Sunday, 17 July 2016

In El Porvenir

The sea lies peacefully out front. It sits there calmly, wave after wave rolling gently over the expanse of tropical, light blue or at times grey water - itself populated by an outstanding abundance of creatures from the Barracuda to the Pelicans. Local fisherman every now and again impressively haul in the former. They take to the Caribbean coastline of Atl├íntida department, northern Honduras, in their dugout canoes - all products of the surrounding jungles. Many stout, ancient trees such as the Mahogany can be found deep inside these tropical forests which so engulf the landscape within this zone of the country. They (Mahogany) are not used for the canoes though as the days of Mahogany felling went out with Piracy. The latter does still occur at times yet not in the same fashion as the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This being an intriguing chapter of Honduran or rather Caribbean history.

 
Photo: An excellent example of the Honduran hardwoods found in the forests here


There on the beaches commune the fishermen as they smoke La Juana, talk shit and drink beers (Salva Vida - the Honduras national cerveza) whilst then more often than not ending up in squabbles amongst each other. As I write this from the beach house I can hear one calling another 'hijo de puta' or a 'son of a bitch'. These poverty stricken fishermen sit under the shade near our house in a pitiful state.

Local mothers take their children to La Playa for a swim. This being a perfect opportunity for them to get themselves and the children out of the house and away from the merciless heat that so pursues us all in the town. Women here however, do not sport bikinis as they are considered quite taboo. A stark contrast to other Latin American countries such as Brazil or Colombia. Honduran society is more conservative in general - thus making women cover up on the beaches. A lady seen in this kind of outfit within a public zone is seen in the same light as her going simply naked.
 
 
Photo: Posing on the beach, Honduran national team shirt (football) with cabanas
and mountains/jungle in the background
 

Beach huts, palm-thatched and wooden poled constructions known in Spanish as 'Cabanas' are to be seen plotted along the beaches. These are the beach side bars and restaurants cum nightclubs frequented solely by locals or perhaps every once and again by the token gringo or middle-class Hondurans who come from La Ceiba at weekends. At the end of the beach there is a large river running from the sea mouth at its end and then all the way from there up into the mountains. The mountains stand high and mighty in the not so far distance, they appear as the giant lush, green defenders of El Porvenir. They are nature's guardians who so protect the town and its people down below with the huge shielding effect they seem to hold on the landscape. The mountains appear gigantic as one looks up on them from the beach zone, densely forested with the odd waterfall cascading spectacularly from high up in those forested hills. They are remarkable visible, especially so when it rains and the mountains appear a strong shade of dark blue.
 


Photo: My favourite place. The river looking towards the mountains behind
 


The La Ceiba bus storms into town, its driver blasting the horn excessively in his attempt to alert the townsfolk of his llegada or arrival. People pack into these chicken buses, a bright and colourful ethnic mix of Indios, Negros, Mestizos and Blancos filling the tightly cramped seats. Music fills the air as one passes mountains, rivers, plantation fields and bustling cities. Musica Latina or Jamaican/Caribbean tracks pump from the driver's speakers at his side. He is one of a three man team formed of a fare collector, the driver and then his assistant. The assistant always appears to sit and enjoy a good laugh. The fare collector is arguably the busiest as he helps passengers on and off the bus, collects the fare prices (you just pay the sum - there are no tickets given) and then hands out the change. He chucks copious amounts of change between his hands as he wobbles between the seats. La Ceiba is where I always go on the bus, this city is the region's capital and is further known as the 'party capital' of Honduras.

The streets of El Porvenir are flat. This is the most obvious and important note that one could make about them. There are simply no hills in the town - being strikingly different to the places I saw in Lempira department, western Honduras during my first time in this extraordinary country. Atl├íntida and Lempira are two very different places with actually very little in common. Strays dogs wander the streets as carefree as the little children. Sometimes the dogs appear in better shape than the children. A clear result of the poverty here. The poverty however doesn't impact the happiness of the children, they are constantly at the ready to come running up and give you a hug or ask for a piggyback to whether they're headed. Their glowing smiles come always with an 'Hola senor gringo!'
 
 
Photo: The flat streets of El Porvenir


The tut-tut cabs wobble around precariously through the quiet streets of El Porvenir,
occasionally overtaken by a bus or a city taxi. These small, red, three-wheeled vehicles are definitely something that will characterize the tourist's time in Honduras. The houses here are all extremely different. You can encounter a large villa style building next to a shack. The dirt poor live by side by side the wealthy. Those who make money stay in the same neighbourhood it would appear - 'a look what I've achieved' attitude existing amongst some.



 
Photo: A typical shack found in the poorer sections of the town












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