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Current Location: Caye Caulker Cyber Cafe, Utila, Honduras

04.30.07

Price of beer in a bar: Holding steady at about US$1.20
Song currently stuck in my head:  Stand (REM).  I have no idea why and
I’m not especially happy about it.

I went into a grocery store the other day to buy some rum.  They had
two sizes to choose from: a 1 liter bottle (slightly larger than a
“fifth”) and a 1.75 liter bottle (a “handle” amongst my friends).
Neither of the bottles, nor the shelf, nor anything else for that
matter, had a price on it.  So I took one of each to the cash register
and this is what I pieced together in Spanish:

The 1 liter bottle costs 105 limps
The 1.75 liter bottle costs 230 limps

If you’re like me, then two lines of text might bring four questions
to mind.  Namely:  1) Did I hear that correctly?  Yes.  2) Why is the
larger bottle more than twice as much money for less than twice as
much rum?  They just said “yes”.  3) Who would buy the larger bottle?
People who don’t ask how much stuff costs.  4) How little faith do you
have to have in your federal economy to refer to your notes of
currency as “limps”?

I don’t have an answer to the 4th one.  I’m still here on Utila, going
a little stir crazy but looking forward to Jake’s arrival on Saturday.
I went out and saw some beautiful land this week and found a realtor
that I like.  I’ve been hanging out with cool folks, especially a
couple of Israeli guys that place a kind of Semitic Laurel and Hardy,
one constantly looking for trouble and the other admonishing him for
it.  Also at my guest house there’s a towering German dive instructor,
an English backpacker, another Israeli, and 3 Swiss girls.  I’m
curious what Espen and Christian are up to, though.  It’s a bit
jarring not having them around after so much consistent interaction.

Does anyone remember the last time that cocaine died, back in the late
80s?  Well thankfully I’m seeing signs that we’ll soon be referring to
that as “the second to the last time that cocaine died”.  I honestly
never thought I’d see coke get popular again.  It died such and
awesome, fiery death in the 80s, giving the Nancy Reagan “Just say no”
crowd the inflated egos necessary to go on and try to convince kids
that pot makes you want to shoot your friends.  Coke was so thou
roughly demonized at that point that when Eric Stoltz told Vincent
Vega “coke is fucking dead as… dead” it was more of a contextual cue
than any kind of new knowledge being imparted.  And then, roughly 15
years later, it was back.  Blame ecstasy for refueling a passion for
dance-friendly stimulants.  Or blame The Salvation Army for selling
out of everything except Vision Skatewear and the parade of asymmetry
that marked 80s fashion, forcing the hipster hand into the single
shiny glove that marked 80s retro.  And just like the Velvet
Underground box set and heroin chic that accompanied our second visit
to the 70s, cocaine rode right alongside white plastic framed
sunglasses into every trendy nightspot in every major city in the
states.

Even amongst filthy backpackers, people living on $30 a day including
room and board, requests for coke are a constant.  Granted, it is
incredibly cheap and relatively pure around these parts, but I’m still
surprised at just how many guys are buying it and how many girls are
demanding it.  I’m happy to say, though, that I’m seeing initial signs
of a backlash.  Coke is being spoken of openly in negative ways, and
you seldom hear people in bohemian enclaves speak up and express
negative views about anyone else’s use of any drug.  This isn’t just
hear, but more significantly in Guatemala, where the crowd struck me
as more… well… susceptible than most.

The locals have an overabundance of affection for their own favorite
white drug, but theirs is mayonnaise.  It’s getting to the point where
I almost have a taste for it because I forget to say “sin mayonnaise”
after every item that I order.  There is nothing served here that the
locals don’t feel benefits from a “healthy” slathering of mayo.  It’s
unreal.  While there is often truly amazing cuisine available, the
typical food in most of central america tends to be deep fried,
covered in mayo, with a small salad covered in mayo on the side.  And
you can see it in the size of their asses.  In your face, Milwaukee!
Every city that I’ve been in here has a local population shaped
roughly like weather balloons, and in Utila it’s especially apparent
because they load up in 3s on their mopeds you see the poor vehicle
strain to move.  I swear I hear them weep when the riders slow down to
pass over speed bumps.

I have to repeat my praise for the sunblock that I’ve been relying on.
Fate keeps throwing new challenges at it, and even when I’ve given up
hope it shows through.  I was on a 3 hour boat ride in direct sunlight
for the entire afternoon of a high-temperature-record-setting day
(somewhere over 100 of our American degrees, the only common imperial
unit of measure that they don’t use here).  I put on the sunscreen
earlier in the day, never reapplied, and wore a tank top.  Not only
did I know burn, there isn’t a hint of a tan line from the shirt.  I’m
pretty sure this stuff could stop a bullet.

People are gonna make dark jokes about that last line after I get shot
in a botched mugging down here.  “Well, I guess he didn’t have his
sunscreen on… heh heh.”  Girls will slap Bibber or Chris Ryan on the
arm for making the observation out loud.

In my search for Caribbean frontage I made it out to a little area
called Pigeon Caye.  I’ll save my impression for later, this message
is running on a bit.  It’s a pretty wild little place.

I’m assuming this is big news in the states, about the 92 year old
woman the police burst in on, shot to death, then planted drugs on to
make it okay.  Because it’s more acceptable to shoot people if they
have pot.  If you unfamiliar, take a look at this:

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/LAW/04/26/atlanta.indictments.ap/index.html

(Wow, I just realized that the CNN story omitted the part about
planting drugs completely.  Good old media consolidation.  Here’s an
LA Times story:)

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-cops27apr27,0,6937951.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Much like when I’m faced with incongruent pricing, a few questions
come to mind.  I’m in constant conversations about stuff like this
down here, where other travelers think that the phrase “home of the
free” is intended as some kind of sick joke.  And I have to agree with
them.  Knockless warrants?  For an alleged non-violent offense?  Are
you kidding me?

This isn’t some kind of isolated incident.  My parents were afraid of
my traveling amongst immoral police forces in central america.  I
explained that Amnesty International had released a report condemn the
wide spread beating of inmates and torture of suspects (for
confessions) in Chicago.  Every cop I know makes vague allusions to
planting drugs or weapons on suspects.  And these knockless warrants
are now routine.

Amongst first world nations, the US seems like one of the worst places
that one could choose to live.  Education is crap, as is “health
care”, and both are further deteriorating rapidly.  My doctor warned
me to do everything I can to stay out of American hospitals for the
foreseeable future, and I’ve hear this echoed elsewhere.  The State,
including the legislature, law enforcement, and the judicial is
corrupt with virtually no meaningful public oversight.  One candidate
decides not to take lobby contributions and he’s held up a hero.
Apparently having a single politician performing the bare minimum of
propriety is cause for celebration.

Good luck.  I’m preparing my place in the sun.

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