J. Barrett

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Here and Honduras

This is a journal entry from when I was in Honduras:
People here are different than those in Ohio. They have dark hair and dark skin, they are always busy. They gossip, they shop. The television is always on. They know many life lessons, many anecdotes and proverbs, and the history they know is what they've seen in their lives, or the stories they've been told. The only music here is what emanates from the television or the nightclub down the block. There are no bookshelves, but many knick knacks.
There is a constant stream of conversation here. When you visit, you stay for a long time: weeks, or a month. The men sit around and the women attend to their needs before the men articulate them; the women resent it, I have to guess. I sense that many people live lives filled with inchoate resentment.
Here they don't drink. The flavors are different, and the food doesn't change very much, day to day. They don't have computers or the internet.
My way of reading and writing is a dull world of study to them. There is no frame of reference for pleasure writing or reading.
So much of myself is written in a code of words, thoughts on paper, that I don't know how I would exist without them. It's my surrogate life.
People don't express affection publicly. Sex isn't discussed, nor are feelings.
Children can choose whether or not to go to school after the first or second grade.
I wish I had a conclusion to this, but I'll write more later.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Post travel blues

I don't exactly know what it is, but I'm exhausted. My muscles ache, my head is foggy. I feel like I've been wiped out.
We were to return last night, at 11:30. We arrived in Miami from San Pedro around 7:15 PM, transferred the checked luggage from the carousel to the baggage moving toward Ohio, walked to the screens, only to find our flight listed as cancelled.
The effect was something like when I ran a marathon in 8 5K loops. As I went, my brain deteriorated, until I couldn't remember the number of laps I had run. When I would return to the starting place, one of the race workers would signal me with the numbers of laps remaining on the race. I always thought I had fewer than the worker did. As I thought I reached the end of the race, the track became longer and longer.
Rather than an hour long layover, we went home with M.'s mother. She was really excited to have us, and it was nice to be taken care of.
On a side note, Miami is a strange place. We went to a Subway there, and there were twelve Mexican guys there, all about 17-25, who were progressing one by one through the line. There was one person on the other side, making sandwiches slowly. After ten minutes or so of standing around in line, another lady came in off her break. M. had to translate my order to her. I don't want to sound like Pat Buchnan, but how is it that you can work at Subway in the US and not have enough working knowledge of the language that you can serve a non-Espanol customer? It's different from Ohio, anyway.
So we arrived back here about 1:00. I'm wiped out, running on some kind of lower level of awareness. It's good to be home.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Internet Kiosk, Round 2

This time, I´ll try not to post the entry eight times. I`m back in the states ni a day and a half, and I think I will be glad to return. You reach a certain point in any vacation, I think, where you start to appreciate all the things in your regular life again. That`s part of the point of any vacation, I think. For weeks leading up to it, it gives your routine some kind of momentum, while you get ready to leave. It makes the dreariness easier, I think. Then, towards the end, you start to appreciate the aspects of your life you take for granted, like privacy, driving your own car, speaking the language of the people you meet, that sort of thing.
One thing I really appreciate about being here is the freedom from small talk. It´s like by my not speaking Spanish fluently, I´m not expected to fill every conversational gap with some witty conversational turn. I get to be alone with my thoughts much more, and it gives me something to write about on my down time.
I do speak some Spanish, what I´ve picked up through sporadic study, through having a wife who is bilingual, and from my previous visit to Honduras. Because I´m soft spoken, and I tend to get the prosody and the inflection wrong, usually it´s best when M. is nearby to repeat whatever I´ve said in a way that´s comprehensible. I have carried on a few conversations, and I understand more each day. They all would like for me to learn Spanish, and I would like to, as well.
I`m told that if I were to spend three months here, I could get a pretty good handle on the language. It would be difficult, because there aren´t many positions that would allow me a three month sabbatical. If I were in grad school, maybe I could.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Life in Honduras

Youll have to excuse the lack of proper punctuation, I{m writing on a Spanish keyboard, and I can{t figure out how to shift to the third command of a key. It makes the ampersand and the apostrophe difficult. My punctuation has been lost in translation. I am in an internet kiosk at the mall here, today is the fifth day I have been in town. (I will eschew contractions for the sake of the punctuation, which is ironic considering I have five minutes remaining, so I should be the soul of brevity. If I go over, I have to pay another 25 Lempira, about $1.25.) Digestion wise, things are good, my stomach troubles pass quickly. There is much less stress during this visit than when I was here during 2003. For one thing, M and I are married, so there is less strain than when we were dating two years ago, and we really were not allowed alone together. Her family is really great. My Spanish is not, but I am attempting more conversations each day. It is giving me the opportunity to listen a lot, to read and to write. I am understanding more Spanish each day, and I try to speak more. They are patient people.