I had to take a taxi into La Ceiba recently, which turned into an interesting trip on account of the taxi driver. Coming out of the town El Porvenir we passed up many people I know - this giving off the impression to the driver I think that I was Honduran. He started to speak to me in a very local 'dialect' which unfortunately soon lost me - his usage of the word 'va' (to go) for example being quite sporadic as is common in people's speech here. It truly makes no sense to me and serves as a good example as to why I sometimes struggle to understand Spanish here - the word 'va' is used a lot to end sentences yet also changes something said into a question when delivered in a certain tone. When he asked me where I was from - I replied 'Inglaterra'. After pulling a face of interest he continued with something like 'desde muy lejos entonces va'. What peculiar Spanish I thought, this translating into English as 'from very far away then - go'... As if the word choice (the random usage of 'go' to end a sentence) wasn't confusing enough, it becomes all the more tricky to comprehend the first time round when delivered in the thick, fast and heavily abbreviated Caribbean accent - sounding phonetically like - 'de'de muy le'o endonce' ba'. The outsider's 'back to base word' (an American expression I've heard here and rather like) should always be 'como?' or 'come again?'
I found though, that as we got into it I could understand what he was saying better. Shades on, moustached and very dark skinned - the Taxista couldn't have appeared any more stereotypically Central American. He began the conversation by asking what England is like - if the work there is plentiful, if we make a lot of money and what it's like compared to Honduras. I gave him my personal opinion and told him that there's much employment (particularly amongst the young generation), the country is cold (in all senses of the word), frankly boring and lacks any real culture. In comparison to Honduras in terms of natural beauty and the people - one can't compare the two. Honduras is blessed with immense beauty and Hondurans are (on the whole) a charming people. However in conclusion, I stated that the two places are so vastly different it's almost impossible to compare anything, we were talking about two different worlds. What made the conversation so intriguing though, is that he sounded about as 'patriotic' of his country as I do of mine. Home is where the heart is anyway.
Driving past the pineapple fields, which employ the vast majority of men in the area, he started telling me of the injustices existing for the Honduran worker. 'Los muchachos, tienen que trabajar muchisimas horas por casi nada sabes...Los Jefes pagan como un hijo de puta mon!' His plain description of how 'guys have to work many, many hours for close to nothing and that the bosses pay like a son of a bitch' couldn't have spelt it out much better. I have seen these men from teenage years to old age, those who work in construction, fruit harvesting, road works etc...I have seen them out at all hours in the fierce heat breaking their backs for absolutely nothing. Their poor physical conditions showing this. He continued explaining that only a few options exist for a Honduran - he spoke more for men than women. As I understood, the options are that you can drive a taxi, work in construction, work in the fields, fish...or maybe try your luck up north - The United States of America. He himself had also tried the latter but explained that he was eventually deported . That taxi driver was the second person I've met so far who has told me they were deported after working illegally in the States.
After discussing the many negatives of going north to the US as well as all the terrible things North Americans have committed in Latin America...we arrived at a police checkpoint. I asked him (on our being let through) what he thought of the Honduran police. 'Todos son coruptos mano' or 'they are all corrupt bro'. I left it at that. We soon moved onto other things, he agreed that his country is remarkably beautiful and that Hondurans are a good people however his contempt for the political and economical situation was made clear. I could see that things were probably hard for him - having to drive around all day searching what must seem like an endless barrage of streets, lanes and highways for passengers before then driving them where they want which probably entails taking some crap off the inevitable idiot here and there stepping in his vehicle. After a whole day of this, he probably then gives most of his money earned to some boss who sits behind a desk - doing nothing. That's what I saw as he sat there driving and telling me what was what in Honduras and how hard if not impossible it is to 'get ahead'...