Sunday, April 22, 2012

A hike to Butt Mountain

There is a mountain here that peaks with two tall bumps, and people think it kind of looks like a bottom! So we´ve heard it called Butt Mountain from time to time, and I´m honestly not sure what the technical name for it is. Do mountains have technical names? Proper name. I´m not sure of its proper name. Maryann, Eulogio, Leah and I went for a Butt Mountain adventure one afternoon! It was lots of fun, and there were some great views. We climbed up and down one cheek, took a break down by the lake and were back on our way home.

We drenched ourselves in peppermint oil and reapplied in an effort to keep the bugs away. Jungle hiking is a different beast. Eulogio had his machete just in case you know, and used it quite a bit to hack down more of a pathway. They had recently harvested some bananas, and it looked like the scene of some monster thriller. Banana leaves and parts of their plant scattered across the ground. Actually all sorts of crazy vegetation grows in the mountains here. Furry plants and spiky plants and big green leaves with brightly colored adornments. I remember Maryann being nervous about the bot fly, and furry poisonous plants. Luckily we made it out of there harmed by neither.

I used a walking stick for most of the hike, and it was a little heavy but a good crutch at a few different parts of the trail. Oh the trail. For part of the hike we followed what likely used to be a trail, but it would have been so easy to get lost up there. I was happy Eulogio and Leah were there to guide us! Eulogio led most of the hike, but once we´d reached the lake and were heading back up we got a little turned around. Leah was determined, and wandered off to find the right path home. All of a sudden we heard a, ¨Yes! It´s up here!¨ Score Leah! On the way back we hopped off the bus in market to pick up all sorts of yummy food. Marvin could tell we´d been on a hike and gave us each a banana. Love that guy. We got back to the commune (aka Eulogio and Leah´s house...) ready to eat and relax! It was a very fun afternoon, that led into a nice evening with friends. Man I miss those guys!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Want to Be Me

We just got our power back after a few days of darkness. Yayyy for being able to heat water for tea and breakfast tomorrow morning! When the guy told me he wouldn´t be able to make it out the last couple of nights my first response was, "and how am I supposed to heat water for coffee?!" But here I sit with internet and a light over my head, very thankful for a house with electricity. We had such a fun day at school today! The kids are learning about is and are and I´m trying to do more fun activities to keep things interesting. We read a book called When I Grow Up I Want to Be Me by Sandra Magsamen and I´m not sure who enjoyed it more, me or the kiddos. It is a wonderful book with cute illustrations and a lovely image. The whole thing is written in a pretty scripted font, which had me wondering if it wasn´t one of those air-quoted children´s books meant more for the adults.
Beky wants to be a teacher. Nathaly wants to be a singer, and she sang a lovely song for Miss Maryann and me today. Samantha wants to be a ballet teacher. Her students will call her Miss Samantha, and they´ll all wear long purple tutus. 
As we read we talked about following our dreams, and reaching for the stars. The kids were too cute mocking me reaching their little arms up as far as they would go. I loved that it talked about each day being filled with adventure and fun. That´s one of my new life mottoes (I really don´t like the look of the e in that word!), so it was totally fun talking about it with my kids! That page had a little pop-up of squares for the days of the week. Each day showed something doing something new and excited and we let out a little "Woo!" of excitement as we lifted each square. I think next week I might do some sort of "week of adventure" project with them. How fun would that be? They got really into the story, so it would be fun to develop it more over next week. It went on to talk about turning to nature and your surroundings for comfort when you feel frightened or alone, which totally touched my heart. AND it talked about loving who you are, and especially loving who you see, illustrated with a woman smiling at her reflection in the mirror. We should all be so brave! Is brave the word? Maybe confident is a better word, but I think it takes a bit of bravery to fully and truly love being YOU. That part of the story sparked my theme for Friday´s Art class--Self Portraits! I´m super excited, and I´m sure another post will be in order.
Dulce and Lissie both want to be artists. These girls are something else!
After we read the story we talked about the amazing power of their imaginations. It is so fun to chat with them about prayer and the importance of talking to God; I always find myself so blown away at their answers. I believe it´s important to truly see the life you want and believe that it is already yours. Anything that comes to your imagination is possible, and the love you shower over any situation or idea is what drives the outcome. So I had the kids write in present tense, rather than future, about the them thirty years from now. Their eyes got all big picturing themselves in their late thirties, and a few snickered at how OLD the miss will be. Or is as one of them corrected. It is incredibly cute to see the kids light up talking about what they want to do and who they want to be. Even my slow workers had their pencils moving today! Estela drew herself as a teacher writing math problems on the board, and she made it 2-digit addition with regrouping, and was super-concentrated making sure she had all the correct answers. Tell me that´s not adorable! Sometimes I wonder how a real teacher would work her lesson plans for different topics, because I´m sure there are all sorts of strategies. But I tell you what, with my second language learners, it is very neat to read them a story and let them draw a picture writing a sentence about what they read. I love watching their vocabulary grow, but it´s honestly just nice getting to see deeper levels of their personalities.
Monica, Daniela and Samantha each want to be teachers. They also want to be stylists who own their own beauty salons, singers and I´m pretty sure Daniela and Samantha had it down that they´d like to be song writers. Jefry and Roberto (back row) want to be soldiers. Cristian David wants to be a police officer, and I hope to always remember seeing just how proud they were when they told me. 
We started with the prompts "I am..." "My family is..." "We are..." Most of the I am´s ended with various professions. The most common response for My family is was happy which was obviously adorable. We are probably had the most variation.  2A was relatively generic, but 2B kept using all the same adjectives and not really giving it much thought. So I threw out a few different ideas and apparently said blessed at some point down my list of potential adjectives. Do you have any idea how warming it is to read a kid´s notebook and have it say "I am a teacher. My family is big and happy. We are blessed." I know, I know, I´m sensitive. But I love it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Getting back to normal(ish)

It is hard to believe Mom´s visit came and went so quickly. Where does the time go? For so long I used her trip as a little marker...things would get tough and I´d think, "Hey, just get to Mom´s trip. Recharge for a week, and afterwards you´re almost home." But now she´s gone, and I´m sort of in that oh my place...it is crazy to think I´m almost home! Crazy exciting, but also crazy emotions swirling...no need for that right now! We all enjoyed a wonderful week with my mom, and count on posts to come gushing about all the fun we had in Copán and around my sweet Peña. She fell so in love with my hammock I´m surprised she didn´t try to bury it inside her carry-on! I wonder how much she missed front porch nap time after school today...

The kids did a wonderful job helping fill the void of my mama not being with us at school today. They were too cute asking all about her, and mimicking all the fun things she showed them while she was there. A few of them got to halo shining, and then Marvin quickly started showing off with his silent round of applause. They are seriously too stinking cute! It would have been easy to get a little mopey about my mom already being gone, but thankfully this town gives great hugs. Sometimes just when you need them! A few of the kids had some adorable moments today, but I´m wondering if typing will do them justice. I started to feel pretty rough this morning, and it was aching down in my ears to talk too loudly. Of course this set in while I was teaching in 2B, and quietness is not their strength! I sneakily took them to the library for a little bit, which they loved, and Miss Harris appreciated the forced quiet time. After school I really just wanted to take a nap, but I did my market thing and almost instantly perked up. Always enjoy chatting with my favorite vendors! It has been incredibly warm lately, and my shoulders have been taking a beating so I decided today was the day to pick up an umbrella. I popped into Elvia´s and was excited Joel was there to help me choose the best pattern. 

Luck would have it my buddy was on his way home, and Joel accompanied me part of the way back to the house. We stopped at Chevo´s for a bag of mango for each of us and had fun letting him practice his English talking about our favorite things (he loves animals)! Not long after I got home the girls and I headed to Zenaida´s for afternoon coffee and homemade treats. She had chickory coffee from New Orleans and made fresh beignets that were so tasty. We played a couple rounds of Banagrams which was totally fun. Now I´m just finishing up a delicious bowl of steamed veggies and quinoa waiting for some chick peas to finish toasting in the oven. Hope everyone has at least a few reasons to smile tonight! I´m having a good time finding the joy in getting things back to normal and feeling incredibly grateful for a life of so many blessings.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Mom of the Miss

Courtney is kindly letting her mom write while visiting during her spring break. Courtney's students call her the mom of the Miss because they find Miss Harris and Mrs. Harris very confusing. Why do you have the same name, they ask!

Arrival...

Well, it was incredible to walk out of customs and see Courtney's smiling face. We literally ran into each other's arms. It was the most amazing moment for both of us. The months apart made our greeting so very sweet.

Her pastor and his family picked me up and Courtney translated. She is totally bilingual now. She zips through her Spanish as quickly as the Hondurans. In fact, at lunch sometimes she would turn to me and go, oh yeah, blush, and gush into a flow of translation. We went out to eat. My first Honduran food. I had grilled chicken and shrimp, a vegetable medley (no, I have no idea what they all are) and platanos maduros (ripe plantains) which were sweet and delicioso. Yes, I am picking up a few Spanish words...very few. Lunch was terrific. I love the food. No surprise there!


Courtney generously gave me her bed and she bunked with roommate Irene. I "slept" to the all night sound of barking dogs and intermittent crowing of roosters. Perhaps they ought to be brought to Virginia farms for retraining. The melody was not sleep-inducing, said a woman who rose for the airport at 3:30 a.m. Wow, morning came quickly. I was all set to step on the shower when the system malfunctioned, fried itself so to speak. No problem! There was a back-up plan. A spiggot with cold water at my ankles... And a sink with cold water. Both had good flows. Hey, I'm in Honduras, no problem. So, I was a good sport, managed to get soap and water on all of me from a spigot, and washed my hair at the sink. The water spout was too low to put my head in, so I just splashed it up there. Think of a 6 a.m. water fight with yourself. Refreshing! Soap and rinse. Ladies and gentlemen, it can be done I tell you.

School was incredible! Courtney's co-workers are all friendly. They also kept saying I was young and pretty...and looked like Courtney. True or not, it sure feels good. I may have to stay here forever, healthy for the ego. Courtney's kids are adorable. They were excited to see me and clearly love and respect Miss Harris. She has a wonderful way with her students. I was in awe watching her, mesmerized. Then she invited me to teach with her and hand in hand we completed the day. We worked really well together. We found that we use similar mannerisms, expressions, and more as we interact with others. It was a pretty amazing insight for both of us! By the end of the day I was exhausted and HOT but it was irreplaceable.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Crayons for Everyone

Pastor Alfonso was heading to the la Roca of a small town near Rio Lindo and invited me to join him for the afternoon. He had a few different food and clothing items to give away, and he knew I´d been wanting to spend some time with different Sunday schools. The church was lovely. It was basically a large carport with plastic chairs, and it had a great view of the mountains and pretty flowers. The air moving through was also a nice treat! I´d bet it isn´t too fun in the rain, but on a nice, sunny day it was perfectly comfortable. La pastora preached for a little bit, and then Pastor Alfonso said a few words. Later Mari went up to talk to the children, and she called me up to join her. It feels so silly, but I was a little nervous to get up and talk to the children. I guess something about microphones makes me nervous, but that´s a part of my comfort zone I´ve learned to push quite well since being here. Someone told me recently that if you´re not at least a little nervous public speaking, you don´t respect your audience enough. I´d never thought of it like that, and I find it comforting!


The kids and I talked about God, the wonders of His love and the marvels of His creation. Afterwards we passed out some paper and crayons* and everyone got cozy to draw some of their favorite things about the world around them. Some of the kids were really creative! It was fun to wander through the group and share in all their excitement. I even got to  break out some chalk and some of us drew on the cement. I love getting to be a kid again, and really enjoy when I get to meet new groups of little ones. When we were finishing up our drawings Pastor Alfonso and Mari started handing out food and a few different options of clothing to some of the women. He even had some pretzel m&ms to give away, and those were pretty popular. We sat and chatted with the pastor and his family for a little while after all the families had gone. His wife led Sunday school, and he and a guy from church were busy applying paint to the columns around their new church space. They said they´d been meeting inside their house, and were pleased to have been able to build a separate place to worship with their congregation.



This little lady was all worried Pastor Alfonso would mess up her hair, and he had a great time trying to get that hat onto her head. Too fun!

Mari was patient and sweet with each girl, trying to make sure they got the best sizes and best clothes for their personalities!
*Thank you to everyone who has helped support me along the way. The donations of art supplies allow me to do things like take boxes of crayons to little children who love to color, but don´t have any art supplies at home. --I guess now I just need to come up with a way to make your own paints and crayons, and take being a hippie to a whole new level! Some of the kids were too cute trying to return the crayons when they were done with their drawings. I will do my best to recreate their hugs for you when I get home, because they were pretty great. Also a big thanks for anyone supporting me spiritually. It isn´t always easy or even feasible to send a package down here, but I feel your prayers and appreciate them more than I could express.

Ringing...or Reventando in the new year

So people here l o v e to reventar cohetes. Blast off fire crackers. Those who love me enough understand just how much I l o v e loud, startling noises. Especially ones that sound alarmingly similar to gunshots. Puchica.

That being said, New Year´s in Honduras was wonderful, and 2012 has been so great I´m just getting around to telling you about the 31st! We had a great service at church with a view different dramas and other special presentations. I was part of a drama all about God´s desired church. It had a powerful message, and a lot of us were touched just by participating. I played one of the people chained by something, struggling to break free. My prop chains were incredibly heavy over my wrists, so I was definitely struggling! But I loved the message, and we all shared some hugs when the song was over. Orlin and Judith performed a beautiful duet of one of the songs off Javier and Kerem´s album. Those two are quite the brother sister pair. Since the new year I´ve heard them sing a couple other duets, including a very moving version of Altisimo that left just about everyone in tears. I´m not sure what got it all started, but we ended up taking a ton of pictures after church.


With sweet Henry! 
After church and all the pictures I went to Pastor Alfonso´s for some food and more importantly the new year´s eve cake! A large group of youth from church came over, and we spent a good time chatting. At midnight they set off a really great fireworks show in town, and Mari and I walked down for that. I can say I´ve never been quite so close to where they were actually lighting the fireworks. That was a little unnerving, but they shot off quite the display. I´m always a little mesmerized by fireworks, almost enchanted. I think it´s totally crazy they can do what they do!  
You can´t see the whole thing, but Pastor Alfonso has a huge laugh going, and one can only assume he´s picking on me. Something he does well and often. It´s nice to have a catrachan dad looking out for me while I´m here!
After the fireworks we went to Cañaverales (a town just down from Peña) to spend some time with Naun, their oldest son, and his girlfriend´s family. It was my first time meeting them, and they were incredibly friendly. It was so late I wasn´t sure what it would be like paying someone a visit after midnight! We stayed over an hour just chatting and of course sipping a little coffee. Much like the other holidays I´ve enjoyed here, I was up very late but went to sleep with a smile on my face.

Donde estan las tamaleras?

I spent a whole day making tamales with Pastora Mari! It was SO fun. And SO much more work than I could have imagined! It was somewhere around December 30th, and we made a huge pot of them for the whole family to enjoy. You should have seen the love this woman poured into her masa, which is the cornmeal substance wrapped around the filling. We´re not talking maseca (icky corn flour) mixed with some water. We took a bucket of corn, walked a few blocks to a neighbor´s with a mill. Chatted with some neighbors along the way, and had a nice conversation with the woman while we ground our corn into a soupy mush. I was thinking we´d head home with our puree, add some water and get to making tamales. How many times do I have to tell myself, Silly Girl!!! It was an awesome process that involved so much I can´t remember it all. I did get to wear a fun apron for part of it, so that was nice. We boiled and strained la masa, added oil and tons of seasoning. We made a sofrito out of peppers, cilantro, ajo y tomates and swirled that into the masa.

When it came time to transport the pan (more like tub!) of masa to the fire, I was really wondering how it was going to all work out. We mixed and cooked the masa in this big metal tub, like what you´d see for bobbing apples at fall festivals in the States! The men lugged it to the wood stove out back, and Mari and I had some fun while we stirred our masa. I definitely need practice. Pastor Alfonso was cracking up because I was stirring it so fast and crazy, and Mari was stirring it in such graceful swirls. I´m blushing typing about it. We got it on video, which I´ll of course attempt to load here, but it was very funny to watch the replay of my feverish stirs in comparison with hers. We interviewed her on the video like she was hosting her own cooking show, and we all agree that her perma-smile makes her a natural. On the video I was asking her what goes into the masa, and the last ingredient she listed was love with a smile towards me. Everything tastes better with a little love mixed in!
video

Once the masa was a perfect thickness, the men came to our rescue (again) and lugged the tub back into the kitchen. Mari taught (correction: tried her best to teach) me how to properly fill, tuck and roll tamales. Again, just something that will take practice! We filled them with a few different veggies and chicken that Mari slow cooked all morning. We made so many, but they´re a big family and tamales are one of those gifted foods people are often giving away, so we needed lots. Mmm they were tasty. I´m of course completely biased, but even the  boys said they liked them! My hands had a funny yellowish tint to them from the banana leaves, but that just had me smiling at the hard kitchen work (mostly lots of kitchen fun) I´d gotten to share with Mari. She is a very special woman in my life. And Pastor Alfonso was loving having me there for the day. Especially since I was there making a fool of myself with the tamales! Every time he walked in he´d call out for las tamaleras. It was such a fun day!

Abuelita Lolita (Pastor Alfonso´s mom) teaching me the art of masa stirring!



This step seemed to be very important. A delicate balance of pressure and edging...




You normally wouldn´t use the plastic you see here, but our banana leaves hadn´t been handled properly (so I was told) and the kept tearing. So we improvised!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Around the World

My kids´ favorite game!!! I wonder how much it would have changed my stress level if I´d discovered this sooner. The kids got heavy into addition and subtraction, so before one of their tests I decided to take a stab at Around the World. I had no flash cards, but figured it couldn´t be TOO hard to make them. They weren´t adding too big of numbers, so I didn´t expect it to take much time to create the set of cards. WRONG. But  totally worth staying up late to make.

They went crazy for Around the World! Both classes were surprisingly engaged, and that left teacher very happy. It was too cute watching their faces get all antsy and excited waiting for me to flip the next card. A few of the show-offs missed some easy addition, and that got the class rolling. As I´m writing this I´m enjoying the first day of Spring Break, and thinking about their giggles has me already looking forward to next week. Some of the kids got SO worked up about getting the right answer. I wish there was a way to keep their attention on the assignment and somehow still snap pictures of their excited little faces, but they of course lose all concentration when the camera comes out. The biggest thing that sticks out was poor little Eduardo. He is such a smarty, but I think the excitement got the best of him. I held up a card that said something like... 13-9 I want to say. Eduardo SHOUTS out, "Eleven!!!" I just made a confused look and read to him what it said on the card. He blushed and made a thinking face for a few seconds before shouting out his four. These kids give me too many reasons to smile. They spoil me!
Total cheater picture because this isn´t from anything close to flash card fun, but this is sweet Eduardo. Love that crazy kid!

Christmas in Los Planes

December 25th was an incredibly special day. It started with a chat with Mom, Dad and David. I am ever amazed by the wonders of technology, and super appreciative of being able to video call home. That has definitely helped get me through this year! It was not easy seeing everyone and feeling so far away, but they were all smiley so how could I be anything but? Pastor Alfonso and Mari invited me to San Luis Planes for the day, and I was excited to see what was in store for me up there. Mari´s parents live there, and they do a big family get together every year. I´m not sure I realized just how big the get together was going to be, but more on that later. My Christmas breakfast was a piece of tres leches cake, and that´s a memory I can´t help but preserve. It was so good. Homemade by Pastor Alfonso´s daughter Karen, moist, fluffy, rich, delicious. PSA--I still love vegetables, and am a major proponent of the gluten-free diet. Leche doesn´t do much for your system either. But it was tasty. We piled into the truck and made the hour and a halfish drive to Los Planes. It was such a pretty day. Last time I was up there I stayed pretty chilly, so I was dressed for cooler weather.
The weather changes pretty quickly here...not sunny anymore, but I thought it was a pretty view!
We chatted the whole drive there, shocking I´m sure, and shared great stories about our families and different life experiences and how we relate to them now on a more spiritual level. The drive up there is seriously beautiful. The scenery is incredible, and there are some great house colors along the way. I love that here they don´t just paint the inside, but the outside of the house gets a bright wash as well. Fun fact: tradition around here is to paint your house around Christmas, so we saw all sorts of facelifts all around the neighborhood. I look forward to the fun of selecting the perfect color for the exterior of my dream house one day. I suppose I should live somewhere with little to no HOA restrictions, because this girl likes color! And I´ve been told more and more how wonderfully eclectic I am. I can get lost daydreaming about what my future family home will look like! Propped up on a farm surrounded my sunshine and memories. Oh boy do I know how to digress. So the views were gorgeous, and we arrived to a warm, sunny Los Planes. I did not need the jacket I´d carried, but that was just fine by me.

Mari and I quickly got to work in the kitchen at her mom´s, but I´ll be honest and say it wasn´t long before I was dethroned from my task of chopping the fruit. The limited work area was full of family and friends who consider themselves such dancing around each other all tackling different projects. It had all potential to be a chaotic mess, but they made a graceful show of it! I just did my best to stay out of the way, and get my chopping done while also managing to take it all in. Karen and I were in charge of chopping fruit for this creamy fruit cocktail dessert Mari was planning to make, and we had a mountain of pineapple and watermelon to break into bits. It took shamefully long for me to figure out the size they wanted the fruit, and by the time I got there the woman next to me was ready to snag my knife and take over! Eventually she slyly distracted me with a wedge of watermelon and got busy with the fruit while I enjoyed my snack. Being relieved of my kitchen duties left me free to explore, which was a nice escape. My young friend stopped by for a visit, and it was nice to chat with him. He took me to his house to meet his brothers and sisters, and I couldn´t get enough of all their giggles.
My buddy hanging out at Mari´s Mom´s for a while!
We visited for a bit, and then I headed back down to Mari´s mom´s place. At that point everyone was caught up doing one thing or another, so I wandered around by myself a bit. The side yard had some sheets and other bedding on a clothesline hanging out with the breeze. It was all dry, so I folded clothes in the afternoon sunshine. I felt a little like Cinderella because I was singing all sorts of songs to myself, smiling at the different bird sounds I heard. As more and more family trickled in Pastor Alfonso stayed busy with introductions. I got to have a long conversation with one of Mari´s cousins who has a bilingual school in Santa Barbara. His mission and vision for the school are pretty sound, and I enjoyed talking to him and feeling his passion and enthusiasm. There are lots of coffee farms in the family, and in Honduras in general, and a good bit of us went for a great hike through the fields.
Love it.

I wish I could remember what we were talking about! Karen was loving it...I bet Pastor Alfonso was picking on me!

Naranjillas! Crazy, hairy little fruit...


On the way home from la finca Pastor Alfonso stopped at a tiny little house on the side of the road. He took me to meet the oldest woman living in the town. She was a frail little thing, and it was not easy to see where and how she lived and know I couldn´t do anything to change it. But we shared a great hug and some prayer before we left. And she had a little malanga growing wild on her property, so I got to see the plant part of one of my favorite roots! We got back with just enough time to enjoy a quick snack with afternoon coffee. Then it was off to church where I got to hear Mari preach for the first time. She gave a lovely sermon, and it´s always nice to worship in Pastora Gloria´s church. This time I didn´t mention anything about a caballa ;)

The family throw down got going sometime during church, and continued on until the next morning! That part I´m just taking their word on because we headed home not long after church, but it was a fun crowd so I´m sure they kept the party going! We each had some dinner after church, and by the time we were done eating we were worn out and ready to head back to Peña. Mari stayed with her family for the night, but the rest of us piled back into the truck. I remember my head wobbling like it does when I´m fighting sleep. What a long, fantastic day. It was a Christmas to remember, that´s for sure!

Víspera de Navidad

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to experience Christmas here in Honduras. It of course came with it's hard moments, but it was a beautiful weekend. A lot of people here call the 24th Christmas, so that had me a little confused when it came time to talk about plans. My family used to have some Christmas Eve traditions, but those tapered out over the last however many years so I was excited to experience things Honduran-style and hopefully adopt some new family traditions.
Merry Christmas Eve!

We had a tree and ornament making party one night. It was lots of fun,  and we ended up with all sorts of  cute ornaments. The tree may or may not still be hanging on the wall at La Casa Rosada...
So on Christmas Eve Maryann and I chatted around the house for a while, and made a few crazy Christmas cards. That girl loves glitter, and cequins. And googly eyes! Eulogio and Leah were having a group over for a big meal, so we headed there a little earlier to help with any last minute prep. Somewhere there are pictures, but I made my first pie crust! Ok I didn´t make it. Leah gets all the credit for that. But I did roll it out! And press it into the pans all pretty. The top ended up burning, but it was pretty pre-oven! Maria was busy with tamales, carefully fully and wrapping the corn husks. Honduran-style tamales are wrapped and steamed in banana leaves, but the New Mexican contingent couldn´t make tamales without a few their style! Eulogio went to town with a couple hunks of lamb that everyone seemed to enjoy. I loved the biscochitos (the bane of my waistline!!! I got hooked) which are common around Christmas time in New Mexico. I guess Christmas Eve (at least the early evening chunk) was more of a New Mexican celebration.



From their house I headed to church and we had a great service. They put together a choir for Christmas time, and I loved hearing them sing familiar carols and hymns with Spanish lyrics. How Great Thou Art (Cuan Grande es El) is really pretty in Spanish. After church I went to Elvia´s house for their annual youth get together! Sarahy and Gisselle were gracious hosts helping to make sure I didn´t feel uncomfortable. We stayed up so late talking and playing different games. A few of the kids were complaining that it was boring, but we kept trying different games. We ate a ton of food, which seems to be a big part of celebrating here. Keep in mind we were there after church, which means well after dinner time, and we ate full plates! And topped it all off with cake. Mmmm a really tasty tres leches cake. I was a happy girl.

They shot off all sorts of fire crackers (more noise than show) at midnight, and then we played a few more games. By the time I got home it was incredibly late, but I had a wonderful Honduran Christmas Eve. It´s so funny to be reflecting back in Christmas Eve, but I guess Spring Break provided the perfect time to write about my winter activities!