A Travellerspoint blog

5 Glimpses of My Life in Honduras

91 °F

The Adventures of Tortilla Man
About a week ago or so, I heard the familiar call of the tortilla man making rounds on his dirt bike. “Tortillas! Tortillas!” in his smiling, feminine voice. I’m a regular peeping Tom these days and leaned over our breakfast nook and down into the street to see if Tortilla Man had any takers. As luck would have it, he did. One of my more outgoing neighbors, a strapping young lad of around 4, is a regular customer. He was standing inside his gated entryway answering “Tortillas!” And that is when I noticed the upstanding citizen of Villa Florencia, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, was wearing no pants. The Tortilla Man pulled up and asked how many they wanted etc., the older brother was there to do the actual purchase. And when the older boy ran into the house to get money, the pant-less one proceeded to bend over and pull his shirt up so the Tortilla Man could really learn to appreciate the true wonders of his being. The Tortilla Man laughed and I imagine, told him to put his shirt down. Then my wee neighbor laughed and skidded into the house to, I can only assume, eat tortillas.

6th Grade Spelling: Flirt
I gave a spelling test, also known as a dictation, on Monday. Their directions were to spell the 20 words dictated to them and then pick 15 to define. From Unit 4, their third spelling word was flirt. Ivonne Marie wrote on her test, the following:
3. Flirt: To talk lovely to someone.
Charming. And not at all what I said in class but I might just write Webster’s and recommend a new definition.

A Honduran Culinary Triumph
Take a little baggy. Pour in some milk, sugar and peanuts. Ingredients may vary. You made also add corn flakes or other cereal, chocolate sauce, brown sugar, vanilla. Put in the freezer. When completely frozen, take from the freezer, tear a corner off from the baggy and enjoy. No tengo palabras. Que rico!

A Tale from 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade
-5th: We are reading “Number the Stars,” a Holocaust story. We were reading a different Holocaust story in sixth grade two weeks before and it was a total bust. I planned this whole presentation and kids were not interested. So I had no hope for the fifth graders and didn’t plan anything. I was going to jump right into vocabulary but I couldn’t help myself, I had to give them some background. The next thing I knew I couldn’t get the kids to shut up. They had to tell me everything they knew about Hitler or the Nazis or movies about the Holocaust they’ve seen. As our conversation progressed the kids started asking, “Why? Why did Hitler hate the Jews? Why did this happen?” We talked a little and then I asked them why they think it is important to talk about the Holocaust? After some thought, one of them answered, “So that we never let it happen again.” And I just about started weeping. Isn’t that what every teacher lives for? The next teacher basically had to drag me out of the classroom.
-6th: I picked out a stack of books from the library for the sixth graders to choose from and read at home. I picked mostly books I’ve read so that none of them would be able to get away with anything. One of them did get into our Holocaust section and picked “The Diary of Anne Frank” and is almost done with it. Another picked “The Giver” and asked me if I could talk to the principle and ask if he could buy it from the school. I fought reading for so long when I was their age. "Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart."(Shadow of the Wind) And to think I could be an instrument in that is more than I could ask for in my teaching experience. Some of mine were “Secret Garden,” “True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle,” “The Protector of the Small” series, “The Giver,” “Ender’s Game,” “The Hobbit.” I can’t believe I used to hate reading.
-4th: There is nothing currently redeeming about 4th grade. Eating cockroaches is more appealing to me than walking into that classroom.

Futbol
I just played my first night game. One of my original daydreams about my life here was to start playing futbol. To keep away the sting of cabin fever, I’ve been tromping over to the home to see if I could round some of the girls up. I have come to learn and accept the fact that I am just a breeze across the mighty and vast ocean that is these girls. This is their show and I'm here for the ride. Without being thoroughly self-depreciative, let’s just say these girls are fierce and the two years of soccer in my youth did not carry to adulthood. Futbol runs in their blood, as Hannah rightly said. Come blood, sweat, or the absence of shoes, they know no boundaries on the concha. I've been struggling with finding my place with these girls but I think I've found my in and I've never felt more at home.

  • A note on the political situation--things are getting more complicated. The temporary government issued a statement a few days ago that took many of the civil liberties such as freedom of speech and peaceful protest away. Because of international outrage at this, they quickly rescinded. But there's been no headway. Our surrounding walls have been peppered with graffiti, rumored to have been done by a gang funded by Zelaya. One of the teachers I work with didn't go to his second job today because the school is only paying supporters of Zelaya, the ousted president.

These people love their country and desire peace. Be mindful of the bias in the media. Keep Honduras and the safety of its citizens in your prayers.

Buenos Noches, mi familia. Gracias por su suporta y oraciones.

Posted by buscarme 16:51 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (5)

Well. Huh.

87 °F

The glamour of our house arrest is rapidly fading. Got up, started playing with the grad school idea again. Did some research. Ate half my groceries. Watched a movie. Ventured to the home when the curfew was lifted for a few hours so people could get groceries. Got a game of soccer going--this was great, I sweat like crazy. (I have a long way to go, these girls are fierce)

A man died today, in the demonstrations. The super markets were torn apart during that brief lifting of the curfew. I still feel safe, but things are getting a little tense. No word on wether we have school tomorrow or not, I'll let you know.

Here's an article

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125373506454635023.html#mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLTopStories

Pray for Honduras, Pray for peace.

Posted by buscarme 18:00 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (1)

Political Unrest

90 °F

What an interesting time to be in Honduras!
Rest assured, I am safe. Only under house arrest with the rest of the country. The bare bones of it are the ousted president, Zelaya, has returned after 3 months of being kicked out of office. And in order to prevent violence and maintain order, the government asked everyone to leave work early yesterday for the first curfew to be set from 4pm yesterday to 7am this morning. Then around 6pm all the tv's went to this propaganda-ey happy song montage of Honduras saying the curfew was being extended to 6pm tonight. Not going to lie though, the curfew thing is weird and Nazi-like. And I'm not sure if its for the benefit of people of the country as much as a message from the government. Most of the excitement is in the capitol, so I don't think I'm going to be seeing any of the action, if there is any.

We have US channels on our tv and its amazing, how the news gets unbelievably twisted. The US channels are saying there is a social agenda and that most of the country is favor of Zelaya returning AND THEY'RE NOT. In fact those in favor of Zelaya's return are in the severe minority. I don't know if this is because they want to keep Obama in a good light or if there are deals with other countries but do not believe your tv.

So I'm home today with no school. Watching the tv, eating pretzels and drinking Coca Lite. I'm probably going to spend most of my time researching the Chicago theatre scene as I plan to start auditioning when I get back. But I'll post if anything significant happens.

Posted by buscarme 07:07 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (1)

Tela

Mi Viaje

93 °F

Tela. This is a massive entry. If you make it to the end, good for you. If you only want to browse to the pictures, no harm-no foul.
Day 1
We left our San Pedro dwelling around 10am. Myra, a woman from the school, who’s been assigned to be our part-time guardian drove us to the bus depot. Big place, lots of people and lots of busses. We were able to squeeze our way onto an air conditioned bus for 70 lepieras (under $5).
During the two-hour drive to Tela, my eyes were devouring the countryside. I was terrified even to blink. Let’s see…..I don’t know if you’ve ever been to PA, but it has mountains that are not quite mountains and but too big to be hills. If the PA terrain is genteel, dignified, and always has his socks matching then the Honduran country is his younger, wild, and refuses to listen to reason sister. These mountains just pound into the sky and the vegetation spouts up and within the folds are little villages of people with their laundry going every which way. Every time we stopped to pick up new passengers there were salesmen ready to come on the bus and offer us soda, pizza, hamburgers, candy, or this really exotic fruit that looks like a sea urchin that I have yet to try.
Finally we were dropped at a gas station less than five minutes from Tela. We hopped in our cab and went to our hotel. Beautiful hotel, beautiful room. And I’m pretty sure we got the best room in the house because there’s no one else here as it is now the slow season.
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The city of Tela is not really comparable to little beach towns in CA. It is poor and the tourism keeps pumping blood into this place. It was nice to finally have the freedom to walk around. Our home in San Pedro sometimes has the feel of a holding cell as our only paths of travel lead to school, someone’s closely parked car, or the pulperia (convenience store.) But here we walked to the beach, to our tour guide place, to our meals. It was nice to feel apart of something. And to be honest, I thought my life in Honduras would have more of that feel.
Our first day we stopped off for lunch at the Café Luces del Norte. I had the Desayuno Tipico—the typical Honduran breakfast, mashed red beans, fried egg, avocado, their sharp cheese, fried plantains. Yummy, just hand me the hot sauce. Also, the best beverage I’ve ever had in my life, fresh squeezed mango juice. Mmmmmm......jugo de mango.....
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Then we made our way to the beach. Hannah and I flounced around for a while, always one of us staying with our stuff as we saw many passerby who showed interest in tearing off with my backpack or her red bag. The water was very warm and the beach was not as clean as I’ve seen other beaches but it was beautiful.
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Then we had dinner at the Maya Vista. This hotel/restaurant is the highest point of the city, it’s like a tower built on a hill and you have all these stairs to climb but it well worth it when you get to the top. The restaurant jets out into these massive trees, which are wrapped in Christmas lights, it was beautiful. I ordered the espagetis italiano with a Pina Colada. Yum. We checked with the tour people on our way back, hoping we could go on a tour the next day but they only had availability on Thursday. We booked it and headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
Day 2
The next morning we decided to try and find another beach other than the main drag which was laden with the locals. Some of these characters included the Garifuna, who are a people of African descent who offer to braid your hair or pan de coco (coconut bread-I’m hoping to buy some before we leave today). We met one such member of the people, named Benjamin, who tried to sell us more than just his coconut shell earrings;). Anyway, we wanted to go to a resort with a beach called “La Ensenada.” We got in our taxi, and I kid you not, this minor mistake in our trip was one of the highlights for me. Now, obviously we’d never been to this place before so we trusted our taxi man. We drove for about 10 minutes and on back roads, through tiny villages full of the Garifuna. My excitement was growing the whole time. And finally we pulled up into a small village, right on the edge of the ocean. People were cooking, hanging their laundry, just hanging out. And I wanted nothing more than to jump out of the car, quit my job in San Pedro and live with a Garifuna family.
They had a little open restaurant to the ocean all set up for tourists and it was just secluded and beautiful and there were naked kids running around. And I saw one of the many different paths my life could take. Doing this Honduras thing has blown my world apart. With a little money, I can do anything, live anywhere, speak whatever language I want to learn. For a moment I saw my life there, in that village. I don’t think I need much to be happy, maybe I do, but I think I could be happy living in a little hut, doing laundry, learning the native Garifuna dances, cooking local food for tourists and swimming in the ocean everyday. But then as quickly as I saw this, we were whisked away because the driver had misunderstood our directions and we were in the wrong place.
Once we got where we needed to be, we were dropped at the reception desk of a very swanky resort. And I must confess, my first inclination was to get back in that taxi and go back where we came from. We inquired at the desk to find out how much it would cost to hang out at their beach and use their chairs. And they had that option but for a little more we could use their pool, their beach, cabanas, hammocks, get gourmet food and drinks for the rest of the day.
Sold. It was incredible. And their bar was IN the pool. So, you swim up and say “Hola, quiero una camparinia por favor.” They hand you a drink and you swim away. The beach was clean and beautiful and I was reading a book that takes place on the high seas. Nothing could’ve been better. (Although….there was still that itching feeling of I’m selling out to the corporate side Tela, but sometimes you just roll with things and I did have a lovely time)
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Day 3
Woke up early because Thursday is rainforest day! Hannah and I headed to a coffee place. I got a grande Americano and a cookie made out of coconut. Hung out at the tour place for a bit, paid and Hannah, Brenda and I loaded into a van with a U.S. born Honduran and his friend, a girl who was from Seattle, a family from Seattle living in Tegucigalpa teaching, and three Spanish speaking women. We got in a boat. Road the boat for about ½ an hour into the blue toward an island called Punto Sal, “Point of Exit.” Its called this because it is the last piece of land in the bay. This island is part of a National Park, so no one can live here but two families were granted permission because they had inhabited the island for 30 or so years before the land was to become part of the park. One of the families cooks meals for tourists like us for extra income.
We took a small tour around the outside of the island by boat….then we landed.
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I just finished reading a prequel to the story of Peter Pan. And I could not stop thinking about Neverland the whole time we were on the island.
Rainforest time. I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves but it was exactly as I imagined….only without the constant thick cloud of mosquitoes. Giant spiders, howler monkeys, crabs, vines, colossal trees, sheets of light breaking through the canopy…..perfect.
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MONKEY!
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And then emerging from the rainforest, we went to a lagoon.....I mean, Peter Pan was written all over this. (However, let me reiterate, without mosquitoes)
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After the tour, we hoped back in the boat only to be dumped back into the ocean with our snorkeling gear. I saw squid! Then we swam back to shore and then took the boat to another part of the island for a home cooked lunch. As seen here:
Before
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And after ;)
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We spent the rest of the day lounging on this private beach. You know those desktop backgrounds of perfect water, a hammock, white beaches……yeah, I wish you could’ve been there too.
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Those little cabanas and huts are where we ate.
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Even looking at these now.....I just don't believe I was there. And with minimal sunburn! I put on like 10 layers Dad, promise. Only the back of my legs got a little sun from the snorkeling.

We arrived back at the mainland after helping the guides push the boat through the sludge hump into the polluted bay area. I really didn’t want to know what little things seeped into my shoes, I cleaned them out before I could look too closely. Brenda, Hannah and I were bushed so we headed back to the hotel for a nap. And then decided to go out to a farewell dinner to Tela. We wanted to go back to Maya Vista during the day but then the heavens opened……
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But we still found our way there. We had a great dinner, I got the lasagna and a Maya Libre. Yum.
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Found our way home, played some cards, then went to sleep.
Day 4
I woke up. Started writing this massive entry this morning, got my stuff together. Hannah, Brenda, and I were going to get this small loaf of bread stuffed with ham and cheese for breakfast at the coffee place but they didn’t have any so we headed over to this hotel/restaurant called ‘Puerto Rico’ that is right on the water. All three of us ordered desayuno ranchera. Eggs with spicey tomatoey yummy-ness and homemade tortillas. And café con leche por favor. I bought my pan de coco from a lady passing on the beach and a Honduras football team jersey. We went back to the hotel and the owner was headed to San Pedro with his wife (who are both French) and offered us a ride. So here I am, back in San Pedro. I feel rested, blessed beyond belief and am falling in love with this country more every day.

  • Also my mother left for Cairo (as in EYGPT) the same day I left for Tela, hope you’re having a blast mom!

Posted by buscarme 13:19 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (3)

Honduras' Independence, parade, pinatas, and a little r&r

80 °F

Yesterday was a big day. I wanted to get this post up before I leave today for my vacation which I dreamed all night about.;)

First, we all met at the school. Somewhat chaotic but things came together nicely. Everyone had to be bused to our starting point which took awhile. We all sweat a ton. Its been hot here, even for the Hondurans, temperatures getting around the 100's not including humidity. But we marched our five blocks. Which was very fun. Then we ended back at the school and each grade had their own party, including their own pinata. When things finally winded down and the kids were gone, the teachers took a 30 minute bus ride out into the country for lunch and a pool party.

Being in the country, I was finally able to understand why Honduras is the second poorest country in Latin America. All the rich people live in the city.

Here are SOME of the pictures. I took many yesterday. They are all in my gallery, but here are the highlights. These are also all on facebook.

Las Palillonas--the Baton girls
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Getting assembled
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The Band
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The Woman there is our principal, Miss Evelyn
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Bus Party!
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Then OFF the bus to smiling Isaac
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Then off we go
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Erika, her hubby Adler and Adler Jr.
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Look at our Pretty mountains....
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Then finally we return, and we are all sweaty like this.
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Then its pinata time
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Oh, the drama.
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These are some of my fifth graders
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These are the sixth grade girls
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Ice Cream with Miss Dirian
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And now, its the teacher's turn
Pre-party attire
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PARTY time attire
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The view out my window on the ride there
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Lunch
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Then....on the piscina
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It looks beautiful and it was! But....there were a lot of dead bugs and the water was really warm but we still had fun.
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And........I did this for 5 lempieras, which is the equivalent of a quarter!
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And then I took these on our way out....so beautiful, what a beautiful, beautiful country.
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So I'm headed to Tela, won't be posting for awhile. But I promise I'll try and take a picture of a monkey!

Posted by buscarme 05:02 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (1)

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