As some of you may have noticed, I go through stages where I write quite a few blogs within a few days and then I will go quiet for a couple of weeks… I feel that at times I just have so much to say and not wanting to bore anyone specifically, it is better to vent my thoughts on here (and then hopefully someone might find it interesting and maybe even learn something!). From my last post on the men here, I had some great replies from friends on facebook and I hope they won’t mind if I share them here…
A fellow ICYE volunteer from the UK who was here last year said:
“Oh dear, it really is a relentless daily trial! It’s like they don’t have a choice, a weird compulsion. I did meet some brilliant Honduran male friends though, they arent all the same, keep going 🙂 xxx”
Another friend who is Honduran but has a lot of foreign girl friends:
“It’s not going to change linda!… I talked to you about this the first day we met… men here literally hunt down foreigners… they even hunt me beacause I dont look honduran… and its difficult to tell who hangs out with you because of WHO YOU ARE or because of WHERE you come from (how blond your hair is, or how white your skin is)… I can tell the difference… because Im honduran, but more because Ive been A LOT around foreign girls… and I know how honduran men act around them… but the saddest part is that it works like that between hondurans as well (they will always ask for your last-name.. and you are worth what your family name is worth…) and the bad news is that you are caught in both situations… (physically) because you are CHELA (white and blond) and (socially) because your last name here in honduras is Jess ENGLAND……it’s so TRUE! I’m not joking… being appreciated for WHO you are and for HOW you think is the thing i miss the MOST about europe!! I’m sorry for my horrible honesty and my horrible english as well… hehehehe” (you’re English is amazing chica!!!)
I also had a good friend (a boy!!) text me and say that it is part of the culture and they are not all like that which I do totally agree with. I have met some guys who are lovely – they just seem to be in the minority. But for example, I have a taxi guy who I always use called Angel. He is an angel. He is always so polite on the phone and (almost) always comes to pick me up when I need a taxi somewhere – even in the storm that happened last week. And he always gets out of the car and opens the door for me! He also likes to laugh at my poor Spanish but I let him off for that. So there are some nice ones I promise!
So, why should I be scared? Well become I am in Honduras obviously!! I mentioned the Daily Mail article recently about how murderous Honduran cities and to be honest when I read it, I thought nothing of it. You quickly get used to the horror stories here – you can’t listen too much or you would never leave your house. But I guess some people never do leave their house, car or work. I have also, personally, not seen anything to make me feel uneasy. I walk past the newspaper photos every day but they are somewhere else so it’s not real right?? But I feel like I’ve had a bit of a wake up call today.
Firstly, I have been reading a fellow Brit’s blog who is in Honduras (yes, a brummy in Honduras!! We’re hoping to meet up next week, whoop!) and he worked in Caza Alianza which is probably one of the biggest children’s charities here. Some of the stories from his blog (children from the charity being murdered and him getting robbed) are scary and very sad – you can read it here http://elcatracho1.wordpress.com/ .
Secondly, I had a few texts from Laura on her way home saying she thinks she drove past the scene of a murder. As well, she saw a young girl who had clearly very recently given birth getting on a yellow bus (the horrible scary ones) with just her baby, mum and a black binliner with her things in. No Dad, no husband to help her. Maybe not so scary, but very sad and a horrible reminder of the extreme poverty here.
Lastly, a Honduran has just posted a status on Facebook about the fact that there has been 13 murders in San Pedro and Tegucigalpa in the last 24 hours. It is hard not to see that about the place you are living and not feel at least a little uneasy. You can try to read the story in a Honduran newspaper here – http://www.elheraldo.hn/Secciones-Principales/Sucesos/Al-menos-13-muertos-deja-jueves-violento-en-Honduras
I am not saying all of this to scare and worry anyone at home – it does actually sound worse than it is. The UN and the World’s media like to discuss the fact that Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world regularly. But they often fail to mention that the majority of these murders are connected to the gangs and drug issues here. It isn’t usually your average person walking down the street who is in danger. I get taxis home at 9 or 10 o’clock at night and there are still a lot of people walking around the centro, so they can’t be too scared. It often seems unfair that Honduras is often broadcast as the most murderous country in the world but you have to question the statistics of these claims and how reliable they are. One of the first internet searches I did when I arrived here was ‘how many murders does Afghanistan/Iraq have a year?’; it doesn’t make sense that these countries that are war torn and constantly in the news for suicide bombs claiming dozens of lives are supposedly safer than here. As of 2011, Honduras has the most murders at a rate of 82.1 per 100,000 people and El Salvador was second with 66.0 (huge difference but why??). Afghanistan (according to the UNODC) has a murder rate of 2.4 and Iraq 2. But yet, if people were given a choice of Honduras and Afghanistan to visit I know where most would choose. At least for me, these statistics don’t make sense.
Despite all this, I have fallen hard for this country and I am really enjoying it here. Despite all the scary statistics and horror stories, I have a normal life here and it feels like home now. I go to work, I meet friends and I go on trips at the weekend. Somehow it is easy (too easy) to ignore the problems here and forget where you are. So for many reasons I love it here, but hearing what Laura saw today it makes me want to help so much – more than I am now so hopefully either while I am here or after I can do something to make more of a difference.