Marcelo "Calin" Torres: Garífuna Musician and Craftsman
Marcelo "Calin" Torres is a musician and craftsman from La Ensenada, Honduras. Photo credit: Drew Irwin.
Marvelous things have occurred to me in my artistic life. When you play music, people oftentimes don't think that you are an artist. This has happened to me. But, when I was with the musical group, Beny and his Combo, I began to feel what it was really like to be a musician. I learned how to play the guitar, sing in front of a crowd, and give it all I could - this was all very nice and it made me proud to belong to this group.

I was then with one of the best bands in the community, "The Gobana." I cannot tell you enough how marvelous it was working with people who are truly musicians. They invited us to perform in La Ceiba, a large town on the Northern Coast of Honduras, for Carnaval. It was a spectacular show. But, unfortunately, it was the last time that I played with this group. That's because in those days, I didn't have a clear vision. It didn't seem to me a good idea to be a musician. I forced myself to look for other work to be able to make a living. That's because music, then, didn't mean everything to me.

That's when I decided to go to the United States to open my horizons. I went by way of the sea with some friends. When I arrived in Belize, the atmosphere sucked me in and wiped out my dreams and inspirations of going to the United States. Weak, like all mankind, I stayed in Belize. After eight months, I came back to Honduras to dive for lobster.

I made my living from shell fishing, but I didn't feel safe at sea. I always thought that I was in danger and that a shark would appear at any moment. Danger is always present and in all parts - everyone told me. Also, I felt and witnessed the mistreatment that came from diving. I saw that other employees abused themselves diving. When they came back from working, they simply wanted to relax their bodies. However, they didn't do it in the correct form, but under the effects of alcohol and all of that. We earned a pretty penny - but it is a shame when someone isn't truly educated and doesn't know what money is good for. Many times we are not educated in this aspect. Therefore, everything that we do and all that we earn does nothing for us. If you don't educate yourself, why do you choose to make another life?

Back in those days, I myself was not well trained and educated. I got involved in that scene without thinking about my future, about having a family. I didn't think about tomorrow but just today. I regret not having used my head when I should have done so. The only work that I have done that has been able to support my family is crafting precious metals - making rings, necklaces, bracelets, a bunch of little things.
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Credit: Interview and transcription by InCorpore Cultural AssociationŠ with Marcelo "Calin" Torres; La Ensenada, Honduras; July 1998. All rights reserved. Edited and translated by K.Stevens; Stanford Center for Latin American Studies; 3/28/00.