How do you like the new slogan I’ve developed for the Honduran Board of Tourism?
They didn’t seem very impressed when I tried to sell them on it. In fact there was a lot of scowling, so I tried to make the point about truth in advertising (see below), but they threw me out of their office. They didn’t even appreciate that it rhymes. No vision, I tell ya.
The Carnival weekend in La Ceiba was a bit crazy. I went to the big festival on Saturday–think 200,000 drunk, sweaty people along a 20-block parade route. The language school I’m enrolled in is located right on the main parade route, so it was a handy base of operations. The school had twenty students there, plus me, the only one who was doing the independent, offsite tutor option.
The students were all freshmen from two Catholic colleges. One group was from St. Louis and the other was from Albany, NY. I had no trouble whatsoever telling the difference between the midwesterners and the New Yorkers. I’m sure they’re very nice people. Really. I did, however, feel like I was surrounded by a pack of used bible salesmen. After quite a bit of cajoling, I finally managed to get some of the braver students to walk down the street with me to see the sights. They were all hesitant and timid…hah! Lightweights. They should try Kingston sometime. There was also a big championship soccer game that evening, which was broadcast on big projector screens up and down the avenue. It was a really exciting game that ended in a 3-3 tie (hey, I like soccer).
The president of Honduras was at the festival, too–he came strolling down the street a few minutes after the game ended. He walked about 3 feet from me…the only reason I knew he was anyone was because he was surrounded by about 10 heavily armed bodyguards. Unfortunately for him, he is about 6’4″ and his bodyguards are only about 5′ tall, meaning any potential assassin would have a pretty clear shot at his head. Perhaps they took “bodyguard” too literally? I didn’t take his picture because I thought there might be some sort of taboo, and I didn’t want to become target practice for the bodyguards.
Anyway, as it turns out, the school director (my former host pop) has become one of those people who drinks heavily from the moment they wake up until they pass out (what do they call those? Oh, yeah–raging alcoholics). Suffice it to say, by the time the parade ended he was exceedingly, disgustingly, falling down drunk. He offered to give me a ride back to my inn (and, eeeww, sexual favors, but I tried to pretend I didn’t hear that), but I declined, not wanting to go anywhere near a car with him behind the wheel and, of course, not wanting to be in a small, confined area with him, either. Churning waves of nausea aside, it was quite sad to see him in such terrible shape.
Unfortunately, this left me stuck in el centro, sort of scratching my head about how to get home. By this time, all the good little Catholics had bailed. Some of the teachers and their friends were still there, so I stayed with them to listen to the music. As the night wore on, things got crazier, louder, and smellier. About 10 p.m., I couldn’t take it anymore–it was wall-to-wall people and I was getting claustrophobic.
Then we got hit by the most amazing tropical downpour I’ve seen in a long time. It rained for about a half-hour straight–just a solid wall of water. The streets cleared as everyone ran for doorways, and then all the gutters backed up and the water rose to about ankle deep. Given the general state of infrastructure in Honduras, it’s very probable that the backed-up street drains were spewing raw sewage into the flood waters. I tried not to focus on this.
One of the teachers–and pretty much the biggest Honduran I’ve ever seen–offered to walk me back to my inn. This was especially great because that’s about the time the gunfire started. He too offered me sexual favors. Guess it was my “lucky” night. Yikes. I managed to avoid the second horny Honduran, and even got a few hours’ sleep between bursts of gunfire.
By 7 a.m., I was up, packed, and grabbing a taxi to the airport for the next stop on my trip: Roatan. It was time for some serious island chill-out time. I’m amazed by how different it all looks–there has been a lot of development over the past nine years. But it still feels mellow and nicer than Utila. I think, as long as there’s nobody shooting at me, all will be well.