I lased up my tenni’s and brushed my teeth. I had no idea what was in store for the day. The rumors were that the ex-president was planning an entry into Honduras, which according to my friend meant protests and manifestations from “Mel” supporters. I should interject here, I don’t really know what is going on-I’m not sure anyone does. But to her credit, my friend has done an impressive amount of research, not to mention her boyfriend who works for one of the major newspapers here. They understand there is corruption in the government. They even give credit to their president’s early years, but they say something changed along the way. And with the recent attempts to apparently change the constitution (allowing him to remain as President) their main fear, and not without cause, is the Chavez influence from Venezuela.
Being inconspicuous is not easy when you are the only gringo in sight, armed solely with a camera, which swung across my back like a monkey with every step I took. I walked with my friend from her business to the “hot” area (where the manifestations generally began or ended). The ousted president was threatening a return. The current government was threatening armed action-if necessary to prevent it. And in the city, it all seemed so normal. Granted I had nothing to compare this day in downtown San Pedro Sula to, but as far as I could tell, there was no tension was mounting. People sat, strolled, sold goods in the square. Men asked me if I needed to change money, most paid no attention. Nothing like the nation in turmoil I had imagined.
Eventually we learned the rumored return was a false alarm, and with that conversation turned from politics to people. I probed for needs known anywhere in the city or country. “Ah, let me make a call…” my college friend’s boyfriend picked up his phone and spoke quickly in Spanish. “Would you like to work with HIV children in a couple days?” “Of course!” And just like that I had my next project: an orphanage with almost 30 children, all HIV positive.
My excitement swelled with every detail I learned. However, the orphanage was not expecting me for at least another day, and with no real political action to report on, I was left with no other choice than to go find myself some ancient Mayan ruins.
Next stop: Copan, Honduras.