Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our Welfare

In the U.S, there exists a federal program found nationwide that hands out cash to those who would otherwise, and in many cases, still are living on the street and hungry. We call this welfare. This program, though riddled with problems, at the very least sends a message from the government that it knows the poor and marginalized, who also happen to be the sector of any society that is often times victim of the judicial and educational system, that they are recognized. But even, in the most basic function, welfare provides at least a starting point at empowering people to support themselves. Because, when I look at the causes of theft and petty crime here, though, in recent times, petty seems to mean that no one was killed, people commit crimes due to a lack of opportunity. Now, here I will mention, that this is certainly not the only reason why crime is so prevalent here. The root of most of our issues here: corruption. We are chasing our tails and running to the NRA convention because the cops, in many cases, are the burglars, murderers, gangsters. They don’t generally commit the crime themselves, though, without a transparent and effective judicial system it really doesn’t matter. Instead they accept bribes to basically protect any and all criminals. This is no secret to any of us who have been here for a significant amount of time, especially since those on the fringes of society and morality have taken liberties to accelerate their thievery because even more so than ever, there is not a recognized leader in the entire country. When the cat is away, the mice, will play.

I say this with conviction not only because these stories of corruption are the norm, but also due to the fact that in my daily life, I see this. I see this extreme denial of personal accountability, seemingly innate in certain folks. Many of the sayings are in passive voice, ‘ I didn’t drop the lamp, it just fell’. I have been studying the body language in my daily interactions, at the bank, on the street, with professionals. You will never be looked directly in the eye by someone who is stirring the muck of truth.They are either ignorant of, afraid of, or embarrassed it. Hey, here is an idea, just do stuff you are proud of talking about!!!! But who is going to set that example for us? The teachers’ unions here, call off school if the wind picks up. No, actually, if that were true public school kids would have probably had at least 100 of the 200 days they were supposed to have had last school year. But due to the absolute foolishness that abides, public school children only attended 40% of the school days that are required by Honduran law to complete a year.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

God Bless the American Halloween

That night we had fun. This past weekend, myself along with the SBAS students and teachers, other Americans and Islanders living on the island celebrated Halloween. This holiday and the customs of dressing up and eating gobs of candy, I have learned, is very unique to the United States. And I can say that I was proud to be an American. It seems that most Americans will dress up, extroverted, introverted, whatever. The most unsuspecting people become wild, sexy, scary or funny characters for that day. This is not a tradition shared by most of the rest of the world. My friends here from the UK, Canada, Honduras, Australia and most everywhere else, haven't the interest or the GUTS to wrap their mid-drifts in spandex and cut up an old pair of boxers to make a mean batman mask.

I mean it, we Americans really take pride in our mystery, our tom-foolery, our fake boobs and false teeth. It makes me proud, because we only do it for one reason, to have fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

You Don't Want to Know the half of it.

Cleo and friends on Halloween at Flanagan's Pub-We missed you dad!

Monday, October 12, 2009

For all the Men

This is a quick shout out to the men in each community who take care. Thank you for your support.

Today I got to basketball practice on the outside courts down the beach. Myself, along with a couple other of extraordinary people, have been coaching a group of teen island girls whom I have known since I moved here. The girls have really risen to the challenge. There will definitely be more to come about that.

But today I have a complaint. I was told by one of the girls that a grown man from the neighborhood was hanging on our last of 5 previously-functioning basketball rims and broke it off. That was the last one. The week before, an island guy who I know from playing beach volleyball, strolled onto the court with a few other guys, 5 minutes before our practice was to start. I explained that we have the courts in a few minutes. 15 minutes later, after our warm up, we took the court for our drills. The boys, I call them this not because of their age, rather their mentality, told us that they would leave when the game was over, not even stopping the game to talk to me, even. They left as we persisted, but not without one of them swinging back and forth from the corroded rim. Our male assistant coach, told him that was how the rims break. This ended in a rude confrontation, aye ya ya. Sooooo.... today we got to practice, no rim so we just conditioned. As 2 of our 14-year-old boys took it upon themselves to climb up to the broken hoop, unscrew it, unscrew a hoop from a downed rim and replace the broken hoop, with no solicitation or assistance, a boy(man) drop kicked the soccer ball from the other end of the court, with the ball landing a few feet from my players. I intercepted the ball return and explained they needed to give a warning. He mumbled obscenities at me, which was heard by a player. Not 5 minutes later, this guy, boots the ball again, only this time the ball barely misses a 1 and a half year old kid. I intercept the ball again and give it the director, who is, like myself a younger woman. So to wrap this rant up, I walked over to back her up with the guys and she was giving them a mouthful, but not the ball!! What a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I have to ask myself if this is in my head, these continual displays of ignorance, selfishness and disrespect that I see sometimes. So this man-boy was refused the ball and he sat on the sidelines watching our practice for the rest of the night. Maybe, hopefully, he picked up a lesson on teamwork. So thank you to the men in every community who look out for us, we appreciate it.

Dear San Pedro Sula

-From my journal
July 24, 2009

I am sitting here with my Port Royal brewski and a bag of limon y chile peanuts for my happy hour, content to be on an adventure again. This Honduran metropolis, San Pedro Sula, I find myself in longer than ever anticipated due to the indescribable comotion that our deposed president is stirring up. I was suppposed to be getting into Managua, Nicaragua by now, however, this assumed golpe de estado has turned my summer international travel plans down detour alley. I find SAP ( San Pedro Sula), like so many places in developing countries, absolutely fascinating. There are so many social challenges. There may not be a caste system as in India, but it seems that like in other unevenly-distributed, wealth-seeking societies, every social stratum has their role, like it or not.
So here we are, all shuffled in the mix, blaming our neighbors or cooperating with them, marching for or against the powers that govern us, but what intrigues me the most is the over emphasis on the whole and the ignor-ance of the individual. Funny, as I write that word 'ignorance', I realize that if you move the accent it takes on a whole different meaning, IGNOR-ance. One meaning seems to stem from the other.
As I stroll or bike around SAP, I achieve immediate popularity, almost stardom! Especially with my $2 sunglasses, but shhhhh! (Marshall's hasn't gotten here yet, everyone thinks they're evidence of my grand wealth.) In a country where most people are happy to have any amount of money exchanged in their hands, I AM rich. I must truly be a sight on my friend's second-hand stolen then spray painted bike. I ride over narrow bridges and merge into the oncoming traffic, passing settlements full of dusty, corragated metal shacks, bursting into the neighboring field or gated community. I've got all 6'0 of me peddling and sweating, puffing from under my fake raybans. Never a peep out of the few women I pass, they are modestly carrying children or plates of 'plato tipico' or flashily scurrying along in high heels and great hair. But the men love to talk to me. One even followed me into a department store and shuffled behind me, waiting for the right moment to leap, but was instantly picked up by the 10 bored, unoccupied clerks. It seemed I was the only one shopping.
This particular trip into an urban, impoverished nation's main city, I feel a little more cautious. No doubt my loved ones have voiced certain concern about traveling at this particular time. Although it can be tempting, I am learning as I age, to stay away from huge mobs of people in places where more people carry a gun than can read a Dr. Seuss book.
The necessary security measures are shocking. There is high voltage fencing that runs on top of the wall that in order to get through, I have to open a series of iron gates. Finally, I unlock the deadbolt to the apartment and it has only taken about 5 minutes to unlock and re-lock all the gates.
There is also the obscure, completely black tinted windows on shiny rims, slowly rolling past, or when the taxi driver asks me if someone is waiting for me at my destination. Huh??? Let's not get alarmed, as in any case, the good outweigh the bad.
As I search for a little shop to buy a beer in the neighborhood, I realize why the old man who sells chips and baby diapers from his front living room doesn't sell beer. He sends us thirsty souls down the street to wiggle around drunk guys on crates enjoying their liquor consumption to the fullest.
Then there are all of these watchies(guards). They sit there for a 12 hour shift, earning no more than $15/day watching the richest people in the country come and go with their shiny paint jobs and pissy pedigree poodles, only to return to the corrugated metal and rusty barbed wire that awaits them in their kingdom.
Later, I walk into the TGIF's because they are showing CNN in Spanish with live coverage of the ever exciting failed Zelaya attempts to enter the country. That is a whole story all together.
As I sit there, sipping my Bahama Mama happy hour special, as the only unaccompanied female in the place, I am privelged to watch, simultaneously, thousands of anti-Mel protestors just minutes down the street and on the other tv, Mel Zelaya chomping on fruit as he unenthusiastically talks on his cell phone at the southern Honduran border. The camera shows him getting in and out of his Venezuelan-bought Jeep Wrangler, drinking a soda, with the attention of the world. Strange, this dude, ultra clear and up close camera view, is personally driving his own car into a country that has banned him AND where 10's of thousands of his patria are protesting against his return. Aside from the comical theatrics, all under the shade of his white western-style cowboy brim, the camera stares at Zelaya as he holds his personal cell phone up to one of his followers so that this random guy can submit some future, polarizing news bit, live from the scene of the political injustice.
I realize, walking home from the mall, where the only purchase I witness from a Honduran is that of a $2 notebook, that even the rich are oppressed here. In a city where you are either the hunted or hunting, you can't opt out and become an individual. It is near impossible to stand up in the face of the poverty and class divide, and tear down the barbed wire or turn off your high voltage. Simply put, you are a target-another victim of the unequal distribution of wealth, as are millions of your starving countrymen. People in rich neighborhoods don't go outside their houses, they don't have block parties or garage sales. Their kids don't ride bikes in the streets. Maybe it is because they are snobs and have better things to do. But maybe it is because of the way things are; they are forced to choose to be a part of a community and relinquish material comforts or wind barbed wire around anything they've earned because starving people, starving for many reasons, gotsta eat!

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Memories and Thanks

Thome: I don't have pics of our CA trip on my computer, they will come soon!

This one is for the ladies. I recently found my stationery that I carted down here from Brownsville, Texas. I thought I would write few thank you notes, but then the idea came to post my sentiments in virtual space, complete with pictures.

Bernadette: Thank you for always being willing to listen to my rants or smart alec-y interpretations of life. I feel like I am growing up with my siblings again as I relax in my dungeon and listen to Jaden play the drums or Zora feed Susan the Cat, upstairs. Thank you for sending down dinner after a champions day at work!

Bear: One memory that sums up my love for you- You jumping on stage to sing “Bobby McGee” at the Pink Seahorse on your visit to the island. Life’s always more fun when you are around!

Miriam: Thank you for being forever patient with me as I dive into my role at school. Listening to my zealotry with nods of understanding and empathy. Allowing me to make my own mistakes, even if it means more work for you. Welcoming me into your house, with my bottle of Giffiti in one hand and Billy Blanks’ Taebo Boot Camp DVD in the other! What a commitment on your part!

Thome: Looking forward to a lifetime of free legal advice, not why you are included!!! Thanks for keeping a wise-ass, yet sage-like perspective on the happenings in our lives.

Erin: Missing our hours long trips to the Flagstaff gym. With your growing clan, you amaze me as you are a constant source of compassionate patience. Our life paths create space between us, but the ties our family has created still are an irreplaceable support in my life.