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Ryan’s Great Adventures

Volume 4: Sat May 4, 2002

I pretend to be a monkey and climb a tree

This last week I've learned a lot about the holiday "culture" of Honduras. I told you about the Earth Day parade and my surprise that it would be celebrated here, but there's more....

May 1st is "El Dia del Trabajadores", literally "the Day of the Workers", but you'd probably recognize it as Labor Day. While walking to class that day, I immediately realized SOMETHING was up because the streets were virtually deserted and absolutely nothing was open. However, there were well-armed guards on every street corner. That in itself isn't unusual since there are well-armed guards everywhere, but they had always been guarding the Burger King or local ice cream store. These guards seemed to be guarding—strangely enough—the very deserted streets of La Ceiba.

While virtually all businesses were closed for the holiday, it turned out there was much more activity going on than first met the eye. The streets were deserted because nobody had to go to work, but they were massing forces at one end of San Isidro (the main drag through town) to hold a parade, although I'm not sure "parade" is the best word for it. It started off with a high school band. I loved their "uniform". Every band I've seen in a parade in the United States would have military-like uniforms, but these people all dressed in jeans and white T-shirts. My teacher told me they were playing the national anthem for Honduras.

A woman crosses a river on the beach

After the band passed, hundreds of demonstrators followed. They were holding banners and picket signs about corrupt politicians, taxes, and the usual stuff people protest about. Some groups were chanting slogans, although I didn't catch what they were. These demonstrators passed by for 20 or 30 minutes I would guess, and they were followed by several dozen taxis honking their horns because, well, that's what taxis do. =) I'm not sure if they were part of the parade or were following the parade in hopes of picking up passengers who had been watching the parade, but it was a comical sight.

Un paradisio on the beach

And that was it. My teacher said many of the demonstrators would stand in front of the municipal building down the street and shout their demands all day long, and I could hear them doing just that for hours afterwards. (The building was maybe five blocks away.)

It seems the locals REALLY like their holidays out here, and one person told me if there isn't an official holiday—no matter how obscure—they'll celebrate because "hoy es hoy" (i.e. "today is today"). I looked up the word 'holiday' in my Spanish-English dictionary, and it read "dia de fiesta", which, translated literally, means "day of party/feast/merriment/whatever". Well, at least they're honest! =)

I've also discovered I REALLY like the phrase "hoy es hoy". It's a good answer for a lot of things. First, a little Spanish lesson for those who don't know any:

   por que = why      (Why did you do that?)
   porque = because   (Because I wanted to!)

We spent one day of classes here, studying while lounging in the hammocks

I find this very annoying, because when you SAY the words, they sound exactly the same—at least as far as I'm concerned. And at times, people have asked me "why" did I do/say/think/whatever something, and I really didn't have a good reason for it. I did it just BECAUSE! So I'd say, "Porque". Because. But then they'll think I'm asking, "Por que?" as if I was repeating their question. So they'll ask me the question AGAIN. And I must took like a total idiot while they're thinking I'm really trying to ask, "Why? Is that what you're asking me? WHY?" When I'm really trying to answer "BECAUSE. That's why! BECAUSE!".

However, NOW when I really want to say, "Because", I'll now say, "Porque hoy es hoy." =) So now someone will ask "Why did you do that?" And now I can answer "Because today is today" and they'll know exactly what I'm getting at! =) It's a great phrase to know. I can now answer all sorts of questions without really providing an answer, whether I understand what they're asking or not! =)

Tomorrow (Sunday) I'll be heading out to Utila, a small island 30 or 40 miles off the coast of Honduras for a week of diving and snorkling. (And continuing to learn Spanish, of course.) However, I've heard reports that the Internet connection from the island—when it actually works—is rather expensive, so I probably won't be back online until after I return to the mainland in a week or so. If you e-mail me during that time, don't expect a very prompt reply! Not only will I not be online for a week, but it'll probably take a few days to catch up on all the e-mail that piles up during my absence.

That is all.....

— Ryan

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