I made it through to Triumfo where Mito was waiting for me in the village Cultural centre - i immediately felt so relaxed with him - he was so friendly and welcoming. he had booked me into a little hotel on the beach - but almost everything is on the beach - and so i settled in and hooked up with him a bit later
. He is one of the members / leaders of the village performance group and they had a rehearsal that evening which i watched. it was a stop-start rehearsal so it wasn't too interesting but I'm looking forward to seeing the show on friday night.
On wednesday Mito came down to collect me in the morning and we walked up the beach to his house, which is about 2 minutes walk inland. He is 26, my age, and lives with his wife and their 3 children, and a few other family members (everyone in latin america seems to have an endless supply of "primos" - cousins). Due to his performance work with Guillermo's band, he has been to quite a few countries overseas and certainly earns more than many people in the village - who make the majority of their income from fishing and some tourism in season - but he is one of the most sincere and humblest people i have met - he still lives in a simple house, albeit with tv, hi-fi etc, and lives a simple life with his family. he has no interest in moving to the city or changing his lifestyle - he loves working with the kids and the performance group in the village. He is planning on a building a new house soon - but has already built a brick house for his mom. Priorities are so different here.
His mom made breakfast for me - eggs, beans and tortillas - and then Mito and I went off to Tela, the nearest town
. We sat waiting for the bus and chatted with an old man who was busy whittling a new oar for his fishing boat. life here is so much slower and simpler. no one hurries to do anything - my slowest pace of walking is about double the speed of the fastest pace here! it is such a different experience. it is also low season so i was almost the only foreigner staying here - most people who do come through do so just for the day and go to the beach and have lunch - so i feel really priviledged to be invited in this way into the community. however, i imagine that my experience would have been much different if i had not had Mito as a contact - like too many places that i have been to in central america, traditional ways of life, cultures and ways of behaving are crumbling and being overwhelmed with Americanised influences - hiphop and reggaeton are big here - along with all the negative (unfortuantely for the most part) associations. western women are too often seen as loose sex goddesses - for many people, men and boys especially, that do not come into contact with foreigners regularly, the main form of learning about westerners comes through porn movies - pirated dvds are everywhere. And so, western women are not particularly respected, especially by younger men and boys, and have to deal with a fair bit of (mainly verbal) harrassment when they are on their own.
anyway, back to the events of the day - we hopped on the bus to tela, and walked around a bit in the town before going for lunch in a chinese restaurant
. Afterwards Mito had a few errands to run and then we caught a taxi back to the village with some of the ladies from the performance group. the taxi driver was hilarious - i just wanted to put him in a movie because he was such a character, kind of like a black Pauly Shore with dreadlocks- haring around the streets, shouting out the window, trying to proposition me to "teach him english", bumping through fields and squeezing between wood houses - his shortcut! - blasting the tunes and singing along - stopping along the way to ask directions to the village from 2 pretty girls - who looked at us very strangely since they recognised Mito and the other 2 ladies in the taxi from the village!!
we made it back in one piece and i watched another rehearsal that night. we went for dinner to a little home-restaurant afterwards - loads of people run little shops / "restaurants" in their front yards - good garifuna home cooking! its always accompanied by beer - and generally high volume tv programmes blasting out a soap opera or a reggaeton music video :-)
Thursday came around and I went off to San pedro Sula - about 3 hours away - with Mito and Guillermo (from la Ceiba) since the band had a corporate gig that night. I went to stay at Tamarindo hostel again - juan and angela were super-friendly and welcoming as always
. that night i made my way to the gig - a launch for a new flight path for Copa airlines - so it was very smart - gourmet snacks, champagne platters circulating above penguined waiters - the whole toot. the entertainment was the most interesting part for me - although most of the suit & ti-ers were too busy networking and didn't pay the tiniest bit of attention! the first performance was from a group of panamanian dancers - the dancing is not so interesting but the costumes are wonderful - see pics. also, the men accompany the music with dog like yelps and barks - somewhat challenging my usual assumption about what is attractive in the seduction process! - check out the video. Guillermo is one of the most famous singers in Honduras but even his entrance was greeted with subdued clapping - he got the audience to warm up after a while though - singing along - and they loved Mito's dancing!
We went off to a restaurant afterwards where we were treated like royalty by representatives of the tourism board - and as soon as the restaurant owner met me and heard I was south african, out came the Amarula Cream! - its weird how tastes and smells have such inherent memories and feelings. we also had to have a round of Tequilas at midnight since it was Mito's birthday :-)
We drove back to Triumfo de la cruz the next day and went for conch soup for lunch - again for Mito's birthday
. Conch meat (seafood) is pretty tough generally but the garifuna cook it up in a divine coconut milk soup - served on the beach with a cold cerveza, its yummy!
I spent the afternoon on the beach and went to the Garifuna show in the cultural centre that night. it was so great! they had a huge - 10 foot - puppet woman next to the stage - during festivals, she is taken onto the street and a boy gets inside and walks around on stilts. the drummers were excellent as was most of the dancing - they had some really theatrical numbers - "la danza del diablo" - the dance of the devil with the devil climbing along the rafters (the building is a big hut, with wooden poles and a grass roof)and swinging himself down onto stage - scaring the daylights out of the little kids who squirm themselves close to the stage and are so entranced and scared at the same time that you can see their battles between running away and getting as close as possible!
I had to say goodbye to Mito afterwards since he was leaving at 5am the next day to get to another gig - i was sad because he's just so lovely but hopefully will see him again.
So Tuesday came and, after skirting around a gigantic spider in the hostel doorway, off i went to triumfo de la cruz - a garifuna village on the caribbean coast of Honduras. I took the local bus and had a surprising little chat with Marlow, the guy who collects the money - who was from Belize and happens to be the bus owner's son. he spoke really good english and started off by telling about all the drugs he had taken when he was younger (he's now about 22 i think!) and then told me how he has now been saved from that lifestyle, thanks to God and becoming a christian - good for him. the dichotomy between religion and real life over here is really fascinating.