Elena tells me not to take the bus that passes by her house to the centro, because it doesn't actually go to the centro, it goes to Comayagüela. "No puedes tomarlo porque el estadio no es como antes," she says. "Es una zona de asalto. Porque es monte." "You can't take it because the [National] Stadium [area] isn't like it used to be. It's an assault zone. Because it's monte." Monte is one of those words with a lot of meanings. It means weeds, areas with weeds, unpaved roads and rough patches, and wildness.
After Casa Alianza, I went and took another collectivo up the hill behind the CPTRT. I had left late the night before and not gotten to ask Alba all the questions I'd wanted to. I got confused about which door to knock on, and was once again grateful to have bought a cell phone. Alba was wonderfully nice and helpful again. She told me that a number of women were in jail for 5-6 years just a little bag of weed. Six years for a nickel bag? Although actually, doesn't mandatory sentencing in some states give exaggeratedly long sentences for pot?
I walked out from the CPTRT toward downtown. At the corner of the main drag was an empty newspaper stand with only the blown-up cover of El Heraldo, proclaiming "Hunger suffocates the country."
From the same position, the heavily fortified U.S. embassy towers over Tegucigalpa. Across the street from it is the only-slightly-less-fortified USAID offices.
Just down the hill, another internet café offered to fill out US visa forms.
Now I've gone several days without writing, and despair of catching up. But here goes. I'm still on Monday (it's Friday now). At the CPTRT with the señoras on an in-between patio with chairs set up in a little circle, I introduced myself rather lengthily and asked for their stories. They were, as often happens with people in extreme poverty here, overly grateful for my presence. It makes me a little uncomfortable to be thanked so profusely just for being there and for being white, North American and wealthy—they don't know me. But it only makes me a little uncomfortable; I'm also used to it.
I headed out in the morning to meet with Kenia Irías at the National Institute of Women (INAM), a governmental organization, in a taxi. We passed a supermarket with a prison guard tower:
…and a family on a morning bike ride
It's a bit hard to see here, but there's dad, mum, and child.
The INAM's logo has a lot of lipstick:
Newspaper break, from El Tiempo:
Page 2: Gas prices go up 2 lempiras, to about L.70, or around USD$3.70. No wonder taxis cost almost as much as they would in the states.
Page 4: Hospital Emergency: [Hospital] Escuela in intensive care due to bed shortage.
Page 6: Sampedranos enjoy the festival of fried pigskin.
I've been carrying this around:
There was a pile of them right on the shelf of the immigration officer in the airport. Pretty amazing access—I wonder what strings got pulled to allow that, or if it was just put there by a friend of the ecotours company.
Wednesday June 11th-Thursday June 13th
I went to the mall to meet María Luisa Borjas, went on the internet briefly, and then a few minutes early went to the Espresso Americano. I bought a bottled water and tried to get my scattered mind in order. I knew I shouldn't have drunk that green tea. I wrote down things I wanted to ask her about: