Machetes, Whistling and Buses

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A second grader, Leyla, and I hanging out and playing with fake mustaches.

Why am I still here? I have been in Honduras for over a year and a half. I missed my flight home, I have no money whatsoever, my travel insurance ran out while ago, I gave up my place in a uni somewhere, the stamps in my passport really don’t tell a very legitimate story, my diet of rice and beans has seen me back to down to the same weight I was when I was 15 and I look, and sometimes honestly feel, like a bona fide bum. I have asked myself, “Why didn’t you leave when you were supposed to? When you could?” Obviously, it goes without saying, the answer is the kids at school. I love the kids at school and I love teaching them. But I would guess that most people have read about things like that and so I reckon I’ll skip it. It can go without being said. There are some other things here that I like as well. They will seem trivial, but I reckon they’re worth a mention.

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Planting beans with some of the students

The first thing is the machete. They’re not very common where I come from, so I was rather delighted upon arrival in Honduras to discover you could buy one in the local supermarket for about 5 bucks. They’re a great thing; you can dig a little hole for a tomato plant with them, you can cut things with them and I even enjoy sharpening them. The other day I was walking around down near the river when I ran into a friend of mine who had a double-edged machete. The idea of a double-edged machete was pretty stirring for me, so we went to cut some bamboo. I tested my skills, played samurai and, when one edge got blunt, I just turned the bastard over and had another half hour’s fun. I feel it’s also a bit a symbol of the campasino. I like that too. The handle of my machete is about to go, so I’ll have get another one soon. I won’t lie, I’m pretty excited.

Heading out to do some gardening with my machete

Heading out to do some gardening with my machete

Point number two: whistling. It’s quite acceptable to greet someone or get their attention with a whistle. I find it very practical. After a long, strenuous day at school you don’t have to battle overweight women gossiping too loudly, children shrieking, reggaeton blaring and dogs yelping just to say hello to someone you know down the street. One short, high-pitched note cuts through all that rubbish and communicates what you want to say perfectly. It also makes you feel like a bit of a cowboy, which is pretty funny. Sometimes I forget myself and do it to one of the Americans and they say, “Hey! I’m not a dog, you know!” That’s also pretty funny.

I got a lot of whistles in this outfit.

I got a lot of whistles in this outfit.

Last thing are the buses. It’s on the buses over here that you get as close as you possibly could to the people. I’ll admit, I don’t really like it when some fat old guy’s crouch is jammed right up against my shoulder, but the rest of it’s good. The music’s always loud, the windows are always down, there’s nice scenery whizzing by and each road maneuver is deadlier than the last. I always get off those things in a better mood than when I got on. Sometimes they even have TV’s mounted up the front screening the latest semi-pornographic reggaeton video. I’ll even go so far as to say that if I weren’t a teacher here, I would want to work on a bus. I like the guys who collect the money and hang out the door yelling and whistling at potential passengers. I think I could do that for a bit.

Anyway, those a few things I like about living here. I reckon I would have appreciated knowing about them before I got here too. James, why didn’t you tell me about the machetes, whistling and buses when you interviewed me? Nah, turned out well in the end.

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James, my interviewer, and I when I first arrived to Honduras.

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