By Ben Anson
HAVANA TIMES – My beloved, late grandfather and I used to watch films together when I was a boy. Films of absolutely all kinds. From French film noir to those made for British television in the 1980s and 90s.
I recall a wonderful old movie by the name of ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ made in 1932. It stared big, bygone stars such as Joel McCrea and Leslie Banks. Bank’s character, the infamous, sadistic rogue of Count Zaroff, an insane yet charming Russian obsessed with hunting, speaks a memorable set of lines during an early point in the film: “Hunting was beginning to bore me! When I lost my love for hunting, I lost my love of life, of love”.
I was standing quite recently under the shower, as the lukewarm water sprinkled all over me – I gasped slightly and realized that “Honduras was beginning to bore me.”
I never thought I’d see the day, I never thought I would be the one to utter such words. This has been a place beyond special to my heart and soul ever seen my first visit at the age of eighteen. I am now twenty-five. Time flies… especially when in love with Honduras.
Sometimes these thoughts are fleeting though, I have felt them before.
“They say the ends* love you – then they hate you – then they love you again”. Kano, Jamaican British rapper/actor in his single ‘T-shirt Weather In The Manor’.
*“Ends” is a slang term coined by British-Caribbean youth in England meaning the equivalent of ‘the hood’ to their African-American counterparts.
I mention it because Honduras has a way of loving me, hating me and then loving me again. Of course, it is more I who loves it and hates it. A neighborhood or a country are totally indifferent to one’s feelings yet I suppose the bold Kano and I know what it is that we mean.
To mention, the Pandemic and the two hurricanes have not helped things at all. The nation has suffered terribly…. and it shows. I never before looked at Honduras or viewed it as I do today. This sensation seemed to happen overnight. I woke up one morning and just began to see things differently. What used to get me going doesn’t really do so anymore.
Yes, many people here are still just as outgoing, friendly, assisting, kind, welcoming and noble as they were all those years ago when I first came. The negatives are beginning to outweigh the positives though. The small things are getting to me, and when the small things get to us, I feel that this means we’re on the brink of ‘losing it’ with whatever the issue(s) may be. I shall explain.
I have grown decidedly tired of walking the streets and being stared at. May I state that I am not the ‘whitest’ of our race, I do not possess startling red or blonde hair, my dark brown features are shared by many Latinos. Frankly though – and it can be said, I am perhaps more ‘Latino’ than the residents of western Honduras whose indigenous heritage cannot be missed. Anything tall and white gets stared at here as if it were the Coronavirus on a skateboard.
Worse, is being yelled at by imbeciles who know a word or two of English. One is constantly stopped by strangers who find it appropriate to boom “what’s up bro!” in one’s face or “‘ey mayn, whe’ jou from – ¡¿Alemania!?”
“No I’m not from fucking Germany you c*** ¿y qué más da?”
I challenge even the most patient individual to maintain a smile after years of dealing with scenes such as the following. I was wedged within a punishingly small seat on a purposely overcrowded bus (I’ll get on to this in a bit) undergoing a hideous twelve-hour journey from the Caribbean coast to the western highlands. My window was open. I felt that I heard someone from way behind addressing me in English for a moment… As I was suffering from an awful headache and quite fatigued with no leg room nor personal space on this hot, noisy, beyond crowded and tiny mini-bus, I ignored the sounds and sat still.
I was in no mood for chat. Then I heard it again, and yes – someone was shouting at me. I heard the ‘sir’ very clearly. Since there was absolutely no need at all for anyone on that bus to be shouting at me in any language I chose to continue ignoring whoever the idiot was.
Then it came again – a third time. The teenage girl sitting next to me, smiled nervously and tapped my left thigh before muttering “le hablan”. “They’re talking to you.” Tutting, rolling my eyes and spitting “motherfuck it”, I turned my head slightly and caught the gaze of a stocky young fellow who immediately bellowed “sir, can you close the window – it’s very cold over here, thank you!”
Some may think, well he was cold and he was polite despite shouting and assuming that you spoke English just because you are white (as ALL Hondurans do, I don’t think they have ever heard of places like Slovenia and Poland).
It gets boring though, the need to show off to an entire bus that they speak English despite being probably just another deported scumbag who went to the US, joined a gang, ran some drugs, pimped some underage girls, got caught and then sent back.
Every single young man that I have met with that same old acquired southern California, Texas, Louisiana, New York or Florida accent with the street twang got deported for something messed up. After years of meeting these individuals sent home for beating wives, stealing, dealing, pimping etc. I feel myself in a position to assume.
Later on, at a checkpoint, where all men have to get off and are searched by soldiers for drugs and weapons, he had the nerve to come right up to me and explain what was going on whereupon I confess to losing my patience with a “¡deja de hablarme hijueputa!”
These checkpoints are also a fine example of the sheer stupidity seen daily in Honduras. Soldiers only search the men, which means theoretically that guns, drugs and all else could be carried by literally every woman and girl upon these buses.
Nobody says anything though, just as they don’t when minibuses are dangerously overpacked with people. Literally as sardines are placed in a can. It is because the driver and his assistant want to make as much money as possible. If the assistant tells you to let a random stranger’s child sit on your lap – then he or she sits on your lap. I am not joking, I have seen it happen.
Not a fuck is given and in all honesty. It is during moments such as these that I miss the first world. Nobody complains because as a guitarist from San Pedro Sula told me the other day: “Hondurans are the most obedient, conformist and cowardly idiots going”. His words, not mine.
You hear all sorts as well from people here. Due to ignorance, poor education and frankly just a lack of humanity at times you will hear conclusions such as these in dark conversations. An old neighbor of mine tried to commit suicide before Christmas yet was rescued by firefighters before bringing himself to jump off a balcony. Being shocked after hearing this, I asked various friends and acquaintances if they had heard the news. All those young men responded with “what an idiot”, “what a loser”, “he’s just crazy, forget it” and “ah well, I don’t give a fuck – he’s not my family.”
So, if during my own dark moments I ever decide to make such a terrible choice, I suppose the same things would be said about my suicide. It made me think…
The worst I ever heard was a comment from a young man (if he is to even be called one). After a female university student was robbed, gang raped and murdered on a bus a few years ago by masked, armed assailants. Her photo was on the front page of newspapers.
“How strange really, that they raped her. She wasn’t even hot.”
Hondurans still have the utter fucking nerve to blame absolutely everything on the Spaniards who came over five hundred years ago and colonized. All that most know how to say is: “The Spanish came here and left us in nothing.”
I recently went to the hometown of the most celebrated Honduran writer Ramon Amaya Amador; a very ‘anti-white’ individual whose historical works were so biased that I doubt any editorial in the west would read past the first chapters of his books. Especially that of ‘El Señor De La Sierra’.
At the beginning of the book, native Honduran tribes are gathered together promising not to butcher each other anymore (yes, before the Spaniards came many indigenous Amerindians were raping, pillaging and murdering each other) for they need to unite against their common enemy – the white man. On agreeing, they make peace, get their scores of semi-naked young women (who appear so for male gratification) to serve them food and drink before one chief gives his daughter to Lempira (national indigenous heroe) so that he may enjoy the virgin and accept his fine gesture of loyalty.
As I said to my best friend a while ago, “you weren’t exactly in anything before the Spaniards came.” I do not for a split second condone the mass rape, pillage and murder of what is now Latin America by European forces. Yet. if the Hondurans were not saints back then they still most certainly are not.
There exist whole towns such as Tela on the Caribbean coast where the majority of locals sit back and wait for their hard-working family members to send them money from abroad. Not a finger is lifted. A female lawyer once explained to me “you know that a lot of young girls here get sent money by strange men on the internet for nude photos and videos, they don’t work for any average salary because they can get a quick three hundred dollars from some old gringo in Canada via Western Union.”
“In Honduras we like sex and money, easy money,” says Jorge an accountant. The young generation suffers from this mentality. I have had people tell me to just get a ‘sugar mummy’ and relax…
In all honesty, if at some point this year, someone says in whatever language “Hey Ben, we’ve got this going for you over here, come over,” I will certainly ponder it and perhaps go. Yet being British and with this whole ridiculous, suicidal Brexit decision and the Pandemic that looks far easier said than done…
Perhaps things here will begin to look up in a few weeks, one never knows.
I would like to end with, Hondurans are and perhaps always will be my best of friends, yet it is human nature to go through changes of thoughts, feelings and phases. I wish them and their country the very best for it has been only here that I have been allowed and even celebrated for being me. One cannot just sing songs of praise endlessly; however, this is a diary post centered on personal opinion and these I confess have been my opinions as of late. Viva Honduras and may her negative aspects gradually decline.