Living in Honduras or Guatemala as a foreigner is sometimes hard, mostly fun and never boring. This Blog is about more than just the oddities of my years in the not-so tranquil, cobble-stoned town of Copán Ruinas and, more recently, Antigua Guatemala. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pestering Heat


The months of April and May linger towards the beginning of the rainy season, and are not my favourites. I prefer the temperature of June, the morning mists of November, the clear blue sky of December, even the crispy chill of January. But towards the end of April, the mountains turn yellow, the roads dusty and the sky a nasty grey-yellow, charged with ashes from slash-and-burn all through the valley. While the temperature rises and the air gets drier every day, another nuisance appears: ticks! The tiny brown-red bastards love my dog and me even more! And in spite of the expensive Frontline and cheap home remedies such as a few drops of oil in the neck, I’m picking ticks off my dog every day. Yuck!

This year, my not-so-favourite-months had another surprise in store. On April 22 my dog turned 10. Pretty old for a medium sized black lab. So I was quite surprised when not a week later, my dog, Luca, turned out to be in the heat! Visions of Luca’s last heat entered my mind, my house barricaded but nonetheless besieged and peed on by an army of male, horny dogs. Not he prettiest ones either!

Now, Luca has been spayed when she was about a year old, so she can’t have puppies., Unfortunately, the vet at the time didn’t do a hysterectomy, just “tied her tubes”, so all these years, until 2010, Luca has been in the heat once or twice a year, or, if lucky and I caught it on time, I’d give her a shot to prevent the heat from developing any further.

This time, our friend the vet from Guatemala happened to be in town, so I asked him whether I should inject her again. He said I shouldn’t. At Luca’s age, the symptoms would be barely noticeable.
Hah!
That was the understatement of the century. Luca was as HOT as never before. But she could wiggle her butt or lift her tail all she wanted, most canine candidates were not interested in her. At least, not the big ones, I had already noticed that smaller dogs, of the lapdog variety, were very much into her. And since lapdogs are a bit of a trend in Copán, there’re unfortunately plenty around. They would follow us on our long hikes and I would even feel sorry for the animals and their short legs, and afraid they might get run over. That was then.

About a week later, I was about to strangle them. Two in specific. Tiny little monsters with a terrific sense of smell that made my life a living hell. I couldn’t go out with Luca anymore, because she got jumped upon the minute we set a foot on the street. Not very handy when your dog is trained not to do her necessities on the patio. At night I couldn’t sleep, because the dogs were outside my neighbour’s door, whose patio borders mine, wailing all night and scratching the door. The second night, one of dogs learned how to push open the wooden door, through the iron gate that protects it! One night later and the dog, by that time skinnier, I guess, because of days without food, fit through the gate and started his hammock on my neighbour’s patio. He scratched his way halfway through the wooden partition that divided the patios and terrorized my cats. He would bite my neighbour whenever she tried to kick him out and couldn’t care less if I threw a bucket of water on him, about four times every night. In the meantime, Luca wouldn’t eat, sleep, pee or poo, she was just on the alert 24hrs a day, constantly tried to rape my cats and wanted to be cuddled a lot. Especially near her tail. Right.
After a week I was sleep deprived, frustrated, cranky, on the edge and hallucinating with cruel visions of all sorts of lapdog torture. Of torturing their owners too, who don’t care where their dogs hang out, or vaccinate or neuter them.
Heat and more heat and ticks, what a hell!

And then, all of a sudden it was over. Yesterday was the first day the tiny furry ogres where no where to seen. Today it started to rain and the temperature dropped noticeably.
It almost feels like heaven…

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother’s Day


Even the milk company is cashing in on Mother's Day
Honduras is turning red. There’s nothing bloody or political about it, it’s Mother’s Day Frenzy. Stores exhibit special displays overloaded with kitchen supplies, frolic but trivial thingies, and artificial roses in all colours and sizes, red being the predominant colour. The local warehouse stays open late, hoping to catch last minute buyers with deafening music and a 30% discount. The park is filled with women selling flowers while evangelists are preparing an on-stage and very loud tribute to mothers and Jesus. Kids haven’t received any classes the last few days, being too busy making Mother’s Day gifts, memorizing Mother’s day poems, dancing Mother’s Day dances and singing Mother’s Day songs. Restaurants have special offers for Mamá and there’s not a single business in town that hasn’t paid the cable company to put a cheesy ad on TV, wishing Mamá a Felíz Día de la Madre.

Expectations are high, tomorrow is the day.

Kids will happily give their handmade flower vase or foam picture frame to Mamá, before starting to whine for breakfast. Husbands will take Mamá out for lunch or dinner and will feel proud and good about themselves for the rest of the year, being such considerate and sensitive husbands.

On Monday morning, everything is back to normal, except for some withering roses in hand painted flower vases.

I think every Sunday should me Mother’s Day in Honduras. Maybe without the loud music and tacky presents, but a weekly break fore Mamá from all her duties and responsibilities, yes.
If any one deserves it, it’s the Honduran Mother.

I think Mothers rock all over the planet, but I happen to live in Honduras and I know for a fact that this country wouldn’t be what it is without the mothers. Women know very well that Honduras is an unambiguously matriarchal society, even if that’s something men don’t seem to realize or simply ignore. Seriously, all of Honduras’ main problems (corruption, violence narcotrafficking, abuse of power, waste of natural resources): caused by men.
In the meantime, the women, whether abandoned by their husband or not, keep on taking care of their kids, making somehow three meals a day, doing laundry and cleaning the house, often with a fulltime job on the side. If tomorrow mysteriously all women would disappear in thin air, this country would fall on its butt and would never be able to stand up again. However, if all men would disappear… Now, that would be interesting!

So, here’s to all you strong, beautiful, terrific Honduran mothers. Have a great day tomorrow! You women make the world go round!

Oh, and now we’re at it…. Can you please teach your kids not to throw trash on the street? And can you raise your sons to be just a tiny bit less macho???

Thanks.