Sunday, June 29, 2008

Coyoles, Yoro

Rickety Bridge
Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel
Hey folks, I'm back from a short trip to the US.

Before I left, I went to Coyoles to visit a new health volunteer there. Coyoles is the setting for Ramon Amaya Amador's famous novel, Prisión Verde, which I read earlier in my service. The novel is about the horrendous conditions of the banana plantations in the early- to mid-1900's and the labor strife that ensued (and eventually led to the formation of some pretty strong unions).

I've now visited two "fruit union" towns - Isletas, Colón and Coyoles - and have been impressed by the overall higher quality of services and higher standards of living enjoyed in both these places. There are still problems, and big ones (this is still a developing country) but in relative terms these towns are doing better than a lot of their neighbors.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cascada de Rio Negro

Upper Falls
Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel
The other day Mary, two of her friends, and I hiked to the Cascada de Rio Negro (Black River Waterfall). I'd heard about this hike almost since the day I arrived in Trujillo, but never done it. One of the reasons why is that my former sitemate told me he had gotten lost on the way, so I figured the trail was not well-maintained and that I'd have to bushwhack my way through.

That was not the case at all. The hike to the cascada was easy and the trail well-maintained. And the waterfall/swimming holes were beautiful and devoid of people.

There's a pretty accurate description of how to get to la Cascada de Rio Negro in the Lonely Planet Honduras guidebook. There is one inaccuracy: They claim the hike is 1km from the trailhead. Not true. It's at least 2km, probably closer to 3km. But still, it's not a tough hike and is well worth the reward.


Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel
Last week, I was sitting at the internet cafe when I heard a loud crash from outside. Then the power went out. Everyone rushed out to see what had happened.

A truck transporting 5-gallon jugs of drinking water had rolled backwards down the hill and crashed into a concrete power pole. I'm not sure how the accident happened, though I suspect a lack of curbing wheels and/or using an e-brake.

I had my camera so I snapped some photos and headed home. I figured that the power would be out in my apartment as well, since it's only two blocks away. But the power was on. I also figured that the power would stay out for a long time. But within two hours the internet cafe and all other buildings on the block had power. Of course, they left the now-foundationless concrete power pole suspended by only the lines it was connected to, without giving any additional reinforcement. But everything was back up and running pretty quickly.

This is a great example of how misleading Honduras can be. Sure, there's a lack of infrastructure and skilled personnel and so on and so forth. When people first arrive here they often ask some variation of the questions, "How does this country function?" There are so many problems, so many things lacking, that one doesn't even know where to start. At times, it does seem rather miraculous.

Yet Honduras gets by. Most stuff works at least at some minimal level. And when it breaks, it gets fixed. Everything is more haphazard, dangerous and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, but the basic stuff gets done.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Honduran Music

I've lamented to some of my friends that Honduras imports most of its art and music these days, and there's disappointingly little produced domestically. I still think that's true, but lately I've found at least two great Honduran musicians.

I saw them both at Carnaval in La Ceiba a few weeks ago, and they were great live.

Guillermo Anderson (right) is by far the most prolific and popular Honduran musician I know of, having produced about half a dozen albums and toured all over the americas and Europe. He's great live, but I still haven't heard any of his albums.

Aurelio Martinez (left) isn't quite as well known, but after seeing him at Carnaval I picked up his CD "Garifuna Soul." It's one of my favorite CDs right now. After doing a websearch, I found out that he played at the San Francisco International Arts Festival last year.

Aurelio Martinez' music is similar to that of Andy Palacio (below), a Belizean musician. He's probably the best-known Garifuna musician, and unfortunately died earlier this year at the young age of 47. His latest CD, "Wátina" is a real gem, I highly recommend it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cementerio Viejo

William Walker's Grave
Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel
Hey folks, once again sorry for the lack of updates. I had a visit from a San Francisco friend this past weekend. I took him around town, and we explored the Cementerio Viejo (old cemetary) which has recently been fixed up. It's full of graves and tombs of prominent Trujillans from the 1800s and early 1900s. Including the grave of William Walker, who was executed by firing squad at the Fortaleza for trying to invade Honduras.

Click through the picture to see a few other pictures I snapped.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hurricane Season

The 2008 season is upon us. And it's going to be fierce.