Skip to content

What You See

–Yo lo creere cuando yo lo vea

SANTA ROSA de COPAN — With a celebratory honking of horns the bus pulled up in front of Hotel Elvir and began disgorging doctors and nurses and assorted other CAMO types and their equipment like some outsized circus vehicle. As I filmed them getting off most paused and said, “Hello Andrew,” as if it were the most normal thing in the world for me to be standing on a street corner in Honduras pointing a camera at them. I always find it vaguely surreal seeing these Ohio faces here. It is, then, equally surreal seeing these same faces back in the midwest. It is as if they, we, all exist in a slightly different reality, an alternative universe where neither world is quite real in the other. My friend Beth Slattery from Indiana says of the midwest, that, “It really is the most provocative geography. The last frontier as nobody wants to come here. People who live here want to leave and those who do live here are considered mutant toglodytes with quaint–if not dangerous–superstitions. It is rather like Kabul in that respect only in another five years Kabul will probably be a tourist spot when Taliban Disney goes in…”
Honduras is truly a strange land. You could say, well, that it is a land of contrasts but if you did you would have committed that most common of lazy travel writing sins. After making that blatantly obvious statement you could then go on to give a few glaring examples that are, indeed, contrasts and leave it for the reader to figure out how smart you are that not only do you know the word, “contrast,” but you can recognize one in the real world. It is a lazy and fatuous way out, a short-cut to thinking because every country, town, spot-of-interest that is, was, or ever will be can be described as a place of contrast. It is very nearly as clever as writing that, “_____________ is a country where not everyone is exactly like everyone else. Even more surprisingly, some parts of _____________ look different than other parts.”
Every country possesses so many contrasts and differences from every other country that the statement of such is no more than meaningless filler. If one needs to be clever it is much better to pick a particular contrast or tension and explain that in detail. I, however, prefer simply to write the truth, the plain, unvarnished facts as I see them…

…Honduras, you see, is a cold land, with an unknown population of elephants…