LONGING by Juan Ramón Molina (1875-1908)
tr. by Dave Bonta
Ah, that I had lived in times tested
by love, by war and by conquest,
when friars, soldiers and desperadoes
went off across unquiet seas
in search of distant lands,
and not in this pathetic age when longing
has grown faint, inaccessible as a mountain peak,
and holding my ambition in check,
wounded and alone I linger on the shore,
gazing at the horizon’s blue limit!
Okay, so how does one "get" Honduras? A start is to read the poetry of the people.
I especially love a poem that has proven itself over time: shared, read, discussed. Compels me to read it twice (or more). This one does.
I wonder this: what is Honduras? I know it's a country with latitudes and longitudes... but what is it?
Honduras has a buried history (literally). The Spanish word "honduras" translates to "depths" in English.
The White City of The Monkey God is one of its many buried histories. Explorers and archaeologists have searched for these pre-Mayan cultures for hundreds of years.
April Holloway on ancient-origins.net reports one such adventure: "Chris Fisher’s team has discovered an extensive complex made up of earthworks, plazas, pyramids, irrigation canals, reservoirs, mounds, and stone sculptures that have lain untouched since the city was abandoned centuries, perhaps even millennia, ago. The civilization that inhabited the city remains virtually unknown. Fisher’s team believes thousands of artifacts may lie buried beneath the surface."
Honduras gained its independence from Spain in 1821, the same year as Mexico's independence. Hey, 1821 was a rough year for Spain.
But gaining independence is easier than keeping it. Enter the filibusters.
Today, in U.S. politics a filibuster is an action taken by a legislator to hold the floor in congress in an attempt to affect legislation.
But in the 1800s the word referred to U.S. citizens who attempted to take over countries in Latin American. (At least three filibusters were suspected of trying to take over parts of Texas from Spain in the years before 1821.)
The most persistent of these "adventurers" was William Walker who led a short, ambitious, and violent life as he attempted to wrest control from several of these new Central American republics.
The opening paragraph in Wikipedia says the following about Walker: "William Walker (May 8, 1824 – September 12, 1860) was an American physician, lawyer, journalist and mercenary who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as "filibustering". Walker usurped the presidency of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies. He returned in an attempt to reestablish his control of the region and was captured and executed by the government of Honduras in 1860."
I have questions. How does an American physician, lawyer, journalist, get executed in Honduras? And wait... He's a physician, lawyer, journalist. Who decided to take over Central America.
Wait, who practices medicine AND law? This guy. William Walker.
William Walker met his end executed by Honduran soldiers, his bloodied men exiled to the Honduran island of Roatan. Only a few of them lived to tell the tale.
I wanted to read more, so I found a book about his life here: bit.ly/2VXGTvt.
Honduras = depths.
More recently, I'm compelled to notice Honduras because my nineteen year old son moved there to help a church in Tegucigalpa.
(I asked him how his Spanish was coming. He said he was fine in a one on one conversation, but in a group completely lost.)
I love it when he sends me pics of the food he's eating. This was his breakfast early in May.
It's a pancake, with beans and cheese. Never would I have put those together. Now, I want to try it. Cultural diffusion! (By the way, you eat it like a taco.)
Here's another one from a few weeks ago:
Now that looks good.
But sadly, Honduras is also known for its violence.
Last week my son sent this picture taken with his phone:
He said he was walking down the street and it started filling up with people and the next it was flooded with them. And he was a tall American wondering what was going on. Yikes.
Non-violent protest about education and health care. Non-violent on Tuesday. On Wednesday, City Hall was ablaze. Thankfully my son was clear.
The Honduran legislature tabled their vote. And the people settled down. But things are still unsettled. People are leaving.
According to the United States, if the pace of migration from last year is maintained, approximately 1 percent of the population of Honduras will have migrated during 2019. (washingtonpost.com)
This a land of contrasts.
Honduras is interesting food with lovely beaches. And concertina barbed wire everywhere.
Beauty and Beast.
Yet there is hope.
Get away from the city. Walk up in the mountains and farmers are growing micro-lots of rich coffee with pleasant citrus-almond notes.
Honduras has struggled with its economy throughout history. The increase in coffee production and availability of shipping has allowed it to grow to be the largest producer in Central America. This injection of money has shown with an increased standard of living for more of the working class. Tourism has increased as coffee has caused more people to become aware of Honduras and all it has to offer. Better opportunities for disadvantaged people are being created thanks to informed consumers choosing fairly traded, organic coffee from Honduras. (camanoislandcoffee.com)
Get Honduras. Read its poetry. Discover its history. Drink its coffee.
Taste the depths.