In a previous post I introduced you all to Tomás Manzanares, an indigenous man from La Mosquitia, Honduras. We spent 4 days together in the Pine Savannahs where he was born, grew up hunting and fishing, and later married Alicia.
He became a biologist without formal schooling and a leader for his village, both of which prompted him to protect his land from invaders. He asked them repeatedly to leave, and when they wouldn’t, he persisted and reported them to the authorities. The invaders were through threatening him and his family. They waited in ambush for him and after a brief skirmish, nearly killed him in December 2009.
As we got to know each other he confided in me. He took me on a tour of Rus, Rus, his village that was mostly abandoned except for the military that had been called in after he was shot and his village fled. He shared with me the multiple books and publications that bear his name and pictures. He has helped many biologists and scientists know this area that he loves, but in which he cannot live because of undue risk for his family. Yet he was there with us and said he will return whenever he can, for without much hard work and risk, the way of life his people have always known will perish. His passion for the people and parrots of his homeland was contagious, and I found that by the time I left Honduras my heart was completely with his cause.
I think you might find the same to be true if you could talk to him. Though you may never go to Honduras to have a conversation with him, you may get to know him from an interview I taped in April 2010. In part one of the interview you will hear him tell his story. The second part I speak to him of my desire to support him in the ways I can and take risks such as his to keep his Scarlet Macaws flying free. He also shows the scars from the bullet wounds and surgeries, and tell internationals how we might help. In part 3 he speaks in his native language, Mosquito.
Though the interview is in Spanish and Mosquito, Tomás speaks the language of all our hearts: compassion, caring, beauty, and freedom. May it be so for him, the birds, and the land over which those rainbow beauties fly.