Sarah's Adventures in Honduras

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So I feel like I have been neglecting the blog a little bit...lesson planning has been taking the front burner for a while as it probably should ;) But here is a little update for you until Friday when we have a half day and I will hopefully get a chance to tell you some amusing stories and post some pics :)

So the water has been sporatic, but is usually around for at least a half an hour every two days or so. Last night it rained for about 7 minutes, but it was enough time to throw on my bathingsuit and wash (and condition!) my hair. I honestly had no idea that it would make such a big difference on my mood whether I am dirty or clean, but it totally does. Right now I am just making some worksheets on my computer and making some beans. Beans are the biggest pain in my butt ever. Just so that you know. They are way more work than I ever imagined. Just for a few little wonderful morsels of goodness to put on my tortilla. So they should first soak for forever (ie. at least a couple of hours) and then they have to boil for forever (a couple of hours). And the water dries up so fast that you can't really do anything but monitor the beans because they are burning and/or need more water! Usually by the time they are done they have run out of water at least twice so they are half burnt AND the pan has become a mess to clean. So suppose that finally they are soft enough to eat. Then they go in the blender for some nice refried bean-esque texture. The blender is a whole other story! The other day I went to make a licuado (again friends, think smoothie) and all of a sudden giant ants came pouring out of the blender base. I hosed it off with water (prob not the best idea for an electrical appliance) but they continued to come out looking to attack. So our blender moved to live outside. But I wanted a licuado something furious so then went in search of an extension cord. Yes, ladies and gentleman, we blended using a 10 foot extension cord to the porch. As it turns out, the ants are living in the blender motor. Buuuut, after living on the porch for a couple of days the ants seem to have retreated. And we can blend inside once more.

Moral of the story: beans are hardly worth the effort.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dia del Nino--fiesta time!

This one actually goes with the parade pics that I need to post next time. A sneak peek for you!

After the piñata


class pic--minus the teacher

probably my two favorite kids!

hehe :)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Yesterday is worth documenting...

So many body fluids in one day…

It started with a nosebleed, three criers, and two bleeding cuts and scrapes before 9am. Then during P.E. one of my boys ripped the crotch of his pants. I spent the duration of my recess duty sewing his pants back together in the office when in walks one of my students who had explosive diarrhea in his pants. He is promptly stripped and wrapped in a sheet toga which he wears for the next two hours while his uniform is washed by hand and set out on the swing set to dry. During my sewing extravaganza I miss the pants with the needle and poke my finger so hard that I begin to bleed so profusely that I needed to stop sewing and search for a Band-Aid. After recess I go grab a snack at the glorieta (mini cafeteria) and I find one of my students (who is supposed to be in Spanish class) wandering around looking a little lost. As soon as I ask him what is wrong he throws up at my feet all over the pavement in front of the only bathrooms at school. When I go back to class and begin teaching, the same kid leans over and throws up in the middle of my classroom. I lean over and wipe it up with the toilet paper I keep in my classroom for the nosebleeds and criers, trying not to make a big deal about it, and trying to continue teaching as I clean up barf. Ugh. Quite the job I signed up for…

But the kids continue to blow me away with their English comprehension. It is amazing how fast they pick up on the words that I use ALL the time like “fighting” and “pushing” which they stick into sentences such as, “Miiiiiiiiiss, Fernando está pushing!!!!” I love it. Another good one is, “Tengo hot! (I have hot)” There are a few kids that still struggle. Yesterday I asked Rafael what he did after school and he answered, “Cornflakes.” To be fair, I do often ask them what they ate for breakfast. But when I repeated the question he said, “Yes.” We’re going to have to set up some tutoring sessions… :)

I am so sleepy or I would write more. I definitely have more to tell you. Tonight we had a party for ourselves—Monday was the holiday Teacher’s Day and though we had the day off from school, we took this evening to celebrate ourselves. It was like all the other Honduran gatherings we have been to—very relaxing and delicious food. Every gathering is like Thanksgiving. Mmm. But now I’ve taken my shower—stayed under the cold water until I determined that I am cold enough to fall asleep. So I am going to head that way.

Signing off.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A weekend away...

From the journal…

I’m still dealing with the whole being an adult thing. That this is the beginning of my life post-student—that I can make the decision to go wherever I want next year. I can’t believe that part of my journey includes this very moment seeing this view, being completely surrounded by mountains on every side, and watching the clouds float by at nearly eye level. It is strangely surreal. And I am shivering! The breeze is chilly, blowing my hair, and sending a chill down my back. To complete the dream-esque vista, there is a white stallion neighing on a hill in the distance. It is a very peaceful place to be. We are staying at an eco lodge in the mountains—I don’t really know what an eco lodge is—what makes something an eco lodge, but I’ll describe the place where we are staying. It is almost completely made out of wood. Probably wood found near the premises since there is no way at all that these wood planks made it here the same way that we did-which was on foot down a steep trail-maybe about a mile hike—probably not a mile. I just say a mile because I have no idea :) But we walked for what seemed like a very long time down a path no vehicles could maneuver (I love the chacos!). We were wary the whole way down anticipating the walk back up tomorrow. I’m not anticipating (but dreading if I think about it) the entire ride home. I thought I would thoroughly enjoy the hour long ride in the back of a pick-up truck while we climbed the 9000 feet to get here. But the very large truck to accommodate 11 passengers and their brimming backpacks (who really knows what to pack for mountains/hiking/swimming?!?) that was promised turned out to be a giant Twister-fest with layered sweaty arms and legs. Jon B. had to tell Emily to close her mouth because he was sweating from his perch above her—he actually stood for the whole ride. The twisty turny, sharp blind corners, drive through the middle of small creeks, drive perilously close to the side of a giant mountain left me so nauseous that I ended up having to close my eyes for the majority of the trip—missing any beautiful view that might have been—and deciding whether or not to vomit over the side of the moving truck. Anyway, the whole lodge is wooden. Hehe. The furniture is solid. Dinner was served family style on the giant wooden table—it was so nice to have people cook for us this weekend. We talked about food too much this weekend. I forgot to tell you that I fell asleep instantly after arriving at the eco lodge and woke up listening to my housemates on the giant front porch talking about their favorite meals…nachos, cheese, Italian food. We have big plans to make chocolate chip cookies as soon as we can track down some chocolate chips in this country.

After dinner we played a rousing game of fishbowl—where you put the names of people into a big bowl and then have three rounds where you first do taboo style to have everyone guess the person, then can only say one word, and then say nothing. Dewey Decimal was a hard one to act out! It was good to spend some time as a group doing something not school related. It is interesting to have this group of people that I not only live with, but work with, and hang out with in my free time. I am looking for ways to get involved in the community to not only improve my Spanish, but ensure that we don’t all drive each other bonkers after a few months of this ;)

After the game we went outside to look at the stars. There were only a few lights in some of the surrounding valleys (we could actually see our town of Cofradia and could tell that our house didn’t have power. Go figure. With only 10 seconds of looking at the sky I saw a shooting star. It is the first one that I have seen in years. I didn’t make a wish though. I’m not sure what I would wish these days. Maybe for chocolate chips, but that seems like a silly wish.

And some more (not from the journal)…

The next two days we spent doing activities away from the eco lodge. On Saturday we took a pickup truck up to Cusuco National Park where we did a four mile-ish hike. It was beautiful. I am just going to post a bunch of pictures because they will do a better job explaining than me. On the way home it started to get misty. It was like driving though a cloud (which makes sense because Cusuco is a cloud forest!). Soon it started to downpour cold rain—we couldn’t really complain—any chance to be cold is welcomed in our lives. We started singing every song we could think of that mentions the word rain. As you can imagine, everyone we passed laughed at us as they waved at the crazy gringos. It felt so wonderful to get back to the lodge, change into long sleeved clothes and eat the soup they prepared for us. Yum! We spent a lot of the evening reading, but also played Two Truths and a Lie. Of course I forgot to lie and told them all truths, but in the end it was a fun way to learn more about the people that I spend all my time with. We sure bring a diverse wealth of experiences to one room.

On Sunday we left the lodge early to hike to a waterfall. Sounds easy, but no. It was the hardest hike I’ve ever been on—two hours of steep inclines and uh declines (?). Halfway there I was ready to turn around and walk home thinking that there was no sight that could be worth finishing this hike. But we pressed on and when we got there I decided that it was worth it to swim in the cold (colder than Lake Superior!) water that only one of the other teachers would bravely enter in with me. After the refreshing swim, we laid on giant rocks to dry off some and to enjoy the mist of the cascading water. The hike back seemed shorter (it always seems to do that, doesn’t it), but we did stop a lot less to get introductions to different plants from our guide Carlos, and to eat the different kinds of fruits growing along the side of the trail. We went back to the lodge to eat lunch and quickly pack up for the ride home. It ended up raining the entire way back—and not just drizzling. The rain came down so hard that we could barely keep our eyes open. We were sitting in an inch-ish of water (me sitting on my sopping duffle bag that held my digital camera that I worried about for most of the trip home) with towels and other clothing draped over us to keep us warm from the cold rain. About halfway home it stopped raining so hard and we decided to sing once again to take our mind off the fact that we were so wet and cold. It is amazing how Disney classics can bring a group of similar aged people together. Everyone knows the songs up to the Lion King! Finally we reached home sweet home. I was barely able to hop out of the truck with my sore muscles and water logged bag. Our clothes went straight from our bodies to our clothes line and the comfy clothes went on. We soon sat down to brainstorm food options realizing that we had absolutely nothing. We had just decided on pancakes and then realized that we didn’t have any milk when there was a knock on the gate. The hilarity of what happened next is just another example of the craziness of my life. At the gate was our friend Don Wilfredo who came to tell us that his birthday party was going on and that they were waiting for us. We quickly put on our party clothes and laughed at the good news that this was for our dinner. Walking up to the house we looked through the window and saw that their living room was full of…NUNS! We kind of chuckled as we walked to the door at the fact that you never know what to expect. It was a fun party. After eating some good food, the nuns broke out a guitar and started singing patriotic songs about Honduras. They asked us to sing, but no one in our group plays guitar very well, so Sister Martina played all of the songs that she knows in English which included Yesterday, B-I-N-G-O, and Old MacDonald. Can you imagine 10 Americans singing B-I-N-G-O with a room full of nuns clapping along? I hope so, because then you will have your laugh for the day! :) It was quite something. We came back around 9 and went to bed shortly after.

This morning when I woke up I thought to myself—there is no point getting up because we have no food. It was such a discouraging thought. But I knew I had to get up! Now comes the beauty of living in a community. One of my housemates had already gone grocery shopping, one had already made coffee and saved enough for me, and another housemate was at the stove cooking up pancakes. It was a beautiful sight. As for today, it is Día de los Maestros—Teacher’s Day :) and we don’t have school. I’ll spend the day planning for this week, trying to upload all kinds of pictures for you, and washing my laundry. I hope your weekend was a good one!

Love, Sarah

p.s. Because of all of the holidays in September, we never have school! We had a day off for Children’s Day and for Independence Day which was this past Friday when we marched in a parade! Some of the kids were asked to dress up as different departments (and it seems…natural resources) of Honduras. Some of the parents went all out…here are some pictures!

p.p.s. It took so long for Cusuco pictures to upload that the parade and Children´s Day pictures will have to wait for another time. But here are some for you to look at for now!

The view from our room.

Anna and I on the front porch.

weekend in the mountains...

whoops, this one got in by accident and I can´t erase it! It is Hilary and Emily trying to cut a board to build a was not a successful endeavor. And it didn´t happen this weekend :)

Fermin, Lisa, me, Anna, and Emily

One of the bridges we crossed :)

Marilyn, Emily, me, and Anna

Driving through a cloud!

The swim in this waterfall was worth the exhausting hike. You can´t tell, but I am smiling very big :)

Karaoke :)

L to R: Bridget my roomate, me, Emily, Anna, Hilary, Jon the administrator, Lisa, and Lisa Jon´s wife

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm still alive!

Hello! Where have I been?!? Marching in the sun preparing for our debut in the Independence Day parade! Whew, I'm glad it is over! We're heading out of town for the mountains until Sunday and I promise a good blog entry and many pictures upon my return :) Just wanted to let you know I am doing well! Our water has returned and is back to its sporatic presence!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What did YOU do last night?

I woke up this morning not able to move my arms and so confused as to why that was the case. Then I remembered the events of yesterday…

I wish I would have had a camera to capture it…but due to the urgency of the moment, my words will have to suffice.

Running water has become something of the past…when we (the housemates and I) think about it, we come to the conclusion that there was probably water last Tuesday or Wednesday, but has been MIA since. We began to look at our pila (large concrete container of water that resides outside of our house) and wonder how the water would sustain the six of us for very long. We use that water to do our dishes, laundry, take bucket showers, and flush our toilet. So we cut out showers and laundry, using the water only for dishes and flushing the toilet. It was still looking pretty low…and our state of filth was wearing on all of us. Probably the longest that I’ve ever gone without at least washing my hair (my scalp was starting to itch something terrible!). By accident I wore my flip flops to the store instead of my chacos and the dirt and dust of the road flipped back up onto my legs sticking to the sweat. On Friday it was rumored to be out for three more days. We hoped and prayed for rain…but nothing. We woke up Saturday disgusted with ourselves and smelling pretty darn nasty. We tried to get things done regardless—planning for school and making lunch together. We were going to try to make some “grilled cheese” using some quesillo—not quite cheddar J and Emily went down the road to the store to get a few tomatoes for us to cut up to stick in our grilled cheese sandwiches. Had we not decided to get some tomatoes we might have missed this momentous event! Emily throws open the gate to our house and yells, “WATER! DROP EVERYTHING! GET THE BUCKETS!” In the middle of our cheese grilling we frantically grabbed every bucket we could find and went stumbling out to the street where people are swarming from every direction carrying every bucket in their possession and gravitating to the beautiful stream of water being emitted from the back of the truck. We quickly joined the crowd, filled our buckets, waddled back up the stairs to our house and poured the water into the pila before going back for another round. I can’t count exactly how many five gallon buckets of water I lugged from the truck and lifted to pour into the pila--enough to leave my arms trembling and my housemates and I with sweat dripping off of our bodies. When the truck finally ran out of water I took a deep breath and joined the crowd of people waving gratefully goodbye. It was worth all of the hard work knowing that our water supply was being slightly replenished. But disappointingly, not enough for anyone to be able to take a bucket shower.

We were still hoping for rain so we lined the buckets up outside in the backyard. Anna, Emily and I were just settling in to watch Spanglish to lift our spirits when we heard the first rumble. The power went first. In the pitch black of our house we frantically started to strip off the sweaty clothes and feel around for our bathing suits. We carefully and quickly exited the house carrying towels, shampoo, razors, soap, loofahs, the works! We set them carefully under the protection of the sheet metal overhang and stood in the darkness in our bathing suits (and birthday suits!) waiting for the rain. The wind and small drops teased us for a few minutes, and while it never rained with enough force to wash the shampoo out of our hair, soon it began to rain hard enough for a steady stream to run down the metal overhand and out of the gutter. It came out of the gutter with better water pressure than our normal shower (when it is working)!!!! We whooped and cheered, danced around and began to bathe. We took turns rinsing and then worked to fill the pila to the max. I can say with full certainty that I have not been cleaner or colder since coming to Honduras. I was able to get the dirt from beneath my fingernails and sit down to scrub my daily mistreated feet. We decided to just go to bed after the showers around 9:30 and it was a beautiful sound when the power came on minutes after crawling into bed and we could turn on the fan.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

to my friend Natán

if you had a casio keyboard you could share your mad skills with the world :) If you go on tour, be sure to stop in little Cofradía :)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I haven’t told you

that I have developed a fear of dogs since coming down to Honduras. I experienced the scariest moment that I can remember (well, getting on the plane and coming down here was kind of scary, but I mean terror scary…this coming from the girl that doesn’t watch scary movies) while on our little trip to the beach before school started. We were in search of a vegetarian meal and came to a place with a sign that looked promising. But there was a solid black gate that we had to open to get to the restaurant/hostel. We opened the door and stepped inside to find an open area with tables and chairs, and hallways that branched off to where I would guess that the guest rooms are. There was no one in sight so we called out hello. All of a sudden three GIANT, scary, pit-bull/Doberman-esque guard dogs came running at us full speed barking like they were totally going to eat us. I was with three other girls who all took off running toward the gate where we entered. For a split second I considered running, but the dog safety presentation from 5th grade student teaching stuck with me—that you shouldn’t run. By the time I had thought about running and hesitated I figured that they would have caught me anyway so in a sheer state of panic and terror I froze against the wall and watched as they chased my friends. Two made it out the gate and slammed it shut while another girl jumped up on a chair. I frantically started yelling in Spanish for someone to come help. Finally a woman appeared and I was able to produce enough words to ask her to please stop her dogs from eating me. She assured me that my life was not in danger and with my legs trembling I tried to walk and find the other teachers. All of us shaking we made our way back to the cabana. At this point it is dusk, but more dark than dusk and Emily says, “What is THAT?!?” I didn’t want to know. But apparently there was a crazy animal that resembled something out of the Princess Bride. Like a weird beaver/grizzly bear offspring. That probably isn’t a very good description, but then again, I didn’t look at the crazy thing so imagine what you like. All I know is we walked faster and didn’t make eye contact.

Branching off in the creepy crawly direction…I should let you know the cockroach status in my life. Many of you have heard the stories of my previous time spent in Honduras and the numerous cockroaches that were present. I have only seen one cockroach in my house so far and—I wasn’t allowed to kill it. No, I am not killing. One of my roommates is extremely bug friendly so she actually carries bugs out of our house. I know that the cockroach got tossed over our neighbor’s wall (so mean, hey).

Yesterday my friend Anna (1st grade teacher) and I were sitting in the office during one of our free periods working on school stuff when a gecko fell from the ceiling and onto her leg. I thought maybe there was a leak in the ceiling or something, but no. Small lizard creature from above. So funny.

Now some funnies from my classroom :) One of my more energetic students, Melvin, was coming into class wearing a backpack that was full and hanging open, carrying a plastic briefcase full of his art supplies, a water bottle and his lunch. Now picture him running toward me at full speed to give me a hug. He trips over his feet and crashes to the floor unable to get up. I couldn’t help it, I had to chuckle. He looked so cute and helpless and confused all at once. I love this kid.

Today one of the larger, eh plumper kids in my class got stuck in his new drum set. He came into the room after band practice and I had to stop teaching in order to help him break free!

Tomorrow is Día del Niño—little kids day. Pretty cool, every kid’s dream! We just have school from 9-noon to play games, eat food, and have a piñata. I’m excited to get to play with my kids all day tomorrow. I’m excited to get to sleep in a little longer. Today after school I fell asleep in the hammock despite the super duper annoying neighbor on his little Casio keyboard playing the same 4 notes over and over for hours this afternoon.

Peace out.

Monday, September 04, 2006

and a few words...

We are some workaholics over here in what our mentor/administrator fondly calls Gringolandia, our house, but we finally got out this weekend for a soccer game in the city. We hopped on the bus where we spent the entire 40ish minute ride belting out cheesy 80s love songs that were played on the radio. I was so excited I could barely wipe the grin off of my face as we walked to the Olympic stadium. We bought tickets and headed in where it was a high security operation. The guard at the door told me that I couldn’t bring my purse into the stadium to which I responded, “Well then, where do you expect me to put it.” He was less than sympathetic, but another guard took notice when I started shoving the contents of my purse (bug spray, baby wipes, Dramamine, IBprofun, sunglasses case, water bottle, etc.) down my pants or strapping them to my body. He took pity on me or thought I was being ridiculous so they let me enter after a brief search. As it turned out, the entire stadium was decked out with military guards—one every few feet. We didn’t know it beforehand, but this was a pretty intense rivalry! They were there in case things got out of hand! One funny part of the game was when the ball actually got kicked at one of the guards and knocked him over. Again, I was so excited I started to giggle without reason. There were guys tossing bags of confetti (sealed at this point) into the crowd. Danilo, one of the teachers that we work with, made sure that we all got bags of confetti. Even before the teams came out onto the field the bouncing up and down and chanting of cheers began. When they finally ran onto the field confetti filled the air. It was the closest thing to a snowstorm I bet anyone will see in Honduras. Everyone jumping up and down, throwing confetti, and wahooing. It was quite the experience. Then everyone started doing this chant with a hand motion. I joined in not really knowing what they were saying. Danilo quickly stopped me, telling me that I was doing something very vulgar and that my students would see me on tv doing it! Whoops. I’m curious to know what exactly I was saying. I thoroughly enjoyed the game though neither team scored. There were about 15 REALLY CLOSE shots. The fact that no one scored was probably better for safety walking the 20 minutes to the bus pick-up spot. On the way home it started thunderstorming (I told you it does every night!) and our bus slipped off of the road a little bit. No problem though. When we got off the bus we jogged through the muddy puddle-ridden streets in the thunderstorm to our house about 4 blocks away. It was one of those can’t help, but laugh moments. It was an all around great night out

I am still enjoying my job and getting to know my kids. Hilarious things happen everyday. One cause is what I call trigger words. When my students hear these trigger words they break into song. I’m not joking. It is kind of like a weird musical. Trigger words include: Monday, boom, beaver, and clap. I think I might have found them all :) Today they were bad…probably because they couldn’t hear me. The band started practicing after lunch and continued until the end of the day. You might think that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but since my classroom doesn’t have real windows or doors, just openings in the concrete, it is pretty much like having class in the band room. It doesn’t help that 99.8% of our band is percussion. My students stood up and started dancing and banging on things, and couldn’t hear me when I asked them to stop! Ahh! I am planning a little better for tomorrow afternoon when it will probably happen again.

Can I just tell you how much I like tortillas? Man, I love tortillas. I love the women that have welcomed me into their home and helped me practice this important skill. I don’t go often because I know that when I got to pick up some tortillas they will make me make them all myself! This is a long ordeal because I am so slow and they have to fix every other tortilla I attempt :) I am so thankful for their patience and encouragement. Last night I made 20 so that me and all of my housemates could eat tortillas and guacamole for dinner. We are pretty much addicted to guac over here. We have an avocado tree in the back that feeds the addiction! We do some weird food combos over here. Last night my roommate ate the guac over spaghetti.

Ok—it is past my bedtime. It is 9:32! Ha! :) Can you even believe it!? But this is the same girl that needs to get up befote 5:30am to wash her clothes by hand. Ugh. Must take shower.

Over and out. Shubs.

The kiddos :)


The first day of school photo!



I took a class picture today that I will put on here asap! I hope you enjoyed this assortment of pictures that hopefully can put some images with my stories!

Love, Sarah

Staff Retreat to Tela and Triunfo de la Cruz--my first weekend in Honduras--life (and scenery) changed rapidly

Welcome to Honduras--start at the bottom!

And a last one of the house...the kitchen.

But this is the table we use when we are all together--this was taken during a banana pancake breakfast this Saturday.

Our small table and large library of resource books...

The other side of my room.

My room with the lovely fan.

Our work space--I had a better picture of this, but this shows us in action. Can you spot my laptop? :)

This is my house!

The first view of Honduras as I waited for my ride from the airport.

The view from my red eye flight to eyes were pretty red too.

All of the stuff I dragged around various airports! I had slight back problems for a few days, no joke.