas masks, breakfast, lunch and dinner, x-rays and cameras stuck up my nose (one of the most uncomfortable experiences I’ve ever been put through; God knows what a colonoscopy feels like). The nurses never lost their patience, despite me ringing them every couple of hours to disconnect me from the drip so I could use the toilet (the drip fills your bladder. I’m sure you, the reader, will consider this too much information about my urine habits, but it wasn’t just the quantity of pees, but the length of them; I could have created reservoirs), as well as having to fix the drip half a dozen times because of my fidgeting. I’ve had many blood tests and blood pressure checks and it’s all been done with a sense of humour and a smile.

It’s private hospital, so you might well say that one should expect a great service when paying so much money. Through my wife’s job, I am lucky to have such great cover on my medical insurance. My current salary would never have covered it. The bill came to around £1500 ($2000). To say I’m privileged is an understatement, as I know full well that a great many people in Honduras would not be able to afford this, and alas, many millions of people across the world. That includes the US and maybe the UK in the future.

Therefore, and without wanting to be political, it makes me wonder how someone without medical cover does cope. Almost 70% of the Honduran population live in poverty. I very much doubt their access to medical insurance is great, especially amongst the 44.6% who live in extreme poverty (the highest in Central America, according to stats in the Honduran media). Everyone has access to the public medical network, but I’m told it doesn’t always have the facilities to treat people effectively, especially in regards to medication, even in the major cities, let alone rural areas. The media often brings to the surface the failings of the public social security (IHSS), which has been beaten like a piñata in recent years by the current administration and previous, both left and right. Scandals, corruption and robbery erodes it, and everyday folk go without.

But let me be clear, I’ve never used the public health system in Honduras; I don’t know accurate I am, nor do I want to discredit the staff who work in public hospitals and clinics and save lives with limited resources everyday on low pay. Just those in power should do better to make the public health system more effective.

Let me underline, I am a lucky man. I know it. Health is a billion pound business and the situation is what it is. I hate to be so apathetic, but the global powers that be seem to want to push towards with private healthcare, seeing it as a great expense to public finances. I grew up with the NHS in the UK, meaning I never paid a dime for medical consultancy nor medication; a lifesaver for someone with congential hypothyroidism. Even though I said I didn’t want to get political, the UK now has a government intent on dismantling it. That’s a road I don’t want to go down today.

I do want to thank the doctors and nurses at DIME, again, as well as my wife, who told me to go to hospital two weeks ago (there’s been a lot of “I told you so” comments). She’s been there at my bedside and she’s with me now I’ve come back home. I’ve a lot to be grateful for.

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I’ve Turned Into a Puddle

Dear readers,

It’s very hot today. I am begging for a storm to come along to rinse down Honduras. I’m being careful for what I wish for and not hoping for anything hurricane size, but it’s like a constant greenhouse, relentlessly spanking us with its heat. There’s no breeze and the humidity is hanging in the air. If you’re not in a room with air conditioning or a fan, you’re going to struggle, and if you have no water, you’re a fool.

A sweat angel – courtesy of CrossFitRook

I played the fool today. I had to walk across the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos ranch without a bottle of some trusted H2O and I was almost seeing double on arrival of my destination. I knocked five cups of water then walked back and needed five more. My shirt was stained with sweat and I was talking gibberish, and I guess I still am in this blog post.

I will continue this gibberish in the shape of a poem made up of Limerick verses. You might think I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have. Maybe you have. Maybe you will have reading this poem.

I’ve Turned Into a Puddle

Turned into liquid form,

This wasn’t the shape I was born,

I used to have legs,

To walk me to Gregg’s*,

Now the heat’s got me seeing a unicorn.

I used to dream of living in a hot place,

Now I walk around with a permanent red face,

Floored and befuddled,

I’ve turned into a puddle,

I’m no longer part of the human race.

I could be used to put out a fire,

Or be the tears of a crier,

I could be a drop in the sea,

But I’m sure you’d agree

That this isn’t a life to aspire.

*A pastry and sandwich chain in the UK


Honduran national team, the weather and derbies

Dear readers,

Some of you might already know, but I’ve been doing some reporting for Fox Sports Australia in the run up to World Cup playoffs between Honduras and the Soccerroos. Going by the name of my blog, there’s no guessing in who I’m following.

I’m enjoyed it and so far, pretty much so good. My first story was a big miss due to a mis intepretation of various nuances from some sections of the media. However, a third story seemed to be a massive hit, which has landed me interviews on television and radio, which I will go into in a future post. I feel quite overwhelmed by the positivity I’ve received, and I’ve learned an awful lot about patriotism and the power of words, as well as how sensitive Hondurans feel about how they are portrayed globally. I already knew about it, but this has been a great reminder and a very good learning experience. I’ve gained a lot of friends so far, such as the Barra Brava Catracha group, who I will write about more in a post coming up soon.

I wrote this post yesterday for Fox, but they decided not to run with it. I have therefore adapted it and publishing it here.

Enjoy.


HONDURAN NATIONAL TEAM

With Eddie Hernandez out the playoffs, Jorge Pinto was left sweating after his first choice goalkeeper Donis Escober and Choco Lozano were taken off during their respective teams, Olimpia and Barcelona B. was taken off with a muscular injury in Olimpia’s derby game with Motagua. However, it seems they will be fit for Honduras’s crunch games against Australia.

In the meantime, Jorge Pinto has left fans and media guessing about his select 11, adding that he has a plan for Australia.

The press and social media were surprised by the omission of Ronny Martinez and Rubilio Castillo, and the call up of some lesser known players from Honduras’s provincial teams like Juticalpa. Los Catrachos will be buoyed by the return of Carlo Costly and Mario Martinez, but how the latter fits into a team already boasting a range of talent in defensive midfield remains to be seen. The one surprise omission which has brought little news is Roger Espinoza, also known as El Chino, a utility midfield man with Sporting Kansas City in the MLS, who won the English FA Cup with Wigan Athletic in 2013. The Honduran born, US citizen has been a fans favourite over the years, scoring a few golazos along the way. Pinto obviously sees enough talent in the squad to leave him out.

DERBY GAMES

What did my home city Birmingham and my adopted city Tegucigalpa have in common this weekend? Derby games! Both cities boast fiery rivalies in the city, with Birmingjam and Aston Villa and Olimpia and Motagua respectively. Yet this weekend, both derbies ended in 0-0 draws. Yes, the bragging rights mean everything to the fans in both cities, and both clubs want to claim the throne of el papá de ciudad. That’s where the similarities end though. Both Tegucigalpa’s teams are fighting to take top spot in the league, while Birmingham are locked in a relegation dog fight in the 2nd tier in the English leagues, while Villa, which now stars ex-England man John Terry, are in a rat race to return to the Premier League.

Back to the Tegucigalpa derby, both Olimpia and Motagua represent two of the country’s most powerful clubs, in which anything is possible.

Drama surrounds this fixture, and this weekend will be no different, giving supporters some reprieve of thinking about the play off with the Soccerroos. Just last season an Olimpia supporter invaded the pitch, collected the ball, dazzled two or three Motagua defenders before putting it away, while at the same time, Olimpia team took advantage of Motagua’s confusion and also scored, all of it taking place in injury time. Surprisingly, the goal stood and game finished 2-2. Click here to see the video.

While Olimpia could be labelled the Manchester United of Honduras, playing in very similar colours and being by far the most successful club, yet Motagua have won the previous two titles and currently sit four points clear at the top of the league, while Olimpia are 3rd.

The club’s supporters were mocking each other on the sport’s radio show La Potra Hn on Friday night, who called me while on air to talk about an article I’d written, about Olimpia beating Santos of Costa Rica penalties to claim  the Torneo Liga Concacaf the night before, with Motagua supporters were raining on their counterpart’s parade, claiming the victory was only region’s 2nd tier cup, the Europa League of Central America.

WEATHER

Talking of rain, Tropical Storm Selma entered Honduran territory on the Pacific Coast on Saturday evening, bringing torrential rain to the south side of the country. Honduras has already experienced heavy rainfall throughout the country, with has brought flash floods, landslides, overflowing rivers and reservoirs, one of which left a dam on high alert. It’s brought considerable damage to some poorer neighbourhoods in and around the northern towns and cities, claiming a number of lives.

That being said, emergency services have been quick to react and civilians have been helping one another. Australian fans coming over will be kept well away from the more precarious areas and the game shouldn’t be affected; just remember to bring your waterproofs.

 

 

 


10 Favourite Books – part 13 – Honourable Mentions

Dear readers,

Roman Tales by Alberto Moravia

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Now, like other books, I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this one before. I found this book with a pile of others being compiled by my mother, stacked neatly in a box in my old brother’s room, ready to go to a charity shop. The book caught my eye because of the orange cover and at publishers were using these vintage marketing schemes to sell their books at the time. This was i 2010, if I remember right, before I came to Honduras. I skimmed through and read the synopsis and I had that gut feeling that this was a fantastic book.

I wasn’t wrong.

I didn’t know much about Alberto Moravia at the time but I did my research and bought a few of his books, one of which was Two Women which I accidentally left on a plane and annoys me to this day. I still haven’t read his book The Comformist, which is said to be his best work, but this book, meerly out of forgetting how great it is, was just knocked out my 10 favourite books. It is an anthology of short stories set in Rome in the 1940s and 50s if I remember right. All short stories have a poignant message for me, but these send you on different waves of thinking that had me contemplating for weeks I remember, but also inspired me to do the same. They contain intense emotions and mysterious and sly characters, who make conforming people do non-comforming in some shape or form. It may seem like normal plots to normal short stories, but he has a flow to his writing, written with a jesty seriousness makes you wonder if Moravia is mocking your way of thinking.

Later in life Alberto Moravia wrote quite a few perverted books – i.e. porn – some of which I have read but not sure if I enjoyed. It is very hard to get hold of his other books here in Honduras (his Kindle books are strangely hugely overpriced – shame on you Amazon), so if I can find a volunteer to send me some of his work, second hand books maybe, it would be massively appreciated (not the porn though).

I don’t know if it is still open, but there is a cafe/bar (due to a tragic incident that I will comment on in a future post) in Tegucigalpa named Cafe Paradiso which I’ve written about before, and it’s also a place that my parents really like. They have/had a cocktail named after Moravia, which gave me a whole new affinity with the cafe and in my first couple of years in Tegus, I could easily let a couple of hours pass by with a random book and said cocktail in hand. It is/was a nice cafe bar in its own right, but for me personally, it’s very own romantic Moravia tale (and also where I took Pam on many of our first dates).


Cantinflas

Dear readers,

To the older generation and people of the Hispanic world, you might have to excuse my ignorance, because before I came to Honduras, I had no idea who Cantinflas was. To those still not in the know, he was a famous Mexican actor whose career stretched from the 1930s to the 1980s, and is something of a “Charlie Chaplin” type character. A little before my time, I should remind people, but I am surprised that I hadn’t come across him before since a lot of the Spanish I have picked up comes from watching movies. I am quite a big fan of the Hispanic film industry.

The first time I came across him was about two years ago. It’s something of a Cruz-Lozano tradition to pass Sundays at Pamela’s grandmother’s place, Mama Mina, in Barrio Kennedy. I remember one early evening, Pamela was sleeping and the family were speaking in Caliche, so I would disappear off to chat with Papa Milo in the kitchen, who always enjoys sitting by himself minding his territory around the house, kind of like a cross between the BFG and a lion (a strange hybrid, but you just go with me here) or watching classic movies. This particular afternoon he was watching a classic movie, and upon the screen was a man with a strange mustache (it’s shaved in the middle) dressed as a priest speaking in a strong Mexican committing funny blasphemies. He was Catholic, himself, and fierce working class conservative, but I do wonder how it went down in 1960s Mexico). He then told me a bit about him. Pamela’s father Juan Jose joined us and was on the floor laughing. I didn’t understand much but I was giggling at his unique behaviour, which is a kind of innocently anti-social yet friendly demeanor (as stated before, a lot like Charlie Chaplin). Pam’s father told me that he was well-known for speaking up for the poor and downtrodden, protesting for better wages and working conditions for Mexican actors, although paradoxically, his characters were often seen as a a bourgeois puppet to laugh at the poor, as well as changing gender roles.

It must be said that Cantinflas is his character name. His real name was Mario Fortino Alfonso Moreno Reyes and he was born in a poor and dangerous neighbourhood in Mexico City. His sharp-wit got him out of various precarious situations. He started by acting in tents and small shows, where his Cantinflas character was born. He grew with experience and stardom beckoned, with many-a-dozen Mexican movies and then Hollywood, where he won an award for his role in Around the World in 80 Days. He met the love of his life before he was famous and remained with her until she died in 1966, though he gained a reputation for not being the most faithful man on the planet. Latin men, bah! Saying that, I don’t want to sound UKIP’ish, but their reputation goes before them.

cantinflas_pelicula-movil

Today I saw the biographical movie, which charts his life from his early days of amateur entertainment up to the moment of the height of his success. He is played by Oscar Jaenada, a Catalan Romani actor, who plays such a difficult part to such distinction, he deserves a great deal of recognition. I was thoroughly impressed. An inspiring film about being a free spirit and letting your talent take you as far as you can manage, suffering highs and lows as anyone would in a precarious career, and just going for it. It’s also inspired me to grow a similar tash. I wonder what my bosses at work would say? I don’t think they’d be as amused as watching the movie. That’s a given.

I hope it comes out in the UK. I was moved. Loved it. It’s been a while since I’ve said that about a movie.

Below is the trailer.


Mum

Dear readers,

By the time many of you read this, it will be 2nd October, which is my mother’s birthday. I obviously miss being with her on her birthday, leaving me with a bit of a lump in my throat when I think the last time that I was with her on her birthday was 2010 – four years ago. We all have to go in our life directions, and if you asked me ten years ago that I would have moved to Honduras, I most definitely would have chuckled, while thinking, “Where’s Honduras?” My mum tells me not to worry about it and she understands that I’m following my but, but it’s kind of futile (but chasing my dream, mind): I really want to be with her on her 66th birthday. It’s a great mum, the best in fact. I just want to let her know that I’m thinking of her. I only wish that f–king Amazon had told me early that the present that I have ordered for her wasn’t due to be dispatched on 15th October, just two days before her birthday!! I really do need to find a better website to buy things from online: it’s ironic that this tax-dodging monster of a business calls itself Amazon when they have no bleeding care for the rainforest (apart from inventing the Kindle). I don’t want to start an Amazon rant, so I’m just going to finish with a little note to my mum, love you loads, and have a lovely break next week x

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Mum really liked Andy Palacio’s music when she came to Central American, the late Garifuna music maestro from Belize. We went to his village and met some relatives of his. Enjoy the music.


I Think of You

Dear readers,

Here’s a quick poem for Pamela.

    I think of you

I think of you,
My future wife,
Your naked arms embracing me,
With a smile,
Calming nerves,
Setting me free.

In private,
Or a room full of people,
I always feel your love.
Hand in hand,
There for each other,
Through life’s hard shoves.

Lovers, best friends, soul mates,
Whether through God or fate,
We’re together.
A pact,
In joy,
That’ll never sever.