By Ben Anson

Streets in El Progreso, Honduras.

HAVANA TIMES – It is not to drag the seemingly endless discussion of Coronavirus any further (I am sure that many are quite fed up with hearing about it day in day out), yet I would like to share something, which I feel, is something of a positive – if we can derive any positives from the situation.

I shall explain myself.

My city of residence, is El Progreso, Honduras. Now, this is a city not noted for its beauty. Ask most, and they will contest with cries of “Ay Progreso, so ugly!” or “Ooh no, not Progreso, pure chaos, messy, dirty – gangs.” Many have absolutely no interest in even setting foot within the fourth largest city of Honduras – let alone living here. These being individuals who live in other parts, particularly people from the coast.

I myself, agreed entirely with the majority; if someone had told me a year ago that I would end up living in El Progreso, I probably wouldn’t have known whether to laugh or cry. There I was, always saying that this place was horrific, chaotic, filthy and unattractive. Life is peculiar though – to say the least, and somehow, I have ended up residing here due to work and circumstances.

I am not complaining though. Truth be told, the people of this city are without any doubt the noblest, most hardworking and zero nonsense folk that I have come across throughout Honduras. They are on the whole very admirable, kind, helpful and as mentioned – play no games.

The coast may indeed be far more attractive with its Caribbean vibes however in being entirely honest, Los Costeños are – as Hondurans say, ‘largos’. Long. Meaning, that they are capable of anything and will go to long lengths to get what they want. A lot of games are played along the coast. The coast is a game, one great big game – in my opinion. It is where one must know how to speak, how to walk, how to lie, how to create an impression, how to barter, how to get ahead, how to make moves and have style etc.

In Progreso people work, make money and do their thing. No bullshit. A different mentality.

The thing is, in Progreso there are two factors which make the place semi intolerable.

  1. The godawful, traffic ridden highway bringing droves of vehicles and pollution into the city.
  2. The sprawling markets and areas of commerce, which take up entire sections of the center and simply amass garbage and general filth creating terribly smelly, dirty streets in some places.

For these two reasons, most passers-by have no wish to extend their stay in the city. There is nothing worse than having to be at a constant lookout for swerving vehicles that could run you over in the chaotic streets, filled with rubbish and filth as a result of the onslaught of markets, stalls, shops and businesses.

The Honduran government, declared a ‘toque de queda’ (a curfew more or less) last week, meaning that people may not set foot in the street unless they really have to. Be it a supermarket or a pharmacy run – for instance. As I write this, they have even gone and closed the supermarkets now. Everything is shut down. Everyone locked down in their house.

I decided one afternoon to go out and if the police caught me, I’d say that I was on my way to the supermarket. Nobody was out, except – quite sadly, the stray dogs and the homeless. Yet, it was during this afternoon walk through the ghost city of El Progreso, that I actually realized just how pretty and pleasant the city itself actually is!

Suddenly, the complete disappearance of people and vehicles made the streets appear quiet, calm and the buildings – for the first time, could be properly noticed. Progreso’s buildings are rather attractive truth be told. They appear in all shapes and styles and in all colors and shades. Birds flew overhead, the comfortable heat accompanied me as one strolled at one’s leisure through the relaxed, chaos-free calles.

The Coronavirus and its subsequent curfew placed in Honduras and worldwide, seems to have given cities and what are normally crowded places something of a well-deserved, much-needed ‘breather’.

Then I began to ponder. How terrible does it sound that people are what make a place ugly?”

All that noise, pollution, filth and chaos they bring…


Ben Anson

“The moment that I disembark (from a plane), I notice that everything in my body and in my mind readjusts itself for me", so remarked Gabriel Garcia Marquez - when speaking of his relationship with the Caribbean. He felt the strongest physical and mental connection with this part of the world and deemed it as far as ‘grave’ and immensely ‘dangerous’ for him to leave its zone. Only here, did ‘Gabo’ feel ‘right’ in himself. Honduras, does for me - precisely what the Caribbean did for Marquez. A resplendent yet troubled nation, that I have been decidedly unable to part with ever since 2014. I thus seek to capture its essence through the written word.

3 thoughts on “Finding a Positive in the Situation

  • I would certainly like to think that it is not!

  • Ben Anson’s comments remind one of recent pictures of crystal clear water in the canals of Venice. But perhaps both his article and those photographs, also show that it is not too late for the world to address cleaning up the environment.

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