Saturday, July 28, 2007

"Gringa! Gringa! News...

and such old news as you never heard of."



"Silly Boy. How can it be old news and new news too?"



(OK, I don't remember my line here... Any fans of the Bard out there?)



La Gringa's Blogicito was my intro to the world of blogs.



I was looking for stuff about organic gardening (I wanted to plant an herb garden to surprise the Beautiful Brown-Eyed Girl.) when lo and behold I found a lady in La Ceiba Honduras that was talking about gardening.



Little idea had I how prolific a writer she is. Much less how attentive and concerned she is about the state (condition) of Honduras and the Honduran people. It didn't take long to learn.



I deliberately used the word "Writer" as opposed to the simpler term, blogger. In my humble opinion she is more like a journalist than yer average blogger. (I'd bet she does more research than the idiots we see on the 5 o'clock 'entertainment news'. That's another post...)

Then there is the Honduras Living Group she co-administers helping those that choose to relocate to Honduras prepare, adjust, assimilate and stay connected.



So, I subscribed to the Blogicito and read it everyday. (I must confess, with no plan to relocate I don't read the all daily digests I get from the Group.)



Many times I bust out laughing at her frustration.



Mean of me? No, no, no...



I Know What She's Talking About.



Sometimes, I tear up a little (Don't let it get around, OK?) because I know what she is talking about.



Often I think, "Frank Henry Once Cero Cero!!! Prepare for Evac!!!" but I figure she'd just send us silly boys home.



So, I am WAY behind on comments about La Gringa's Blogicito and I have it open in another window so I can refer back to it.



Stick around while I try to redeem myself!



Empleados Domestico. (Maids, Gardeners and Etc)

The thought makes me convulse. I inherited all of the above upon arrival in Tegucigalpa. Unbeknownest to me, they were all EXTREMELY well paid. The money wasn't really a problem to me as I didn't know any better and was making good money myself. It was the bang for the buck that got to me.



I think there are a set of rules known only to the housekeepers union...



1. Arrive late and leave early to make up for it.

2. One rag is suitable for every task in the house and it need never be washed.

3. All clothing (accidently!) ruined in the washing machine are yours to take home. Especially Levi's 501s that fit your children.

4. If you don't care to accomplish a task simply declare, "No es posible'!"

5. When instructed how and when and how often to perform a task, "No intiende'." will get you out of it.

6. When overheard speaking CRYSTAL clear English, fall immediately into a coma and later pretend to have forgotten every word.

7. The little squiggly worms in the pila are supposed to be there!

8. Daily schedules are optional.

9. Family members are welcome to feed from the fridge and drink from the beer cooler at anytime.

9.a Liquor bottles can be refilled with water or tea and nobody will ever be the wiser.

10. And, one of my all time 'Favorites'. "Don David, your cherished parrot with the meticulously trimmed flight feathers. It flew away! Se un milagro!"



It can all be hilarious when you step back away from it to have a look. There ain't one damn funny thing about it while you're in the throes of it.



The mind boggling thing is... OK, I can only speak for myself but I'll bet my last buck that Gringa and others act and feel similiarly...



I paid a damn fine wage in local terms. At first I just didn't know any better. Later, I discovered that I was pouring out, on average, something like five times as much as the going rates. Don't start asking numbers, I really don't recall for certain.



The money was not the real deal.



I was living alone. Wearing at the MOST two sets of clothes a day, one for work and one for play. I did cook and make a mess OCCASIONALLY not often. I didn't generate much trash to be carried out.



Crimeny! It was a running joke forever-

Donde esta David?

1. Trabajando

2. Rivera's Yucca con Chicharron Drive-In

O~

3. En casa, dormiendo



Cripes! How hard could it be? I was never home except to sleep and shower. Otherwise, I was at work or at the Drive-In. (A Bachelor paradise. Ya buy beer and they give ya food. GRATIS! Damn I miss boquitas.)



Yes Gringa, I saw the uh, fatback photos. I did cringe, a little. Then I got hungry.



Anyway, the whole housekeeper thing was supposed to segue' into something like... These people really needed jobs. Why they never snapped to the fact that they had a pretty good gig just baffles me, still.



I didn't yell. I didn't cuss at them, in English or Spanish. I didn't treat them in any way less than I would anyone else in my home.



OH! Here is an "I didn't..." that will blow some peoples minds!

I didn't lock them in the house while I was gone all day!!!



Those that haven't seen it or don't believe me. Get a grip. It blew my friggin' mind and I had been in country for a while. I was on my way to being jaded but that made my jaw drop! What if there was a fire or other emergency?! Tough yucca, you're stuck 'til the Don or Dona gets home.



Segue', segue'... Oh yeah...



First I do have to say that there are lots of hard working concientious people in Honduras. And to accomplish anything they have to work a lot harder and longer and often in unspeakable conditions than we do to get the same result!!!



One hard working Son of a Gun is Chepito, my work helper.



One day after I had been in town for a while I was telling Chepito and a 'Family' friend Edwin about where I had gone the night before. (I had given a bar friend a ride home.)

Their eyes went wide and they said something like, "Jesus Cristo David! Ser Loco o que?!"

"What? No biggie."

They broke out a map of Teguc and a china marker.

The dressing down went something like, "No es bueno." (Red X), "Tampoco!" (Red X), "Y peligroso!!!" (Another Red X)

Hell, by the time they were done the city map was a red blur and I was confined to quarters!!!

"Now ya tell me fellas, thanks!"

I took the marker and proceeded to circle the X's that I had already visited, usually late at night.

I really didn't think their eyes COULD get bigger but they did.



One of the places they were adamant about was Zona Belen. It was, of course, one of the places that I circled. Too late fellas.



Belen was one of the places I quickly made a habit of avoiding.



For a while I had a housekeeper that lived there. THERE being a level of Hell.



I took her home one night. It was just after dark but things were already, well, dark.

Some things don't NEED translation.

Like seeing the door to a bar fly open, dozens of people pouring out at once as one person flees and another pursues. In this case, two Chicks! Luckily, the Fleeing Chick had a pretty good lead on the Pursuing Chick. Fleeing Chick outran the pursuit AND the knife hurled behind her.

And, rocks being hurled at your car are rocks being hurled at your car. I don't care what continent you're on.

I knew I was gonna have to return Solo via that same gauntlet.


Home was cardboard, plywood, crates... the street a mud bog where I feared I'd get 'stuck', read that, 'ambushed'.

If ever a young woman with three small babies needed a hundred and some odd dollars a month it was her.

Incredibly, it still turned into a, "How much more can I get outta this guy?" sort of thing.


I could go on about this one but I'm not going to. I will ask you to reference 'Union Rules 9 and 9.a' above. I learned that rule after she was gone. My Honduran dinner guests got quite a hoot over my discovery. (They thought it was funny until we realized that I was completely out of liquor.)


"OK, you have 30 seconds to read the question and the answers then make a selection."

:29

:28

:27

"CORRUPTION!"



Gringa posted a question about the reason for the state (condition) of Honduras. There were several choices in the multiple choice format. The two that stand out for me were 'lack of education' and 'corruption'. (Notice those are not in "quotes" but you still get the idea.)



I almost went with the education option.



Uh-uh Space Cadet. The answer is corruption.



Why is it that Honduras is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere when there have been, litteraly TONS of money poured into it? (Lest ye think I have saddled my Patriotic Pony... I have done a lot of reading lately. I read and have witnessed millions of USD pumped in but I see that we may have contributed as much to the problem as the solution.) Countless nations have made tremendous contributions to Honduras.



Corruption.



Trickle down screw you all economics.



Starting with whatever powder head is in the president's office.



(By the way Don Ricardo, you still owe me $187.50!)



Is Callejas still in trouble? Ex neighbor of mine.



Ramon Mata's house was even closer to mine. (Though we are housing, feeding and caring for him in a fine American facility. Mata was not a politician. He was a drug dealer and killer.)



With clowns like those running the joint is it any wonder gallons of USD, Pounds, Marks, Yen, Won and the list goes on... the money never gets to where it was sent?



It worms its way down from the top. Many people get their jobs due to political party affiliation knowing that when that party gets booted out they will be out of work. So, get it while the gettin' is good. (Nepotism and Political Cronyism are probably neck and neck.)



It slimes down from there until you have a 'screw you society'.



Some people pick up that crutch and gimp along scamming what they can when they can.



MANY people Do Not! I'm a little wound up and I want you to know that I loved living in Honduras and hate that so many with so little are subjected to so much strife.



I watched guys working for sad sad wages. Working hard. Showing up every day. Staying busy. Treated like, (I've thought about and fretted and toned this part down.) treated like shit.



What were they doing? Maintaining, repairing, launching, recovering and refueling aircraft for the elite.

I have a lotta more Gringa posts to catch up on and I'm getting bogged down here. Just keep in mind, if ya hit the lotto, fall down and hit yer head and decide to buy an airplane... That guy with the red rag in his hip pocket is your best friend so treat him as such!!! (OK, that was a personal aside there. The real point is, there are a lot of people willing to work and do a good job. They often get paid squat and are treated like squat.)

Assimilation...

How DO you know when you've truly assimilated?

1. When you stop wondering if that loud noise was a backfire or was it a gun shot? Or when you just don't notice it at all?

2. When you drive from San Pedro to Teguc and your heart doesn't stop, not even once?

3. When you see the shanty under the bridge where the housekeeper has been buying you fish and you just shrug?

4. You laugh outloud when family members call from the States and gripe about the price of gas?

5. When you decide, 'Screw it! I'll scrub my own toilet!"

6. When you break a fan belt on your car and you KNOW it's going to take a day and a half of searching to find a relpacement AND eventually you will find one at the FIRST place you looked for it?

7. When the North Coast DOESN'T sound like the place to be during Semana Santa?

8. When you start saying things like, "Chhh, Chhh, Chhh." or "Si Dios queiri." or simply "Hasta." OH or when you finally realize that you've been 'had' by the guys at the bar that always insist you holler, "PEJUDO!!!" on arrival?

9. When you realize it's been 18 months since you set foot on American soil and you're not really in any hurry to do so?

10. When the guys at the Deposito see you coming and swap your empties for a fresh batch with the speed and accuracy of a NASCAR pit crew?

Drugs.

Those that 'move' them and those that 'use' them.

Amazingly enough I had no encounters with either while in Honduras. I often thought it odd, especially when Stateside friends would give me grief about it. ("Hey... you're gettin' some good stuff down there huh?" "Hey... ever heard of mandatory FAA/DOT piss tests you moron?")

I was approached at the Drive-In one afternoon...
My Spanish was still limited. This guy sits down and proceeds to tell me how he used to work with DAY-AH. (What the hell is day-ah?) I had that hinky feeling and did my best to blow him off. He began asking if I'd ever heard of DAY-AH? "Nope, no intiende." (Works both ways ya see.)

Now, this took just a little longer than it takes me to solve the "Word Jumble" in the newspaper. A little longer but not much. (Gimme a break, I was just getting proficient at, "Hola, como esta?... chhh, chhh, chhh, otra por favor.") So solving the phoenetic, "DAY-AH took a little longer than usual.

DEA

Shields up! Evasive manuever Gamma Alpha getusthehellouttahere.

I filed a contact report at the Embajada. Necessary? What was the encounter all about? Never know. Was it a test of my integrety? Coulda been. The Embassy Security Officer took it seriously.Was it one weird moment? Yup. I knows from wence I speaks too. (I never saw that guy again, coincidentally.)

I did see a lot of kids in El Centro with Crazy Larry Face.
Paint huffers.
Crazy Larry was a fixture where the Beautiful Brown-Eyed Girl and I grew up. We used to see him wandering up and down Sheridan Rd. I saw him many times at Gibson's, his face all shiny. The employees would joke, "Hey Larry, what'll it be today? Red, silver or gold?!"

It was funny back then. Crazy Larry was a local character.

It was funny until years later I saw an old friend Gene wandering up and down Gore Blvd looking for aluminum cans and oblivious to who he was or who he had been much less what he could have been.

I'd actually been around when he lost it, years before. He found or created some mathematic formula where the letters of his name equaled 666.

He decided he was the Anti-Christ.

"Mr. Leary's Little Paper Pills" got the best of him.

In El Centro, the kids with baby food jars half full of paint really hit home, like a broadhead.

I don't know for certain but it sounds like drug use has risen, a lot. Maybe someone adjusted the market price to fit economic conditions and in so doing increased their market share?

Meanwhile, back at Toncontin the elite hop back and forth in Aero Commanders, King Air 90's and 200's and various helicopters...

How can an entire strata of people continue to support the status quo for decades, centuries even...

We talk about the haves and have nots, rich and poor, poor, lower class, lower middle, etc ad naseum here in the States. We don't know what we are talking about... On the other side of the Gulf of Mexico the gulf between rich and 'forget about it' is mind blowing. Just the other side of I10 you can see it from the interstate!

Chihuahas!!!

How 'bout those little buggers huh?!

I've never been a 'little dog' guy. I had to reconsider. A Japanese Chin and a couple of Cavalier Spaniels later... OK, I'm convinced.

Chi-Chi, Mother's chihuaha on the other hand...

It is taking some time but I'll make a dog out of her yet!!!

The Folks are petrified and it is fairly justified... They are afraid my owl or one of the local hawks will swoop in for a spicy snack. (Just to clarify, I do not have an Owl, I just lay claim 'cause he's so cool.) Chi-Chi isn't a yard dog but I'll get her squared away, eventually.

Hey, ask around, she loves me!

Rot's. Now you're talking!

I had a really good bud in Sicily. A Rot named "Orso", all 135 pounds of him. For those that don't know, uh, "Orso" at least equaled if not outweighed me. He would jump up, put his paws on my shoulders and look me in the eye! We had fun. He was all dopey, 'David, David, David! Wrestle?! Fetch?! Tug-O-War? Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah!"

Until...

I Baby-Sat him while his family went to Malta for a long weekend. Seems they neglected to inform "Orso".

He never once made a noise or a move that was threatening to me, though that first night when I opened the door and his nose was against my hand on the door knob I was ready for anything.

He freakin' pouted all weekend! I cold barely get him out of the house to use the bathroom. Tug-O-War? Wrestle? Walk? Frisbee? Chase Gypsys? Fer-git it. He sat on the couch or the patio and pouted the entire time.

He never once turned on me.

Itty Bitty Dogs, Enormous Dogs, it's all in the way they are raised. Hell, there is a very neglected Pit Bull in the yard next door, Roscoe. He's still a sweet pup. Tho, I haven't put my hand over the fence lately.

Gringa, it has taken a looong time to peck out this post and I have so many points yet to go...
I read in the Group Digest this morning an insight that said the problem had to do with a lack of capacity to deal with major projects. I read your response as well. Although I think you both have valid points, you trump. Until there is a will among the leaders to accomplish something for the good of the many, the few will continue to benefit the few.

While I'm at it, "Nonduran" and "Gooberment" are GREAT!!!

I can go on forever... The photo of the white 737 with purple stripes. I can't say with 100% certainty but I see it often. It took a while to put it together with the tour buses I see parked near our hangar.

Thank You for your persistance and caring.
Thank El Jefe for us all!!! If I didn't know better I'd figure 'Jefe' was Spanish for 'the patience of Job.'

Now, about these katydids...
};-)> Hey, ya never said I couldn't be ornery!

3 comments:

La Gringa said...

Wow! What a post! You should comment more often. :-)

Interesting comments on the maid situation. My personal opinion is that some don't say anything because they think it wouldn't be politically correct.

The last part -- katydids -- what does that refer to? I have some photos that I have been going to write about, but I didn't think that I did yet. I'm confused, or maybe losing my mind. Have I written so much that I don't remember what I've written anymore?

Thanks for sharing your Honduran experience. I enjoyed it!

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