Title: Watching hip-hop to Spanish rap in Copan
Location: Copan Ruinas, Honduras
Last Friday morning during Spanish immersion class I kept hearing a voice blaring throughout the town with some sort of announcement. I assumed it was some politician. Next thing I knew my teacher jumped up and told me to come. We went out to the park and stood there. I asked what was happening. " The candidates for Queen and Princess of the Copan Fair are in a parade." Ok. I've seen some great parades: 4th of July in Plymouth,MA; the German- American parade on 5th Aveune in New york City; and the grand daddy of them all, the 16 hour ( you read that right) Cusco Day Parade in Cusco, Peru. This was not the Rose Bowl. It wasn't even the puny Memorial Day parade in Shelburne Falls.
First, there was the pick-up truck with the loud speakers. Next was an SUV -never did figure out its purpose. These were followed by 8 or 9 of the little red 3-wheeled mini-taxis. Each had removed their canvas roof. Some were decorated with balloons or ferns or flowers. Several of them had 2 or 3 little girls ( 5 -8 years old) who looked scared to death. The last 4 taxis each had a queen candidate ( 15 -17 yesrs old). They also looked very uncomfortable. They went round and round the park and up some of the side streets for at least an hour.
That night was the 'pageant'. I'll be right up front with my biases here. I think 'beauty contests' of any kind are degrading but when they involve little girls they are downright sick. The 'show' was supposed to start at 7. I was in the park at 6:45. It was dark. There was a band setting up in the little amphitheater that is built into a corner of the park. But no queen, no little girls, not even much of an audience. I was getting a little nervous. Did I mention it was pretty dark? I spotted a gringa looking woman and casually went up to her and asked if she spoke English. She did. She was from Utah and, yep, you guessed it. She was one of those Mormons who are floating around doing good works and preaching. We chatted for a while and her husband came over to join us. Then they left. I walked over to a Honduran woman and asked where the contest for the queen was. She pointed to a building over across the way. I bought a ticket and walked in.
The hall was decorated with flowers and a runway trimmed with those tiny little white Christmas lights. In the rear of the hall were all those damn 4 foot high speakers blasting away. Most of the audience were little kids and rather heavy set ladies. It was long past 7 and no signs of anything beginning. But by 8 things were ready to roll. The first 'act' was a group of teenagers from Guatemala. They were about 14 - 18 years old. 3 girls and maybe 10 guys. They came out in hip-hop type baggy pants with suspenders hanging down. And, lord bless Michael Jackson, they all had on one white glove. The music started and it was LOUD! They were fantastic! If anyone had ever told me that I would be watching hip-hop to Spanish rap in Copan I wouldn't have believed it. Their dancing was superb but it was their attitude that was so infectious. They radiated joy and life and energy in every stomp of their feet, in every synchronized wave of their white glove hand, in every karate kick, push up, hip swirl. The hell with the girls, I thought, let these kids dance all night.
The first parade of females was to the theme 'Fantasy'. The little ones came first. There was a Mayan maiden, a harvest girl all wrapped in crepe paper to resemble corn stalks or something, a butterfly, another Maya maiden. They were all very sweet and shy. Then came the Sun Princess. She had on a gold spangly bra top, a little gold spangly mini -skirt that didn't cover her little butt. She carried a little wand that had a sun painted on it- sparkly, of course. She wiggled her non-existent hips and, oh barf, threw kisses to the audience. The crowd went wild- screaming, hooting, stomping and cheering. I thought I had entered a twilight zone kind of scene where I know it is really crude and bad behavior but everyone seems to be oblivious to it.
Another dance from 3 couples of the Guatamalan group. This time the boys were in red shirts and white pants and the girls in long red skirts and white off the shoulder blouses. They were all barefoot and were doing a Caribbean type dance. Oh my!. The hip action was something to behold. I remember when we had some students from Chile. They were trying to teach a bunch of Yankees how to do a Chilean dance. They gave up. One said " American men just can't move their hips". Oh, I wish I could breathe some of their smiles and energy through the keys. You would smile all day.
Next a male singer, from Guatemala and then a female singer from Guatemala. Apparently the only thing from Honduras were the candidates. Oh, I forgot to mention, Miss Guatemala was present. She was tall, very tall. The fact that she was wearing 5 inch heels and a 7 inch crown( not a tiara- a huge crown) helped. She was gorgeous and obviously had taken advantage of those inexpensive plastic surgeons that are in these countries.