A Myth: Cowboys in “Very Dry Tropical Forest Valleys”

In many ways, not in all ways, but in many ways, small towns in Northern Honduras are like those in   the Southern U.S. Picture dry, clay, dust. Picture men on horses, hearding long-horned cattle. Watch them drive pick-up trucks and wear cowboy boots and cowboy hats. Hear the sing-song of their accents, the slow pace and which they walk and swing from hammocks at dusk. For many, life revolves around evangelical churches and services held in living-rooms. They sing hymns about father, brother and friend Jesus, the life of Jesus, loving Jesus, and the miracles of Jesus. They blast Christian songs on most TV channels on Sunday, on small speakers at early dawn, on the city bus, and from store-fronts. I’ve met illiterate “brothers”, church leaders, who can barely write their own names, but who speak eloquently about the Bible for hours with strange fervour and ample vocabularies.
In our town, many teenagers get up at 4:30am to catch 5:00am buses. Most women start their chores, and the men milk their cows at 6:00. All days start this early and I feel guilty staying in bed until 7:00, like I’ve wasted half my day.
Yesterday, our neighbour down the road was still in bed at 11:00am. In the hours since dawn, the whole neighbrouhood had reasoned her situation through gossip and truths. I’ve been told that her husband, a slim, tall young man, beat her the night before. There are many explanations, comments and stories condensed into one string of rumors. A viral secret. It sits on the hot, heavy air, staring at all the wives and all the husbands and all the children and youth who understand. It looks at us with its small beady eyes, and we pretend to look beyond it, as if it wasn’t blocking our vision. I feel resposible knowing and not acting. There are groups of women, cooperatives, who organize events. Maybe we can do something together….Unfortunately in many ways, this place is like many others around the world, and domestic violence stubbornly endures in dark corners and in plain sight.

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