A Travellerspoint blog

November 2012

Americans


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Even before they say it I know what they're going to say and my hackles are already raised. And then they say it and I make my retort and they don't hear me but just the injury in my voice that they don't understand and it's a hey hey hey with their arms raised, or they like to challenge me, but I am not cowed because it is my birthright I'm fighting for, the right to wear my own skin and claim my own country, which is the United States of America, my only country, which I belong to and which belongs to me. You can ask about my ancestors, but why don't you tell me yours, white man, black man, is it just your skin color and the shape of your eyes that lets you call your country your own? If I tell you I'm from the United States, why do you need to know Chinese/Japanese/etc.? If you spoke with an American accent and had carrot red hair, would anyone question you further? Yes, American, but what are your origins, man?

I am a lit fuse. I spark and snap and I think one of these days I'll get into trouble.

Posted by chschen 16:00 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

Bay Islands


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A wet day. The kind of wet that does not leave the air scrubbed clean because it is merely a prelude to more wet. We began the day submerged in the ocean. I've realized that I haven't found a way yet to write about scuba diving. As with star-gazing, most descriptions sound trite and non-specific. Also, there is an element of my wanting it to be an incredible experience (given the expense and the hassle) that undermines attempts at truth-telling. We agreed that today's dive wasn't the best, though we could pick out an enormous fish or two to kindle our excitement, and there was also the lavishly grotesque brain coral.

The West End (Roatan) does not offer much in terms of good food while being grossly overpriced, so we have been trying to piece together our own cooked meals from the slightly less overpriced grocery stores and produce stands. Meanwhile the rain (and general travel fatigue) hold us hostage here since we plan to dive at least a few more times with better weather.

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Posted by chschen 16:00 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

Weapon


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Sometimes I will be sitting somewhere, and I will see a large--but not exceptionally large--man walk by and my mind will stick on the idea that the body is a weapon. And the only thing that keeps the weapon (at times tender, at times cruel) in check is society, millennia in the making. But when society breaks down, as it sometimes does, or shows its fissures, which happens more often, the weapon is unleashed. And then another realization sets in: that the body is vulnerable, fragile. It is soft and wet and full of vague impulses. It has dreams and sorrows, complicated ties, the premonition of death. It wants and takes, but it also gives, however selfishly, and it seems a miracle or maybe a twisted joke that such abstraction, such visceral pain, such protective reasoning can also live side by side with the weapon.

By this time the man is long gone, and I am alone with my thoughts.

Posted by chschen 16:00 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

Fear at Night in Honduras


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Long day. Border crossings always are. We arrived in La Ceiba, Honduras, after dark and had a frightening experience with a cab driver. When we got into the cab we established the price was 25 lempiras, but he misunderstood where we were going and ended up driving us further than he had originally thought (but only by a few minutes). When we tried to pay him, he insisted we owed him over 300 lempiras. In disbelief, we offered 40 as a compromise, which he threw at our feet in outrage. He was still shouting angrily when we scrambled away. I felt sure he was going to run after us and punch us in the head from behind (leftover trauma from when I was attacked in San Francisco?) or that he was going to run us down with his cab and shoot us in the back. Every cab I saw after that sent me into a panic. If not him, then one of his friends? The streets were deserted except for a few sinister-looking characters who followed us with their eyes. Venturing out for food after we found our hotel, we spotted a comedor selling fried chicken. The proprietor (or just worker?) was the most indifferent, surliest person we have yet encountered in Latin America. While deciding whether and how to order (since the worker helped us not in the least), we watched three men begin attacking a fourth man about 20 feet away. At that point I insisted we return to the hotel, though we were both starving.

I still irrationally fear the taxi driver will send friends to the ferry pier tomorrow morning to give us a good beating. We asked him for ferry times when we still thought he was a friendly man. We will be easy to spot: the only two chinos at the terminal. Of course now in the dim CFL-lit comfort of our hotel room, my fear seems more than a little ludicrous. Still, I will feel much better when we're in Roatan.

Posted by chschen 16:00 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

Livingston


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Under the weather today, so we didn't do much but walk around and eat, although that's all we ever do when we stay in town.

Tomorrow we begin our long, multi-stop journey to Roatan, one of Honduras's Bay Islands. I'm dreading the move, the drudgery of bearing our heavy packs in the relentless sun, but then we will be still again for a few days, exploring the sea.

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Posted by chschen 16:00 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

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