Two years ago, I would not have thought that my life would take me where I am now. I am nursing, not as a career, but as a volunteer, writing professionally and creatively, living in Honduras, speaking in Spanish more than English, and all together, living a more fulfilling and enjoyable life. Want to learn how to quit your own job and travel the world for a year while pursuing your dreams? Check out the first of a series of my articles on traveling the world for a year without a job at Endless Trek Magazine.
I recently was discussing with a friend in Copan the word culture and how we both thought it was often misused to make excuses for unacceptable treatment of women and children. Until she had brought it up, I didn’t realize that I myself had used it as an excuse in my writing and conversation. The word “machismo” could very easily be exchanged for the American idiom “boys will be boys,” both placing the unacceptable acts of men in the category of “culture.” When these words are used, somehow rape, domestic violence, and cheating become more acceptable because they are part of the “culture.”
I am frequently asked by friends and family, how can you live in Honduras where men treat women like they do? This question makes me upset when people ask it, and for some time, I did not understand why. I now see that the root of my irritation is that not so long ago America’s “culture” was one of female oppression, and the phrase “children should be seen and not heard” was used frequently to ignore the voices of the innocent.
It was strong people, that’s right, PEOPLE, not just women, who helped make the freedoms of women and children possible in the U.S. Americans seem to forget that this change only really happened in the last 100 years, and we lived in a similar world as women and children do here. While the unacceptable behaviours of men in Honduras are ignored on a regular basis, and that is termed machismo, I believe that way of thinking is changing, not just here, but in the world.
I see strong children and females all around me. I am reminded, that while many battles have been won, it is an on-going war to change the mindset of a world that has been primarily patriarchal, with women and children seen as possessions, not human beings of equal standing, for most of its history.
I look at the male children around me, and I ask myself where and how can they learn to be different than their fathers? How will they learn to be champions of women and children and call themselves feminists too? So often, I see men pushed to the side in the feminist movement, but they can be just as much a part of it and are necessary to it’s progress. They can show what true culture is.
By definition, culture is “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.” True culture is when people come together with all their knowledge, wisdom, experience, and history to create a statement of who they are as a people and what they have achieved together. As a cultural statement of the world, I hope someday at the base of all our achievements will be equality and respect.
London in one word: Bittersweet. There is too much history here, and it haunts my present. As much as I have enjoyed this visit, it is good that I am leaving London. I spent my time here well, drinking sangria with a good friend, visiting favorite spots and finding new ones, dancing the blues instead of the salsa, Singing in the Rain with a fellow lover of Portland’s wet weather, and enjoying the best art for free. Seeing someone from Portland reminded me of what I love about home, and I find I am a bit homesick. My frequent time on my own here reminds me of the early days of London life when I felt a bit like a ‘Lonely Londoner’ and hadn’t adjusted yet to my new home. The discomfort of loneliness is a good lesson in independence, but too long in this state can just be depressing. Au revoir London, until we meet again.
Dirty Little Stop-Out
My name used to be Portland
I left the city of roses
Only to acquire its identity
Soho strangers colliding
Banter of dead bodies
Deemed it so
Led to lip-lockings
Regent’s park revelations
Dancing delirium came with
Sangria infused salsa
Bloody peek-a-boo toes
Scrumpy Jack Shakespeare says
Black currents bite like snakes
One can survive the venom
Just be sure to mind the gap.
After six years away from London, I found it uncanny how easily I was able to navigate the tube and streets. It felt as though time had not past and that I was twenty again. I wandered aimlessly, or so I thought, but somehow I would end up at the same locations I was drawn to before. I did not know if this was because they were tucked away in my subconscious, wanting to be revisited, or because I am still very much the same person I was then in my basic nature and enjoy similar experiences. Either way, I found myself at the Tate Modern craving Francis Bacon and in the Borough Market talking about big apple dreams while feeling inspired by church bells ringing in the foggy London sunset. The Borough Market was classier than what I remembered, but perhaps, it is just that now I can appreciate the foodie atmosphere that comes to life in the evening. The violet sky’s mist wrapped me in its arms as I drank red wine while overlooking the Thames. I raised my glass in cheers to this foggy city out of a Monet painting. I felt euphorically satisfied and at the same time sad as I reminisced. Six years ago I came to this city, died, and was reborn out of ashes. How apt to come back as a dying phoenix preparing for its second life.
After mad posting to make up for the time without my phone, I have finally caught up to current location. With all my resistance to technology, I have to say I have grown to love this little phone with all its various writing apps. I still have my well-loved moleskin with me though; there is something about pen on paper that inspires me in ways a computer cannot.
After Scunthorpe, I spent a few days in Bristol with a group of artsy, laid-back individuals, one of which surfed on my couch this summer. She showed me around the city by bike, and it felt very much like Portland with its scenic variety, creative energy, and youthful opportunity. I could live in this city with its tea shops, cafes, and pubs, so cozy and ideal for people watching, live music options and street art around every corner. I love the free expression of graffiti art and find it more moving and thought provoking than most gallery exhibits. It is raw and gritty like life. Days were spent in good company sleeping in and catching up on the Harry Potter movies. There was consensus that Ron does indeed become more attractive each film. My last night was spent with friends indulging in a sumptuous Indian spread and drinking at The Old Duke while listening to varying artists perform in an intimate atmosphere.
Still ill with the ever-present sniffle/cough, I left for Scunthorpe to visit my host family from when I studied abroad in London six years ago. My mum, who nursed me to health back then, did the same again. In Scunthorpe, I got my own room and bed, a first in my trip. The shower was toasty warm, and I was filled to the brim daily with hot tea and hearty meals. I received much needed love and hugs from her beautiful daughters, who reminded me of my own nieces and nephews back home, whom I miss something fierce. Everyone in the family was so generous, taking me for walks around town, helping me get a much needed hair cut, taking me to the local museum, and fulfilling my vampire movie quota so I didn’t go through withdrawals. It had been far too long since last I saw them, and yet, I felt like I was right back at home the instant I walked in the door.