Life goes on

July 3, 2009

My Mum is worried.  Back home in New Zealand reports of the coup in Honduras are filtering through, along with images of protests and clashes, and warnings against unnecessary travel to Honduras.  It’s a surreal experience being here, aware of the events taking place not far from where we live, yet carrying on with life as usual.

Politically the country is still in a stand-off.   The international community yesterday gave the coup leaders 72 hours to reinstate Zelaya or face sanctions.  Zelaya initially stated he would return today but now seems to be waiting for the 72 hours to pass before making a move.  The interim government has declared Zelaya will not be welcome here and, amongst those who have a voice anyway, it is clear much of the population does not want him back either, although both pro and anti- Zelaya marches and protests continue.  So most of us wait.  No-one really really knows how this will play out.

Of course this tension and political unease in the background has an impact on daily life.  We don’t have a TV but listen to the radio, and read newspapers, blogs and twitterers online.  We have prolonged discussions about the situation, and are constantly reassessing our plans taking into account the political events each day.  But the reality is that life goes on.  I go to university.  My husbandand daughter spend thier days playing on the porch, going for walks to collect fruit and swimming in the pool.  The people around us also carry on as normal, the workmen next door rebuilding another little casita, the staff and students at the university all still working.  The pulpurias (small dairy-like shops) are open, as is the local supermarkets and petrol station.

All appeared normal in Tegucigalpa on Tuesday when we finally took a much needed trip to the supermarket and to have a look at a few cars (we are reliant on others for transport at the moment but are looking for a car of our own). People were out and about on the streets as usual, and the malls and supermarkets are all open. The only evidence of the political strife was a handful of soldiers on the road into town, and a small, peaceful pro-Zelaya march (about 300-400 people I would guess) passing by the mall.

Our biggest worry so far is the potential effect of trade sanctions.  Already there are rumours of prices rises in some places.  We are well stocked for rice and beans, and have a whole fruit orchard to enjoy but it is a concern when we really still are here on a student budget.  It is even more of a worry for the 60% or so of the population who are poor.  Petrol shortages are also likely as Chavez cuts the flow of Venezuelan oil to Honduras, and our neighbour has already experienced significant difficulty filling his car in Tegus. earlier this week.  While I’m not sure if it is linked with the political crisis, I have also had difficult accessing my Visa and NZ bank accounts from the ATM we usually use, the message stating that my istitution was not connected to the bank at this time. I’m hoping that is just a normal ‘travel in Honduras’ related issue otherwise we’ll be very short of cash for a while – although the Visa works fine for normal in store payments so we won’t starve.

The other impact this crisis is having is on my planning.  I should be well into making plans and appointments for my research trip to the North Coast later this month, but have put it on hold until things are a little clearer.  At the moment things are safe, and people are travelling normally, but the threat of the escalation of violence exists and if so, we will be happier and safer on our mountainside than on the road.  It isn’t a big deal except that it delays the data collection, but I do have my supervisors permission to stay home and make chocolate cake should I be unable to travel!

So, life goes on.  We wait and see.  We eat, sleep, work, swim… and hope and pray this passes quickly and peacefully.

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