A Weekly Journal Chronicling My Life
As It Intersects With The Garbage Dump Community Near La Ceiba, Honduras

Monday, September 29, 2008

Inundation

Well friends I’m back and I must say these past two weeks have been a bit more exhilarating here in ‘ole Ceiba town; nothing to write home about mind you but I’ve certainly been more active than I was in the beginning of the month. Come to think about it, I’ve done a little bit of everything here as of late, all in all it’s been a busy two weeks. Which is nice – it’s always a treat to not have to dig and dig for ideas to write about in this blog of mine. On a different note entirely, I am addicted to CNN...which I find mildly disturbing. When I lived back up north I did my level best to avoid the major political networks - I wasn't one for burying my head in the sand, on the contrary, I preferred to gather my news from out-of-the-way sources like NPR, Harper's and Realclearpolitics.com. Such high-brow activities are slightly more difficult here in the land of uncertain Internet and of course it's next to impossible to tune in to 'Fresh Air' on NPR on a regular basis. So lately, in my thirst for political happenings in the Motherland, I've been forced to sit through hour upon hour of CNN commentators basically repeating themselves - the lone bright spot being Lou Dobbs with whom I often find myself in agreement...again disturbing in that I've never gone in for populism...I find idealism much more appealing. Sorry for that, I just thought you might like to know what has become of your decidedly apolitical Mennonite.
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So the rainy season has really and I do mean really begun; it's an almost daily 2-3 hours of straight, torrential downpours. I've mentioned in the past that I was looking forward to this time of year because it might offer some respite from the infernal heat...unfortunately I was wrong. The rains seem to produce only mild relief, actually they just make everything more humid and close...not to mention they flood the streets so that walking or riding a bicycle downtown becomes a battle against being swept away to the storm drains. Some relief from the heat is better than none at all I suppose though so for that I'm thankful...drenched but thankful. So who am I listening to as of late? Well the other night as I was flipping through the Tele I happened upon a Mexican station that was broadcasting a festival from some quaint, tiny pueblo...and the music they played was irresistible. I'm sure not everyone will like what I heard but if you have an ear for artsy folk music mixed with traditional Mexican music (kind of like the Gringo equivalent of Carl Sandburg meets Dan Zanes) you'll like Tarahumara...especially the song 'Fiesta de San Benito'...if I sit back and close my eyes while listening to this I can almost imagine that I'm in the midst of a wild Mexican fiesta out in the country somewhere. So my English class at church is one die-hard group of old ladies...these women will stop at nothing to learn the language. The other night it was raining like a mother and just as class was about to begin the power at the church (and the surrounding neighborhood) went out...we were completely in the dark. I was silently thankful because I wasn't much in the mood for teaching that night and I thought that without power we would cancel classes and I could call a friend to go get coffee in a part of town with lights. I couldn't have been more wrong. The kindly little church ladies proffered no option of canceling class - instead they remained seated in the pitch black and despite my inability to see more than 2 feet in front of my face I knew that their eyes were all trained on me, patiently waiting for class to begin. One of the oldest ladies suggested we learn Praise Songs in English...which was met with great enthusiasm from the rest of the class so line by line we learned 'Open the Eyes of My Heart' and 'This is the Day'...eventually (an hour later) the lights did come on and we continued with regularly scheduled material. I continue to be impressed by their genuine desire to learn this language of ours. So I've noticed something, the people here like to party, they'll throw a fiesta for just about anything. In the last month I've eaten more cake than I care to count and I can't imagine that this current trend will be slowing anytime soon. Lately we've had parties for Ondina (Teacher's Day) the Youth at Church (Children's Day) and three different birthday parties. It really has struck me though that Hondurans just really like to celebrate events in each others lives with lots of people, lots of food and lots of singing...I like that...oh and apparently in some families the custom is to smash eggs on the head of the 'Birthday-Person'...I don't like that. Speaking of Children's Day (which we haven't had in the U.S. for decades by the shway) the Church threw a party the other Sunday and as part of the festive activities they put on a skit about Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego (what three young men being thrown into a fiery furnace have to do with celebrating children I'll never know). Anyways, I was drafted into the skit and made be to the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar - kind of an ostentatious role I thought...how does one channel "Gold Statue"? The other week Ondina, Karen, Elba and myself traveled to San Pedro Sula (on the nicest bus I've ever set foot in...it was air-conditioned and everything) with the dual purpose of attending a conference on emigration issues and visiting our project counterparts in la Colonia Lopez Arellano. The conference was a bit of a bust for me - it left me feeling angry and defensive of the U.S. (which is truly a first for me). I don't want to enter into a discussion on U.S. immigration policy, I think there are problems with the current laws and while our government's policies certainly exacerbate the problems in Central America I don't think all of the fault can be laid at the feet of the U.S. - the Central American governments (corrupt as they are) should be given their fair share of the blame as well and should be brought into the discussion to help fix the problem. Unfortunately, the organizers of the conference basically used the event to air their obvious dislike of the current U.S. government and made it known in unequivocal terms that the current emigration/immigration issue was entirely the fault of the U.S. - Such narrow-minded, vitriol serves only to embolden nativist sentiment up north and never really gets around to actually solving the problem. The other half of the day was spent in Lopez Arellano visiting the workers there and getting to know some of the former gangsters...it was exciting to see former gang-bosses, former murderers now carting around their young families and participating in the local church. In our work with the gangs and youth here in Ceiba I spent the other afternoon with my favorite group of youth at out Leones painting a school. I didn't do so much painting...more goofing around really but it was just fun to hang out with the kids and get to know them better. One last thought, we had another march the other day...for the 'International Day of Peace'. I've never seen a group of people that march around the way these people do - they throw marches like Gringos throw BBQ's. Between the marching and the random parties it's a wonder anything else gets done around here. I'm not entirely sure what the marches accomplish...I'm being very serious here now, as I was clopping down Saint Isidor Avenue I wondered what this was doing to help the gangsters, feed the hungry and generally benefit my fellow man...Well I suppose that about does it for this week - come back next time and we'll see what I've been up to. Blessings to you this week. Peace!

- Matt

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