Where we live, in the volunteer beach house, the setting is of an exotic beauty and without any doubt - charmingly Caribbean. I wake up every morning and feel privileged to be blessed with such a 'day-dreamer's' location in which to reside. The beach lies out front, tropical fauna shading our large house from the downbeat of the searing sun. In the shade, where the stray dogs lie and the mosquitos swarm - our local fishermen commune.
These men are all true characters to begin with. They've a local reputation as being likeable rogues or swarthy sorts. There is indeed a fine line existing between them all. The men gather in groups of five to fifteen at a time underneath the trees just beyond our porch. They do little all day but sit, smoke La Juana and get drunk. Sometimes they've broken into fights or displayed uncouth behaviour towards young women. The fact is however, that despite their at times less than appealing behaviour - these men have all struggled. I can see this written on their faces. Weather-beaten, shabbily dressed and generally un-kempt - they appear a pitiful sight. All products of the regions poor economic situation the fishermen are simply locked in a conflict with the consequences of poverty and lack of opportunities. Their sitting around and doing nothing is something common of those finding themselves in an existence such as theirs. The fishermen wake up early and hit the waters in their carved out canoes. At times we've seen them land impressive catches - notably a large Barracuda as of recent. When not engaged in landing fish however, the men become lethargic and sit around abusing substances.
An always friendly group though, smiling and saluting us - their political rants and conversations can also be extremely interesting. These tend to take place early in the morning so only early-rising Spanish speakers like myself get to hear them. Some are quite educated as well I believe. I recall one such fishermen explaining at the top of his voice one morning (they speak in a very fast-paced slang ridden vernacular as well making them difficult to understand at times) what a 'gringo' really is. I have noticed that Hondurans don't use the word properly. A 'gringo' or 'gringa' is a white-skinned person from the USA (can include Canada as well) - and that's that. The word has its origins in Spain and stems from Greek. In keeping with its traditional usage within Latin America - Europeans like myself are not to be considered gringos.
Getting back to their presence here, I feel that the fishermen are indeed rowdy yet misunderstood. They may turn heads when greeting each other with lines such as 'hola maricas!' (hello faggots!) or sitting around binge drinking yet one can see the desperation in these men's' faces. One even came up to me - half drunk and asked 'puedes regalame tu camisa...como un amigo?'. A middle-aged man was asking me for the clothes of my back. 'Can you give me your shirt...like a friend?'
Photo: The fishermen gathering below our porch - a favourite haunt.