Sarah's Adventures in Honduras

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Exactly how hot is it?

I think yesterday marked the hottest day I have spent in Honduras since arriving. My first clue was when my students started stripping during school. I had to keep telling them to put them back on! It is actually kind of cute--the students always have little beads of sweat on their noses. Anyway, Mister Harvey got very sick and was home just chillin'--well, not chillin'. He took the temperature in our house during the day in a shady corner and it was 98 degrees. Isn't that unbelievable?! It was better not knowing. I'm just conscious of being rather warm. I stay in the shower at night though until I start to shiver which helps the sleeping thing. So, that is how hot it is. Thought I would share :) Time to get back to work!


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I´m such a softy

I was a goner after one day with my students. My heart doesn´t feel big enough for the love that I already have for them. It was as if in one moment I became their biggest fan. Being a superfan is exhausting though. Whew. It is becoming a habit to crawl into the hammock after school and just lay there for about a half an hour before going back to work on school stuff. It is worth it though for the laughs alone. Yesterday I gave my students some homework and to do this homework it was necessary for them to copy 5 sentences into their notebook that they would then correct (well, capitalize the first letter and add a period at the end). I thought having them copying the sentences into their notebooks about 20 minutes before school ended would be PLENTY of time. For some reason they just didn´t get it. (Well, it very well might have a huge something to do with the fact that I only speak to them in English. I´m not sure I´ve blogged about that before). I did everything to explain it in several different ways, but blank stares all around. Ok, maybe one or two students were copying down the sentences. Finally I was so frustrated that I went to the front and let off this schpiel (who knows how to spell that?) in Spanish that THIS IS THEIR HOMEWORK and they darn better start copying it down if they want to be able to do their homework! When I finished, one boy stood up and started clapping and then the rest of the class followed suit. It was hilarious. But I tried not to laugh, but to make them sit down and copy those sentences! Another funny thing from yesterday happened during recess. The tables and chairs that the students sit at tend to migrate several feet each day. I end up pushing the kids backwards because I am pinned against the whiteboard! Anyway, when trying to arrange the tables a little better, I noticed a stray chair against the wall. I have the students´ names taped to the back of their chair so I looked and it belonged to Maria Jose. I went to take it to where she sits at the table and I found HER BACKPACK CONVERTS INTO A CAMPING CHAIR! Maybe you had to be there, but I burst out laughing that I didn´t notice all morning that this girl was sitting on a camping chair :) Crazy.

So I am really enjoying teaching second grade. I am learning so much. But I´m really missing my community of friends in the States these days. It has been harder than I thought it would be. Know that you are in my thoughts often.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I love the weekend.

It is my first Saturday here in Honduras where nothing has been planned for me (except a karaoke commitment later today—at the home of one of my students no less!). I slept in until 9:30—getting 4 more hours of sleep than usual. It was Wonderful. Laying in my bed awake, but not needing to get up, but just enjoying the sun streaming through my window and listening to the gentle purr of the fan was the closest thing to home that I have experienced so far. I got up and Harvey (the boyfriend/P.E. teacher) was making us all pancakes for breakfast and a coffee pot full of coffee that came from our friend’s farm up the mountain was still nice and hot. Mmm.

Random note: There is a gecko that lives in our coffeemaker. We haven’t given a name for him or anything, we’re not that tight, but I guess the trick to making good coffee is first checking to make sure there isn’t any lizard poop in there.

I have spent the remainder of this morning moving my still wet laundry to the clothesline in the sun, re-soaking the ones that were left outside during the storm, and trying to combat the kitchen ant issue that arose this morning. In our pajamas wearing socks pulled up to our shins with flip flops we washed down every surface with Limpiox. Then, completely filthy with cleaning supplies, sweat, and four days of yuck, I got to take a shower. So now the lesson planning must commence for the day. But I thought I would write a little bit as I listen to good ole Rosie Thomas.

Friday, August 25, 2006

It thunderstorms everyday.

After two weeks of abandonment, this afternoon I picked up my laundry and began the endeavor of washing them by hand in the pila (think giant concrete box about the size of a refrigerator box). I got through about 5 articles of clothing when I heard a few rumbles in the distance. “That is NOT what I think I think it is,” I said to my housemates reading and lesson planning in the hammocks on our back porch. But it was, and now a mild tropical storm is blowing on my freshly washed clothes. I continued to wash about 5 minutes into the storm before if just didn’t feel right to be outside. This probably means that our water will go out like it tends to do after a large storm and that I will probably go on in my current stench another day. Last night we also lost water and power for awhile. Our first substantial blackout so we videotaped :) We have lots of homemade candles in wine bottles left behind by previous volunteers. And, well, speaking of losing power, it just happened again. It gets pretty dark in this house when the power is out!

There are so many that have made me laugh lately. My housemates’ creativity when it comes to tortillas for one. We have not only eaten leftover chocolate frosting on hot tortillas, but last night my housemate made garlic tortillas to go with our spaghetti. And boy were they good!

Yesterday my kids had P.E. and it is wonderful that my housemate’s boyfriend is here for a month or two and he is being the P.E. teacher for the whole school. Watching him trying to get my second grade kids to play baseball (in English) was a hoot. They did a pretty good job, but at one point we did do a little yoga in the outfield. During P.E. I found that one of my students used a small string (please try to picture this) from his pants to tie his thumb to his wrist. It got stuck and was cutting off circulation when I found him and he told me that he couldn’t feel his finger anymore. I tried not to laugh as we walked quickly back to our classroom and I cut him out of the mess. Not even an hour later another of my students got a wad of gum stuck in her hair.

Well, that is all I am going to write for now because whenever I start writing I just keep going on and on!

Shoot me an email and let me know how you are doing! Jen Loo, thank you for your faithful blogger comments! :)


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

changed my mind--wrote some stuff

So I have been a little busy…

This past weekend my fellow teachers and housemates (which are one in the same if you haven’t caught that detail of my life) headed out for a relaxing weekend away from the house and all of the stress of planning for school. I was thankful to not have to drag around my lesson plan book and feel weighted down by the thought that I should be doing something productive related to school. It was quite the journey to get there—three buses—not to mention wandering around between buses looking for the next bus ;) We got to Tela in time for lunch on Saturday and then spent the day reading on the beach and playing in the Caribbean. Our hotel was right on the beach and all 5 of us jovenes (younger teachers) shared a room. We went out for a not quite Italian Italian dinner. The original plan was then to go dancing, but taking into consideration the potentially sketchy situations that could be encountered at the Iguana discoteca, we opted to get a bucket of ice cream, put our pajamas on, pile onto two double beds and watch Ghost (in English!) on our cable tv. The next morning we left for Triunfo de la Cruz, a Garifuna village about a half an hour (another bus) from Tela. The beach there was even more beautiful and tranquil. It was wonderful to be so isolated from the bustle of daily life. We were the only gringos (foreigners/white people) in town. We stayed in cabanas (whatever that means) for $3 a night if you can believe it. Since we had been working so hard we were ready to go to bed at 8:30pm! We ended up sharing for hours about our childhood, families, and their reactions to our doing this BECA position thing. When it was finally time to go to sleep we realized that our cabana smelled like a giant outhouse. This was kind of hindering to the whole sleeping thing. I’ll fill you in on the gross reason (whether you want to know or not). The room with our beds was only separated from the toilet by a shower curtain (not really a good idea if you ask me). Then, in Honduras, you don’t flush toilet paper, but throw it away in the trash can where it sits in the heat all day…and let’s just say…if there is someone amongst you having diarrhea action…well, your room with smell like an outhouse. Yuck and a half. Can I say that I haven’t had diarrhea yet which seems like a weird thing to post on the internet, but I actually look at it as a reason to throw a party! Knock on wood.

Fast forward to this morning. I got up at 5am. Ugh. I don’t remember the last time I have done that. Maybe never willingly. In retrospect I wish I would have slept a little longer (like…5:20). In retrospect I would have also worn my scrubs to bed (which I have been doing lately for maximum bug protection), but I made the last minute decision not to wear them and am suffering the consequences. I wish I could take a picture to prove the damage. You’ll never believe that I’m not exaggerating. That is one thing that wears on me. I’ve tried the prevention method. I’ve tried monitoring exposed skin at all times. For some reason it still looks like I have a bad case of adult chicken pox. It is hard sleeping in scrubs though because of the heat—one of the other uncontrollable variables in my life. It’s wearing to sweat almost all the time. When I try to look through resource books and plan for school the books stick to my legs. After my (cold) shower (the only time I’m not sweating) I put on the preventative bug spray which then mixes with sweat and sometimes sunscreen and sand depending on where I am J I’m surprised I didn’t come home from the beach with dreads. My hair was moving as one single unit.

Can someone tell me if wearing 100% deet is not safe for my body? Can someone please offer to send me more bug spray?

So, I got up at 5. We left for school at 6 hoping to get there by 6:30 to get a few things done before school started at 7:15. Bum crack of dawn folks. Frustration point=kids started showing up at 6:40am…who DOES that! It would take a while and even more energy to justly describe my first day at school today so I’ll just say a few things.

  1. It went really well. It went better than I expected. My kids are generally well behaved. Only two kids went from the green light to the yellow light on the discipline stoplight ;)

  1. A random kid named Elvis appeared in my classroom. He wasn’t on my class list and refused to speak to me in either English and Spanish which was super helpful (not!) So I had no idea where he was supposed to go. I finally got his name out of him which I thought was Alvin which is also what his nametag has said all day. He was one of my three criers…He also brings my class to 28 kids—minor point…28 kids that barely speak English.

  1. I am completely exhausted. I spoke in English with them all day which means teaching mixed with acting, repetition, intentional tone and body language, and a superhuman amount of patience that I need to somehow sustain for the rest of the days of the school year. It was incredibly difficult to walk uphill both to and from school (I’m serious). My housemate Anna and I stayed after school just to clean up, realign the tables, and hang up a few things, walked home—stopping for just a few minutes to get a cold licuado (think smoothie made with fruit and milk) and didn’t get home until almost 5pm (school ends at 2:15 thankfully) where we collapsed into the hammocks on our back porch only then to realize that the store where we make photocopies closes at 5pm…so yeah.

I’m thankful that today went so well and hope that it continues. Right now, so completely numb with exhaustion, it is hard to imagine doing this everyday for awhile…but I’m confident it will get easier.

I have been trying to write this last sentence over and over without success—I want to tell you I have gotten glimpses already of my purpose here and I am excited to share some of those glimpses with you soon.

Take care,


So I haven't had time to write

because of the frantic last minute preparations for the..FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

p.s. I survived (but I apologize that I am so low energy that I can't write about it right now).

Friday, August 18, 2006

I think it would be so interesting to read the blogs of the different people that are here with me in Honduras. I’m pretty sure that we are all not just approaching this experience differently, but also dealing with it and responding to the struggles differently.

For example, I don’t tell you that my kitchen sink is broken and we do our dishes with a pail of water that we constantly have to refill from the giant trough of water in the backyard to say poor me, or how terribly inconvenient is my life. I tell you in order to give an example of how my daily activities have changed and share with you a piece of what my life looks like in a place where when something breaks, it might take awhile to get fixed. I don’t tell you about the persistent, creepy man on the plane in order to say whoa I must be hot stuff or something, but so that you may laugh with me about the random circumstances that come up regularly.

So random circumstance: Tonight my team layed some soccer against some Spaniards that are in town working with a (Spanish?) NGO and a clinic in town, our Honduran colleagues at school, and some local firemen (that the Spaniards are staying with). Even though we tried to mix up to make even teams, my team got super creamed. It was still fun. At the end of the game the rest of the firemen on duty came with the truck and turned on the lights :) By then it was dark and we climbed into the back of Don Max’s truck for the bumpy ride home. I sat around in my sweat for awhile waiting until it was close enough until bedtime to shower. The funny part is that I shower and then coat myself with bug spray which I’ve decided doesn’t work because I am now up to 37 mosquito bites on my legs alone. Ugh. I look diseased. I would post a picture, but it is too gross.

I have to get to sleep now because we are leaving the house tomorrow at 7:30am for meeting at school with Principal Mabel and the Honduran teachers and then observing a Honduran public school from 10-noon. The afternoon will probably be spent doing more lesson planning because we are going away for the weekend. School starts next Wed.!!! Ahhhh!! So much to do before then! But I am super excited :) I hope I’m ready by then.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Because you can live off-campus for the rest of your life...

…and now I finally am. I share a house with 5 other girls—interesting, intelligent (ivy-league!), fun girls that like to cook, sit on our porch, and spend time together. Boards on cinder blocks line two walls of the largest room in our house, forming a long desk where our own space is marked by our teacher title (Miss Sarah) on an index card taped to the wall. Our afternoons and evenings thus far have been spent sitting at our long mutual desks planning lessons and sharing ideas and resource books. We pass around the internet cord to take breaks and write emails, and take turns playing music. We go shopping for food, cook meals, and do dishes together. It reminds me very much of my time spent in the dining room and living room at Koinonia—minus the boys and discussions of theology. We do have our fair share of interesting conversations. For example--this is a conversation from the other night: “I want a wedding! But I don’t want a husband. I mean, what girl doesn’t want a wedding. It is all about you. You dress up like a princess and everyone basically worships you. I want to be pregnant, but I don’t want a child. You get to eat whatever you want and people rub your feet.” :) We laugh a lot. It is interesting to live with girls that come from such different experiences.

The past two mornings (Have I really been in Honduras for only 2 days?!?!) have been dedicated to scaring the spiders out of my classroom and sweeping away the 2 inches of dust and bug carcasses covering every surface. It is near impossible to imagine preparing a classroom in the States instead of what I am doing here. If you haven’t figured it out, my time has mostly been spent planning lessons and preparing for school. But no worries, I’ve already spent time with the neighbor women making tortillas, dancing at a birthday party for the school’s Honduran principal, and commuting by way of pick-up truck bed. There’s always time for fun.

There are also things that make life interesting around here...

Dogs bark all night long and then when they bark at you during the day they are hoarse and you say to them, “Stupid dog, you shouldn’t have barked all night long.” I, thankfully, I don’t hear them barking at night because of my wonderful, powerful fan.

Getting up early hasn’t been such a problem for me because of the two hour time difference. We get up around 7, but I feel rested because it is 9 Michigan time!

We have to use a wrench to work both our stove and our toaster oven. On the stove it turns the temperature knob which has no numbers on it, but I hear that turned to 2pm is great for cake. We joked about using a permanent marker to label the knob with the word “cake” and maybe even go farther to label “chicken” and other random dishes right there on the knob. The wrench holds the lever down on the toaster oven so that the toast will cook. The problem the lies in the lack of a timer so there have been some pieces of toast that have gone on the wayside.

Also, our water disappeared for a few hours only to be found out that there is a switch on the side of our house that anyone (including the children in our neighborhood…ahem) can turn to the right and shut off our water if ever they want to get the gringas riled up :)

That is all I have time to write now!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'm feeling really far away today.

Monday, August 14, 2006


So I’m not in West Michigan anymore. In fact, my life looks much different than it did yesterday—almost completely different. I’ll back up a little bit to catch you up to speed.

After an evening of vetoing more items out of my too heavy bags, and repacking to eliminate all of the essential liquids in my carry on bags, we headed to the airport around 3am. We being my amazing friends that have taken care of me and loved me so well through life transition that feels even bigger than I imagined now that I have actually arrived.

My flights went smoothly. Like predicted, I met nice people on each flight that helped me carry the heavy bags that were near impossible for me to navigate on my own. Picture this: Neither oversized carry on fit into the overhead compartment of my first little plane. I had to take my laptop out of my messenger bag that concealed all of the other stuff that I was trying to get to Honduras with me! Then I ended up being the last person off the plane as I tried to stuff everything back into two bags able to carry! I stumbled off the plane to find the outside stairs to leave the plane. As I walked down the stairs to the airport, one of the stupid carry ons got caught on the railing and snagged me! I ended up slowly backing up the stairs hoping that I wouldn’t fall all the way down! It was in Atlanta where I met Matt, a caver, hired by the Honduran department of archeology and anthropology to explore a newly discovered cave and make a map of it. He watched my bags that were too heavy for me to drag to the bathroom, found out that our gate had been changed, and helped carry my bags to the new gate. He encouraged me in what I am doing this year not only in words, but through his stories of his own crazy, spontaneous lifestyle. Don’t worry, I threw away his phone number ;) Then, enter Antonio. My seat neighbor on the plane to Honduras. He was much more persistent. I spent the whole first 30 minutes of the flight trying to convince him that we should just be traveling companions and that was it. Don’t worry, he wasn’t creepy. But creepy enough that I told him all about my (fake) boyfriend in Michigan who I am very much in love with despite the distance between us. Antonio still wanted to call me every night and visit on the weekends. I just kept telling him that that would be a bad situation. That my boyfriend would want to come down to Honduras and be upset :) Ha! He continued to press the idea until I got so fed up that I told him that if he wanted to chat, he should go find a seat next to someone else because I was going to sleep! I did sleep, and he didn’t bother me anymore. He carried my heavy bags to customs for me. And I chalk it up to another person that God put on my path to help me along my way to Honduras. My whole interaction with him was in Spanish so it was so good to practice and feel that whole communication in another language coming back to me.

My plane came in early which I didn’t mind so much until I realized I had no way to contact my ride. I also had no idea who my ride would be, what he or she would look like. It was on the plane as we descended into San Pedro Sula, that the What the Heck am I Doing? Thought popped into my head. Through customs and out to the front of the airport where I say atop my bags hoping that someone would come and tell me that they were there to get me-this thought remained with me. I combated it with prayer—talking to God about my decision to come and was reassured that God didn’t send me to Honduras to take me away from everyone that I love, to leave me stranded in the campo. There is a reason for me being here and I don’t need to see all the reasons right now. I just need to focus on the small things. And today, that is getting settled, finding out what I do when I am hungry, when I need to get up and what I need to do when I wake up. There is so much I want to share with you about my life here, but there is some lesson planning that must be done. Just know that I am here, safe and only slightly disoriented. Despite being here before, the culture shock is substantial. I am also really enjoying living with so many people, but it is different from my summer dorm room living by myself! More about that later! I love you and wish that you could all come and see my life here—my little classroom :) Hopefully I can get some pictures up soon.

Stay tuned!