Photographer: Hannes Wallrafen
Authors: Julio Escoto & Guillermo Anderson
Published by KIT. Distributed in the U.S. by Stylus Publishing. ISBN: 90 6832 526 4.
Of Time and the Tropics (Del Tiempo y el Trópico) is a book and CD set exploring the sights and sounds of Honduras put out by KIT Publishers and Centro Editorial, SRL. The text of the book, printed in both English and Spanish, is a hodgepodge of history, poetry and memoir.
Each section is a little bit-sized nugget from writer and essayist Julio Escoto. Seen as a voice of Central America , Escoto is the author of the recent novel Rey del Albor, Madrugada and has received several literary prizes. Escoto’s writings for Of Time in the Tropics range from a brief history of the political and economic forces that brought the trains to the country to a mystical examination of the ceiba tree.
The text extends beyond history and personal vignettes, going so far in some cases as to take a well-deserved poke at the power from the North that controls credit and aid. Escoto’s writing isn’t travelogue – it’s something better – a reflective look that reveals the state of the collective Honduran psyche.
Hannes Wallrefen, a photographer from Amsterdam, captures the visual Honduras. There’s a little bit of everything, both the ordinary and the extraordinary, and all of it striking beautiful. Photos of a blurry flash of a young girl in a red dress, banana industry workers taking a break and a mosaic tiled floor covered with iguanas (that resembles an M.C. Escher print come to life) drip with color and captivate the eye. Together with the writing, these pictures put the people and life in Honduras into focus. Wallrefen tells us rich stories with each photograph.
Finally, Guillermo Anderson, well-known singer and songwriter from Honduras, ensnares listeners with the songs and the sounds of the country. The CD is a delightful patchwork of song, sounds of nature and the music of the people. Anderson’s vocals evoke a personal connection to the land and history of Honduras. The garífuna influence, the mixture of the African and Native Indian musical traditions, is a powerful component to the collection of songs. Field recordings combined with song makes it the perfect companion to both the text and photographs contained in the book – you can almost smell banana or the salt air. The only drawback I’d like to mention was the stingy coverage of the liner notes, which didn’t do the music justice.
One can only hope that more musical, photographic and written collections like this one will come to fruition. The combination of culture, history and sound traditions shifts one’s perceptions from a map to a people and the results are a valuable piece of time and place.