Saturday, October 22, 2011


Friday was...well it was an interesting day at school. One of those days with experiences that make you look for the lessons and move on as quickly and painlessly as possible... But I was blessed with a great afternoon, evening and night so that's all that matters at the end of the day! It was a longer youth group than normal, but it was a great meeting. Lots of questions that led to discussions and sharing, and I'm always intrigued at how patiently the speakers of each language wait for translation, and how much everyone understands before the translation is finished. I'm so fascinated by language and all its inner-workings, but I'm not ready to dive into all that. Right now I just want to toss around the idea of coincidences. I don't actually believe in coincidences, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. But I get blown away when would-be coincidences present themselves at just the right time. I've mentioned before that lessons come when you're ready to receive them, and that it's important to be open and ready for anything, but I've had so many ah-ha moments here. Those times that make you just nod your head and think, "Mmhmm, I get it, I'm getting there..."

I don't spend much time in Alan's classroom (mostly because I'm busy spending so much time in my classrooms :) but I was in there for a bit after school Friday. I noticed a poster with a scripture quote that really caught my eye, so I grabbed a cuadernito I carry around and scribbled it down. Later Maryann, Kerem and I got to talking about scripture and they were helping me understand different parts of the Bible a little better. We were talking about differences in the way acclaimed Christians carry themselves, and how the only thing that really matters at the end is whether or not you've lived your life for Christ, and that that can be a tough concept for some people. They referenced a few books and verses from the Bible, and it sort of got me excited to do a little research later. Color me blown away when we started talking about the same exact topics that night at youth group. Unreal. Of all the books, chapters and verses of the Bible. And it led to so much discussion, I was literally thrilled to have the opportunity to dig deeper into a topic that captivated so much of my attention. We've been studying Efesios (Ephesians) and Logk referenced Gálatas (Galatians) and Apocalipsis (Revelation) during Friday's discussion. In talking with Maryann and Kerem they also made mention of something from Gálatas, so my interest was all kinds of piqued. Would you believe the quote I wrote from Alan's poster was from the same above referenced chapter in Gálatas? I find something about that so neat. I love when things like that happen.

Gálatas 5: 22-23
"Mas el Espíritu es amor, gozo, paz, paciencia, benignidad, bondad, fe, mansedumbre, templanza; contra tales cosas no hay ley."
Galatians 5: 22-23
"...the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

A lot of this talk of scripture exploration might not make sense right now, but it's on my list to put out an entry about my spiritual cultivation, and how much I'm learning here. That's just a deeper topic that requires a little more thought and concentration, something I often find myself lacking at the end of the day. I seem to be hearing scripture at just the time I need it, and feel like lessons and support from the Bible have almost been following me around, cuidandome. Waiting for when I'm ready for them or something. I have so much to learn, but I'm ever appreciative of the little reminders (crazy would be coincidences like freakily linked scripture references and discussions) that I have support to help me through the lessons I've yet to learn.

Purple (or blue) Tortillas!

Armando, my new favorite Mexican, gave me the sweetest gift last week. I should start by saying last Monday and Tuesday were the kind of days that were really great all day long for absolutely no reason. Nothing too superduper happened, and plenty of potentially irritating things happened, but my kids had me laughing and my mood stayed light-hearted all day long. I was making my usual pass through town, and stopped into the Mexican's for eggs. I'd been the day before and he was out which I told him was simply unacceptable ;) When I was in the day prior I noticed the prettiest corn hung in the back to dry. You know that crazy-colored corn used to decorate Thanksgiving tables across the States? Some richly purple ears were hanging at the market, and I noticed a few deeply red ears as well. I got so excited thinking of all the beautiful creations I could make with such vibrant corn. Armando and I got to talking about the colored corn and he spread my face with a smile when he confirmed that people do in fact make tortillas with the decorative kernels. Not having a molino has the potential to stunt my tortilla making abilities, but where there's a will... I've been asking around the neighborhood if anyone rents use of theirs, but so far the answer seems to be negative. Armando said his friend (maybe Linda's sister?) could make me a masa when they go to make their next batch, and that got me all excited. He said she'd probably make some at the end of the week, so I was looking forward to a weekend of colorful tortillas.

Oh Armando---when I walked in Tuesday he seemed more excited than normal to see me, and he walked to the fridge saying he had a surprise for me. His surprise was a fat stack of beautifully lavender/almost blue corn tortillas made by the gentle hands of his loving mother. He wouldn't let me pay for a single one, and sent me home with the bag full. They take such good care of me here--and the tortillas were ridiculously good!!! Not only were they incredibly tasty, but each time I enjoyed one I couldn't help but smile at the thoughtfulness of such a kind gift. He and Linda have taken good care of me ever since I arrived, and I'm very grateful I met them so soon into the trip. Linda and I have talked a few times about how I had been wanting to learn to make tortillas, and I wanted to make the real tortillas from masa and by hand. None of that maseca crap, and I had to first learn without a press. We discussed that I of course needed to learn before I headed back to the States, and she said I'd be a soltera until I learned. She also warned that once I had the hang of making them I'd marry a Honduran and change my travel plans at the end of the summer. I always appreciate life advice, and have to admit I'm now a little shy when it comes to bragging about my newly developed tortilla making skills :)

I wish I had gotten a good picture because they really were pretty. And delicious. But next time I want to help make them. And now I just need to figure out how to thank them for the tasty tortillas!

Doña Tina and her Baleadas

Let's start with a description of the baleada. Flour tortilla, half-moon painted with frijoles and filled with a little bit of love. It is purchaser's choice exactly what kind of love, but that's where things get fun. There's the sencilla of beans, quesillo y mantequilla. In school we learn that mantequilla is butter, but here it is a sour cream type substance. From there you can add chimol, eggs, chicken and some places have things like chorizo and carne as options. They're really cheap with the sencillas starting at 8lps (less than 50cents) and of course super quick. You can find them just about anywhere, but there are these women who emerge after the sun goes down. As store owners lower their doors, these women start wheeling out their grills and setting up some tables. The tables are decorated with jar of pickled vegetables, and their hands get busy patting tortillas. Lisa and Gordon introduced us to Doña Tina, and they visit her pretty regularly. She's also known as the "taco lady" because she makes these ridiculous tacos. She has this salsa that could make your knees melt, and she's offered to make me a jar if I bring her a container! It's a mix of avocado, culantro, chile and a little salt and vinegar--seriously tasty stuff. It's fun sitting outside chatting with friends and getting to know Tina and her entourage. She always has a few different people helping her, and they vary from outgoing and friendly, to quiet and staring at the hungry gringos. 

The first few times I visited Doña Tina I enjoyed a couple sencillas without any of that cheese or mantequilla, but with plenty of chimol, salsa and little heap of pickled veggies. Sometimes she has cabbage that's pickled in a brilliantly pink beet juice, and sometimes it's a mix of cauli, carrots, onions and chiles pickled in a yellowish mixture, but it's always good. So baleadas are incredibly tasty and convenient, but I like corn tortillas so much more than flour. Luckily for my tummy Doña Tina is a culinary miracle worker, and she makes a special plate for me now. We're calling them burritas, and I'm craving some just typing about them. She serves me up a plate of two double-stacked soft, warm corn tortillas, topped with a heap of beans, chimol and salsa. At first glance I was bewildered by the second tortilla, but found the perfect use for it as soon as I lifted my first burrita. It was so full of yum there was no real way to eat it without some of the filling falling out. Normally I'd just grab a fork to clean my plate at the end of the meal, but why waste a fork when you have a spare tortilla to use as a little burrita drop-cloth? The beauty of this discovery is that a plate of two burritas transforms itself into a filling plate of four burritas. Meal-time magic :)

I'm already working out an organic, gluten-free version of baleadas I'll recreate in the States, so I guess now I just need to find a store front and an easily-carried grill. 

Una Carta!!!

September 23rd I received my first card! And of course it has taken me a month to get this written. I've since received some mail when Barnabas teams arrive, but this card came through Honduran mail!!! The mail comes to a place in Santa Cruz which I think is about an hour from me. That Aunt Di she spoils me :) We were getting home from Friday night's youth group and Irene said some mail came, and that it was waiting in my room for me. Apparently she'd been to Santa Cruz with Chris and Maria for the evening, and they popped by the post office to see if anything had arrive. I mean to tell you I practically ran back to my bedroom to see what had arrived.

The stationery was so stinking cute. And I was so stoked to see friendly handwriting, and let myself get lost in the thoughtful words of family I'm missing so much. Receiving the cards from the Barnabas teams has been cool too. It's so odd not having an address, but I almost don't even notice at this point. I love being able to email and catch up that way, but there's something so special about getting the hand written cartitas de amor.

Simplistically Wonderful

Today has been one of those wonderful days, a simplistically wonderful day that has been wonderful for no real reason. Woke up gently, snug under a soft blanket with cool air across my face and eased into my day. The weather went from all day sweaty to cool evenings to chilly days rather quickly, but it was fun spreading my blanket across the bed last night. David surprised me with an early morning video call, and passed me around the tailgate. It was wonderful to see my smiling friends, and catch sneaks of the blue skies and late-October leaves in Blacksburg. Mom and Dad gave me a call too, so it was neat getting to spend the morning with family. The air was so crisp this morning, and I couldn't shake off the campfire scent coming through the windows--it had me craving a hike and a couple nights in a tent. A lot of the neighbors have outdoor woodburning stoves, so that bonfire aroma is pretty steadily eminent. I feel like I didn't notice it as much when it was hotter out, but now it always leaves me smiling over autumn. We all woke up at different times, but ended up trickling out onto the porch for breakfast and a rock in the hammocks. Irene and I took our breakfast out with us, and Maryann brought her tea. I made a tasty egg and green bean sautee, and served it up with some aguacate chunks. Irene was all bundled up in her hammock, and commented that she felt like she was camping when she woke up this morning. I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one thinking of campfires and bundling up in tents! These houses aren't exactly built for insulation, and a lack of glass in the windows leaves the rooms about the temperature of outside, but it's so nice having some cooler weather. And the girls and I all agree that it is time to plan a camping trip.
with breakfast this tasty I was destined to have a great morning :)
We headed out to wander around town, and I always love how much fun I have smiling and chatting with strangers, friends and neighbors. There are so many fun sights and noises around the market. On chilly Saturday mornings you also get to experience the smell of coffee and fresh baleadas...mmm. The other day we noticed a man painting the store front of one of the shops in town, and I was so impressed with his painting skills. He has made some progress, and his bright red parrot is really coming to life. I wonder if we could get him to paint something on the outside of la casa rosada :) I had never been into the store, so today I decided to check it out. They have all sorts of Honduran touristy items, most of which they purchase from the market in San Pedro. I've been wanting some wind-chimes and little decorations to hang on the outside of the house, and this place was full of them! I didn't have the patience to think decorating ideas this morning, but it's nice to know I have the options right in town. I saw some neighbor boys sitting out front and greeted them with a smile. They've come by for fruit a few times, but I don't remember ever seeing them in town. Turns out this little tienda is owned by their family, and I got to meet their very pregnant mother, Yemi! She came up and asked if I was her neighbor, and I got all excited and asked if she lived in the house on the corner (yes) --she recognized us and commented that Maryann esta encantada de su perro, basically Maryann is in love/enchanted by their dog and always cooing at it when we're walking to town. Yemi is short for something I had trouble remembering, so she said to stick with Yemi. The boys are Mauri and Andi (also nicknames--Mauricio-11 y Anderson-9) and she has a twelve year old daughter I haven't met.

Yemi was incredibly friendly! Neither of us intended to shop much today, but we both noticed some winners. Maryann was picking out some fun jewelry, and had her hands so full she kept dropping earrings or bracelets. Yemi handed her a joyero (a decently sized basketesk type container) to put them all in, and then gave it to her when she made her purchases!  I've seen a lot of woven bracelets with little leather strips you can engrave, and have been wanting some ever since I arrived. I kept having a hard time deciding on color combinations, but today I was just determined to find a keeper. I knew I wanted two, and I knew what I wanted them to say, so it was just a matter of picking the colors that kept me smiling. At first I had two blue and white patterns in my hands, but Maryann suggested adding a little color to my life, and I'm of course always thankful to have her around. I love the two I chose! I was surprised to find one VT colored, and what better day than the day of the Homecoming game. Go Hokies :) Anyone who hasn't heard of "In the Heights" should look it up immediately, because it's a great Broadway show I was lucky enough to see a few years ago with a great message and lovely soundtrack. One of the recurring themes is paciencia y fe and it has really resounded with me. I'm pretty certain faith and patience are all we need to sustain a wonderful life. But every now and then I need a little reminder...

Sweet Yemi must have been in the mood for spoiling, because she insisted the bracelets be a gift from her! My wallet broke a few weeks ago so I've been on the lookout for a replacement (and being stingy with my monthly stipend makes shopping trips a rare occurrence) and found the winner at the tienda today! At first I was not ok with the bracelets being a gift, but then I just smiled and welcomed her kindness. I'm hoping we can get to know each other better, but she's busy with a house full of kids and classes at the university so we shall see how the relationship develops. We wandered up to Doris and spent a long while with her. She was working alone today and they got pretty busy at one point so Maryann and I started helping customers and tag-teaming taking money/giving out change. It was pretty fun! It was adorable because Maryann's Spanish isn't exactly fluent, but we made it work just fine. Doris is a very special woman, and I'm so pleased to be getting to know she and her family so well. She of course gave me some tortillas, and I enjoyed a couple as soon as we got home. One even smiled at me!
Mira la carita :) 
Later today I spent some time at the Barnabas House visiting with the families still there from last week's surgeries, and chatting with the staff. What a great group of people, but I'm working on an entry that updates all about the aforementioned surgeries, and some of the Foundation staff. It was great getting to see the kids after a week and embrace their moms like old friends. I actually ran into some of them in town today--always makes me grateful to live in such a small town when I get to bump into so many people passing around town. Little Joel wanted to play Bingo, and I got such a kick out of being a Bingo caller for a few games. Made me miss David, that's for sure, but in a nostalgically happy kind of way. For those who are now confused, David and I spent a good while as rival Bingo callers for a swim team fundraiser. I'll let you guess who holds the title :) One of the boys has me anxious to practice my accent with my Spanish numbers, and I am telling you every day I am practicing more and more with my poor lengua to make it more catracha. Hah--around town we joke that the biggest clue I'm not catracha is that I have a crummy accent pronouncing the word! A new brigade arrived tonight and it was nice chatting with some of them. One of the team members is mother to a friend of a very good friend at home, so it was such a small world feeling meeting her tonight! I'm going to translate for them at Melvin Martinez' church tomorrow night and looking forward to that.

May not have been anything overly exciting, but I love when an assortment of simple things make a chilly, rainy day so bright and wonderful.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Supplies and Memories

Come to find out there is a sort of "teacher store" in town, and the prices are just right! It's more of a school supply and a few random craft supplies store, but it seems to have enough to keep me satisfied. The owner is lots of friendly, and it's crazy close to la casa. We're starting new units in most of the classes, so I'm looking forward to getting creative and making some decorations that will hopefully stick to the walls. The issue at the beginning of the year was that nothing was sticking, and I wasn't all that "whelmed" by any of the poster options. I'm thinking with the right type of tape, some markers, poster board and glitter I'll be good to go! We're starting weather in Science, so bring on the clouds, lightning bolts and sunshine. I might even get all kinds of crazy and make images of different vowel sounds, I just wonder if I can get more exciting than the standard apple, egg, cow, pig and umbrella...of course I can :) This lady has poster board for 4lps a sheet which is less than I thought it would be, and she showed off her Disney princess folders in case I find myself in need. I think I'll spend some time this getting crafty this weekend. She also carries embroidery floss for something like 2lps a cluster, so we might have to get into some friendship bracelets one day soon. Hmm--something fun for a rainy day art class?

The store made me think of journaling because I've always had this sort of thing for teacher stores, school supply aisles and stationery stores. I feel all kinds of 'You've Got Mail'-ish but I love the smell of the pencils, all the bright colors and designs of the paper, notebooks etc and how inspiring the glitter and nicknacks can be. I remember I used to get so excited when Mom would take me to the teacher store with her, and if I'd been really good or something sometimes that was my reward, and I got to pick out a pack of stickers...ahh the little things :) A grocery store where we often shopped shared a parking lot with an ABC Store, and before I knew any better I always just assumed an ABC Store was a teacher store. I think I mortified Mom the first time I excitedly asked if I was reallllly good at the grocery store if she'd please take me to the ABC Store! It's funny the little memories that come to you at the oddest times, but seemingly right when you'll appreciate them the most.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

La Lancha Llena

It has been weeks ago now, but I was just sharing the story with part of the surgical team earlier today. I'd been talking to Eulogio about wanting to hike and go out on the lake and all that fun stuff, and one day a few weeks ago he called Maryann to get the ball rolling. It was an off and on rainy day, so we were on the fence about what we should do. A blue sky started peeking around as we walked towards the bus stop, so we opted for a lancha (paddle boat) en Los Naranjos. Our timing was almost perfect as we had to run to catch our bus, and as we neared they flung the back of the bus (it's a school bus turned town-town bus) open and we hopped in. I had no sooner grabbed hold of the bars overhead when we took off again, and we spent a good bit of the ride laughing and catching our breath. We saw a kind-faced viejo wearing a hat proclaiming him a "High Maintenance Cowgirl" and mean Eulogio refused to exchange hats with him! It was really hard not to laugh when Irene pointed it out to me, and I just wanted to high-five the dude for pulling it off. OK, I did laugh, and pretty hard, but not at the gentleman, just at the humor of his situation. We've sort of made this game of guessing who knows the meaning behind the English writing on their apparel.

While on the bus a guy seemed stoked we spoke English and asked if he was on the correct bus to head to the brewery. Not only was he on the correct bus, but that happened to be our stop so we offered to walk him to his destination. He was a German in town for a two-week internship on the coast, and decided to spend some time backpacking once his work was complete. Maryann chatted it up with him on the walk; to be honest he seemed a little overwhelmed by all of us, but he added a little extra excitement to our afternoon. D&D is in some backpacking guide books, so the new owner is doing a really good job of building up the business. The whole boat obtainment felt like a rather odd process. We left the German at the brewery and as we headed down the road a big, pretty dog started following us. We picked him up at the brewery, and he had  a nice collar so we knew someone would miss him. Maryann (of course) wanted to keep him, and named him something silly. He followed us all the way down to the boats, and there was some pleading to let him go out on the lake with us. He hung around so long I was a little surprised he wasn't waiting on the bank when we got back.

So from the brewery we wandered through the neighborhood--I'll correct that, Eulogio and Douglas were discussing the route, but the rest of us were just trotting along behind them--took a couple turns and arrived at a normal-looking house. Logk handed a gentleman some money through the fence, and in exchange we received a pair of oars. We walked down their hill, turned onto another street in the neighborhood, hopped a ditch, walked across a big field, hopped across a bigger ditch, walked along the main road which included crossing a cool bridge, took a turn I'm still not sure how they knew to take (years of living here, of course!) walked down a crazy hill and wound up at the lake, with our choice of lots of blue and red painted wooden boats. We got out onto the lake (I keep wanting to call it a river) and I was instantly blown away at the beauty of it all. Of course not knowing how the afternoon would transpire none of us had our cameras, but that's just a wonderful excuse to get back out there. Eulogio paddled 98% of the time, but he let each of us take turns for a few minutes. Remando (paddling) this boat was ridiculous. The big, awkwardly unround handles of the heavy wooden oars didn't have the smoothest glide, but I gave it my best.

The view from the lake was absolutely incredible. There's an island that looks like a turtle and suitably referred to as "Isla de Tortuga" and a mountain (I'm told the second highest in Honduras) called...Butt (nalgas) Mountain. It is commonly referred to as butt or boobie mountain, because of its double mounted summit. The trees surrounding the lake were all so crazy. I let myself get lost staring up at them, and likely could have spent a few more hours just looking up at all the foliage. Man I need to go back with my camera! But I wonder if my camera would do them justice. These neat dangles hung from a lot of the trees and they almost looked like cobwebs. I took a liking to them because they gave the scene a sort of tropical weeping willow essence--very cool. I was asking what was in the trees, and just as I commented on how beautiful they were Eulogio responded, "Parasites" in a very matter-of-fact way. Not sure a parasite could hold beauty? Come down for a visit, and let me take you out on the lake. Some of the parasites were these big green spikes stuck all over the trees--crazy pineapple top looking plants. We saw a good number of people out fishing. Most of them didn't have poles, but what seemed to be a handful of line, and it appeared to be working just fine!

The birds around the lake blew me away. I've seen a couple really cool looking birds near my house, but it's like the lake was showing off. Eulogio says there are about 4,000 different types of birds in this area, and something like 1,000 of them are only found in this area. That seems so crazy to me! Of course my descriptions won't do them justice, but hopefully some pictures can be posted one of these days. Just crazy vibrant colors and sharp features; like angular tails and bright beaks, different colors on the tops and undersides of wings. We kept seeing this one that was chartreuse (Logk needed some explanation of what the heck chartreuse looked like) and brown with a bright yellow beak. Douglas told me the name of it, but of course I can't remember. No camera and no pencil--Dad would not be proud.

The wind started picking up and the sky got that eerie look to it, so we paddled back with a little more haste than paddling out. The trip home from Los Naranjos was full of laughter. So there was plenty room for us on our big boat, but I think it's safe to say it was at capacity (lancha llena). I think it is also safe to say cabs here rarely reach capacity, seemingly no matter how many you squeeze in. First moto-taxi experience, and it was adventurous! They have these cabs here called moto-taxis, and they're best described as a cross-breed between a tricycle and a lawn-mower. I agree, pictures are definitely needed. Some of them have plastic around the windows, and some are just open and exciting. We packed five adults, and the grown male driver into a moto-taxi. It was cozy to say the least. Poor Maryann... I ended up on her lap (yesss she's a couple sizes smaller and it would have made more sense in the reverse, but we didn't pack in with careful planning) and thought it might ease the blow if I raised myself over the tumulos (speed bumps). Of course each time I lowered myself I crushed her legs all over again...and unfortunately, I didn't realize this until the last speed bump. The sweet girl took it like a champ. But we had a great laugh about it on our walk to dinner.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hammocks! and birthdays too--

A few weeks ago we celebrated Javier's birthday and had a great time. We loaded into the truck and drove about 45(ish) minutes to a pizza place he and Kerem had been told to try. They set us up with a table on the roof, and we all enjoyed the view. To the left was this long stretch of trees with a narrow stretch of street running  through for miles with little speckles of city lights and mountain bumps at the end. We spent a few hours at the restaurant laughing with the kids, and getting to know a new friend Jamie, who was in town for about a week of mission work. He says he is trying to come back early 2012, so here's hoping. He lives in Chespeake and works with broadcasting, but fell in love with Honduras a few years ago and has returned here and there for mission work. Javier and Kerem's sweet kids have gotten very into this game of slap the fingers, and Maryann spent a good while playing with a few of them. I do my  best to steer clear, and consider Maryann a masochist. You play with your fore and middle fingers held together tightly, and slap the fore and middle fingers of your partner. The game is over when someone gives. No thanks...It stormed the entire drive back to town, with crazy heavy rain and power outages greeting us when we got home, but we had fun with it.

The next day Javier surprised us with hammocks for the house. Happy birthday to him (us)! I still can't believe he gave them to us--that Javier and Kerem they spoil us! Javi says you can't live in Honduras without a hammock, and I happen to agree. It's like our porch was crying for a hammock. Chris and Maria gave Irene Maria's because she never used it, so we now have three hammocks hanging on the front porch. Maryann was so patient getting ours hung. She had to get the ropes tied just right so they didn't knock against each other and drive us crazy. Relaxing into that thing is just so...relaxing :) Easing into it and reclining back, the soft fabric scoops you up in this swaddling hug, and the weight of my arrival mixed with a cool afternoon breeze gives this soothing sway. It's hard to imagine, but it somehow leaves me feeling so weightless even though I feel the weight of myself wrapping the hammock around me. It has so far proved fabulous for power naps before caminando al mercado, toiling away over lesson plans, video chatting family and spending quality time with the roommates as the three of us enjoy our porch-front haven.

As an aside, Kilalah is no longer a member of the Casa Rosada family as she was gifted to a friend's family in the mountains towards San Pedro. The unexpected adoption (or abandonment depending who you ask...) left a sour taste in Javier's mouth and it comes up almost daily. Kerem and I can't stop laughing every time they get into it. So of course when Javier gave us the hammocks it was discussed that Maryann wasn't allowed to use hers until she brought the cat home. We miss Kila, but I'm sure she's happier with her friends in the mountain.
Pretty flower I photographed while Maryann used her knotting makes me think of Nana and all the irises she always had growing. And it grows on a big plant right in my yard :)

My girl hard at work! 
I wonder what the hammock will be like when I return to the States. I wonder if I'll live somewhere with a nice space to stretch a hammock. Maybe I should add that to the list of "wants" for whenever I end up looking for a place to live State-side...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pre-Op Translations

What a week it has been! Monday and Tuesday were surprisingly great days, and Wednesday was just wonderful. The kids are really starting to develop, which is an incredible feeling. A few of my patience-testers had awesome participation today. I almost couldn't believe it when Kensy whipped her notebook out and started scribbling away sentences without me even having to repeat myself once. Put that one down in the books, because I can guarantee you it is a first! I know I say it a lot, but my kids are a lot of fun. They're always full of giggles. This week is supervision week or something like that, where Magda will pop into the classroom to see what we're like as teachers. She came into two of my classes Wednesday, and seemed very pleased with the work I'm doing. What a yay for me!

A surgical team from Barnabas arrived today, and I heard they might need help with translating this afternoon. They're spending the week about an hour and a half from the BHouse so they're closer to the hospital, but Wednesday they had to do pre-op interviews etc to get ready for the busy week ahead. I'm excited because I finally got to meet Nancy (Barnabas pres) so now I get to put a face to email. She's spending the weekend with the team in Sigua, and has invited me to come along so that could be great! It was neat translating for the anesthesiology, and I was able to learn some new vocab. Mmm I enjoyed some te de jamaica and fresh banana bread. I also had some beans and corn tortillas, so you know I was happy. I didn't get to know the team very well because they were busy getting the pre-op arranged and then back on the road for Sigua, but hopefully I'll get to spend some time with them this weekend.

This is the oral surgical team, so I saw some interesting faces today. It was neat talking to Nancy because she remembers some of the kids coming in as babies, and now she's seeing them as they grow and they heal from their surgeries. They have been able to make some incredible transformations. And I got to hold so many babies tonight. They were squishy and amazing. This one little guy was so full of life. Most of the kids were a little timid, and who wouldn't be, but this guy seemed like he couldn't be happier to be there. He was kicking his legs around and drumming on the table. Even at bedtime he had his fun little smile. Mom let me spend some time holding him before he had to turn in for the night, and I commented on how much fun he was. She assured me it was just because he seemed so taken with me, and that made me blush. Of course it brought up the fact that I don't have children, and being "my age" and single/childless earns me some interesting looks around here. I told her that right now my life is more suited to holding other people's babies.

I am having a hard time putting into words what it was like at the house tonight.Being surrounded by all those kids and families, helping the healers get the information they needed, bonding more with my Honduran family--all things for which I am greatful. Delilah wants to have me over and go swimming in the lake one day soon,  Pascuala wants me to stay with her for a couple of days, Nancy will be here the entire month of October and Melvin and I are going to get together for spiritual talk sometime in the near future. Those hours at the house tonight, it was like a breath of fresh air.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making Tortillas

As a complete aside, Patty Griffin has a song "Making Pies" and the title of this entry has me playing that song. Making pies all day... making tortillas all day doesn't have the same ring, does it?

A few weekends ago I spent the bulk of the weekend in Los Naranjos at Lisa and Gordon's. Lisa made these killer oatmeal cookies, and some oatmeal pancakes that were so good. She even had pure maple syrup--score. It was fun to hang out with them and run around like crazy with the kids in the neighborhood. They're taking care of a boy from their neighborhood for a while, and it's fun getting to know him better. The Gordon Crew's visas were about to expire, and they'd already received an extension so it was time for a trip to Guatemala. I offered to spend the day at their house so their dog and new addition to the family would have some company. A few of the other neighborhood kids were stoked to hear I'd be spending the day there, and they showed up at the fence bright and early.

They played for a bit while I lesson-planned, but they'd been cooped up inside for too long on such a blue-skied day, so I demanded some outside time. They grabbed a hula-hoop and we had some silly fun for a while. Let's go ahead and get it out there that I am not a skilled hula-hooper. Could I make up any more words tonight? We ended up coming up with this game where we all spread out and started tossing the hoop at each other. Picture life-size ring toss. I somehow convinced them to walk with me into town, which seemed like such a good idea at the time. I knew it was a little far, but I figured we could handle it. I really wanted to get some produce, the kids really wanted to hang out for the day and I didn't have cabfare for everyone. So being me I suggested a walk. The kids were way too fun, and so distracting the walk felt like a piece of cake. More importantly, I felt like eating a piece of cake as soon as we got into town. We decided to snack on bananas instead :)

I am pretty sure the hands-down highlight of the day was learning to make tortillas. And they were so tasty we made a second batch! They went great with this lenteja (lentil) simmer I threw together. Later in the day I also made my first batch of chimol, which turned out tasty and went great with my first batch of tajadas. I'll go ahead and put it out there...I intend to return a domestic wonder--a multicultural domestic wonder. 

So the tortilla tutorial...three boys, jam-packed with energy, are way too fun in the kitchen. Efren and I had been talking about corn tortillas and how much I like them, so he said he wanted to teach me. As soon as Franklin caught wind he wanted to help, and Darwin was all over it as well. It was quite the group effort, and the boys were great little teachers. Franklin brought a gift of cooked corn from his mother (twice of course, since we had to make a second batch) and Darwin's aunt has a mill that only costs 1lp per use. Darwin also brought me half of a coconut, and sliced chunks out for me while I made masa and patted tortillas, so he scored big in my book. The kids really are something. Franklin is so animated. He has this boisterous greeting of, "Hola! Hola! Como han estado?!?" and he has this constant retort of, "Mentiras! Pura mentiras!" just about anytime someone mentions his name. What's worse is I started saying that to some of my students as a joke one day, and now they're saying it too! So then I had to teach them the English version, and now it's just silly to hear on shout about mentiras and another come back with, "Lies! Pure/All Lies!"
Washing the kernels. Thanks, Franklin's mom, for doing the legwork! These were slow cooked over a wood-burning stove. 
Coconut, compliments of Darwin. And yes, he handed me that slice and didn't understand when I wasn't immediately ready for another bite. That's a chiggity chunk of coconut!

Always posing
Making tortillas, I was talking about making tortillas. You take the cooked corn and rub the kernels together in water until the water comes out clean. The corn smelled good, almost sweet, and it felt strange in my hands.   Once they all agreed I'd sufficiently cleaned the corn we walked to Darwin aunt's place. She had turkeys in her yard, so that added to my experience. The mill was a little intimidating at first (perhaps because the boys warned I'd better be careful around the part that spins because people have lost finger tips...of course his aunt laughed and ran her hand around it assuring this silly gringa there was nothing to fear) but then it was just neat. It spat out warm, freshly milled corn meal and released an intense scent. Like freshly made tamales or something. Que rico. So corn tortillas are far less complicated than I'd anticipated! You take the meal, add a little water and knead it into a masa. Who knew they were just corn and water? Of course I started thinking of things like colored corn or adding something like beet juice to give the tortillas a little character, but I should perfect the process before I get too carried away. You mold the masa into small balls and then use your hand to rotate and press into a tortilla-perfect circle. They made this things...darnit what were they called...neilas maybe. No that wasn't it. Anyway, out of plastic bags (we used wax paper, but it falls apart too easily it doesn't come highly recommended) you cut a circular shape. You place masa ball in the middle of said circular plastic and go to hand simultaneously twisting and pressing. Your other hand can be used to beautify the edges, but that's a lot to concentrate on your first time. Jessica, one of the girls in the neighborhood, was with is for the second batch and she blew my tortillas out of the water. She also formed much better masa balls than the boys showed me, so she scored points too. She took them one step further before pressing, and made them thinner on the edges, thicker in the middle and round around the sides.

yes, I need to work on my edges. They got better as the day went on, but we didn't get any pictures of those!

Once they're pressed to perfection it's time for the heat! I'd suggest cast iron, but you make the best of what you have. A little time on each side, pressing down every so often to get them a good shape and texture, and there you have it! Mmm. They were tasty. I handed the boys my camera to capture fun moments of the day, and they seemed to have fun with it. I wish they could have gotten pictures of the way we laughed and laughed the morning and afternoon away. Apparently our next lesson will be a day of hiking one of the mountains in their neighborhood. Looking forward to sharing stories from that adventure!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Friendly Bakers

So there's this place in Las Vegas. It's called Queens Reposteria y Panaderia. And their pastries are way too good. Vegas is about a thirty minute bus ride from Peña, and it's only 18lps each way so it's a cheap escape on the weekends! Being that it's higher in the mountains it's a little cooler there, and it's fun to walk around their square for a nice change of pace. A few weekends ago I went with the Lisa and Gordon crew, and we ended our trip with a visit to Queens. Since I've been here, anytime cake or pastries come up in a conversation people always rave about Queens. They're known for their moist, yummy cakes, and they have a counter full of delicious pastries. They have tres leches, cuatro leches (which adds dulce de leche...stop, just stop!) and chocoflan (a moist chocolate cake topped with a layer of sweet, creamy flan...) to name a few. They decorate them so beautifully. They have one that I've yet to see available by the slice, but it's decorated with chocolate shavings, drizzles and a parade of pirrouettes (those crispy cookie tubular things?) around the edges. I'm not sure where to start on the pastries. They have sugar donuts, semitas (sort of sweet rolls with a thick floury/sugary design on top) iced and stuffed semitas, iced donuts, thick slices of this pan that's good with coffee--it's like a vanilla cake with icing, chilenas--shortbread cookies filled and decorated with dulce de leche (stop it!) and loads more, but their churros take the cake. Hah pun intended I suppose? They have these churros that are so, so good. It's a long, ruffled edge pastry stuffed with dulce de leche, Then topped with a little drizzle, and a sprinkle of sugar and canela (cinnamon) they are so, so good. Ok let me stop :) Now I'm sure some thoughts are floating around about all these cakes and sweets and what has happened to our Courtney who was always sweet enough to avoid cakes and sweets. It would be a shame to visit a new country and not get a taste of all they have to offer, and sometimes I just want dessert.

Yesterday I started to wonder if we were creating a "pastry schedule" of sorts... Queens is family owned, and a few visits ago I met the owner and his son. Queens itself is a small little building with the pastry counter, and a reach-in fridge that holds the cakes. There are a few chairs in that area, and then a nicely-sized patio with a few tables and chairs. It was raining that particular day, so the crowd of us huddled inside. The owners were incredibly nice, and brought in some chairs they dried off for us. They have a little TV in the corner, and the Nats were on against...who can remember, but the owner's son Carlos is a big Red Sox fan so we got to talking about sports etc. As we were leaving Gordon and I were both hit with this incredible smell. As soon as we got outside it was like the heavy rain air hugged us with the warm smell of fresh-baked bread. Carlos was outside, so I asked him where the smell was coming from. He said, "Here, let me show you..." He gave us a mini-tour of their bakery! There's a building in the back where all the magic apparently happens. I learned that they make way more than what they sell in the shop. They make loads of semitas, semitas largas, and all sorts of little cookies that they bag and sell to local pulperias. He gave us a sample of semitas that were fresh from the oven. As Lisa likes to say, Que rico! They normally sell each bag for 12lps each, but he offered us bags of whatever we wanted for 10lps. Thanks, Carlos! Gordon loves to spoil us, and he got us a bag of these crunchy treats. They're big circles you could compare to filo dough or puff pastry, crunchy and flaky. I'd say they're a little bigger than a corn tortilla in size, and they're topped with a sugary yum. Perfect with coffee. As for the pastry schedule, the girls and I bused to Vegas yesterday and we were asked if they could expect us the same time next Saturday :)

When Carlos was giving us the tour he told us the story of the name. He's a...oh what are those called, he designs logos and things. So he designed their logo which is a deep maroonish crown/bakers hat with Queens written across in cursive. He said his mom is named Reina, and his sister is as well--Queens! Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting daughter Reina. One of my students, Sergio, was there and he came up for a big hug. When I went in to order a woman shook my hand asking if I was Sergio's teacher, and telling me she was his mom! Turns out mama is Reina, so that was a fun discovery. What a small world it is. We sat outside to relax into our pastries, and as I was gushing over my churro (it was my first one, and I think I fell in love) as started contemplating the benefits of having a student's family in the bakery business.

To clarify, I do not intend to be a regular Saturday patron, but it is nice to know it's there. And even better to know the owners are just so friendly!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A rainy Monday night

It rains a lot here, we've talked about this. But I started a story a few weeks ago on a rainy Monday night...I had a long but great day, and I worked on typing up some stories after school and into the evening, so that was good fun! Throughout the day there were easy opportunities to let myself feel stressed, but where’s the joy in that? I was determined to stay upbeat and excited all day—and I accomplished that goal! Josue, the teacher who has 2nd “B” in the mornings was absent that day…so Miss Harris bounced between both classrooms! I’m confident each class learned at least a little math and got a decent review in science. I really had so much fun with the kids. The way they laughed and giggled just cracked me up. 2nd A loves to hide behind the door after lunch/recess and "scare" me when I come into the classroom. One of the other kids always tells me who's behind the door, and they always jump out a little too late to actually scare me but it is almost always funny the way they make monster sounds and scary faces. I say almost always because sometimes they really need to just be good listeners and get into their seats so that we can start class :)

When Maryann got home from dance I had really started to rain. We were both feeling a little stir crazy, so we decided to walk to the little pulperia that's not too far.  Let me tell you it was raining!!! We laughed and told stories the whole way there, and once we got to the store the workers didn't understand why we'd trekked out in the rain. For how often it rains here, I'm really surprised how much it shuts people inside. I'm pretty sure the guys at the store were even more confused when none of our purchases where any necessities. I'm pretty sure we picked up cookies...well maybe just cookies and a bag of chips for Maryann. I snapped a picture of us on the walk home because it was so fun to skip around in the rain.
We both looked half-asleep in the first picture, so Maryann made scary eyes to try and look more  awake for this one...of course, we shared a good laugh

It rained so hard the power went out, so dinner consisted of cookies and peanut butter. Delicious? Absolutely. But sometimes I really wish we had a gas stove! And I had more will power :) It was a simple Monday, but if you can't celebrate the simple joys, well that's just a bummer. 

La Reina de Flores

I had so much fun with my kiddos Thursday. So many of them are sporting these front-toothless smiles, and I can't get over just how stinking cute they are. After-school tutoring has started Mon-Thurs for the onees who need it, and last week I sent a rack of notes home. One-on-one tutoring is obviously preferred, but there's just no way to work that out right now. I dedicated some time to grouping the kids in a way that they could all hopefully get a lot out of tutoring, even if they were a little over-crowded...but we'll see how that works out.  This week's lessons have been slow as the return notes are trickling in from parents. Tuesday I had two cuties stay for help with phonics and reading, and both started the lesson in tears. They did not want to stay for tutoring! I assured them we would make it fun, and it was something they might enjoy. I don't think either believed me, but as the lessons go on I think they'll find faith. Learning a second language is tough; of course some of them need a little extra push! I just wish I could provide more one-on-one time for them. I'm going to have to do some thinking on that one. There has got to be a way! 

So Tuesday's kids were less than thrilled to be there, but they'll come around. Wednesday has been reserved for math, but those guys haven't brought their notes back. or two kids had brought their notes back, so I was expecting a small group. As the buses pulled away one of my girls wrapped herself around my legs and asked where to go for tutoring. She hadn't brought a note back, so I was a little surprised but of course pleased her parents had agreed to let her stay for tutoring. Then I had five of them around my legs, all kinds of excited for tutoring. They spent a lot of time running around, holding hands and spinning in circles, acting out the words I was having them pronounce--which included rolling around on the grass and hopping up to bark like dogs... I really want to keep tutoring outside the classroom as much as possible. They're trapped in there enough during the day, and I think we are surrounded by so many opportunities to learn. I tried doing some circle reading, but that didn't work out very well. Then I had them each run and find something to bring to me, and we were able to talk about the beginning, middle and ending sound of each object. We exchanged high-fives and excited smiles when the kids knew their sounds. I was so relieved! Imagine a "phew!" accompanied by a calming breath.

But one of the kids brought me a tiny flower, and once we had sounded and rhymed and all that fun stuff we talked about how pretty it was. Suddenly all of them wanted to bring me flowers, and the chaos broke out again. I decided to take my book closer to the flowers, and sit sort of in the middle of the kids and their floral excitement. I held the book open and started reading to them, then I'd pause and ask individuals to read different words. One of the girls started putting flowers in my hair, and the rest of the kids apparently thought it was a fun idea. It was sort of neat having them all over me, climbing around, scurrying for me flowers and talking about the best place to put them. They were sliding them into my hair and making a crown of sorts. What I liked about it was that having them all stuck to me like that made it much easier to do some circle reading. At the end of the session my kids learned some pronunciation, I learned some lessons on the do's and don'ts of group tutoring and they dubbed me La Reina de Flores. Flower Queen :) It was a very long day, but the way they worked together to "make the miss look so beautiful" left me joyful. Some of them even did better on their spelling tests the next day. Maybe there is something to be said for the group tutoring. 
I like that one side of my head shows that it was a long day, and the other side shows that my kids are awesome
Once tutoring was over a few teachers were still hanging around, and everyone was cracking up at my hair. Maria took a picture and said I looked like Mother Earth. What a compliment :) the buds kept falling out in the breeze, but some of them were stuck in pretty tight. I guess I could thank the humidity for adding that extra frizz. Maryann got a picture before we headed home, but a lot of the flowers had already fallen out. They had a whole crown around the front of my head, and it has me wanting to experiment more with flowers in my hair.

Creating a Sense of Autumn

Fall is undoubtedly my favorite time of year. Of course you can make the argument that days are shorter, and everything seems to be "losing its life" but what a sad way to look at nature! I have this memory of a long walk I took with my Aunt Di at the start of last fall. We were gushing about how much we love this time of year, and how rejuvenated it makes us feel. I prefer to think of autumn as a time for rebirth and growth, so please feel free to share in that with me.

Yes it gets chilly, but scarves can be a fun accessory and who doesn't like a good bonfire? Camping trips are amazing this time of year--and you don't wake up all sweaty in your tent like you can in summer months. Yes the days get shorter, but what if that's nature's way of suggesting you slow down a little, and take some time to relax in the evenings. Curl up with a glass of wine (or a beer, soda, lemonade, hot tea, Knob Creek, slice of cake, bowl of kale chips, slices of hard, sharp cheese, chunk of rich, dark chocolate...) and a book, sitting someplace cozy, preferably near a window so that you can better appreciate the stars and glimpse of the moon who came to visit a little earlier than you'd like. Don't enjoy reading a book? replace the book with a friend or loved one, and spend some time sharing stories. Better yet--enjoy this relaxation scenario outside somewhere, before winter comes along and sends us indoors. Put on some socks and a soft sweater, recline in your hammock if you're so lucky, and get cozy with a small blanket. Ease into fall, and embrace all that comes with it. Go to the pumpkin patch, then stuff a pumpkin with all things wonderful and let it slowly soften in the oven, make mulled cider (someone please make apple cider sangria and tell me all about it) rake leaves and then jump into a big pile of them, collect the prettiest leaves you find and make something creative with them. I'd recommend a window decoration with fishing line and a little tape. I could go on and on, but we all know the fun things to do this time of year. Ok and hayrides, apple picking, haunted houses, costume making, long hikes with unbelievable views...

Man oh man I am craving fall! But Honduras has been gentle with me, and I've been able to create my own taste of autumn. It was "chilly" here last night, and I got to wear a light zip-up sweatshirt! I have been wearing them here and there in the mornings, but not so much because I'm cold. It's been more of a comfort thing. Like my body's thinking, "Hello, it's October. Why are you in a tank top?" But last night was great weather for long-sleeves. They have these gourds at market that are very affordable, and delicious. Some of them are similar to butternut squash, and they've been fun to experiment with at dinner. Sharper knives would be cool in the kitchen, but I've learned to improvise. Anyone who has chopped up a butternut squash can hopefully understand my predicament of hop to cut and peel such a firm gourd with such an odd knife rack. The other night I decided to try steaming my calabaza halves, to soften things up and remove the peel with more ease. I was then going to cube it and sautee the chunks with garlic. Well, I ended up way over steaming them. Some distractions surfaced, and when I pulled them out and realized they'd turned to mush, I got excited to make some mash! Threw in some salt, pepper, olive oil and minced garlic...mmm, que rico! It tasted just like fall, and I lamely smiled with every bite.

In art class I decided to talk to my kids about autumn. They got all handsy making leaves and it was fun to watch their creativity flow. The way they decorated their leaves seemed to suit each of them. Some did the bare minimum, some went above and beyond, some rushed so they'd have time to goof off, some over thought the process and all of them had fun and made great leaves! We glued them to a circle of construction paper and made a fall wreath :)  I am so happy with the way it turned out. I have been trying to think of how I can keep it in good condition and bring it back with me this summer, because I'd like to use it as my autumn wreath as long as it holds up. A couple of the leaves have a sort of tie-dyed look to them, and Eduardo cracked up saying they were hippie leaves. Hippie leaves! I'm not sure I could have referenced anything hippie in second grade, but I loved the way he said it (eeepie) and we shared a peace sign afterwards. Fridays are pretty fun days at school. I spend the bulk of the morning laughing with my kids. They have a spelling test every friday, and when I call out the words I give them sentences. A few of them have started helping make silly sentences, and they always leave me laughing. I'll throw their names into my sample sentences sometimes, so now they love to throw my name in.

They were all cracking up at the decorations their markers left on their hands

Heidy-Sarahy put her "leaves" on her head and kiri-kiri-kied like a rooster :)
I've noticed some cool leaves on the ground here and there, so maybe I'll snag a couple of those, press them and let them adorn my windows as a taste of fall. I may not have all the qualities of fall that I'm used to in Virginia, but I think it's awfully sweet of Honduras to throw me a couple reminders of my favorite time of year.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Barbie Girl

One of my classrooms is across from the 4th grade class, so those students get to share my good morning smiles while I'm greeting my kiddos. One day a chica in 4th grade smiled at me and said I looked like Barbie. I couldn't help but laugh, and told her I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. She said it was a good thing, and we shared a quick hug. I've now come to know my fourth grade fan as Chelsea, and she gives me the best smiles throughout the day. She also wears some really cute clips and pins in her hair, which makes me wish twenty-five year olds could pull off the same look as a ten year old. She started referring to me as Barbie Girl, and was always saying it in a sort of mocking to describe it, almost sung but tauntish. Barrrbie Girlll. For a while I would just smile, but when she kept at it, and in front of other students, I asked how she felt about giving Miss Harris a try.

I of course don't understand why she thinks I look like Barbie, but I find it sweet regardless. A few weeks ago she made me a construction paper card with all these cute cut-outs and fun marked decorations. The front of the card said "Barbie Girl" which just makes me laugh. I've never been compared to Barbie! Mr. Garcia (Allan, her teacher) called me Barbie Girl when I was leaving the other day--which can't make me mad, because I've been calling him Binky (which is a joke from sticker Monday) for weeks now--but I stopped and asked what the heck was up with the Barbie comparison. When I said I just didn't get it because she's all kinds of tall and skinny with long blonde hair, his response was that to her that's what I am. I was so confused, and then so flattered. Little Chelsea sees me as a leggy blonde; maybe I owe her another hug!

Las Palionas

My little second grade girls are so excited. November 4th is the anniversary of LYBS, and every year they do a big parade. All of the students are divided into different groups--there's a band, baton girls, little cadets, dancers and then the teachers get creative and come up with different themes. Apparently last year they dressed a grew of them up as geishas, so now we're trying to think of some good costume ideas! Maryann and I started joking about cowboys and indians, and Mrs. Bueso wants us to teach a group of kids a square dance. We all had a good laugh after school one day last week--Mrs. Bueso started clapping her hands and trying to don a thick, country accent through her British accent, and Maryann and I started skipping, linked elbows and did a little jig. We were a little embarrassed when a parent came walking down the hall, but she just clapped and asked us to continue!

The other day Ms Claudia (teaches computers and tech ed) came into my class and started talking to the kids about the parade. She was only addressing the girls, which at first had me thrown. Turns out last year the first grade girls were the baton twirlers (palionas) and this year they've chosen the second grade girls to fill the roll. The look on my girls' faces when she said they got to be the palionas! It was just too cute. Of course their concentration was gone for the last half of class, but it was fun seeing them so excited. The boys were a little bummed not to have their roles yet, but I heard they'll likely be marching cadets. I think it would be fun to give them a more creative part in the parade, so now we just need to put our heads together and come up with something good.

The thing I think I find the cutest about it all so far is how creative the girls got with their batons. They've all been prancing around school practicing their twirls, and the first day they practiced during recess a rack of them came in with sticks they'd apparently been using. Over the next few days more and more girls were bringing their batons in everyday (which yes, can be unnecessary distraction, but we're working on understanding that batons should only be twirled outside during practice, and not played with during class time...) and I noticed that a few of theirs look slighty different. The kids who didn't have batons at home got incredibly creative, at least I think it's creative. It's what sparked me wanting to write this post in the first place! They kept the sticks they used the first day and covered them with bright, shiny ribbon and a little neatly placed tape on each end. How smart is that? I'm looking forward to seeing my girls twirl down the streets, and of course I'll update with fotos and cuentos from the big day.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Day

I have to admit it is strange to get hit with holidays so soon into the school year, but Teacher Appreciation Day falls just two short days after Independence Day, and they spoiled us with a surprise 4-day weekend! I like their zest for celebration. The teachers were cordially invited to a lunch at Hotel las Glorias Saturday Sept 17, and we had a great time! It was a very small group, but that just made it easier to get to know some of the other teachers a little better. Indra is one of the Preparatoria teachers. She lives in Santa Cruz with her husband and two adorable sons. She invited me out to cook with her one weekend, and there is a zoo in her town. How crazy is that? Elida teaches 3rd, 4th and 5th a couple of Spanish classes. I got to know her a little before school started, but it's always fun to learn more. She lives in Las Vegas (not Nevada) and that's a fun place to walk around, so I'll be visiting her some too.
Indra was a little nervous on the bridge...

We were all sitting around enjoying a nice cup of coffee with slices of lemon cake when this little train rode by, apparently a free service giving people tours of the property. We skipped off like little girls excited to take the train! The driver said they were just finishing the ride, and were about to start another...we're still waiting for our train ride. We thought the train drivers (conductors?) might have been taking a short break, so we thought we might wander a bit while we waited for them. Mrs. Bueso and Magdalena headed to the pool for a swim (I should clarify that they did NOT skip off like little girls, they just nodded and laughed when we headed on our way)--and Elida, Indra, Maryann, Irene and I frolicked around the grounds like little girls.

Maryann got a picture of me with Elida, Irene and Indra
So like I said, we're still waiting for that train ride, but it was such a nice walk with the girls. We walked across the bridge that has such a great view, and it was Indra's first time walking on it. She was so nervous, and mean Elida started shaking it which made things even worse! But the bridge was fun, and we had a mini-photo session once we'd walked across. I'll load some of those pictures once I have them from the other girls. Then we just wandered--I snagged a pretty flower, we looked at the horses, checked out a fake alligator that looks way too real, a few of us even pretended to milk some plastic cows. I guess we all just needed a few hours to be silly; school can be stressful! It was a really pretty day with bright blue skies. That actually seems to be the standard here this time of year. A little overcast in the early morning, bright blue skies all day long and then the thunder rolls in anytime between mid-late afternoon and bedtime. 

When we got back around to the train we were a little disappointed to see it still unattended, but we decided we could pretend to drive it. We then hopped onto the train and swung around the hand rails singing and laughing. Silly girls :) 

We got back in time for lunch, which was tasty, and were joined by Chris and Maria. I sat beside Indra at lunch and we chatted more about Santa Cruz and her family, she shared photos of her boys and her husband. I can't remember his name right now, but I do remember what she said they call each other. She said she knows he's upset when he calls her Indra, because normally they refer to each other as Cielo (heaven) which I find incredibly romantic. Warning for my future husband, he will likely be lovingly llamado Cielo from time to time. Maryann and Elida had some fun with hot sauce during lunch; the pair of them were cracking me up. Elida was picking on Maryann for showing her thighs, and I could not stop laughing. Irene says she thinks she had about five cups of coffee throughout our morning/afternoon at Las Glorias. Dessert just tastes better with a sip of coffee between bites :) Not long after lunch the party came to a close, but that we heard from Eulogio earlier in the day and we were anxious to get back and either hike or row out on the lake...