Friday, September 30, 2011

An Eventful Little Thursday...

So it was a pretty great day at school, and then I've been going pretty nonstop since Chele brought us home. Oh and on an exciting note, this is a real time update! It's Thursday night and I'm posting a story about Thursday night, for the first time--very exciting. As I write this, Kilala is purring in the background, but we'll get to her later.

We planted seeds in Science today, and the kids were too cute about it. They were each putting five or so seeds into their cups, but one of my girls dumped about 30 into hers. Apparently she plans on growing a heck of a lot of lavender. Her bff quickly called her out on it, and the whole exchange made me smile. Some of them planted zinnias, so I'm anxious to see how they grow :) One of my girls was insistent planting sunflower seeds, in their hull, and threw them into a few of the other kids' cups while she was at it. Maryann and I shared a good laugh because one of her 5th graders did the same thing. The cups we're using as planters are just so tiny, so it makes me laugh to think of these giant sunflower plants trying to grow in there. We also published our class story in both English classes today, which finally wraps up the "Getting Started" section at the beginning of their books. Very much looking forward to starting Unit 1 next week! It is full of fun activities :)

Marvin Isaac plays futbol Thurs-Sat in a nearby town, and his parents have invited me a few times. Remember Marvin and Doris from the market? He's their son, and one of my students. He's also my only student to take me up on leading the morning prayer--go Isaac! I've been meaning to go for a few weeks, but I find myself so pooped after the day at school I hardly want to walk around the market, let alone take a cab and chat with strangers. Don't I sound like a little shut-in! But I was determined to go today, and I'm glad I did! Irene and I walked to the main road to find a cab, and just as we were coming out of the neighborhood Alexander, one of the friendly cab drivers, was driving by! He already had two guys in his car headed to Cañavreal, so we climbed in and were on our way. I wasn't too surprised when he picked up another kid headed that way, and he climbed into the front seat to sit very close (on top of) the kid already seated there. But you could color me surprised when he stopped to pick up a young lady, also headed to Cañavreal, and we (strangers other than Irene) squeezed four-deep in the backseat of his compact-sedan. Luckily for me little things like that just add to my experience here. The soccer game was fun! Maryann joined us toward the end--she went home with Kerem because Javier and Ana, one of their girls, had a surprise for her, which again, we'll get to later. Irene and I were surprised how many of our students were on the team! Marvin and Doris unfortunately weren't there, but Eric Raul is on the team, and his dad chatted it up with us for a while. He was in Pakistan for work for a few years, and learned English while he was there so I think he had a good time practicing some with that. We took a mototaxi home from the game, and those things just kill me. This one didn't have any doors, and the drivers almost always wear sporty little driving gloves. Think tricycle meets lawnmower.

Eric's parents graciously invited me to their church one day last week, and I'll write about the actual church in more detail in another entry, but I went last Saturday and really liked it. Raul and Rosemary (Mr. and Mrs. Eric) told me about this women's Bible study they have on Thursday nights, that Raul said has become more of a coed Bible study, but that I was welcome to come check it out. So the girls and I walked for dinner in town, and then Irene and I headed to the iglesia to check out the women's meeting. It definitely wasn't a women's meeting, more of a women, children and a few scattered spouses meeting, but that didn't bother me a bit. Tonight's theme (would it be considered a theme?) was the importance of a health, and how nutrition is the key to living a long healthy life. How interesting for that to be the topic of my first Bible study! At first I wondered if I'd just interpreted her incorrectly, but turns out my Spanish was spot-on. A gentleman spoke for a bit about how we really are what we eat, and he read a few lines from Genesis that talk about what humans should ingest. He played a series of videos, and they got intense pretty quickly. Don't get me wrong, I was so stoked to nutrition talk, especially in Spanish--what a great opportunity to learn some new, important vocab--but I was so caught off guard by some of the images! I'm talking colon tours, first an unhealthy 'oscopy, then the post-detox healthy colon. Lots of colon talk tonight! Hahah there was also an image of a cartoon man nursing from the teet of a cartoon cow, and that one killed me. I laughed inappropriately loud when that one came up. It was a longer meeting than I had anticipated, but I'm very glad I went and am looking forward to next Thursday evening.

As for Kilala, Kerem and Javier surprised Maryann with a stray kitten! Maryann is always in search of a puppy who needs a good home, and not long ago she wanted to take in a kitten from their neighborhood, but Ana said she thought it had an owner. Ever since then Ana has apparently been asking around school and determined said kitten did not have an owner. Well now she does! I'll post pictures of her soon--she's white with some dark brown spots and these big sort of hazelish green/brown eyes. I should check her eyes again tomorrow to be sure. She has these lines that look like eyeliner, and it matches these whisps of cat-eyes Maryann will put on sometimes. Like mother like daughter I guess :) We've decided she has an Egyptian look about her, so we started looking up Egyptian names tonight. None of us are thinking Kilala will stick, and we're honestly not sure how long she'll stick around the house for that matter. In the meantime, we'll keep her fed, watered and sheltered until she's ready for her next big adventure.

It's been a long day and I've got teaching to do in the morning. I know I might have made light of it tonight, but I do think the key to maintaining good health is dietary discipline, and I find it an unreasonably crazy coincidence (but of course those don't exist) that an all-nutral diet was tonight's topic. I guess I'm meant to spend my Thursdays at that church. Of course the topics will vary, and they won't always be centered around one of my passions, but hey--they might just lead to a new passion! Dios les bendiga...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Día de la Independencia

September 15th is Independence Day. This past July 4th I watched the fire works with a view of the White House, so I felt like I needed to do something patriotic here! There was a night parade in town, but I didn't hear about it until it was over!
Even Google joined in the celebration
We had a four-day weekend at school, so the girls and I were bouncing around ideas of beach, camping or at least doing something out of the ordinary. We all needed a little change of scenery.

We ended up taking the bus into San Pedro Sula for the day! We figured we'd take San Pedro for a test drive, and then figure out the rest of the weekend later. Planning is tough with limited location knowledge and spotty internet. Mrs. Bueso was kind enough to offer to be our navigational assistant, and I was very appreciative of her for that. Taking the bus from town is easy enough, we live a short walk to the stop, and the stop is conveniently directly in front of a woman who sells morning baleadas. The ride into the city is between 1.5-2 hours depending on how many stops they make, but it was a fun time. I chatted it up with Mrs. Bueso, and got the scoop on fun things to do around the area, and different projects I can try with my students. There are two types of buses, one is more of an over-sized van, and the other is an old school bus. The school bus is 7lps cheaper, and I was perfectly comfortable. They play music on the buses, and we had a good time singing and dancing along. The bus ride back we ended up singing and dancing so much the couple behind us commented on how happy we were. I think I surprised him with my Spanish when I responded that yes, we are incredibly happy and almost all the time.

The bus takes you to this huge terminal in San Pedro, and from there you can take a taxi or another, smaller bus into the centro. I am so glad we had Mrs. Bueso with us, because this next part could have been incredibly overwhelming. As soon as we exited the terminal and walked into the bus waiting area we were bombarded. Everyone seemed to want us to get on their bus, and they didn't seem to care where we were going! They all talked so fast, and all at the same time, and all wanted to be so close to you when they were talking. Whoo I'm getting all worked up just typing about it! Once we got onto the proper bus and nestled into our seats I let out a deep breath. Now that I know what to expect I'll be good for next time, but the bombardment totally caught me off guard!

There was a big parade going on in the centro, and we posted-up to watch that for a bit. Drum lines, cheer leaders and girls in pretty dresses. It must be such an honor to march in the Independence Day parade in the big city, but those poor kids looked so hot walking down the street. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, but dang if it wasn't hot. It was neat to hear the different beats and see all the costumes and dresses. There was even a guy on stilts! It was awfully warm standing watching the parade, so I suggested a walk around town. Mrs. Bueso gave us a little tour of the square, took us into a few clothing stores so we could see what they were like and then showed us the "do not go beyond this street unless you want to return without your purse" intersection. The clothing store was pretty cool--it sort of reminded me of H&M and made me wish I was earning a paycheck over this next year :) Mrs. Bueso's sons live in San Pedro, so she headed off to meet with them and do some banking, leaving us girls to explore the city! We walked around the square and listened to what must be a revolutionist group--they were loud but interesting to hear.

We wandered into tons of shops, and found a few thrift stores that were fun to poke around. There was a huge "American Clothing" thrift store filled with rows and rows of clothes for everyone in the family! There were people set up all along the streets selling fruit, veggies, hair accessories and all sorts of jewelry. Maryann was quite pleased when we noticed the Wendy's, and all of us were excited to see the bakery. I was sort of surprised at how tough it was to find a place that seemed good for lunch, but with the holiday crowds it was difficult to walk along the main street, which is I guess where most of the restaurants are. We found a place and all enjoyed a good meal. Maryann tried (and I think enjoyed) mole for the first time, and people still look confused when I assure them that I really wouldn't care for any meat with my lunch.

Irene was on a mission for bed sheets and a water bottle. We found a place that had such a variety of items for sale. They had everything from toys to bedroom and kitchen accessories. They even sold ovens and washers/dryers! I started noticing all this plastic kitchenware with odd quotes on them in English. I couldn't understand why so many of the quotes seemed so random. They were made somewhere in Asia, and I'm now thinking they are products that couldn't sell due to translation err, so they were donated for Honduran sale. We've been seeing more and more that there is a big trade here with countries in Asia.
I think this one was our favorite. They had a ton of them, and we could not stop laughing when we read it. I'm still not sure what it's trying to say, but I love it!

I am pretty sure all of us were ready for a nap when it was time to take the bus home. I had been guzzling water, and knew I ought to pop by the servicios before the 2hr ride home. You have to pay to potty at the San Pedro terminal! It was only 3lps, but I almost decided to just try and hold it when I found out it wasn't free. They hand you a section of a roll of toilet paper when they give you your change, so that made me laugh. It was worth the 3lps, because it was a long ride home! We all had a snack from the bakery, and I think we each fought hard not to devour them before the bus had even left the terminal. We picked up lots of travelers along the way, and it got so crowded there were people standing right on top of you! I had flashbacks of rush hour metros. Well now that I say that, I'm not sure it was quite that crowded, but when you've been sweating through the city all day, you don't need to be that up close and personal with so many people! The bulk of the ride was full seats but no one standing, it was just once we got about an hour out that people started packing on. It didn't stay crowded for long, and it was neat to see people in outfits from the parade in their towns.

I saw my first Honduran rainbow on the bus ride home! I looked to my left and was so taken aback by the openness of the empty field topped by big, curvy mountains. I was taking in the interesting shape of one of the clouds when I realized there was a rainbow hanging out up there! It was so pretty, and huge. It was the perfect spread of peace after an exciting day in the city.

We took it easy the rest of the night. Lisa/Gordon et al and Douglas came over for a game night. We played Pictionary/Charades and laughed our butts off at some of the actions. I still can't believe "Bear With a Head Wound" was on one of the cards. Oh board games in Spanish. We found out Lisa was anxious for a change of scenery as well, so we agreed to go to Las Vegas and maybe the caves at some point over the weekend.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Oh my gosh the face!

I can't believe I forgot to write about this sooner! So I know it doesn't seem very exciting, but it's one of my favorite class-time moments so far. The kids are always asking if they need to write down what's on the board. "Miss we need to write down?" "In the books miss?" I'm so proud of them for always asking in English, but it cracks me up sometimes because I can really see who's paying attention. The stragglers, the kids who will always be the last ones to ask, they get my look --this teacher look I never knew I had, but I am thinking I learned it from my mom.

In Science class we were covering the life cycles of living things, and as the kids called out the different stages I was writing them on the board. When we came to "die" I couldn't help but frown, and I even wrote a frowny face next to the word. Sure enough, one of my girls calls out, "Miss, we need to write face?" I don't know how to explain it, and unfortunately can't bring more life to the story, but trust me when I say it was awesome. Something about the timing of it all, and the way her face looked so confused when she asked, and how she scrunched her nose and shook her head when I said it was up to her. Sweet Lissie, one of my stars whose favorite subject happens to be Science, really does not like writing things down from the board.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Día de los Niños

Día de los Niños...what a fiesta! I've been told it's basically like Mother's Day or Father's Day, but for the babies. I have to say I love that idea, and will be sure to make it a tradition when I have little ones. September 10th--write it down and hug a kid next year!

This year LYBS celebrated the day on Sunday the 11th at the school founder's waterpark. If you've read my post about Las Glorias, the founder's dad owns that whole scene, and they have a waterpark tucked into the property. Two pools, a pavilion and lots of grass for tents and tables. The kids and their families were invited to come out and enjoy the day, and what a long day it was! Our ride arrived around 730a and I think we got home around 330-4p. Lots of sun, but we were blessed with a day that wasn't quite as hot as others I've experienced here. The teachers were responsible for making sure the kids were safe in the water, and it didn't take me long to realize I'd need to ease-up on the strict rules of a former lifeguard. Pool rules were a little more lax than some of us were used to, but the kids had so much fun. I spent more time in the pool than I was expecting, but that ended up being a lot of fun. Seeing my students out of their element and just kicked back having fun was a neat experience. I was a little uncomfortable with them seeing me so "casual" but it was great. And I got to chat with a few of their parents which was really nice.

My Alan David--this kid gives the best hugs. And you should see him dance! Hahah that's another one I'll have to capture on video
We all got a little silly, but here's me with Irene, Maryann and Josue.  He teaches a GRE class on the weekends and couldn't stay too long, so Maryann got his shades (which earned me hers) and I was the winner of his hat for the day. You know you love it!
Kerem living it up in the shallow pool
 A few of the Barnabas people send their kids to LYBS, and it was fun talking to Delilah (one of the nurses) and getting to see her husband Jose. Their little Amanda is in Kinder and comes to school with the longest, cutest colitas (pigtails) every day. I even got to see Pascuala, another nurse and the one who worked with our team. I hadn't seen her since March, and she got a big wet hug. I met her son, a fourth grader, and it's been fun seeing him around school. He even had lunch with me not too long ago!

There were a few moon-bounces that were pretty popular, and the school hired a dj and clowns to help celebrate the day. Clowns...I should have said "clowns" because these chicas were nothing like the clowns I pictured. They called them payasitas, and they were this group of attractive women in brightly colored clothing and more makeup than they'd normally wear. A few had wigs too, so that was fun. They had all sorts of piñatas, and I decided I want to make some in art class at some point this year. But I won't fill them with all that candy, I'm thinking more stickers and things of that nature.


Toward the end of the party the payasitas started a fun dance, so a few of us teachers started dancing along with them but from the other side of the pool. After the song they called us out over the microphone and we went up for a few songs of dancing fun. We learned a few different dances, and me being me I think I was off-beat or confused with just about every little routine :) It was so fun, and definitely funny. Emely got some pictures of us dancing, so I'll post them as soon as she sends them to me!
At the end of the day with Emely, Miss Jessy and Miriam. The red shirts are the elementary school teacher's uniforms, and Miriam's pink is for preschool. The "lifeguards" arrived in uniform, but were allowed to change into something more suited for water. 

Card-making and the Tickling Crabs

I can't remember if I provided a list of the subjects Miss Harris offers, but just in case: English, Math, Science, Reading, Spelling, Phonics, Art and PE or Educación Física. On Fridays 2do "A" starts their day with Art followed by PE and I have to admit I was a little thrown by both subjects when I was lesson-planning. During the first full week of school I started noticing an unbelievable amount of construction paper scraps on the floor of both classrooms, and was so confused as to why. Then I had a couple kids with scissors, paper and markers working on these little greeting cards during one of my classes. Naturally, I wasn't pleased that they weren't paying attention, but more importantly I wanted to know what precipitated all this card making. The kids have this Tech-Ed class that I've been told teaches them all sorts of skills. I want to take their Tech-Ed! So far I've seen them with embroidery floss and hoops, so I think they might be learning to cross-stitch, and I've seen them make all sorts of things out of construction paper.

Sept 10th is Día de los Niños all over Honduras, and the kids made lots of cards to give their friends. I think each Tech Ed teacher had them making cards, and they were learning to cut out shapes etc to make their cards more creative. I'd resolved my art crisis! I decided to let them make "Happy Day of the Kids" cards, and it was so fun. Some of them got super creative with paper-strip fringe, straight edges to make designs and all sorts of crazy stuff. A few of them were cutting hearts out of folded paper, so I showed one of the girls how to cut butterflies. Suddenly everyone wanted hearts and/or butterflies for their cards! A bunch of them let me keep their scraps, so I'm looking forward to making construction paper cards one of these nights when nothing else is going on. Those in my pen-pal cloister, be on the lookout for sweet snail mail. I got my camera out and a couple of them were total hams. I'm looking forward to a year of Friday morning art classes. Please send ideas my way!
She was a ham! We got pictures of her making the card, then of her showing me the front, inside and back of the card.  She had to see each one after I took it--too cute!
My shy guy Cesar--he blew me away! Made this awesome mountain range and just went to town with his "colors" (colored piencils) and stickers. He even gave me his card before he left for the day :)
This little cutie got together with two other girls and made a special card for me, then I liked it so much she quickly made another! I might need a separate suitcase just for all the paper love notes these kids are so into making.

Amed made a funny-face card! It was really neat seeing their personalities  come out while they were working. I have some creative 2nd graders!
This little girl...her name is Dulce (sweet) and she is just that! She's one of my tiniest students, and I catch myself calling her Dulcita even though it can make her blush.
Beauties! Nathaly, Nidia Yulissa and Indira--Indira's hair is always done just right. One day she had two little pig tails, and instead of being braided they were clipped every few inches with these bright ladybug clips. 
So the tickling crabs...in Science we were learning all sorts of things about living things, and had just covered  they move. Their Science books are geared towards English learners, so they're all about vocab building. We learned that living things move in different ways: walk, swim, hop or fly. For PE that day I had both classes--what a handful! We went out into the field and I had them move like whatever animal I called out. It was hilarious. I mean of all the times to not have a video camera, this is one for the books. They got so into it they'd start yelling animals they wanted to try and emulate. You should have seen them try to move like an octopus :) I asked if anyone knew how to move like a crab, and one of my guys got all kinds of excited. He squatted down and super squatty bent-knee walked holding his hands like pinchers. It was too much. The other kids followed suit and raced toward me...

...once a group of them reached me they all fell against me for hugs, which was just so sweet. But they still had their pincher hands, and a couple realized they were perfect tickling height. By the end of it I had at least twenty of them all around me tickling me almost to the ground. To paint a better picture, I was also holding a rather large stick I'd confiscated from one of my distracted students, so picture me writhing with laughter, trying my best to hold this stick up in the air arms over head which apparently makes me even more sensitive to tickling. I love these kids. And now they love to sneak a tickle here and there when I'm not expecting it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Dinner Party

Lisa, Gordon et al (I usually refer to them that way, or as the Gordons even though that’s not their last name, but for a while I didn’t know their last name, and now I don’t know how to spell it…) have been so kind to us girls. They’ve taken us out for meals a few times, and surprised us with some gifts recently! A bucket with clothes pins, tons of matches, a flash light, battery and almonds. All essentials :) You can’t buy almonds (or any of my favorite nuts) in town, power outages are pretty common, somehow none of us made it down here with flashlights, we needed a compost bucket, although I’m almost positive the bucket was for the pila and you can never have too many clothes pins in this dryer-less community. Then they brought us a loaf of homemade banana bread! Their neighbors are always bringing them gifts of produce, and they said they can’t keep up with all the bananas! We assured them we knew a place that was accepting donations, and they said we might just get a banana delivery one day soon. I have my eye on the papayas growing in their ‘hood…

Great people, so we had them over for dinner and it was so fun! Gordon had mentioned how much he likes tilapia, which is very easy to come by this close to the lake, so we talked about cooking up some fish. Linda, the Mexican’s wife, told me a great way to bake the fish and we were all excited to try. You sautee tomatoes, chiles, and onions, place the fish inside the leave of this plant that grows here, (the leaf has a sort of licorice taste—hard to describe but it gives a neat flavor) top with the veggie sautee, fold the leaf bake over, wrap in foil and bake until cooked. Well, we had a long day and were not up to cooking that many fish filets. So we let Linda cook them for us instead! It was such a hot day, so we figured it would be rude to our guests to get the kitchen that much hotter before their arrival. Not to mention fish smells funny when you fry it. We did three fried and three baked; they came with tajadas (plantain and/or green banana chips) and she was out of chimol (pico) so she gave us this huge thing of steamed broccoli with carrots and a plentiful portion of salad! She even gave us some flowers (champus [chahmpoos] that look like plastic, brightly colored pine cones) and a big plastic jug to use as a vase, because Linda and Armando spoil us :) We snipped some flowers from the yard to add to the display, and Irene did a great job of arranging everything on the table. The “vase” wasn’t very cute (empty mayo jug) so I slid one of my Aunt Jane bags around it! 


We of course felt bad having a dinner party but not actually cooking anything, so we whipped up a big veggie sautee when we got home. Lisa loves pataste, so we cooked some of that with garlic, onions, green pepper, green beans and a little sofrito. Irene even made frescos de jamaica which everyone loved. We had quite the spread, but man was it tasty! Everyone raved about the food.  When we were putting everything out Lisa said that it was better than a restaurant! The fish was cooked whole, and when I was putting them on the plate my finger slipped right onto an eyeball and I think I could have dropped the plate. I of course regained composure, but ew. We had little bowls on the table to use as graveyards for all the fishie bones. 




Halfsies on the baked/fried! Irene and Maryann each gave me a  little of their fish, and it was yummmy. I was pretty much tajada and veggie obsessed. Had to save room for dessert :)
We stopped for pastries on the walk home from market and of course each got one for a snack on the way home. It wasn’t embarrassing until we walked by Oscar and waved, and I had to respond to his “Que tal?” with a mouthful of sugary dona. I really wish we could have gotten a picture of the three of us weighed down with all the food, plodding home from the market, each with a pastry in our hand. We had dessert and Gordon and I had coffee, and we sat and chatted for a while after dinner. They’d brought some games but we spent too much time talking and it got too late to play. Chantelle tossed out the idea of doing a game night next time we get together, and either doing a simple dinner (like baleadas :) or starting much earlier!

Granizados!

We’d all three had a very long day at school, and it was an incredibly hot day. Walking to market is one of our favorite stress-relievers, and we were so warm on the walk we decided to stop at Copacabana (Maryann likes to refer to Copa as “The Hot Spot” because it just seems like the place to be) for a granizado. Karla, the owner, makes these blended fruit drinks and people just rave about them. She makes some with yogurt, some with milk and some with just sugar-water. She makes them all with fresh fruit, and has so many options! We’d been to Copa a few times before, but I’d been good about resisting the granizado. Well it was just too hot that day, and this girl wanted a Honduran slurpee! I couldn’t decide between papaya or pineapple, so Karla mixed them together! She even used plain water instead of her sugar water. They’re too good to me here :) So my first granizado was delicious, and it won’t be my last. 

Cheesie smile pic? Maybe! But it was tasty :)
As a comedic aside, we were at Copa not that long ago and Karla was wearing a shirt that said something like “Queen of Smooth” …the girls and I love to see people with English on their clothing and wonder if they know what it means… so I told Karla how ironic her shirt was because in the States we’d call her drink smoothies, and her top boasted she was the queen of smooth. She laughed so hard!

Festival Folklorico

There was a Folk Festival at Hotel las Glorias, and as soon as we saw the ad we couldn't wait to go! Couldn't have asked for a prettier day to have it either. Las Glorias is a big piece of land, and the event was held right down by the water. We spent some time exploring, taking pictures and enjoying the dancing, music and costumes. Some of these girls' dresses were unreal. 


I even snagged a picture of one of my favorite things on one of my favorite flowers!

There's this bridge across the water that moves when you walk, so it can be sort of unnerving. We snapped a few pictures while we were on the bridge, but when we saw this rack of kids running toward the bridge we hurried off! The views from Las Glorias really are incredible, and it was just a nice day enjoying the sunshine, sites and sounds.



We wandered around the market later that day, and the Mexican commented on how jovial and carefree we seemed. Thanks, Armando, we're just happy to be here :)

Geckos

Geico jokes aside please, we're talking real geckos. And the ones here aren't green, and certainly don't have Australian accents.

I'm really adjusting to things like bugs in the house, and geckos everywhere, but you have to let me take baby-steps here. I've been doing quite well with carrying the bugs outside (on paper of course, not in my hands, I'm just not there yet) instead of smashing them. Well except the evil, giant red ants that set up shop in my bathroom. They're menacing and have been known to bite, so if I spot one pre-shower sorry but it is not getting escorted outside. So these geckos. They are really quite adorable, and eat insects so I'm really quite happy to have them in the house. But the first time I saw one run across my wall...oh my. All I can say is poor Maryann, and thank goodness for her patience. I walk into my room, click on my light and this crazy brown flash scurries across my wall! I let out a little, "Oh my goooodness!!!" and backed out of my room with my hand over my mouth. When Maryann came to see what was the matter and I explained about the gecko she gave me a sort of hand-on-hip sideways glance. Yeah yeahhh they don't hurt you, but it moved SO fast, and I was startled! The way they move is actually kind of cute. Once I'd calmed down it was fun to watch it walk around. Though I kept a close eye on it the rest of the night (it sort of setup shop in the corner of my ceiling for a while) and was a little unnerved once it left the corner and I didn't see where it ended up. That night I'm pretty sure I dreamt that it was in my bed, and I remember waking up thinking it really was next to me only to realize it was a curl in the sheets. My vision really isn't so great without my glasses :) Ok so the way they move--their shoulders move with their tiny arms when they scurry, so they get this sort of ess pattern when they run across the wall.

In town the other day I saw a gecko flip his tongue out and eat a fly. A little creepy of course, but also pretty cool! Linda, the Mexican's wife, was telling me that they didn't use to have geckos around here, but now they're everywhere. I wonder what brought them in. I guess the biggest downfall with them would be their poo. They leave this little black droppings all over the place. Mostly on the perimeter of rooms, but we've noticed them in the shower (bleh) and the other day I was organizing my desks and found some on top of one. Ew dude, there's learning to be done here! I've heard as long as you keep your food covered there's no real threat, and we do that anyway thanks to ants and other fun things.

The shower gecko...this one killed me. I was showering one night and had just set my shampoo down when I saw the flash of a scurry. Contacts were out and of course I don't shower in my glasses, so I'm squinting like crazy trying to figure out what and where it was. Its earthen-colored flesh blended in far too well with the pinkish/off-white shower tiles, but it was a little baby gecko! A little background about the shower...it's awkwardly wide and long. I find the "walk" from spray to shampoo/conditioner a little odd. I'm just not used to leaving the shower spray to get my toiletries. But my reaction to the tiny gecko was just silly. The way I cautiously lunged for my conditioner, and basically tossed my razor back down so as not to get too close to the intruder. I tried my best to rinse with at least one eye open, and washing my face was pretty hilarious. I'm not sure what I was so worried about--did I think the little guy was going to try and cop a feel when I wasn't watching?

These gecko encounters were very early in my stay here, and I've since calmed quite a bit. The noise they make is what really gets me. They sound like they're laughing! Maybe they're just laughing at the crazy gringa they've all surely heard about at this point...

Young Adults

I forgot to write about the young adult group at the church! Every Friday (I missed it to see the Barnabas team, but it was totally worth it) there is a worship service at Calvary Church for 'youth' and the teachers were invited. In case I haven't already mentioned this, we're mostly referred to as "the teachers" but it's easier than saying all three of our names, so I don't mind it. It was explained that the age range was 18-30, but some younger kids have been and of course that's just fine! We went Friday, Irene's first night in town, and it was really nice. Eulogio leads the worship, and we start with guitar and alabanzas (worship songs--less hymns and more contemporary) which I really enjoy. No, my singing hasn't improved at all since I moved, but I like the way the songs sound in Spanish. The song book is pretty cool--it mostly has Spanish songs, but some of them are Spanish on one page and English on the other, and every so often we'll mix the two and do a verse in Spanish followed by the verse in English.

We met some great people at the first service, and have kept up with them since. When Eulogio invited us to church he said we could meet him in town and he'd drive us no problem. His wife was concerned because his car is already full, but Eulogio's response was that it isn't Honduran-full. He drives a 2-door jeep type thing. We fit nine of us into that bad boy. And a guitar! Of course I asked Logk if we'd reached the Honduran-full limits, but he said they once fit 12 going up the mountain to hike. They didn't have the seats in for that trip, but dang that's a lot of people. Transportation is a little different here :) So we met some guys who live in town and all seem really friendly. We also met Chantelle and Natalie, who we've started spending lots of time with. Chantelle's mom Lisa is Chris Rivera's cousin. She came to visit about two years ago, did some praying and moved here about four months ago. She and her husband Gordon, their daughter Chantelle and her friend (basically adopted daughter!) Natalie are going to spend the next two years ministering to the people in this area. Really cool people. They live in an area called Los Naranjos which isn't far from us. They took us to lunch after church our first Sunday, and then took us to Las Vegas* for pizza one night before school started. I'm so looking forward to getting to know them better. And I'll go into them with more detail as the stories continue, because we really have been spending a lot of time with them.

*There's a Las Vegas here, too! It's about a 45 min drive, and it's higher in the mountains so the temperature is about 10 degrees cooler. They're known for their great pizza, but you know I'm not much of a pizza person. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it, and it was a fun night! They're also known for their great cakes, so we'll be going back. Hopefully very soon!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Catching up with "old" friends

Remember as I post these I'm weeks behind, so don't get confused by the dates of the posts and the time line of the stories!


Friday Sept 2nd I got to see the Barnabas team that was in town for the week! Between their travel delays (ahh hurricane season) and my craziness at school I was worried I wouldn't have a chance to see them. It really is true that things work out exactly as they should. Friday was the team's last day in the field, and the usual final-day dinner with the Honduran team. This team is apparently a super-friendly team, and they had quite the party going on! I arrived at the house in the middle of a rain storm, hands still a little water-logged from playtime in the pila. This poor team dealt with some heavy rains every night of their trip. But they all had great attitudes about it--nothing's holding down a Barnabas mission!


The team gave me such a warm embrace, it was just what I needed. Getting to see so many friends for the first time since March was incredible. It felt like Christmas! Berta was there, the cook from my March mission. I wish I could have taken a picture of her face when she saw me. We hugged like we'd been separated for years--and I learned she's getting married at the end of the month! I got to see Jorge and Carlos, some of the translators from March, and even got to meet Carlos' wife and two little boys. Cuties. Getting to hug Elmer and catch up on what we've missed was so special. I met his wife and new baby, and it was great to see his other two children  again. It was funny seeing some of the people like Denilo with looks on their faces like yes...I of course remember you, but what was your name again? That name I couldn't pronounce? It was really awesome. I even got to see Melvin Flores :) What a treat! For those who don't know, he is the man who introduced me to the school and promised to be my family while I'm down here. It was so, so good to see him and get to catch up. He sat with me at dinner, and we chatted the night away. He's incredibly busy right now (correction--we're both incredibly busy right now :) but in a few weeks he wants to have me out to his house in San Pedro for the weekend. I haven't seen his wife Mary or their three kids since the night we landed in March, so I am really looking forward to visiting them. 


We had a big fish fry with fruit, rice, beans, chimol, tajadas and freshly-fried (and I'm sure freshly-caught) tilapia. They even had cake! I felt so spoiled! Papa Joe, one of the team members (I can't remember how many teams he's traveled with, but I do remember it's a LOT) has been so kind to me. I met him right before I left the States, and was so excited to get to spend some time with him here. He's returning with a team in October, so I'm really looking forward to that! So many stories were shared after dinner, stories of the team's experiences throughout the week, stories of how different team members came to be part of the team, stories of who I was and how exactly I "fit in" with the group, stories of past experiences with teams, stories of how the Alfredo House came to be, and what the living arrangements were like before it was built--what a night!

Pila!

Pila...where do I even begin. So there isn't a washing machine or dryer, but the house comes with a pila (a huge pila) and lots of clothes lines. Irene and I tried out the pila Friday the 2nd and it was quite the learning experience. Chele came into the yard to pick some oranges before heading home for the weekend--such a gem that guy, he even picked a bowlful for us to have in the house--and he was cracking up between fruit picking and pila explaining. We were pretty lost when it came to the pila. So it's this big, rectangular pit with a spigot and a drain. One side of it is covered with this cement slab with a slanted, ridgy platform. I'm so descriptive with all my made-up words, it's a wonder my kids are learning anything... So we weren't sure if you filled the pool and soaked your clothes? Or was the pool for tossing the clothes into after they were soaped up and scrubbed, as a sort of post-scrub soak/pre-rinse type process? I'm honestly still not sure how it all works, but I have learned you're not really supposed to soak anything in the pila. No one seems to be able to answer why we'd have such a deep pila if it's not meant for soaking...

The pila really is deep. When Logk saw it he said he'd set a chair in it on a hot day, fill it up and relax in the backyard pool! We cleaned the bottom out the best we could, because being the amateurs we are all the clothes were thrown into the pila to soak!


So we did our best, and in the end the clothes made it out just fine. It's such an upper-body workout! Which was exciting, because I really hadn't been exercising at all. 
The kitchen view of me hard at work at the pila


We got everything hung up on the line and were heading out for the night when it started to pour. Now, we went into this under the realization that it was likely going to start to rain, and that would just have to be ok! But man did it make me laugh how hard it started to rain. Everyone just laughed that we saved water on an extra rinse, and a fresh from the mountain rinse at that!
Don't let the sunshine fool you. It rained. Hard. This was taken the following morning :)

Back to School

Getting everything prepared for the first day of school was pretty crazy! We didn't find out our grade assignments until late Tues, and after that it was a rush Wednesday to get our classrooms ready for Thursday when the kids and their parents would be coming for the inauguration of the first day. Doors were decorated throughout the week, so we were just responsible for any decorations inside the classrooms. I swear the walls in my classrooms are against decorations, because things weren't sticking, and I think my spirits fell with each poster. Luckily the kids are learning just fine without crazy posters on the walls. In fact, I think they learn better without all that distraction, but you have to have some fun on the walls! It was incredible watching the Honduran teachers decorate--all decorations are pretty limited, and any posters we get need to be laminated so they can be used and reused. The laminating machine was a roll of contact paper, scissors and willing hands. The letter cutting machine was a set of letters for tracing, a marker, scissors and of course those willing hands. We got creative with borders to make them stretch for all the classrooms, and while I think they turned out cute I'm already excited to change my doors and come up with something festive!
2nd "A"




All the teachers came up with their own set of class rules, and I decided to keep mine simple. They were a lot more elementary until the Spanish teacher and I tried to translate them for each other, but I still like them. I have five: Arrive on time ready to learn, Be polite, Be organized, Be respectful and Always try your best. Of course when we went over the rules we got detailed about what each element meant, and that was pretty fun. Well, once I got past the blank "I haven't been speaking English all summer what the heck did she just say??" stares we had a good time with it.
The whiteboard in 2nd "B"


I am the second grade teacher, and the school is understaffed so I have both classes. It's apparently "easy" because while one class gets Spanish I'm teaching English courses in the other, and vice versa. But I have 49 students, and my days are jam-packed! My kids are incredible. Of course they're second graders so we have our moments, but it has just been a few short weeks and I'm already enamored. The first day we had the inauguration which consisted of some speeches, some prayer and introductions of the teachers. Then the kids came into class for a bit while the parents went to collect all their books, but it was a very short day and we mostly just smiled and tried to get the kiddos back into the swing of English. Their parents seemed pleased to be able to communicate with me, but I assured them strictly Spanish inside the classroom!


2do Grado "B"

Friday the kids had a full day of school, but we didn't have schedules so we just went over rules, got to know each other and touched on topics for a few subjects so I could gauge where they were academically. It was funny to feel ready for the weekend after such a short school week, but let me tell you I was ready for the weekend! 


You should hear the way the kids say "Mees Harees" and call me teacher. It's too cute. And I was "warned" that the students are affectionate and love the "Americans" but man they weren't kidding. I'm very grateful for all of their hugs, but was surprised at how quickly so many of them took to me! Emely referred to me as the mujer de stickers (sticker lady) at the end of the day because I had them all over my shirt! These kids love stickers, and some of their notebooks come with some really cute ones! Miss Harris and her 49 second graders, ready for an exciting year :) 
Sporting the uniform shirt (that thing gets HOT) and apparently very proud of my coffee. We were all dragging a little, so I made us toast with that sugary yum we all find so tasty. Mmm--ready for our first day of school!



The Bird's Song

About my sixth morning here I scribbled a little note before starting my day…Mon-Wed before school started were pretty stressful, but I made it a point to try and regain focus and remind myself (as often as possible) why I’m here. I decided if I put enough intent behind my actions, I’d find it a little easier to ignore any annoyances. So Tuesday morning…"sleep was gone far too early, so I sat in bed with my journal, some markers and a head full of quotes. De pronto I heard a bird’s song unlike any I’d heard before. It was this sweet, soft sound. I couldn’t find sight of him from my window, so I’m not sure he looked like. I’ve decided he’s a boy bird welcoming me to my day :) Had I been sleeping the sound may have annoyed me, but sitting on my bed, ready for a little inspiration—thanks for having a hard time sleeping! Would have been sad to miss out on appreciating that sweet song."

Since I heard it from my room I am hopeful there will be other chances to hear his song, and maybe even snag a picture—or at least catch a glimpse so I can paint a better picture for my memory bank! 

A little more sobre la casa...

My room is so much bigger than I was expecting. And it’s very colorful--two walls are this fun deep seafoamish green, and two are almost a bright celadon type blue. I’ll see if I can’t post a few pictures, but I want to get some things on the walls before I get too picture happy. The walls aren’t very agreeable to nail holes or pushpins (I’m pretty sure they’re cement/cinder block) and I’ve heard rumor that there’s so stigma about making holes in the walls—something about “breaking” the paint on the wall (David might be pleased?)—so I need to find some of that poster-putty stuff to hang a few pick me ups around the cuarto. Teachers past must have been into wally knick-knacks as well, because my walls look like they had the chicken pox (blue chicken pocks?) because there are so many wall-putty chewing gum-looking spots spread about. I have a book shelf for notebooks, journals etc and a wider shelved thing that houses my wardrobe. No bathroom shelving, so the bookshelf is a multi-tool of storage, but I think it works.

The bathroom is pink—shower, tiles, even the shower doors! The water is rarely warm, but that just makes you appreciate the warmth even more when it comes around :) It has been an adjustment conditioning myself to put my toilet paper in the trash, but I’m sure a year from now I’ll be forgetting to put it in the toilet in the States!

I love the way the kitchen, dining area and living room are so open into each other. One of us can be dancing around the stove, while someone else sits at the table working on lesson plans and someone reads in the living room--or two around the table, or two in the kitchen area. The point is, we have a house designed for comfortable togetherment or alone time. There is a long table in the dining area with five chairs, we used to have a few more but that story will come later. The living room has a stack of mattresses with a blanket that serves as our couch, but I mostly sit at the table. There’s a window over the kitchen sink, so that makes me happy. The views from the house aren’t anything too spectactular, in fact we’ve each mentioned we’d enjoy more sunshine in the house, but it’s nice to see the orange tree and a glimpse of the roses while I’m washing dishes.

Our porch needs hammocks, and we’re excited to purchase those with our first paycheck! It’s a great porch, and I love to sit out there in the rain. The rain cools the air so much, and the smell it brings with it is incredible. We started a compost pile in the backyard, and I’m hoping to plant some seeds here soon. Would be fun to get to post garden pictures!!!
La Casa Rosada

Sunday, September 18, 2011

No Esta en Temporada

Que lastima! I found out mangoes no estan en temporadas--aren’t in season right now!!! Armando, the Mexican, let me know they won’t be in season until about May, but he’ll have some Chileans in a month or so. Well thank you Armando, but I don’t want Chilean mangoes. Prefiero la fruta de Honduras, gracias. And before anyone gets too huffy, I’m allowed to call Armando the Mexican because his little tienda has a name (not all of the stands have names) and he named it “El Mercadito Mexicano”  --he has the Central American equivalent of veneers, and his canines or the teeth right after have a little rhinestone adornment. His smile kills me every time he cracks one. I have a silly grin just picturing his smile now! His wife, Linda, is just that; sweet little muñeca of a woman. Irene’s last name is Trujillo, so today Armando cracked on her a bit. He wanted to know how it was possible that she had a Spanish name and couldn’t speak it, when I have the name of a gringa and talk like a little parrot. While I’m not sure the parrot thing is totally a compliment, we all had a good laugh. He actually keeps calling me the German, which I still don’t understand.

I’ve started telling people to call me “Suzi” instead of Courtney. My name is just too difficult for la mayoría de los hispanohablantes. My friend Miguel(ito) started calling me “Suzi” a few years ago, but we had this rule that he was the only one who could call me that. He loved that my middle name was Suzanne, and got into this bad habit of calling me “Susanna” in his Peruvian accent. When I told him I’d had more than enough of that one, he shortened it to Suzi “soosee” and I fell in love! It’s sort of funny telling people to call me Suzi, especially the ones who have been trying to pronounce my name (Kernie) for the past few days. And hopefully I’ll quickly get used to answering to Suzi, because right now it catches me a little off-guard :)

I think I’ll be good to go on my volunteer’s pay each month. Today at the market I purchased a pound of long, deliciously tender green beans, a handful of jalapenos, a fat bag of “consume” and what I’m thinking (hoping?) might be a grapefruit for roughly two dollars. I wonder about the grapefruit because I’m unsure of the exact translation, and when I asked if it was like an orange but a little bitter he said it was sweet. Well Marvin, I think grapefruits are a little sweet, but most people find them bitter. Good news—I enjoy just about any citrus fruit, so it can be a fun surprise when I peel it open and try my first bite! I also bought 30 farm-fresh (thanks Armando, but I don’t need to come see your chickens. I believe you :) eggs for about $2.75. Irene and I are going to split them, so I’ll let you do the rest of the math, but I still think it’s a pretty good deal. I bought everything but the eggs from some of my favorite vendors, Marvin and Doris. Their little Marvin Isaac (pronounced Eessahk [hahah yeah can you tell I’m teaching phonics?] and I love the way it sounds when Doris says it) is in 2nd grade so it’s fun teaching him and then getting to see him sometimes at the market.

**Turns out it was a grapefruit, a delicious grapefruit, and I've since purchased many more. They’re about 5 limps each normally, which I guess works out to about a quarter. Avocado is normally about 4 limps each—such a steal! And I picked up a bunch of beets for 10 limps! The bigger ones are 12 limps a bunch, but either way that ain’t bad!

Brewery!!!

I devoured a rather large, freshly sliced mango at breakfast Saturday morning and should have known right then it was going to be a great day. I made my first cup of Honduran joe. Picked up a “coffee sock” (I’ll have to learn the word for that in Spanish) when I was at the market with Chris on Thursday, along with a pound of coffee, but didn’t have power Friday morning so I couldn’t come up with a way to heat the water before Chele arrived to tote us to school. I need to get my water/scoop/steep ratio down, but I’m going to love my morning coffee I can already tell. …and I’ll of course reacquaint myself with green tea when I return to the States. I’ll use the “I have to fit in!” excuse for the coffee while I’m here ;) I made what I’ve decided is my version of French toast, and it turned out fantastic. Hah, if I do say so myself I guess. They sell this brown sugary/hardened molassesish cube of yum at the market, and I shaved some over a couple thick-cut slices of bread. Yes, the “best bread in Honduras” made with the loving, tiny hands of a woman living just up the street from us. Then I drizzled the slices of silky joy with olive oil and let them slow toast in the oven. When I sat down to eat, the bread was perfectly toasted sugar sweet on the outside, and still soft and chewyoowie on the inside. The sugary shavings (I really do need to ask the name for some of these things, and write them down!) got a fun crunch in the oven, and I guess the oil just brought it all together. So, so good.  **Come to find out the sugary cube of yum is colloquially referred to as dulce de caña. And the bread is made by Angela. Mmm.

Chris stopped by a little before lunch to see if Irene and Maryann wanted to go get phones and take a little tour of the market. We piled into his truck and headed al mercado in search of a mirror, a couple cell phones and anything else that caught our eye. **Caution Dad—don’t flip out, I’m in Honduras and things are sometimes done a little differently here. Maryann and I climbed into the back and rode “dangerously” for the day. It was quite liberating, and I’ve decided riding in the back of a truck puts convertibles to shame.  When I return to the States I think it’s settled I’ll have to move to the country. And find a man who drives a truck. Preferably a tall, dark and handsome who knows how to “ho the rows” or however that saying goes—and will drive me around in the back of the truck with the wind in my hair and no windshields blocking my view of the skies and fields. I hope the mountain views here never lose their luster. To put a positive spin on that, I’ll go ahead and say these mountains will always be breathtaking. I’m caught off-guard each time I look up and see them from a new angle. The clouds do such amazing dances off the peaks and up into the sky.  I kept trying to take pictures from the back of the truck, but that just made me laugh. I’m not sure my pictures can do the view any justice, but I have to at least try. And maybe right now my eyes are just picky, and in ten years or so I’ll look back on the photos and melt all over again.


The cell phone purchasing took much longer than any of us seemed to anticipate, so we didn’t hang out in the market after that but headed right to lunch—at the D&D Brewery! Before I take us there, I have to share a little fun. Chris knew the woman at the Tigo (Honduran Verizon) tienda (store) so he was doing the talking to get Maryann and Irene their phones. I needed to put minutes on my phone, so I started chatting with her a little about that. I can’t remember her name, but she was a very sweet woman. I hadn’t said much to her before she complimented my Spanish, which always spreads a blushed smile across my face. Then she told Chris she could understand me better than him! She might have just been joking, but I still thought it was sweet.


So the D&D Brewery--what a neat place. It’s under new ownership; a gentleman by the name of Bobby who came to Honduras a few years ago from Chesapeake, VA. I want to say he was here teaching in a different city, but I might not be remembering correctly. He gave us a tour while we waited for our food, and I feel like we could have used a few more hours to soak it all in. D&D is tucked inside this rainforest, and I think they said it houses over 250 different kinds of plants. 
Bobby showing us some of the plants. This guy grows bright yellow petals as it matures (do plants mature?) 


We all agreed the menu and English-speaking owner (and poolside outdoor seating…) made it feel a little too “American,” but we never know when we might need a dose of ‘home.’ Rumor has it their burgers are fantastic, and I liked the beer so I’m not opposed to visiting every now and then. They have guide-led hikes, fishing guides and an archeological park that I’ll have to check out. They also have rooms and cabins to rent if we want to stay the night, and a few small campsites if anyone wants to visit and bring their tent. A few of the campsites are perrrfect for hammock camping which I think sounds ridiculously fun.

Once we got back home the weather was pretty stormy, so we took chairs to the porch to watch the rain. Not knowing each other at all it’s nice to get time to connect with my roommates. I had some fake tattoos I brought to give the kids as prize-type things (thanks Connor!!!) but was told that wouldn’t be ok…so Irene, Maryann and I decided to have a tattoo party! At first we were thinking of just one, and then we all three ended up with thigh sleeves. It was pretty funny, and definitely nice to laugh with my new girls. 

The Roommates!

Maryann arrived from Florida late Thursday night, and I was stoked to have company at the house! I rode with Chele to get her from the airport, and we chatted the whole ride back. It’s funny because as I write this I’m already three weeks into the trip, but even just after the couple hours with her I knew we’d mesh well. Friday morning we headed to school, and it was fun giving her the tour. I translated for her meeting with Magda, and we laminated some posters together. We weren’t there very long when it was time to head to the city to meet Irene. I feel like even from the first day we already got along like good friends, so that’s definitely promising! We all want to experience some adventure over the next year. Both Irene and Maryann understand a little Spanish, but they don’t speak it very well so it has been fun translating and trying to help them learn. Give them a few more weeks and they’ll be sounding like natives.

Maryann was in Peña for a mission trip in early March 2011, and fell in love. Reminds me of someone else I know :) We were working with different missions, and I came at the end of the month, but it cracks me up we had such similar experiences leading us to the school. Irene had never been to Honduras, but was a student of Chris’ at middle/high school in New Mexico.  We’re all first year teachers, so I guess we get to learn and grow together!
Here's me with Irene (center) and Maryann

The Backyard Grill

Power was still out, and my electric stove wasn’t going to work well for dinner so Chris and I made plans to have fish, rice and veggies at his place. He has a guy named Edwin who is sort of the caretaker of his property and he wanted us to meet. Wouldn’t you know the power came on just as he brought me home to unload a few things, but he still had me over because neither of us needed to eat alone and his wife Maria was still in the States visiting family.

Chris’ house is great—lots of stone and wood accents with an incredible view of the mountains and the lake. His grill is a cement slab atop a few wooden posts. Cinder blocks and something metal make up the actual grill apparatus, but whatever it all is I liked it! We had quite the sautee. I chopped veggies and chatted with Edwin who claims he doesn’t know how to cook at all. I assured him that a few dinners around me and I’d get him having fun in the kitchen. We’ll see how that progresses! I’m hoping we can trade some cooking lessons for hiking tours through some of the mountains. I’m so curious to see what’s up there, but I’ve heard it’s only safe to go with someone who knows the way. There’s a mountain right by school that apparently is home to toucans and other fun birds! Edwin handled the fish, well, Edwin started the fish and Chris finished it off while I took care of the veggies. We added some culantro to the mix and it was tasty. No, that is not a typo. They have an herb here called culantro--it grows wild and smells amazing. It's like a spiky cousin to cilantro, same smell only a little stronger. But watch out--the leaves are a little prickly!

Dinner was delicious, and after eating we sipped some great coffee. I am definitely going to look into building some sort of wood burning grill when I get back to the States (and have a house of course…) Something about grilling that way just made the food taste better!
The grill! **We did not use the contents of the Hunt's can in our dinner, I'm assuming it was there in case of a flare-up





Introducciones Around Town

Not long after lunch I was happy to see Chris at school—I needed him to help me exchange my dollars for limps! He was free for the afternoon, so we headed into town (roughly a 2 min drive from school) and set out to get rid of my dolla dolla bills. He took me to a bookstore started by a group of Mennonite missionaries and the kid working there was friendly. He said they aren’t getting as good of an exchange rate now, so they’re not in the business of trading in dollars. Luckily for me they hadn’t been to the bank yet that week and he had surplus limps so he cut me a break. Thanks, guy, much appreciated!

Chris took me around el mercado (basically the center/el centro of Peña Blanca, and open seven days a week) where he introduced me to a few ‘friendly’ vendors. He said it was good for them to see me with the pastor and hear I was a missionary teacher because they’d be more likely to treat me well (and not like some kind of crazy white girl?!) when I came to do my shopping. The market tour is a bit of a blur--I met SO many people! We went to a few different produce stands—one of the guys he introduced me to, Marvin, sends his kids to LYBS. He has 3 school-aged kids: one in 7th, one in 2nd and one in kinder. His wife, Doris, embraced me like we were old friends and I look forward to getting to know her as the months go on.

I met Armando “The Mexican” and his wife Linda. They have a little market and pulperia (sort of like a general store—711 type of thing, minus the slurpees. Though some of them will sell ‘bolsitas de frescos’ which are fruit-infused water with a good bit of sugar, conveniently tied into a sandwich bag so that all you need do is bite the corner, suck and enjoy) across from Marvin and Doris. Armando speaks some English, so that was fun. I was in search of Honduran avocados, so I started asking him about them. This is of course before I knew he was Mexican, because I told him I’d heard the Hondurans were better. He assured me the Mexicans were better, but sent me home with three aguacates hondureñas gratises (free) because they were on the cusp of past their prime. Of course a few days later I make the connection that aguacates mexicanas aren’t better if you ask a Honduran, but ask a Mexican and of course that’s what he’ll tell you!

I met a few store owners, and took a trip to “Copacabana” which seems to be the place everyone knows. It’s up this narrow flight of stairs; a tiny little eatery with just a few tables inside and a balcony with a few more tables and barstools that look out onto the street. Seems like a fun place to people watch. They make all sorts of slushies and smoothies, and have the “standard” Honduran eatery menu. Don’t worry I’ll get into more detail about menus as my stories go on. Eulogio and his wife Lea(h) were at the balcony, so it was great to meet them. I actually briefly met Logk (pronounced sort of like loak) at the school, but hadn’t met his wife. Logk is a former student of Chris’ and here teaching and doing Bible study. Lea(h) leads the Sunday school at their church, and they both seem really nice. Lea(h) was quick to compliment my earrings (thanks Erica, I was wearing the ones with the glasses dangle!) so she’s already on my good side :) I also met a gentleman named Oscar who owns a sort of auto supply store in town. He also attends their church, and told me “Estoy a su orden” when he shook my hand, which basically means he’s got my back if I need anything.  The coolest part of the tour is that I can walk to all these vendors and shops from my house—how exciting! Just not after dark, promise :)