A Travellerspoint blog

Honduras

Choluteca


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We crossed the entire country today, and it was not until we got to little Choluteca that I found another place besides the Bay Islands that I might like in Honduras. Unfair of me, though, as we did not stop anywhere except to transfer to another bus in Tegus. Out of the cab we were immediately swarmed by bus touts who grabbed Chris's arms and bag and started pulling him in all directions, yelling in rapid, incomprehensible Spanish. My shouts of Hey! Hey! elicited nothing but glances and grins--obviously I was not in charge. Or maybe it would have been improper to touch a female. Even climbing into the bus we had a tout from a different company unwilling to let go of our bag such that "our" tout had to pry his fingers loose one at a time. Meanwhile, smiles on all sides. Still, I found myself shaking a little by the time we settled onto the bus, which we later discovered would not leave for another hour, despite our tout's very specific promise that we'd depart in 28 minutes.

Choluteca is a much sleepier place compared to Honduras's other cities, despite being the country's fourth largest. We sat for a while in the plaza after dinner, listening to the music and watching the food vendors. It reminded me of the Zocalos in Mexico, and I longed to be back with a churro in my hand or a bag of mandarinas on my lap. Guatemala, too, seems sweet to me right now--the little town of El Remate and our evening swims in the glass-like lake, sky and water a rosy periwinkle and children jumping and chattering around us. That was not long ago, but it was actually so long ago. Has it really only been a month since we landed in Mexico City?

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

More Thoughts on Honduras


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We leave Roatan tomorrow, and nerves are all a-jangle knowing we have a 2-day journey--no, rather three--to Nicaragua, with one stop in what seems like Central America's most dangerous city. Our bus will drop us in the Comoyaguella district of Tegucigalpa, through which the guidebooks say we shouldn't walk significant distances, even in the daytime. Normally I would take such warnings with a grain of salt, but I did not relish my experiences in La Ceiba. Even Roatan belies its laid back Caribbean Island vibe: our scuba guide told us that there had been two mysterious murders recently--one of a scuba instructor and the other of the man who runs the boat between Utila (one of the other Bay Islands) and Roatan. So, yes, for now you can't get from one island to the other except through the mainland because the captain was killed. That sounds dramatic. My fear is getting the better of me.

Nonetheless, Honduras gives me a certain sensation, which I can only tie back to the way I felt reading Robert Stone's Flag for Sunrise. This sense that lives--even American lives--are cheap, that the animal nature in each of us is lurking very close beneath our skin, that in Central America anything goes, and that no one gives a damn about you. You imagine a person would kill you with a switchblade and a grin, and it may be the only time someone would smile at you. I've met the friendliest and surliest people here. There was the chicken vendor who would only answer our questions with the barest twitch of his head, the vegetable stall proprietress with her curt replies, and then there was the tour bus driver who gave us a free ride and the orange salesman who brought us to the bus stop and expected nothing of us but conversation. I cannot say how the rest of it will go--only that by the time we leave Honduras we will have criss-crossed the country by bus without having seen hardly any of it, and that's a shame.

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

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)

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