Monthly Archives: January 2011

It was late on a Tuesday night, tripping on mushrooms on the upper deck of Tranquila bar; a not-unusual Utilan weeknight. Unexpectedly, the plague of pishy pop came to a halt mid-song, and was replaced by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd – unbelievably apt. That soon got rid of the poppy-pish customers, but of course we lingered on, spending some hour or two giggling, making patterns in our heads of the trees and the ripples on the water.

At closing this little hobbit-sized fellow, a bandana tied round his shaved head in the fashion of a 50s housewife, came up the stairs collecting empty bottles. He instantly singled out the DBA as a gullible tourist, suggestible tourist, fellow miscreant, I don’t know, but made a bee-line for him and launched into a fervent and animated story about a shootout that afternoon over drugs and money during which he was wounded (he pointed at his arm  – there was nothing to be seen). As soon as he was done with all the gangster talk, the little chap walked over to the stairs, mounted the banister, and slid down, grinning inanely, like some insane Mary Poppins, the bow upon his tiny gangster head completing the look. Jane and I cracked up.

It transpired that the guy was fresh out of jail on Roatan, the neighbouring island, and was working off a 62 Lempira ($3ish) debt to the manager by tidying up the bottles. The true extent of his crazed nature was revealed as we tried to leave, when he began, with the fervency of the guns ‘n’ money story, proffering sex with 14 year-old girls to the DBA and our newfound miscreant, Justin. At some point during the incessant flow of filth, Mary Poppins mentioned his ‘two apartments’, with satellite TV, that all of us would fit into – for only $500! (It was unclear whether this included the underage hookers or not). “But I have my own apartment, with a TV and everything, why would I want to go to yours?” I could no longer hold it together and turned away in a fit of laughter.

Somebody brought up the need for rum. “We can go to La Pirata”, Mary Poppins chimes in, “and get rum, and then we can all go on my ‘mopeds’ to my ‘apartments’”. There was not one moped in sight, certainly not a fleet of them. Justin also burst into laughter. We turned and faced the wall together.

At the mention of La Pirata, a heinous bar filled with flashy lights and crackheads but the only one open that late on a Tuesday, Mary Poppins embarked on a new tact: “Come to La Pirata, there will be 13 year-olds dancing on the pole, like this” – he requests that somebody hold his hand so he can demonstrate. Jane joins the cracking-up now too; we’re all hysterical except for the DBA, who has had a look of dumbstruck terror on his face the entire time.

Since no-one would hold his hand, Mary Poppins proceeded to launch himself onto a nearby wooden post and execute a move which he called ‘the sledgehammer’, complete with sexy sound effects. Good gracious.

It had been a good quarter-of-an-hour now that we had failed to escape the insane Mary Poppins, and I was fearful of him following us home. I realised the only means of shedding him was to follow him to Pirata – and then flee! We needed rum anyway…

As we walked along the road, Mary bounding about the place beating up rubbish bins and the like, I began to wonder if in fact he knew exactly what he was doing – if it was every bit his intention to emulate Poppins, with his head scarf and his banister-sliding, and the joke was in fact on us

The only other occasion Jane and I had entered La Pirata was the night we unwittingly consumed space-cake – not an enjoyable experience. Now we were about to enter, with incredible reluctance, under mushroom influence. At least this time we had our sense of humour to get us through.

It was every bit as horrific as we had feared – unnecessarily flashing lights, teeth-grindingly bad music, Tony Red-Hat malingering in a corner (the crackhead who the previous week had threatened to beat all our heads in with a lead pipe). Much to our surprise, the minute Mary Poppins had seen us inside he pointed out his friend who was going to ‘look after’ us and take us to a house party, and promptly left! Job done! When it became apparent that the bar weren’t going to sell us rum for anything short of extortion, we could at last make good our getaway, and in a true Monty Python style dashed for the spiral staircase and fled, crying “Escape! Escape! Run away! Run away!” as we went.


I’ve been sleeping terribly badly lately. Whether I’m drunk or sober, go to bed at 10pm or 6am, I sleep badly, and it’s beginning to make me bad tempered and despondent. Something has to be done…

Today, I took my new bicycle (it’s rusty as hell, has only two working gears and one working break – worryingly, the front one. But it’s new to me. And actually, it’s in pretty good nick for a Utilan bicycle – it has a working break!) and cycled out east to the volcanic iron cliffs where we had stopped off on the golfcart day.

And it was the most fabulous day for it. Fuck sunshine and Caribbean calm – today the sky was filled with clouds and all of the shades of grey, and the sea was raging, and it reminded me of home, in a good way. Raging against the shore in the way that if you step too close, in a second it will whip you down and smash you to pieces. Nothing quite like the threat of imminent death.

I fucking love the sea.

I set off across the moonscape, clambering over the irony, jaggedy, volcanic rocks. With the preceding rain and the ferocity of the ocean, rock pools had formed, filled with clear water, whelks and crabs, creating minute waterfalls. I got to the edge and discovered a second inlet, with an even wilder crashing swell. Like at the brink of a waterfall, or at the edge of the subway tracks, there is that creeping temptation to fling yourself over…

And there I saw m­­­­y perfect house, on the other side of the inlet: a little square cabin with a pagoda-like roof, a balcony with two chairs facing the incoming storm…

I had no camera with me. These pictures from the sunny golfcart day give an idea of the landscape, though without the drama.

Jane just had a freak-out about strawberry dairy products. The Wookie (aka Smokey, aka Cokey, aka Pukie) returned from the 7-11 with strawberry ice-cream, which she refused to partake of and vehemently vented that only crazy people drink strawberry milk.

This brought to mind a moment on Saturday, when the DBA was dangling from the roof of the Golfcart as we sped along through the palms, wearing the Lolita sunglasses, and declaring that he felt like he was in an ad for something strawberry-flavoured. Point proved?

I made it half-way through the tub of said strawberry ice-cream when an offer of ‘Cheese Twists’ was made. How could I refuse this temptation? I placed the ice-cream aside, and dipped my fingers into the bag of heinously orange corn-based snacks. Alas, they were horrid and I was obliged, in quick succession, to eat some Cheetos – a far superior flavour of faux cheese, despite also being heinously orange.

I returned to the strawberry ice-cream and, struggling to finish it, offered it to the room. Smokey was content with his own corn-based snacks and far larger tub of chocolate ice-cream; the DBA, having had some spoonfuls earlier, felt that his strawberry dairy quotient for the day was fulfilled. Jane, horrified at the thought that ice-cream might be wasted, offered to eat some despite her adamant disbelief in strawberry dairy. This was a big moment – it had been many years. Even as a child she had refused to eat the strawberry section of the Neapolitan.

This experience was not to alter her feelings. Revolted by the taste of the strawberry dairy, she reached for the nearest food substance – the Cheetos. Already a bad combination, this was further added to by the guabapiña juice laced with Tatascan (aguardiente – firewater) with which she attempted to wash away the foul flavours. Jane will never, ever attempt strawberry dairy again.

I finished the ice-cream.

The DBA then revealed how in prison in the United States, orange juice is served with every meal, and inmates leave cups of it under their beds to ferment. The resulting substance then has to be strained through a sock before consumption, but will deliver a tasty shot of something surprisingly similar to alcohol… This had little relevance to the preceding events.

The DBA’s next move was to wonder into the kitchen and come back with a cup, into which he began dipping the remaining Cheetos and Cheese Twists.

“What’s that?” Jane enquired.

“Vegemite and water”, replied the DBA.

Acts of the crazed, indeed…

I went into the hostel bathroom this morning and there was an abandoned towel hanging, dankly, from the centre of the shower rail, a soggy match by the sink, a mound of cigarette ash on the floor, and a large piece of carefully scrunched toilet roll positioned in a hole in the wall.

I don’t understand.

There has been no peace to be had, even in sleep. I spent last night fending off horny monkeys and creepy weirdos,  while the Tegus students sitting at either side of me demanded serious political conversations.

That night i dreamt i was walking through a park, carrying teacups to a children’s tea party, all the while pursued by a randy German trying to convince to have sex with him in the bushes.

After awakening from this horror, recalling the horrors of the previous evening, and finding the mild horrors in the bathroom, i cowered in my room for over an hour, hungover, faffing, and muttering to myself.

Cheese tortillas were on my mind, but by the time i made it to the kitchen in search of sustenance, i had not the strength for cooking.

Cornflakes and warm milk it was to be.