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

Monday, May 7, 2012

How Do You Celebrate Communist-Utopian Pipe Dreams?

This past Tuesday, May 1st, as I'm sure you all know, was the International Day of the Worker, that "cherry on top" of heady 19th Century Socialism and the reforms that it extracted from weak and ineffectual politicians, mostly of the European variety. If you have no idea as to what I am talking about it may be because the day was never anything more than an empty symbol, a kind of "finger in the eye" to all those Capitalist Fatcats, who apparently, by virtue of being succesful, aren't workers.

The day was originally intended to be an international holiday for all those unsuccesful-types i.e. workers, to commemorate the brave socialist martyrs that had gone on before and to rally for more workers' rights (is that noble task ever really over?); but it never quite worked out as such. Those of you living in the U.S.A. have never celebrated an international-style workers' fiesta on May 1st because 120 years ago old Grover Cleveland, in not wanting to give a foothold to the blossoming Socialist movement, agreed to establish a national holiday for the "worker" but moved it to September just to show Eugene Debbs, Jane Addams and the rest of their rabble who was in charge. Later on down the road, just to really stick it to the Leninists, Congress actually declared May 1st "Americanization Day", whatever that means; and since 1958 it's been celebrated as "Loyalty Day", which sounds even more ambiguous, but also not terribly communist-revolution-inducing, which I guess was kind of the point. And that's why we celebrate Labor Day in September with retail discounts and car sales. I truly hope you see the irony in that.

So what in the world does all of that have to do with Honduras? Well Honduras, true to their penchants for celebrating anything that comes down the pike and throwing meaningless, symbolic bones to dirt-poor, landless peasants, does celebrate May Day as "El Dia del Trabajador". How, you might ask? Well the true peasants, those that scrimp and scrape and live on the fringes of society - people like garbage collectors, banana sellers, bus drivers, mom and pop store owners, waitresses and fisherman; those people keep right on working. Everyone else though, the bank tellers, the government workers (and there's a lot of them), the franchise owners and teachers (when do they work?) - they all celebrate this socialist sacred cow by going to the beach; it sounds so very soviet doesn't it. Oh the dripping irony of it all, here we are in the 2nd poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, what ought to be a Communist's playground, and instead of large workers' rallies and demonstrations for more rights; on this day of international 99%-style solidarity, the true poor keep right on working whilst the capitalist middle and upper classes take the day to do that most bourgeois of activities, sun-bathing.


So how did we Gringos celebrate this day of tribute to Mother Jones, Karl Marx and his brother Groucho?
We did what any disaffected, disillusioned, culture-less expatriates would do in this situation.
We set up a booth in the park selling mildly provocative buttons and handing out poorly-written communist literature advocating everything from violent, anarchic revolution to the abolition of gender.

 Just kidding.
We took a cue from our Honduran hosts and kicked it into party mode.
Except in being Mennonite Missionaries we chose not to participate in the activities depicted in the above photo and instead headed for the river with Nelson from church and apparently everyone he's ever met. Seriously, he just must have invited his entire rolodex to his own personal partay in the mountains.

So we came here to Nelson's property in the mountains, where in true soviet fashion, we gourged ourselves on sides of beef, whole chickens and hamhocks. And then we swam.

Just so we're all clear out there in Blogger-land, whenever I use a disambiguous "we" anytime in the next 3 months I will almost assuredly be referring to myself and this year's crop of slaves.
In this photo Slave John is remarking to Slave Nick that something is afoot up yonder on them rocks and oughtn't they check it out.
 
 
(Forgive me if I offend with my use of regional coloquialisms but Slave John is from Ohio and in that I would never debase myself be actually speaking to someone from Ohio, I can't quite be sure how this conversation went - thus the aforementioned offending colloquialism is my best guess.)

Slave Nick shows his aptitude for Cardinal Directions by actually pointing to the region they had already been discussing.

And away they swim, though to where we're not quite yet sure.

Well here's a clue, Slave Jetmir (Sounds awfully communist that name, I'll have to keep my eye on that one.)...Slave Jetmir appears to be looking down on his fellow slaves and encouraging them to join him.

(With that communist name of his I should imagine he's inviting them to join in some sort of violent overthrow of my reign and regime.)

And away go the two similarly dressed, similary hued slaves, scurrying up the rocks.

I was right, Slave Jetmir was high above on a cliff beckoning to his brothers. Perhaps in a defeated state of desperation from my tyrannical rule he shall throw himself to the mercy of the churning waters below.


By-the-bye, I invited Lauro along for the day just to have a little sanity in my life.
He was anything but impressed by these three chuckleheads and their less than deft scrambling over low-lying rocks.


Back to our One-man Communist Sleeper Cell.
I was right, he had grown weary of his mortal coil, and my incessant and exasperating demands for more iced-coffee, and decided to let nature have its way with him in the raging river below.
Though ever defiant, even to the end, instead of death-leaping in any sort of traditional sense (can leaps of death really have a traditional method?), he chose to simply lean forward and fall head-first to his demise.


Fortunately though for me (and EMM's insurance company), Slave Jetmir did nothing more than make an inordinately massive splash (must be all them flour tortillas he's been putting away here).
Consuela though, in the foreground, was so impressed that she was spontaneously moved to applaud.
Well done Slave Jetmir.


The twin slaves arrive soon after Slave Jetmir's face-plant and suddenly begin to rethink this plan of jumping to their doom. Perhaps King Matt's reign is more benevolent than what they had given it credit for. (It isn't, but at 25 feet up in the air even I and my autocratic oppression appear worth giving a second chance.)


Lauro, the only sane one in the whole group - grew tired of the charade and opted to return to the BBQ pit to see if there were any racks of lamb left.

Suddenly Comrade Jetmir appears out of the murky depths and surfaces under a bubbling waterfall, resplendant in the afternoon cloud-cover.
(This is not his best profile shot, but it fit the story line.)


Slave Nick takes heart, rededicates himself to Marxist living and leaps.


 Comrade Jetmir wrings his hands in evil delight. One slave down, one to go, and a revolution will have been born - no more King Matt.

But Slave John won't jump - he considers, and reconsiders, sits down, stands up, rubs his chin and still, Slave John won't jump.

He keeps mumbling things like:
"Them look like mighty pawerful waves down thar!"
and
"I mightin be able to jump off this here stone iffin I were to have a pull on that jug uh recipe yous got there."

(Again, I can't be sure that he said these things verbatim as I stopped up my ears when he began to speak, but in that he's from Ohio I would imagine this was as close to intelligible English that he was able to manage.)

Regardless, King Matt may just be saved.

After about an hour of these shenanigans Comrade Jetmir begins to lose heart. He and Comrade Nick leave the tranquil pool and...


Join in on an Old-Timey Socialist Workers' Rally where they hear speeches about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, The Jungle and Child-Labor Laws.
They log their demands with the Complaints Committee and head off to...
 dance the Maypole at Bryn Mawr College, an all-girls school, where they chant "Death to the Patriarchy" as they dance. This doesn't make much sense to Comrade Nick but he joins in just the same.


 They return from their May Day events to the BBQ pit to find that there's still one cow alive after all the meat that was consumed that day. The two comrades, in true Leninist fashion, invite the cow to join their cause, which she unwittingly does; at which point they point out to her their need to eat and her obvious ability to fulfill that need. She doesn't understand until the recite to her that old communist maxim,
 "give a man a fish and he'll eat for a...",

wait that's the wrong ideology.

They recite, "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs".
The docile comrade cow obliges and Comrades Nick and Jetmir gourge themselves on Comrade Cow.

Slave, now Comrade John seeing this feasting as it occurs and remembering that he too is hungry, finally makes the leap of faith into the torment below crying out as he falls,
 "Ima eat me some Mountain Oysters Comrades!"
(Or at least I assume that's what he said.)
Not realizing of course that the cow was a female.
Why?

Because
the Party is over.

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