By Ben Anson
HAVANA TIMES – I reached the end of the afternoon a few days ago, as evening crept upon us sun-blazed citizens of San Pedro Sula, whereupon I suddenly realised the following.
“Christ, all that people have done today is complain to me about their country”.
I exclaimed it out loud, as if addressing a group.
It was me and the bedroom wall though.
I honestly don’t know what’s going on at the moment. Why people see me and think that I actively seek their political/general opinions hasn’t been established yet. During the last few days, on entering the taxi which comes to pick one up from one’s current abode at precisely 6.30 am; a decidedly unenchanting hour to be ‘up and at it’ – I add, the driver of the said taxi immediately embarks on anti-government speeches. At 6.30 am no less…
“They robbed all the money sent to combat Coronavirus”.
“They stole all the vaccines”.
“They’re killing old people”.
“They’re trying to eliminate the weak and infirm”.
“The president keeps us all poor”.
“Poor”, says the old fellow running a taxi fleet. I don’t know, maybe my take on being ‘poor’ is too severe. Maybe I’m too narrow-minded on the usage of the word ‘poor’. Maybe for Ben Anson being ‘poor’ is something like barefoot, malnourished Haitian children eating mud biscuits and not owning several vehicles which you deploy as private taxis. Maybe I’m terribly off point with my thinking.
Please note the sarcasm.
I wondered about this again whilst hearing how Honduras had “nothing to offer and was done with” from a middle-aged father of two.
“It’s become miserable here, there are no opportunities”, said the architect lounging upon his wide sofa – eyes fixed upon a 65 inch plasma television in front of him.
A former priest I know, who makes ironic and amusing declarations such as “white people are heartless murderers” and “the people who come to this shopping mall are so ugly”, sat complaining in his office the other day – as he always does. They say the greatest trick the Devil ever played was to fool people that he didn’t exist.
Many a demon has played a priest…
There is something corrupt, unwhole and quite nasty about the way in which he speaks.
“Ah I’m so sick of this place, of this country, things are getting so bad here – you’re gonna see Ben – you’re gonna see. There’s going to be civil war, rape and murder soon”, he declared, sat back on his spinning, desk-chair, within a chilled, air-conditioned office, dressed in blueish-grey suede shoes, Levy jeans and a Ralph Lauren polo shirt/jacket combination. The old priest sipped on his white mochachino whilst running Honduras into the ground.
The things you hear from the mouths of some of these Hondurans.
I love them but I don’t love their delusions nor this absolutely incessant need to complain.
“Woe is me, I’m Honduran” should be written as their new national anthem.
The Caravan movements which are comprised of mostly Honduran migrants who literally walk on foot in hundreds to the Mexican/US border all the way from San Pedro Sula across the territories of Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico – have further gained this country a bad rep. What needs understanding by non-experts is that those who join these caravans are either the most severe of the most severe cases of poverty-dwelling individuals who come from the worst corners of Honduras, or, they are young people who could potentially get by here yet they are more captured by the incentives of the “bling, bling culture” associated with the United States.
I have met nurses who make high salaries in Honduras with government benefits stemming from from well-educated, professional, family backgrounds, who’ve migrated to the US/Mexican border and given (quote) “the gringos the line of bullshit that I was being harassed by gangbangers so they’d let me in as an asylum seeker”.
One such girl who told me a story like that, was from a town called Olanchito where there aren’t even any gangs. Gangs don’t operate in the countryside where people eat iguanas…
Hondurans – in some parts of the country more than others, seem obsessed with the States more than anyone else appears to be.
“Ay si, the minimum wage is now at fifteen dollars in the US. Now that’s a good country, I need to get to New York,” they’ll say.
“Right, just what do you plan on doing with fifteen dollars in New York then?”
A female friend of mine recently went to the US, illegally. She subsequently owes thousands of dollars to coyotes (human traffickers). The girl lived in a Caribbean beach community (Garifuna land) in a fully air-conditioned house with her sports car parked outside. Living the life you’d think. Well no, apparently not. She informed me that her goal is to make enough money in whatever it may be in order to eventually buy a car and rent a place of her own.
I wished her luck via Whatsapp instead of asking what the motherfuck is wrong with the woman. What are you gonna say? Who migrates illegally to another country (greatly risking one’s well being) to live far worse than you did back home just to get hold of the same material shit you already had?
Well, evidently Hondurans do.
Are these individuals well? ¿Todo bien en casa?
Then you’ve got the countless others who seem to come at me on purpose, as if they seek to irritate me with their ignorance and delusion.
“They say there’s loads of work in Spain, Ben”.
“Do they yeah? Well I doubt that”, I respond, as someone who has lived in Spain and possesses Spanish residency papers, whose brother and uncle both currently live in Spain as well.
“Yes, it’s not like Honduras, they have loads in jobs in tourism”.
I tend to pull a bemused face. As mentioned, I have Spanish residency rights, thus, if there was any remotely decent work in Spain – I’d probably have stayed. A great many are unemployed especially after the pandemic.
“Well I highly doubt that there’s all this work within Spanish tourism as you say, you see, my brother lives in Marbella and he has seen even the best 5 star hotels fold under Covid. Also, borders in Europe open and shut on a regular basis and most places and establishments such as public beaches are still not open to the public… so it simply isn’t probable what you’re saying”.
“No, no, Ben, there is work. An Australian guy told me.
“Oh, an Australian told you… right”.
“Yes, and they pay two thousand euros a month”.
“Of course they do, you’d know more than me”.
I’ve also started doing this thing where I just look at people whilst they talk, make faces as if one is actively listening and absorbing their chat yet whilst thinking in the back of my mind: “fuck this person’s conversation”.
I recommend the exercise. It can be quite amusing and beats getting into arguments over ultimately banal issues.
The overall point that I wish to make is it would be nice if nothing more, to simply reach the end of a day without having to hear complaints and nonsense. I could almost swear that everyone I know is eating three times a day – and well, for that matter. They’ve all a place to stay, something to sleep on and places of work.
There are many Cubans and Venezuelans living in Honduras. They are perfectly happy in their new homes. How many air-conditioned shopping malls with food courts, cinemas, gyms and more shops than you could shake a stick sprawled over three or four floors exist in Havana? Would I be right in saying not a single one? I don’t know, correct me – hit the comments section. Here in San Pedro Sula there are over five…
Not to mention all the fancy restaurants, clubs, bars, hotels, sports facilities etc.
One of the people I work with said to me the other day “we hate Salvadorans here. They come to our country, criticise us and they’re all about money”.
Yet my Salvadoran barber told me the other week: “the difference between us and the Hondurans is, we just crack on with it. People here talk and cry too much. We accept reality, work, make our money and go home”.
People love to complain.
Perhaps the English pretend they’re living in a sit-com.
Americans in an arthouse-flick.
Yet Latinos… in a telenovela.
Focus on the positives and you shall encounter positives.
Focus on the negatives and you shall encounter negatives.
A simple choice, what’s it gonna be?