Published: December 2nd 2010November 1st 2010
My first awakening in Honduras was under the cacophony of an anarchist orchestra made up of hundreds of tropical birds. They didn’t have a megaphone like the one that for one year, five times a day, the imam of Çukurcuma’s Mosque in Istanbul had used to remind me from very close distance that the Almighty God was calling me, but the decibels were the same.
I had arrived the night before, after a seemingly endless series of takeoffs, landings, more takeoffs, more landings, and plenty of downtime in airports all looking alike. In the last one, at Fort Lauderdale, a fat, sweaty and slickly-haired guy asked me if I were heading to Honduras too. Then, when I told him (under his request) that I was Italian, he got serious and told me that the vast majority of Italians never travel to Honduras. Now, this must be almost certainly true, but it is equally true that, statistically speaking, the vast majority of men never got a cobra’s head tattooed on their penises, and yet one wouldn’t go around starting conversations with random people using such obvious, unnecessary data. When I told him (again obliging at his request) that someone would come
and pick me up at the airport in San Pedro Sula, he congratulated me and told me that “that’s the way, man, a local slave doing what you ask her to". Another lousy, neo-colonialist pimp who only travels where his wallet can still buy him love and sense of power. A sad start...
And now it was 5 in the morning and I woke up in a borrowed bed, in an unknown house, in a village among mountains and jungle where I knew no one. It was too early to leave home, but I wasn’t sleepy any longer. So I peeked a bit on the small, white lacquered metal shelf where Jaime kept his books. Jaime, the owner of the room, is seventeen, and is the nephew of the principal of the school I would have joined in next day. Textbooks aside, I only found two novels, both equally absurd, pathetic and vulgarly pseudo-christian. Those where good is always 100% white, while evil is always 100% black. I read one of the stories, it was the story of a girl who -resuming- was orphaned at birth; was hated by her grandmother who considered her responsible for her daughter’s death;
had been raped by a mysterious neighbor one day when, while playing with her cousins, their ball accidentally got into his house; had become a lesbian because of this; had therefore understood (such as: on/off) that Jesus didn’t want her to be homosexual; had her prince charming come and finally rescued her from the fiery tongue of her deviated friend (colorful language not to be endorsed to the author...), and they lived happily ever after. I wonder how someone can write (and publish) something so insane, but even more, how a seventeen years old kid would read it, instead of using it to light a Marlboro. Indeed a sad start…
Florida, in the region of Copan, has a population of 24'000, but only on Wikipedia. In fact, the town itself is tiny, it offers pretty much nothing in terms of entertainment, and the most popular local pastime is shooting in the air after sunset. A passion that, no matter how hard I try, I still haven’t managed to understand in the least. I just can’t find it neither funny nor useful, since in the dark you can’t even hope to refine your shooting skills, was that the purpose of
When there is a ball in town -as I would have learned in the following weeks- men show up with gun belts and pistols, as in the days of Billy the Kid, and occasionally things degenerate and weapons come out from the holsters. I was told that shortly before my arrival, a group of strippers from San Pedro Sula had been hired for one of these parties. During the night, a man angered by the reiterated refusals of one of the girls pulled out his piece (I’m talking about the gun, come on) and start shooting inside the ballroom (which also serves as Town Hall in daytime), and that the girls, scared to death, rushed out still undressed, and run topless through the village...
But, if all sort of services are missing, the same can not be said for churches and places of worship. There are, grouped as if it was a shopping mall of souls: the Catholic, the Adventist, the Baptist, the Mormon, the one of the mountain of Israel, etc… The Catholic church is right in the middle of town, a reminder of the days when ruled unchallenged, but it is also the oldest,
badly kept, its pastel paint coming off the walls, and a bell so weak that -if compared- an empty Coca Cola can and a metal spoon to beat on it have the acoustic of Arena di Verona. And it doesn’t even have a priest. Once a week, on Sundays, there is one coming from a neighboring parish to say mass. At the other end of the road, but also at the other extreme of an imaginary scale of celestial glory translated into architectural terms, there is the Mormon church. A brand new building, enormous, with conference rooms, praying hall, offices, a fully equipped kitchen, a sort of pool for baptisms, basketball and football field. It must have cost a fortune. Further away, beyond its lawns, its banana and orange trees, the immense scope of the new church is protected by a metal fence eight feet high topped by razor wire.
And that’s definitely not an exception. Here in Florida, private homes are divided into four levels of protection: those with electrified fences, those with razor wire, those with the good old barbed wire, and those unprotected. Like mine, in fact. I console myself by thinking of the open doors
theory, according to which the thief will always prefer to break into a locked home rather than into a open one, in the certainty that the former hides greater treasures than the latter. So far it worked.
Local transport is entrusted to a yellow school bus, donated by the Montgomery County. It’s older than Queen Elizabeth, but continues to climb, docile and slow, up the slopes leading to the surrounding villages. It must have been donated at the time of the Korean War, yet no one has so far changed the name on its sides.
The school where I work, to conclude, also belongs to this neo-Christian doctrine Made in USA. The principal, a Mormon herself, informed me upon arrival on the fundamental principles: the Bible, prayer in the morning, stick to the text, etc.. I told her not to worry, that in Italy we are all Christians.
The morning prayer hasn’t being abolished, it has been, using a language similar to what any bureaucrat in Washington would use to justify a war, "left to the personal initiative of the pupils in order to strengthen the spirit of democracy in them." The text, also published by the
Christian evangelist lobby in the States, receives here and there some "changes" by the teacher, "aimed at restoring a balance of forces in defense of that freedom threatened by religious fanaticism." These were -roughly- the words of George Bush, weren’t they? And if we replace "religious fanaticism" with "communism" they were also mouthed by the various Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon in the Vietnam days.
Fact is that here as well as in the rest of the country, evangelical Christian churches do in the name of the U.S. what Catholic church did for Spain at the time of the Conquista. The masters change, the guardians of truth with capital T change, but poverty and extreme inequalities stay. The solution seems to be increasingly higher and better fortified walls and fences. The outsider can stay out and be satisfied with a ride on the Montgomery County school bus. But, are the insider truly free? ITALIANO
La versione Italiana di questo articolo e' disponibile sul sito Vagabondo.net
Link: Contea Cristiana di Honduras