Thursday, March 29, 2012

Peaceable Kingdoms

For today´s art exam my kids got to learn about Edward Hicks and his Peaceable Kingdoms. I was a little nervous at first, not knowing how many of them would be excited about the drawing or understand the meaning behind their pictures. Silly Miss. They were totally into it! We read a little bit about Edward Hicks and the motivation behind his work. Then we read Isaiah 11:6-8 and Isaiah 65:25, which according to my research were his inspiration. The end of Isaiah 65:25 says, "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain." I wish I could have recorded some of the responses when we discussed the holy mountain. Some of the kids were so eager to get right to work, and had their mountains drawn before we´d finished talking. Others were slower to start, but we all seemed to enjoy this morning´s art class.

I was so thrilled to see how creative some of them got. Things at school have been a little tense lately, and with this being exam week the kids have been pretty drained. It was so nice to let go and share a fun hour with them. It is such an indescribable feeling to wander around the room and share in the children´s joy for their work, and see how proud they are of their little masterpieces. I love getting to motivate and positively reward their bursts of creativity. They really impressed me with their opinions on what it means to neither harm nor destroy. Not having teaching experience I´m not sure what kids are supposed to be like at this age, but mine really never cease to amaze me. With the fourth quarter coming up I´ve been thinking about things I want to do with them before our year is over. I´ve been working more creative assignments into my plans for subjects other than art, but with the end of the year fast approaching I think we´ll be painting a couple times a week. Even my shy guys come alive with art projects!

Ofsny´s Peaceable Kingdom

That´s a roll of stickers around my wrist, and after the picture Ofsny turned, smiled and stuck a little "Well Done" sticker to my shirt. Sneaky little cutie!

Amed´s Peaceable Kingdom

Love my crazies!

Eduardo sort of looks like he´s taking a bite out of Marvin´s head...
 After school I got reacquainted with my hammock. It had been too long. And the breeze from our porch is coveted. Some boys in the neighborhood stopped by to show off the scores of their English tests, and Maryann had the guitar out so they all (hysterically) gave it a go. Their laughs are a w e some. Two of them came back later with big bouquets of fresh-picked red beans for us. Random acts of kindness, and things I definitely never experienced in the States!

the wedding bouquet :)
can´t you just picture the white dress, the fancy hair, the bundle of beans!
Random words of wisdom on this lovely Thursday night: If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, the world would be a merrier world. Well put JRR Tolkein.

Baa Baa Sad Sheep

There is an ever-growing list of reasons to say, "Only in Honduras." That's of course true of anywhere you go, and I mean that as no slight on my lovely home. There are just certain things you can do or experience here that would be different anywhere else. Like the day Maryann and I were walking into market and Eulogio gave her a ring. I could only hear Maryann's side of the conversation, but she sounded so excited...and a little confused at the same time.  "WHAT? Can we really?!" "You think I could poke it?" "Wait, you're doing what?" "Eeeeiii (loud noises only Maryann can make) yeah yeah let me talk to her." What the heck... So it turns out Loq was calling to invite us to a little town up a mountain where he and Leah were going to buy a lamb for Christmas dinner. Typing that makes me smile remembering the silliness of it all. "They´re buying what?!"

It depends on who you know, but if you know the right people you can buy a lamb, freshly skinned, for roughly $25 USD. I find that insane. Someone in Emely´s family (uncle maybe?) offered them a great deal and they went for it! One of them, I want to say it was Eulogio, was really craving lamb around the holidays. The guy gave us a big wheel of brown sugar to nibble on while we chatted. I ended up just awkwardly holding it the whole time because I wasn´t sure what to do with it. I learned once we got home, starving, that you should cut off pieces and eat it... so Maryann was all excited to poke a lamb. I still can´t figure out if she was more excited to poke the pieces of meat, or the sheep that were still wandering around. She likes to poke things. We were all standing around in the kitchen when someone quietly pointed out that the lamb´s head was in the sink. I´m told they like to use it in soups... My personal highlight from the afternoon was getting to hold a sweet little baby for a few minutes. It was cute, in a disturbing kind of way, when later that night I got all smiley saying I loved that I got to hold a baby, and Maryann was equally as smiley talking about poking sheep. She´d make an interesting shepherd.

Eulogio and Leah when to town with their lamb preparation. Oil and herbs and garlic galore. It was a huge hit! It smelled fantastic, but I didn´t try any. I still can´t get over the price! Only in Honduras...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Memories

Sometimes these days come along that beg you to relish in the happy, exciting moments. Irene and I are sitting around sharing all sorts of fun stories with each other. We´ve decided to start a writing group, which is basically a book club but for writers. Janet Arnold gave us the idea over the weekend, and we´re excited to get it started. We were looking up sample topics today and have been memory swapping ever since. I spent all of last week with Team 3 from the Friends of Barnabas Foundation, so it has been nice to catch up and enjoy some quiet time at the house. (Stories of the wonderful adventure with Team 3 to come of course)

Little things from today that could bring out a smile in just about anyone. Or at least a proud teacher with a soft heart:
  • The kids missed me last week, but Lissie´s most exciting memory of me being gone was having an entire week with no homework.
  • Marvin Isaac gave me a running hug and shouted in English, ¨Miss Harris, I missed you!¨ Tender little moment. Even Isis came up for a hug before school started, and she´s normally not a hugger.
  • Eric and I had a nice discussion about the importance of saying please, and he was the one lecturing me about it! Adorable. 
  • Rigo fresh-sliced us some melon at this morning´s snack, and the coffee was richly delicious.
  • I talked about Lamentations 3:22-23 in both classes. Each discussion went differently, but both had their special moments. These kids are getting so much stronger with their English, and it´s always touching to hear them talk about and express their beliefs. 
  • They had some time to draw today, and I had 2A draw their dream job and write a sentence about it. Some of them surprised me with how much they resisted the assignment, but other surprised me with their details.
    •  Lissie insisted she wanted no job when she grew up, and Eric is deadset on making it through the year without telling me his future plans.
    • Indira wants to be a vet so that she can learn more about cats and dogs.
    • Isis is going to have a baby and a beauty salon. The way she wrote her sentence it appeared she wanted to have a baby in a beauty salon, but I think I get what she meant.
  • A lot of the journal prompts Irene has found are great questions to ponder, so we´ve had a great time reflecting on our past or getting creative with strengths and weaknesses. No tv can be so fun.
    • What are seven remarkable things that have happened in your life?
    • Five things you´ll remember in your old age?
    • I used to think...
    • When it comes to _____________ I am ______________. 
    • Who is someone you mold your life after?
  • Throwing together sauteed veggies with some brown rice penne, all while singing along to Florence wearing a floral apron. Thankful for the blessing of visitors from the States who bring gifts like brown rice pasta and raw almonds. 
  • Putting away your computer, and other distractions, to settle into a bowl of yum and continue sharing memories.


Father´s Day here falls March 19th, so happy belated special day to all the dads out there. Irene and I have discovered Stumble Upon and Pinterest, which is entertaining and full of all sorts of wonderful things, but not always awesome for productivity levels. We found an idea for these adorable birds to make for Dad that turned out even better than we´d expected.
Irene came to check out the process before she tackled it with her 3rd graders :)
Announcing to the class that they´d have to take off a shoe and sock left them in this hysterical craze of shouted ¨Noooooo!¨s and embarrassed little giggles. Reluctantly, they got into line and awkwardly hopped outside. We didn´t make too big a mess of it, but everyone seemed to enjoy the moment when I dripped paint onto the bottom of their foot and spread it across their skin with my hand. They got into groups by color, so I didn´t have to rinse my hand too many times. They were so funny stamping their foot down on the paper. I really loved watching them rinse off at the little pila in the schoolyard. If only I had pictures of that! Marvin Isaac helped write names on the pictures, and a couple of the kids helped get rocks to make sure the class´ feet didn´t blow away. They seemed very eager to see my foot all paint-covered, so I smeared blue across my sole. We were really pushing it on time, so I slid my blue foot into my sandal and we scurried inside to adorn our little (except for the one size nine ;) birdies.
Happy Father´s Day Daddy!
The kids got so creative! It was such a joy to watch them take their stamped foot and turn it into a real work of art. Some painted tufts of feathers to bring out a tropical look in their birds. Some got dot happy and added all kinds of spots to their paper. When they ran outside for PE (thanks for your help on that one Mr. Victor!) I had a great time checking out their creations, and bragging to other faculty about their budding creativity while I got them grouped together in a safe place to dry. I remember the weather being almost perfect that day. Bright blue sky, big white clouds, happy little sun with a nice cool breeze. As I traveled between my classroom and the room with the table turned art drying rack, I couldn´t help but stop to enjoy the breeze a few times. All while shamelessly singing a few different songs. It was a great project, and I am looking forward to coming up with something fun for Mother´s Day. It is so fun to be a kid with my kids!

Pretty much sums her up ;)

Ofsny was loving being the class photographer. He comes out of his shell more and more every day!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Puro lodo :)

December 17th 2011

When Pastor Alfonso asked if I wanted to travel with him to San Luis Planes I was excited, but had no idea what to expect. I guess there's something to be said for going into experiences without any expectations! It was a long, wonderful day... San Luis Planes is a little mountain town about an hour up from here. Mari warned me to pack a jacket, and she wasn't kidding. I wished I'd had a coat, but I didn't even bring something that heavy when I moved here. It was chilly, rainy, and of course very muddy, but I was plenty comfortable all day. We headed up in the morning and had a nice Sunday School type thing at church right when we got there. I could have kissed Pastora Gloria when she offered me some hot tea--I was startled by the cold when I got out of the truck, and it wasn't exactly warm inside the church! Pastor Alfonso preached a great morning service, and afterwards we headed to his brother-in-law's place to rest and snag some lunch. We had a great soup over rice, and a little warm coffee to warm our bones. We had a good stretch of time to relax before the evening´s service, so I got to know a little more about Los Planes!

Pastora Gloria took me down to visit a woman whose complicated pregnancy has her on bed rest. It was nice to get to know a family from the church a little better, and I´m always interested to see new homes here. Most of the kitchens in Los Planes use wood stoves and don´t have things like refrigerators, but the girls seemed to be doing just fine getting something warmed for what I´ll assume was a late lunch/early dinner. I wish I could remember all their names, but apparently that´s not one of my strengths. They had a couple of small horses and Leonel (Pastor Alfonso´s son) got all excited to ride one. He didn´t believe me when I told him I´d never ridden a horse. I´ve literally only been on top of a pony, once, at the Fall Festival at Mom´s school one year. And some clown was holding it´s rope so it just went in a circle! We read the mare (yegua) and she was calm and beautiful. She was also smallller than your average horse, which of course calmed me down. I only rode her a little ways up the street and then back down again, but it was really muddy and rocky so it was more dangerous than it sounds! Leo, ever the gentleman, was by my side the whole time, but I did ok holding the rope! And I was pretty proud of how well I hoisted myself into the saddle.

Pastor Alfonso´s family has una finca de cafe very near Los Planes, somewhere called Agua Dulce or something like that, so Leo took me on a tour. It was one of the most beautiful views I´ve ever experienced. Again, it was a chilly, rainy day, and fog was scattered about the mountains... it was so muddy, and I was a little nervous to walk out into the field. Leo kept encouraging me and laughed when I said I was scared I would fall. I guess he was thinking if that was all I was afraid of, what was the worst that could happen? I was still a little uncertain, but reached for his hand and went for a little hike through the farm.The farm stretched out over hills ruffled with coffee plants. We reached the middle of the field and from there it seems like nothing but coffee bushes and mountains for days. It was so beautiful. The mountain backdrop was stained all these rich shades of gray thanks to the rain and fog. It reminded me of a scene the Joyful Painter might have shown us how to recreate. The happy trees were a nice dark color, almost black against the rolls and rolls of mountains. It was ridiculously pretty. And you know what? I slid here and there, but was happy I stayed on my feet the whole time! My sneakers were puro lodo, but they washed up just fine.

By the time we got back to Los Planes it was time for the praise and worship group to practice, and I joined them at the church for that. I couldn´t believe how cold it was getting, so I almost wanted to join their dance practice to see if I could warm up a little! I´m so intrigued by the girls and how they dance, so it was neat to get to see their practice. Ok, I did end up practicing with them! And it was really great! I even had a little lesson at Ruth´s house a few weeks later. Ruth is Pastora Gloria´s daughter, and they happen to live a few houses down from me! I´m not ready to start dancing at my church or anything, but it was definitely great to learn the different motions that go with the lyrics. One of the chavas who dances (I´m going with Laura because I´m almost positive that´s her name) is a daughter of the woman I visited earlier, and we shared a nice warm hug. I´ve gotten to see her a few times since then and she always has the same big, beautiful smile.

Pastora Gloria preached a lovely service that night, but before she got things going she asked Pastor Alfonso to say a few who, and he of course asked me to say a few as well. I was thanking them all for their wonderful hospitality, and running down the list of fun things I´d enjoyed in their town throughout the day. I am blushing just trying to type about this! Que planchon... I was prattling on about the different fun things I´d done, and when it came time to talk about riding the horse for the life of me I couldn´t come up with the word for mare! So, foolishly, I turn to Leo and say, "Como se llama la caballa?" If you can´t laugh at yourself, right? So caballa isn´t a word. Caballo is a male horse. Mare is yegua. Mare is yegua.. Now in my defense, I knew caballa wasn´t the word, but I couldn´t think of a better way to word it, (la hembra del caballo) and I wasn´t thinking about how foolish i would sound when everyone heard me. Because, you know, I was in front of the church with a microphone sounding like a pura gringa!!! But everyone got a good chuckle, and it led Pastor Alfonso into a story about a translation error when he and some colleagues were in Brazil. Most of the people in Los Planes remember me as La Caballa, and I find something so charming about that. Nothing wrong with a good laugh :)

It was a long ride home with more rain and the road ever-muddy, but it was such a great day. My shoes were so muddy I remember I couldn´t wait to show them to David when we talked the next morning. Always an adventure tucked in these hills!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My 1st Honduran Christmas Party

...and my first glass(es) of red in months.

Mrs. Bueso invited us to a Christmas party at this hotel/resort/boat rental place down by the lake. The owners, Richard the Brit and Liliana, his beautiful Honduran bride of years and years, apparently love to entertain. They had some drinks, light appetizers and a fish and chips dinner. The decorations were festive, and we all sort of just wandered through the tiny crowd getting to know different people and making new friends. It felt cozy yet foreign at the same time, it was the perfect holiday open house. They even served a Honduran fruitcake for dessert! It was sort of like a spice cake with those odd fruit bits inside. Richard loved to roam the room refilling wine glasses and slipping into the varied conversation. They were such gracious hosts!

The guest list was pretty eclectic, but that kept things fun. There was a fellow gringa teacher living in Tela teaching 4th grade at a bilingual school. I think we were all a little jealous of her class of fourteen. We met a resort owner from La Ceiba, so that´s a fun contact! There was a crowd of Spaniards working for the embassy in Teguz. We had a good time talking about the different dialects, and sharing stories of our time here. We also got to know a group of women who share a love for Malbec and other rico Argentinian wine, and work with a local orphanage. Bobby, the owner of D&D was there with some of his staff and they got on us for not having been back since August. They have nightly bonfires that sound so tempting, but traveling anywhere further than a few houses down can get tricky after sundown.

The holiday season was a little odd being so far from home and family, but this little Christmas dinner was a nice way to kick off the holiday celebrations.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ain't no tan like a Roatan...

Cheesy? Of course... True? Definitely. Great little dicho I heard from Elmer, part of our pair of hosts at the island this weekend. Oh that's right...I spent the weekend en Las Islas de Bahia, and had a wonderful time. The girls and I have been looking at pictures, and I'm honestly not sure where to start. I guess with how and why. Oh but here's a treat...

So the owner of the school surprised us with a few days in Roatan! In years past they've sent teachers to Copan to enjoy the Mayan ruins. We all agreed that we would rather splurge on a trip to Copan (affordable) than scavenge for a trip to Roatan (not exactly in our price range)! So Roatan is beautiful, and I am so thankful for the few days we got to spend there. We left crazy early Friday morning, drove the 3-3.5hrs to La Ceiba, boarded the ferry and rode about an hour to the island! It's crazy to type about it--I spent the weekend in paradise! The view from the ferry was literally breathtaking. I'm not sure I've seen so many shades of blue all blended together so nicely. The water was this incredible indigo color, which was neat because other than a rainbow I'm not sure I've ever actually seen indigo. I met a sweet 15yr old, her mom and aunt on the ferry-ride. They were very nice, and we chatted for a good bit. They seem happy I´m enjoying so much about their country. I took their picture with the water behind them, so they took one for me!
We arrived at Casa Isabella Friday afternoon, and did a little kayaking and lots of relaxing. We had a heavier lunch than I think any of us were expecting, which led to some afternoon napping. Later we went snorkling! That was too cool. I want to try to work it out to go back to the islands before I leave, because it would be cool to check out a better part of the reef with clearer waters.
Casa Isabella

It's a little unreal to think about how much we crammed into the weekend. We went snorkling, then back to the house to relax, shower and get ready for dinner. Had a huge dinner, and then Maryann, Irene, Josias and I went for a long walk towards West Bay. Or West End. Crap. I think West Bay... I remember the sky was doing this neat thing; it almost seemed like it wasn´t quite black. Again with the cool new shades of blue! It was glowing around the edges, and then deeply darkened as you gazed further up. And you could see so many stars. I guess nature shines in paradise. It was a great walk, and we even stopped along the way to sit at these neat tables. One of the resorty restaurant parts of the beach had a group of trees with tables built around the trunk, and rope swing chairs hung around them. They were awesome and I can´t wait to build one around a big tree at the farmhouse.
Joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea...

Joy to you and me!
Saturday I slept through the sunrise, but made it out to the hammock on the dock in time to still enjoy the calm off the morning ocean. Something about water; so calming, so yo no se que...I like being by the water. I was able to read a devotion and do some great meditating out on the dock, just me and the soft, subtle sound of early morning waves.
the dock!

A little later we had breakfast, then boated to the dolphin show at Anthony´s Key. The sky was once again awesome, and I took an obnoxious amount of pictures. The sky was full of pastel shades of colors I thought only existed in crayons and gel pens. We arrived at the show with a decent amount of time to spare, so a few of us went for a walk around the neighborhood. The flowers that grow here are ridiculous. I swear sometimes they look fake! Some of their petals even feel plastic, so that could throw someone off.
Andrea, Elmer and Chito

The dolphin show was pretty cool. It was neat to see them and hear their cute little dolphin noises, but I honestly don't really get down with the trained animal thing. After the show we had lunch and walked around West End for a while. I loved travelling everywhere by boat or on foot. It was such a nice way to enjoy the scenery, the air and some quality time together. Let's see what came next...Oh! We changed into our suits and headed towards West Bay! There was this artist with all kinds of awesome paintings. He had various scenes and color schemes; each painting was so unique and intriguing. He had one of a deeply vibrant sunset back-dropping a couple in a little lancha on the river sandwiched between a pair of riverbank palm trees. I´m going to try and learn how to paint.
sunset swim in West Bay!

We swam for a bit, and then I ended up taking a nap in the sand. It was lovely. Once I woke up Josias pointed out that there was a wedding a ways down the beach, and the girls and I walked down to check out the flowers, dresses and excitement. Everything was over once we got there, but we ended up scoring a trio of coconuts from part of their altar. I´ll take fresh coconut water over wedding dress scoping any day! We got back to the house with enough time to shower and unwind (sounds silly right? Unwinding from a day of boat riding, dolphin watching, ocean wading and sand napping...I was on vacation! Even if it was only two days :) --we found ourselves in chairs on the front porch, just us girls for about an hour. We went around singing different songs and sharing different stories about our lives laughing and really enjoying the special time.  We were leaving SO early the next morning (again, this was a minivacation) and all wanted to get to bed early. Irene and I weren´t ready to be done with the water and walked out to the dock after dinner. Maria turned in, Josias watched some TV and Maryann was into her Sudoku so it was just the two of us walking down to the dock. Once we got down there we could see the glimmer of lights in the neighbor´s tree. We kept walking by the coolest looking house, and were always so intrigued by it. On the walk home from West Bay we saw they had these awesome lanterns in this big tree down by the water, and the architecture of the house was so interesting. We were debating whether it was a home or hotel, and I think the lanterns were almost dancing in front of us, inviting us to indulge our curiosity...

I of course have no pictures, because we were dressed for bed and just walking out to the dock for a few minutes before bed, but the house is amazing. Come to find out it the Hotel Xbalanque, owned by a North Carolina family who believes in sustainable living, trying to support their resort with crops from their organic farm project. How do I happen to know all of that? The gringas got gutsy, that´s how. So the lanterns were these cool metal shapes with holes punched out in neat designs, and they made the tree look so interesting we couldn´t help but walk down. From the beach you could see their infinity pool, and what looked like a big dining room with a long table and a wall of nothing but windows. We were developing our home/hotel debate when we noticed there was a bar in the dining room! Now, we of course realize it could have been a well-planned family who traveled with a bartender/waiter, or even one of those houses groups of people rent for their vacation that can be reserved fully staffed. But we were curious, and I can be pretty outgoing. We decided to just walk up from the beach and ask one of the (presumed) guests to settle the debate. Irene can get a little shy, so I was nervous knowing I would have to be the one to break the ice. We got to about the edge of their sidewalk and my tummy was suddenly full of flutters. I stepped back and said I just couldn´t do it! Remember I´d said the first floor was basically just a wall of windows? Thinking back it might not have even had windows, and just been one of the coolest porches I´ve ever seen. Well from how much we´d advanced you could make out most of the people around the table, and we spotted a young man in nice jeans who appeared to have misplaced his tshirt. When I told Irene I didn´t think I could do it I´m pretty sure her response went something like, ¨There is a handsome man with no shirt on in there, how do you turn your back on that.¨ Well played, Trujillo.

Mr. NoShirt, Ian, gave us a tour of the whole place and it was incredible. The have a few different sundecks, a few pools, and even a spot on the roof that he claims is perfect for yoga. These people couldn´t have been nicer. Ok, in all honesty it was super awkward for about the first thirty seconds, but it wasn´t long before we were sitting around the table with all the other guests, sipping complimentary glasses of really tasty wine and swapping all sorts of conversation. I look forward to spending a week (or few) in their resort one day. It started to rain, hard, and it was much later than it should have been. We said our goodbyes, and were told to come back and visit one day...yes please! We ran the whole way home, laughing at how awesomely crazy our night turned out to be. Alarms bothered us early the next morning, but we were blessed with safe travels and all enjoyed our time on the island. I´m already looking forward to going back. I can´t get that shade of indigo out of my head...
a pelican for Dad!

Chito enjoying the boatride!

I think Chito had just gotten frighteningly close to the edge...or I was getting all choked up by the view.

a cozy spot in West End!

We all thought this tree was so neatly shaped, so I ran over to check it out. Rule  #whatever, don´t sit on anything you don´t first check for insects. Tiny black ants are mean little biters!!! Notice my face...

Irene was conveniently standing by to capture the charming moment !

Ouchies. But I love the convenience of outdoor showers on the beach!

my post-bite pick me up (should that whole string of words be hyphened together?!)
I am learning that I am a woman who loves to stick flowers in her hair!