Mel, Military Curfews and My Empty Cupboards

3:54pm, Monday afternoon: I’ve made my grocery list and checked it twice, and I’m heading out the door. Walking through my kitchen, I shake my head at the sad state of affairs. Mother Hubbard’s dog would likely choose her cupboards over my own at this point. A trip to the grocery store is long over due. As I walk out the gate of my apartment complex and head down the street, looking for a cab to hail, things seem pretty normal. However, there is a sound of a distant siren which leads my thoughts to drift a bit as I wonder if La Ceiba has any emergency warning systems in place – in event of hurricanes or whatnot. Even now I’m not sure whether the siren was significant, but moments later, my neighbor, Angelica pulls up next to me in her car. “Where are you going?” she asks. (I’m assuming she’s thinking of offering me a ride.) “Para hacer mandados. Running errands,” I respond. She shakes her head adamantly. “Didn’t you know there is a 4pm toque de queda? Mel is back.” Literally translated, this phrase means “a warning or call to stay” but it is significant of a government imposed curfew. Before June 28th the day that Mel Zelaya was whisked from his presidential house to Costa Rica, I’d never heard this phrase, but now, its like an old friend, who unfortunately comes to visit at unexpected times and generally stays way too long. Mel is back! This is big news. I turn on my heals and head back towards home, stopping briefly at the small corner store to buy minutes for my phone, should I need to communicate with the outside world over the next few days.

The curfew was announced only 30 minutes before it went into effect. For those of us who didn’t happen to be watching tv or listening to the radio at the time, the warning was even shorter (about 1 minute’s notice for me.) Not a lot of time to prepare, by any standard. Originally the curfew was in effect until 7am Tuesday morning, but by end of day, it had been extended until 6pm. This means, other than the police enforcing the curfew, there will be no work for Honduras on Tuesday.

I wake Tuesday morning and turn on the television to get the latest on the evolving situation. Outside, my window, the guys next door are blasting their 80’s dance music mix and sitting around on the porch with their shirts off. They seem to be making the most of their unplanned day off work. In contrast, on the television, the situation in the capital looks tense and volatile. Mel Zelaya is making speeches, Roberto Micheletti is making speeches. The international community is reacting, the military has cleared the streets of protestors and Zelaya supporters from in front of the Brazilian embassy, where Zelaya has taken refuge.

Sitting in my “home office”, I continue to check the news, waiting for word as to whether we will once again be free to wander the streets come 6pm or if the curfew will be extended. I cant imagine that the grocery stores will magically open tonight anyway, after being closed all day long. How would the workers even get to their jobs with public transportation shut down? Until further notice, I’ll be staying at home, glued to the news, hoping for a peaceful resolution for Honduras, and subsisting on the few items remaining on my kitchen shelves: grapefruits, cheerios, tortillas and beans.

By Desirae Wrathall

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