Thursday, June 21, 2012

One more week...

So, once again, it has been a while since I have updated this… sorry.  A ton has happened since I last posted, so I’ll try to give you a taste of everything but probs won’t dive into that much detail. 

Ashley is here!
Sor Xiomara, Profe Hector, and I went to San Pedro Sula to pick up Ashley on Monday the 4th.  It was actually kinda weird speaking in English when she first got here having not really spoken any English to another native English speaker here for a month.  My first instinct was to actually talk to her in Spanish which took me by surprise.  But that feeling really didn’t last all that long.  Ashley is an adorable accountant from just outside of Dallas, Texas.  She was here three years ago for about a month and a half when she first graduated from college and is now taking about 2 and a half months off of work to volunteer again. 

Tracy and Molly came too!
Tracy and Molly, two previous volunteers also came to visit this past week.  Molly was here and in El Salvador as well for a grand total of 2 years at the same time Ashely was here.  Tracy was here 2 years ago for a year.  Molly only came for 4 days and then was traveling to El Salvador to say hi to the sisters there too.  Tracy will be here until the 25th.  It was a party in our room for a while, which was a ton of fun.  At night, Tracy and Molly would share the stories of their escapades while they were here.  It was really interesting listening to the stories of their adventures and comparing their stories to what the Sisters have told us about what they did.  Apparently they had quite the adventures while they were here.  Tracy was picked up by a couple of the volunteers who were in El Salvador in a car that they had rented and then drove to the Ruins by themselves using nothing other than a coloring map… apparently this adventure involved yelling out of the car to strangers in the towns which way they had to go and then taking a “short cut” through the aldeas and needing to drive across a small river.  Yeah, my stories aren’t nearly as good. 

Also, the sisters always told Thalia and I that the volunteers always met gringo friends.  And we blamed the fact that we never did on the fact that Peace Corps is no longer in Honduras.  However, talking to Molly and Tracy, they had like one or two American friends and that was it.  Hearing this makes me feel a lot better… I was concerned that I was just anti-social here.   

We visited Swami’s house!
Ashely’s first weekend we both went to Swami’s house.  Swami is one of the Segund Curso girls who lives in Lempira.  Ashely, when she was here before, Swami’s aunt, I think her name was Rudi, was a student at María and Ashely visited her house so she had previously met all of Swami’s family.  Rudi actually came home from Gracias where she is currently studying to be a nurse, so I was able to meet her and her family.  While we were hanging out, Swami’s younger sister and cousin got both Ashley and I to play tag with them (in Honduras it is called oofa) for hours on end.  When we needed a break, they girls stole our cameras and took a bazillion pictures of themselves and us and just about everything you can take a picture of. 

On Saturday morning, Swami’s dad and brother took us to one of their family coffee farms.  It was super cool!  I always wanted to visit one of the girl’s coffee farms but was afraid to ask because a majority of them are rather far away from their homes.  The coffee won’t be ready until November, but the family cut down some bananas that they brought back to the school. 

On Saturday night, we went to the town’s school where they were playing a movie… it was Drag Me to Hell which is a comical scary movie.  There were a ton of young kids there who thought it was hilarious… I couldn’t watch.  I am so totally not a scary movie fan!

Oh, and funny story!  I don’t remember if it was Friday or Saturday night, but there was a HUGE bug flying around in our room.  Ashley called it a “Flying Cockroach” which it basically was.  Anyways, we were about to go to bed and this thing was flying around and Ashley was screaming (but quietly because Swami’s family was sleeping) and I was laughing (but once again quietly) and trying not to make a whole lot of noise… but the bug was seriously gross.  Eventually, it landed on Ashley’s bed and I trapped it in a plastic bag and threw it out the door.  It was hilarious, and if I had more time/wanted to write more, I promise this story would have been better, but maybe you had to be there.  I do, however, miss the dry season when there were significantly fewer bugs.  On that topic, though.  The other day in our room at María, Tracy told me that she stepped on a cockroach… I was perfectly content believing that we didn’t have cockroaches in our room… that bubble has officially been popped!

My class ended!
I finished my last week of class on Friday and I handed in my grades today… I am officially a retired English teacher!  The girls actually did really well with this module which makes them, me, and Sor Mirna really happy. 

I went to Guatemala.
I went to Guatemala on Tuesday with some of the sisters who were traveling to a retreat in Guatemala.  We dropped them off in Esquipulas where they caught a bus to Guatemala City.  However, there is a really awesome Basilica in Esquipulas where the Cristo Negro is.  So we saw the Basilica, walked around the town, took some pics and then drove back to Santa Rosa. 

I only have 7 days left.
So, for those of you who don’t know, I’m coming home on June 28.  That gives me 7 more days here.  And while I'm super excited to go home and am starting to get everything ready for when I leave - the girl's and sister's presents are almost done, it really is bitter sweet.  I love all of the girls here SO much.  And they are all leaving for vacation on Friday, which means that they are having my despidida tonight and I have to say goodbye to everyone tomorrow... it really is coming to an end... and I'm not sure if I'm ready.  I already said goodbye to the three sisters who went to Guatemala.  It is very surreal... and doesn't feel real yet.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I’ve been busy

So… apparently it has been a couple of weeks since I have updated this… sorry about that.  I have been rather busy as of late and when I have had some down time, I haven’t really wanted to write for the blog.  My Sunday classes ended and a new set started up which means that I now have to prepare for two classes instead of only one.  Before I had the same grade two times in a row, but now I have two different grades.  Additionally, I have to create a make-up exam for all of the individuals who failed last session’s English class (only about 10 of the 50-some students passed) and prepare for a review session that I held for them today.  I’m telling myself that they just didn’t study – which if you look at the scores that they earned, they obviously didn’t.  And the exams that are given through the book that we have to use are really hard.  And that is just for Sundays.  I have my usual weekday class to prepare for.  This past week I was preparing a project for them that I’m actually really excited about.  I re-wrote fables or fairy tales such as Cinderella, the Three Little Pigs, and Little Red Riding Hood (stories that they should know) with simple English words or words that we have already seen as vocabulary.  The assignment is for them to re-write the story in English as a skit and then next week, they will act out the play in English in front of the class with costumes and props.  I really hope that they have fun with it and it turns out well… I’ll keep you posted.  On top of that… our WiFi in the community currently isn’t working which means that the ten of us are all using one rather small computer for all internet access, which makes it kinda hard to post. 

Anyways… what else has been going on?  May is Mary’s month and all the Catholics here are VERY into Mary – and the Salesians are the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians… so they kinda really like her.  Anyways, these past couple of weeks every grade, the hijas de la casa, and the teachers have “presented their flower” to Mary during the Buenos Días that occur every morning before school starts.  They were all really kind of cool to watch.  Each group put on a skit, or recited some kind of prayer, and then the group got together, sang as song, and gave their flowers (both symbolic and real) to the Virgin.  I was somehow roped into being part of the Hijas de la Casa’s flower.  This means, that yes, I was singing and dancing in front of all 300+ students and teachers at the school.  And it was in Spanish, and I only learned the song about a day and a half before I had to sing it… and when I say learned, it was the first time that I had listened to the song.  Needless to say, I had to fake quite a few of the lyrics… I hope I was convincing.  I had the dance moves down though! 

This past weekend, I went with Banessa to her Aunt and Uncle’s house (she lives with them) for her sister’s Quinsinera party (for those of you who don’t know, Hispanics celebrate a girls 15th birthday with quite the celebration… kinda like an extravagant Sweet 16, only a year early.  The girl gets all dressed up in a prom dress-like dress, has group of friends – girls and guys – who act like the bridesmaids and groomsmen in a wedding, and has an escort.  Like I said, it is kinda a big thing).  Anyways, Banessa’s house is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!  She lives in the mountains at the end of the road.  It is incredibly peaceful.  There are flowers and fruit trees everywhere.  In addition, her house was the nicest I have been to so far… it may have even been bigger than my house at home.  They had three bedrooms, a large kitchen, a dining room, and family room – and they had an INDOOR BATHROOM with a FLUSHING TOILET!  I truly was in heaven! 

There were a ton of people at Banessa’s house all weekend… a bunch of women cooking.  Friday night, the women were all cutting veggies for I’m not entirely sure what… but they started cutting onions, and after half of an onion, the woman cutting them was crying quite profusely… I offered to cut them.  After so many Thursdays cooking for Newman dinner, I’m kinda immune to onions.  Everyone was impressed that I wasn’t crying… who knew that was such a unique skill?  Saturday, we went to the church to decorate it with pink balloons and paper flowers and spent about 3 hours there, re-stringing curtains and decorating. 

The Quinsinera itself was really nice.  They had mass at 4:30 on Saturday night (with an absolutely full church).  And then everyone went to the school for dinner and dancing.  It was basically a wedding reception.  Yes, for all of you wondering… I did dance… but they were dancing what I think is called Machatta (I’m really not sure on the spelling).  But the guy who I was dancing with was really sweet and understanding… and helped me learn the steps.  However, after the cake break, he did not ask me to dance again, and instead opted for someone with a little more Hispanic rhythm… oh well, I had fun while it lasted! 

The party ended at 10:30 – yes some of you may think that that is early… but I was grateful… after waking up at 6:00 after not sleeping very well the night before and then having to get up at 3:30 this morning so that we could be back in time for me to give English class at 8:15… getting to bed at 11:30 was plenty late for me!  Yes, I woke up at 3:30 this morning so that we could leave by 4:00… however, I forgot that here we are on Honduran time, which means that 4:00 really means 4:20.  Oh, well, we got to the school in plenty of time… around 7:15… I was able to supervise the girl’s breakfast, eat my own breakfast, and take a quick shower before I had to give class… score! 

That’s what I’ve been up to as of late… I’m going to San Pedro tomorrow with Sor Xiomara to pick up Ashley, my new co-volunteer.  And I have less than a month left here… it is crazy to think that this will all be coming to an end soon! 

Loves to everyone!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Morning has broken like the first morning…

I know that a while ago I posted about how much I love nights here, but I think that I have found something better.  For those of you who don’t know, I wake up insanely early here (5:15 – which to me is insanely early) and although the first half-hour to hour typically don’t go so well, I’m outside supervising the girl’s morning chores by 6:20, and let me say that I absolutely LOVE the mornings here.  It is really cool to watch the sun rise over the building – or actually I prefer to watch the shadows on the western side of the building (the sun rises in the East, right?) move and the whole side light up with sun.  It really is a great way to start the day, because although it isn’t watching the sun rise, it kinda is… Additionally, it is chillier in the mornings (not chilly enough anymore to warrant a sweater, especially if you eventually end up in the sun) but not as hot as it is at noon.  About a month ago (and still, occasionally) it reminds me of camping in WI during the summer, where is still slightly brisk in the mornings when you wake up.  Lately, it’s been raining so in the mornings there is a beautiful fog that half covers the trees in the mountain that you can see over the walls of the school.  It’s so peaceful and beautiful.  I don’t know if this makes any sense, but mornings really make me feel blessed to be here.  That’s all… loves to everyone at home. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'll be your honey bee

I have been here more than a week without Thalia, and while I’m getting along fine in the Spanish language department without my walking talking Spanish-English dictionary, our room is very lonely without her… and the girls are definitely missing her.  However, this past week I have felt insanely blessed as the girls are showering twice as much love on me because I’m now the only volunteer.  Also, with Thalia not being here… I have more to do, so I’ve been kept busy, whether it is preparing for my English class (a new module just started), teaching the extra review session in the afternoons, taking all of the girls shopping instead of just half, facilitating study every night, or doing whatever the sisters ask me to do (making woven foam heart pockets for mother’s day or being a sub for gym class – yes, I was a gym teacher today). 

Yesi's house
This past weekend I went to Yesi Karina’s house, and let me just say that her family is absolutely AMAZING!  Her parents are so incredibly kind, and she has an older sister who is 21 years old.  Additionally, although all of the other girls’ families have a farm in which they grow coffee, they all live in a small town and they have to travel somewhere around 20 minutes to get to their farm.  Yesi, on the other hand, lives in the middle of her family’s land and it was incredibly beautiful.  They live in the mountains.  You can look out from her front porch at her family’s and other family’s coffee farms with interspersed banana trees among the mountains… it is exceptionally beautiful in the mornings when the mountains are still slightly shrouded in fog.  I took a couple of pictures, but they don’t nearly do it justice.  It was so peaceful there!  In addition to farming coffee, Yesi’s dad has a couple of bee colonies from which they collect honey when it isn’t coffee season (which I was informed was in November – which means that I probably won’t be able to bring any home which is a real bummer because the coffee that I get at the girl’s houses is actually good.  I don’t typically drink coffee and this stuff is great black with only some sugar).  They even game me some of their honey in a gatorade bottle because they didn’t have an jars on hand… it is really good.

On Saturday, I traveled with Yesi, her boyfriend, her mom, her sister, and her sister’s boyfriend to San Pedro de Cópan, and a couple of other small towns close to where she lives to run some errands.  There really isn’t a whole lot to report on the day, but it was fun nonetheless. 

Yesi, her boyfriend, her sister's boyfriend
and Mary Lou
Sunday we briefly celebrated Mother’s Day at Yesi’s grandma’s house, which is absolutely beautiful.  Of course we were fed – as always happens when people go to other’s houses.  You are literally not allowed to go to someone’s house without eating food.  I told Yesi’s aunt that I wasn’t hungry (for breakfast Yesi’s mom basically gave me three meals) as did a couple of the other members of our group, so she goes “so then 4 meals, 5 and 6” – there were six of us and, of course, out she comes with 6 plates of food.  But it was cool seeing her family get together in a way that was similar to family gatherings at home.  It seemed to be more planned with family as opposed to people just showing up at someone’s house like what usually occurs. 

We traveled back to Santa Rosa later on Sunday… every time I travel I seem to experience a new method.  This time I was in the bed of the truck again (this time without cushions like when I traveled with the sisters) with 5 other people – which means we were able to sit down – but it also means that I now have quite a lovely bruise in the middle of my back along my spine.  Oh well, such is life.  And as I told my dad last night… of course the beds of trucks here are fully equipped with seat belts, full body armor, and helmets. 

On a slightly different note…  it is said that people from the Midwest are exceptionally nice and friendly…  I just want to put it out there that Hondurans have us beat about 100 times over.  It is crazy traveling with them because no matter where you go, they always run into someone that they know… even if you have traveled and hour away from their house.  You would not believe how many times we were stopped by someone who Yesi went to school with at some point, or someone who knew someone that she was related to.  When you drive past a house, if anyone is outside, the driver honks the horn to say “hi,” and someone else always comments on who that person is related to and what they are up to now… it is really cool how everyone knows everyone.  But I’m sure that there are no secrets here… everyone knows everyone’s business.  It has a small-town feel, but that small town seems to cover all of Honduras. 

Loves to everyone at home! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What is that one song that Donkey sings about being alone?

So much has happened since I have last updated this blog… I guess I’ll start at the beginning. 

Last weekend I went to Isabelle’s house for the weekend.  We (Isabelle, Osiris, me, and Isabelle’s brother) left from the school around 1:30 with Suami’s dad’s truck (Suami is another student at the school).  Suami’s dad dropped us off in Limpera.  We then waited for some family friends of Isabelle to pick us up for the 45 minute ride from town to her house.  Along came two family friends… on motorbikes.  So, I hopped on the back of the bike of some guy I didn’t even know and rode with him on a gravel, Honduran road for 45 minutes.  A couple of things about this experience: 1. I would like to thank Perry for being the first person who I rode on a motorcycle with, because of that I wasn’t completely scared out of my mind to be riding a bike again.  2.  Riding motorcycles here is a little different as the bikes are smaller and there is a place to hold onto on the back of the bike, but it definitely is an arm and ab work out to keep balanced and not fall off the bike as you are going up and down hills that are extremely bumpy – I thought I was going to be super sore the next day, but thankfully I wasn’t.  3.  It is a completely different experience to be riding through this beautiful country in the open as opposed to inside a vehicle… the trip was absolutely gorgeous – both the wind and the view.  The only part that was unfortunate was the fact that there was dust EVERYWHERE!  I was so dirty when I eventually got to Isabelle’s house… and therefore dirty the rest of the weekend.

Isabelle’s family was absolutely beautiful!  She has four (I think) siblings.  I say I think because there were always other people in her house.  Additionally, her mother feeds at least three kids who aren’t hers every meal, so I was never quite sure who exactly were her siblings.  But learning this (that her mom feeds additional kids) was a beautiful lesson for me.  Isabelle doesn’t have a whole lot of money (something that Sor Mirna felt she had to make extra clear to me before I left), and yet her mother opens her house to whoever comes by – there were always people I didn’t know coming in and out of the house – and gives everyone who came in food.  Literally, you could not enter her house without receiving something to eat or drink!  This also means that I ate more in that weekend than I had in a long time (eventually I had to tell them that they were giving me too much food!) 

On Saturday morning, I made tortillas with the girls.  I swear, they make a TON of tortillas everyday and they make them about three times a day!  I seriously don’t know how they eat so many!  I asked Isabelle how many they make a day and she didn’t know because they don’t count, but a lot.  I have become better at making tortillas, but every time someone new teaches me, they change the technique with which they teach me a little bit… so I’m still trying to find the best way to make them.  It still takes me about twice as long to make one as the girls here, and mine are never round… but they are getting better.  We then went to Isabelle’s cousin’s house because she had some ripe peaches and oranges growing behind her house.  So we picked them and ate them… the orange was not quite ripe, and I wouldn’t suggest eating un-ripe oranges… they aren’t good.  The peaches on the other hand was delicious!  The only thing about peaches here is that they are about half the size of peaches that you can buy at the store and they are a lot fuzzier… so people tend to peel them with a knife before eating them… it makes eating/preparing to eat the peach a lot more time-consuming, but it is definitely worth it.  In the afternoon, we went to the river to swim… and it was a ton of fun!  We took two younger boys who didn’t know how to swim, and it was amusing to watch Isabel teach the boys.  Other than that, we just kina hung out… The girls asked me if I wanted to help them make pasteles (which are pretty much smoother and skinnier tortillas that are filled with rice, folded over into a half circle, and fried).  However, I haven’t mastered the making tortillas thing, and these needed to be circles, so I opted to just watch.  Other than that, we pretty much just hung out. 

Sunday, we were planning on leaving at 11:00 in the morning, but the guy who was supposed to drive us to Santa Rosa (or at least to Lempira where we could catch a bus to Santa Rosa, I’m not sure which) never showed up.  We waited until 1:00 at which time Osiris’s dad decided to drive us to Lempira.  From there, we caught a bus to Las Flores, and then another bus to Santa Rosa… so I was able to spend more time navigating my favorite bus system!  We made it back to the school around 4:30 at which time I took a much needed, and appreciated shower. 

On Tuesday, we didn’t have school because it was worker’s day.  So, the sisters took a trip to visit some houses of ex-students as well as one who was an interna, is now a nun, but is sick with some rare disease.  Because all the sisters have for a vehicle is a small truck, and four sisters went with us, Thalia and I sat in the bed of the truck on a couple of mats and it was a HOT day!  We stopped at one girl’s house – she wasn’t there as she is currently a first year postulant or aspirant (I’m not really sure which), but we talked with her parents for a while and they gave us a ton of food!  And I was able to try more new kinds of fruit!  We then traveled on to the nun who is sick’s house.  The sisters all were talking to her and Thalia and I got kicked out, so we amused ourselves with games.  For lunch, the family loaned us their second home that is in the mountains and ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL and really peaceful.  I definitely wouldn’t mind going back some time for a weekend retreat type thing.  Anyways, we had a typical “road lunch,” which if I was in the US would probably be some sort of easy fruit and sandwiches and chips… but in Honduras, we had hard boiled eggs, beans, platinos, and cream.  The cream actually ended up spilling and making a mess on the way… long story short, sandwiches are WAY easier.

And then Thalia left me on Friday.  Initially, I didn’t think that I would be able to take her to the airport because I have to give classes in the morning, but Sor Che was nice enough to offer to proctor the exam I was giving, which meant that I was able to go with Thalia and Sor Xiomara to the airport.  It was sad to see her go (I almost took pictures of her leaving, but I thought that it would be a little too motherly of me) and now I’m here solo until Ashley comes in June.  After dropping Thalia off, we traveled around San Pedro collecting donations and buying fruit.  We then went to the school in San Pedro to wait for the two Novices that are going to be staying at our school and helping out for the next month.  I guess the year before you profess, you kina “live the life” so the novices are here pretty much doing everything the sisters do.  They are both really nice.

So, I guess that is this week.  On a somewhat separate note… the bugs of Santa Rosa are finally coming out (I think it is because it is getting hotter and the rainy season is just about upon us) but as I was writing this during study, I got at least 10 new mosquito bites, all of them on my legs!  Not fun!

Anyways, loves to everyone at home, I’ll be seeing you in about 2 months!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hitched in Honduras… Sorry Mom

Decorations... in progress

Sunday was the Kermesse, which is basically the equivalent of a one-day parish festival.  There were games, bands, food, ect.  All of the girls spent the previous week preparing for the festivities, working out steps for their class’s dance for the Festival or practicing modeling for the model showcase (which Thalia took part in.  I really wanted to see her strut her stuff, but unfortunately I was selling tickets at the time of the show so I missed it).  All day Saturday was spent decorating the school for the big party.  One of the interna’s families brought in a bun of bamboo and we made little houses out of it from which food was sold.  The girls made a bunch of signs and banners to decorate the school.  It all turned out really well and looked absolutely awesome! 

A bamboo food-stand
The festivities started at 8:00 AM on Sunday morning.  I was put to work practically right away selling tickets in one of the banks because the teacher who was supposed to be selling there hadn’t shown up yet – and he didn’t show up until 10:00 for his 8-11:00 shift… only in Honduras would one get away with that.  Anyways, I spent a majority of my day selling tickets as after working from 8-11 in one bank, I moved to another bank to sell tickets from 11-2.  I then was able to walk around and hang out until about 2:45 when I noticed that one of the banks was short a person and went back to selling tickets until around 6:00.  However, I was able to talk to some of the different teachers at the school which was really cool because we don’t have a lot of time during the school day to get to know each other.      

My marriage certificate and ring
In the banks, we sold tickets that the patrons used to play the various games and buy food.  The games were:  roulettes, a raffle-like thing, throwing a ball through a hole that was supposed to be a clown’s nose, you could send people to jail and they had to pay to get out, and you could make people “get married” and then have to pay to get divorced.  Hence, the name of this post.  During my first shift in the bank, a guy came up and wanted to buy a ticket to make someone get married.  After buying the ticket, he turns to me and goes “I want to marry you.”  I was like: Say what?  But he insisted so we went over to the little “marriage” room that the girls had set up.  They put a veil on my head, had us sign a piece of paper, two witnesses signed it, we exchanged 75 cent rings, and the facilitator goes “okay, kiss”  and I’m like: Say what?  Yet again.  (I was so not prepped for what was involved in this process!)  So I go in for the kiss on the cheek, you know the I’ll kiss your cheek, you kiss mine that is normal with Latin American population.  However, he had a different idea and completely planted a wet sloppy one on my mouth (that took off all of the chapstick I had on.  It was GROSS!  Anyway, so now I’m married – at least according to the Intsituto María Auxiliadora.  Sorry Mom!

My Primer Bacchi girls doing
their dance
The other cool thing that they did at the Kermesse was: each of the classes choreographed their own dance number to a mash-up that they had composed themselves.  All of the groups then got up and performed during the Festival in the afternoon.  Because I was selling tickets, I was not able to see all of the groups, but the ones I did see were all really good.  It is actually really impressive how well some of the girls can dance!

For those of you who don’t know, yesterday was by birthday (I turned 22 – man I’m getting old!) and I was able to celebrate it here.  Some of the girls woke me up in the morning by popping a bunch of balloons right outside our door and blasting the mananitas song (a Spanish Happy Birthday song) literally all morning.  They have a CD of a bunch of different renditions, so as Thalia and I were getting ready we heard the same song, like, 15 times.  At breakfast, the internas sang me the mananitas song and then I was sung to again by the sisters (in Spanish and again in English – which was really quite comical).  My English class also sang me Happy Birthday in English.  Throughout the day I received an obscene number of hugs from all of the girls here – even when I was walking out around the town with the internas yesterday afternoon to take them shopping, a couple of the girls from school stopped me to wish me happy birthday and give me a hug and then made their two friends who don’t go to school at María Auxiliadora wish me happy birthday and give me a hug too.  Thalia and I baked a jello poke cake and it turned out really well (but the cake is really simple, which is why we chose it!) and all of the sisters loved it!  There is very little left, I’m not sure if it will live through lunch today!  A bunch of the girls also made me birthday cards and a couple of them even got me presents, which was super sweet and totally unexpected! 

It is truly amazing how much love these girls have to share… they don’t have a lot of the material possessions that we have in the US but what they do have they share with others or straight up give away.  And when they don’t have anything to give, they shower you with so much love that it is truly astounding.  I feel incredibly blessed to have been give this time to spend with all of the amazing people that are here!  It truly was a blessed birthday.

Additionally, I want to thank all of you who sent me birthday cards here.  The sisters mentioned that the volunteers usually don’t get as many cards as I have… You guys all mean so much to me, and I really appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers.  Know that my thoughts are prayers are with you as well.

I guess that’s all for now.  Loves to everyone at home!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Almost three months...

On Monday, April 23rd I will have been in Honduras for 3 months… which is absolutely crazy!  I can’t decide if the time has flown by or if it feels like I have been here for way longer (I’m sure you know how that feels).  But anyways, I figured I would: 1. Give you my daily schedule so that you know what I do with my time every day – or how I waste it – and 2.  Write a little summary of what life here has been like overall for the past three months/ what new things I have done/ tried/ accomplished.

1.  My weekday schedule:
5:15 AM – Wake up
6:00 AM – Supervise the internas’ breakfast
6:20 AM – Supervise the internas’ morning chores
6:45 AM – Eat breakfast
 7:20 AM – Tech English to the Primer Bachillerato girls (depending on the day, the time changes, but class is always 1 hour and 20 minutes)
9:15 AM – Sell snacks during first recess
10:00 AM – Time to lesson plan/ do laundry/ catch up on anything that I need to do
11:45 AM – Sell snacks during second recess
12:00 PM – Eat lunch/ free time for me
1:30 PM – Supervise the internas’ lunch
2:00 PM – Supervise the internas’ afternoon chores
3:00 PM – Mondays: Hang out with/ tutor the girls who need it
Tuesdays: Go out into the town with the girls who need to go shopping
Wednesday: Teach an English/Math review session to Segundo Curso girls
Thursday: Teach a Computer review for Primer Bachi and Primer Curso girls
Friday: Hang out with/ tutor girls who need it
4:30 PM – Recess/snack for internas, I pretty much just hang out with the girls
5:15 PM – Pray the rosary
5:45 PM – Supervise the internas’ “Estudio Riguroso,” Thalia and I switch off with this
7:15 PM – Eat dinner
7:45 PM – Night time recess with internas
8:15 PM – Night time prayer/get ready for bed
8:45 PM – I’m officially off the clock

I have a free day on Saturdays.  And Sundays are pretty much the same as the week day except we get to sleep in until 6:30 AM, we teach an English class for adults from 8:30 AM until 11:00AM, go to mass at 11:00 AM, and then start with lunch with the internas at 1:00 PM.

2.  What I have learned:
  • I eat more beans in the course of a week than I have in my entire 21 years of life on this planet before I came here (and according to Monseñor, eating beans makes you less intelligent)
  • I now occasionally think of the Spanish word for something before the English (but this is VERY occasionally – and usually the Spanish equivalent to “bless you” when someone sneezes, which if you were wondering is “salud”)
  • And when I don’t understand what the sisters are talking about, but am clearly the subject of the conversation, I have learned to smile and nod at all the right parts to make it appear that I at least have some sense of what is going on… it is REALLY hard to understand Spanish through laughter, when 5 other people are talking at the same time, and the person who is talking has food in their mouth, just in case you were wondering.
  • I have eaten more types of bananas and in different ways than I knew existed.  Did you know that there are bananas, there are mini-bananas, there are “bananas” called plantains that are not as sweet and are harder than bananas, and there are green bananas?  And all of these can be cooked, baked, boiled, or fried in a multitude of different ways.
  • There are also different types of mangos.  There are the big yellow/orange ones that you can buy at the supermarkets in WI, but there are also smaller ones that are either orange, yellow, or green depending on how ripe they are.  These are sold on pretty much on every street corner here.  But the mangos are eaten with a ton of salt and with a chilli mixture poured over it… I still haven’t really gotten used to the chilli/mango combo and I prefer straight-up mango, but it is slowly growing on me
  • I have taken an unknown number of cold showers (I don’t even want to think about counting how many)
  • I have taken 3 bucket showers
  • I have, for the most part, figured out how to navigate the insane bus system in Honduras
  • I have become an expert at washing clothes by hand (that is actually a complete and total lie, I still don’t know how clean my clothes are getting)
  • I have made corn tortillas by hand, but I still haven’t tried making flour ones
  • I learned that cockroaches can swim
  • I have been called tall more times that I can count, and the girls continuously come up to me and say: "I'm as tall as you, right?" when they are not (and I'm NOT tall)
  • I have been told that my eyes are green way too many times - they are not, they are BROWN (maybe light brown)
  • I have acquired a number of nicknames.  The sisters call me "Nicolita" (or occasionally Nicole with a Spanish accent), a majority of the Primer Bachi girls have changed "Nicolita" to "Nicolitas," all of the externa girls from my class call me "Miss," and the adults on Sunday either call me "Profe" or "Teacher." This means that when I go out in town and someone recognizes me (which isn't really that hard since I'm practically the only gringo in Santa Rosa), I get yelled to from across the street with one of these various names.
  • And probably a ton more things that I can’t think of at this moment.

And now I have 2 and a half months left… what more can I accomplish, what more will I experience?  Only time will tell…