Sunday, May 27, 2012

10 Things I'll Miss About Honduras

In less than one month Daniel and I will board a one way flight to Florida.  As you might expect, I get pretty sentimental when I reflect upon that fact.   For a long time, I've been mentally compiling a list of all the things I'll miss about Honduras, and I figure it's time to write them down.  Here you go: 

1. My students. 
Why are they SO adorable?
They are why I'm here, and I honestly haven't met sweeter, cooler kids than they.
Where else will I teach kids who call me "the Miss", who completely omit question words from questions ("I can go to the bathroom?"), and whose families feel like my family?  Answer: probably nowhere....

2. My teacher-friends. 

I doubt I'll ever work in a place with so many like-minded, same-aged, same-faith coworkers.  Every day my friends here challenge me to be a better person and to love God more ardently.  Too bad we're all scattering to the four corners of the earth (or the States) in one month...  :( 

3. Markets full of fresh fruits and veggies. 
Seriously cheap.
My goal is to eat as many mangoes and avocados as I can before I return to the land where they cost $2 each instead of $0.50.  

4. Mango Verde.
(and all other street foods that are cheap and delicious)
Lleva tu mango verde
I like mine with salt and chili.
(Photo credit: estebandid)

5. Trips. 
It seems like Latin Americans, and those of us who live among them, need very little excuse to take a weekend trip.  Three-day weekend?  Beach time!  Regular weekend?  Let's go anyway!  I don't know why we Americans (well, maybe you do... I'm generalizing) don't head off to explore new places every chance we get.
(Maybe because transportation and hotels are so much more expensive in the U.S.)

6. Learning Spanish every day. 

Spanish Language Wikipedia logo
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I guess Daniel will help me with this.... but it won't be the same!

7. Maids
Enough said. 

8. Espresso Americano (i.e. Starbucks for 1/4 the price!)

I never even liked coffee until grad school.  Now, thanks to the affordability of stopping to get a latte whenever I pass an Espresso Americano, I'm hooked.  I better get un-hooked fast, because I know how expensive this habit will be in the States.

9. Spanglish, and those who understand it.

"Baby, traeme mi phone, please!"
"Did you sacar it?"
"I went to the supermercado with my mom to hacer mandados and...."

If you don't know what those phrases mean, then my point is made.
No more lazy talk for me...

10.  Crazy Sightings
They were trying to tie these bags onto the truck.
Where else do you see such randomness?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rainy Rain

Afternoon showers are one thing.  I can handle those, and actually like them most of the time.
But this constant gray, this humid drizzle, this never ending rain is really starting to get on my nerves.

For example, our piles of laundry are growing to startling heights.  Each weekend I've only been able to wash the absolutely necessary (clothes) and left the I-can-get-by-without items (towels, rags, sheets) for another week.  But "another week" has doubled and tripled.

I woke up today hopeful for a rain-free morning, and it kind of is.  I hear birds singing outside. But the ground is still soaked and doesn't give me much encouragement.

Rain, rain, go away.....

Oh well.  SOME day we'll get all the laundry done.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


18 days left with students.

Oh, how I love them. 

Oh, how I'll miss them. 

Oh, how I'm ready for the incessant talking to end!!! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Melted Heart

Yesterday my heart melted and I think it's still a sappy, drippy mess inside my chest.  

I took a little trip to el centro with three of my dear friends yesterday.  They work with me, but are also  involved in The Micah Project, an organization that works with boys on the streets.  They have gotten to know lots of street boys through a Thursday afternoon soccer event that Micah hosts. The purpose of our trip yesterday was to find some of the boys and buy them lunch.  
I had no idea what to expect upon meeting these boys.  I honestly didn't even know we were going to be hanging out with them until we left the house that afternoon.  The boys we met up with ranged in age from about ten to 18.  Some had large sacks full of the recyclables they'd collected that day, others had bottles of glue stuck in their shirts for sniffing, one had a shoebox for the money he begged for.   A few of them wore the new shoes that my friends' students donated to Micah Project to distribute.  

After sitting around in the park making mother's day cards for a bit, we took the kids to Little Caesars for pizza.  The guard outside promised to watch over their bags of recyclables, and the boys with bottles of glue left them outside, too.   The boys all washed their hands, as told, and sat patiently waiting for the food to arrive.  
When it did, I was shocked that not a single one of the ten boys grabbed at anything before being offered. As I poured the Coke into cups at the table, I remembered all the parties I've had with my spoiled students, during which they'd flock to the food table, beg for more, and grab-grab-grab before being given directions.  These boys, on the other hand, just watched and waited.  

Before the food was out and ready, a man walked in and gave a fairly common speech.  My son was hurt in an accident.  The doctors say he needs x-y-z.  I hate to have to ask, but we need money for his treatment.  These petitions often happen on buses, or restaurants, or from people walking door to door.  I, frankly, am accustomed to pretending I don't understand or flat out ignoring them. 
During this man's speech, I was, as usual, not paying close attention. The boys, however, stared, listening with rapt attention.  They were only people in the restaurant, actually, to be doing so.  When Brian, the boy to my right, noticed my inattention, he gave me a nudge and pointed at the man as if to say, "Don't you see he's talking!" 

When the man finished his schpeal, one of our boys, a quiet pre-teen who'd joined us after the card-making, pulled out a small wad of crumpled Lempiras and waved the man over to take them.   Following his lead, three more of the boys handed over a few bills as well.  They were the only people in the restaurant to give. 

My heart split in two, I swear.  I held back tears, silently berating myself for ignoring the man, for deciding not to give him anything before he even opened his mouth, while these impoverished boys gave their attention and the little money they had.  

Lunch ended.  Several boys quickly stood to leave upon finishing their pizza and coke.  When we asked where they were headed so quickly, they responded, "a pedir."   To beg.   
Mom gets mad if they take too long of a break.  

Mark 12:41-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

T.I.H. and Taxes

T.I.H., for the uniformed, stands for "This Is Honduras," an acronym which originated from some gringos needing a way to label events that would mostly likely only happen here.   My Honduran husband, it must be noted, has even picked up the phrase.  Take Monday, for example.  Our conversation went something like this:

Daniel arrives home after supposedly going to replace his drivers license.
Me: "So did you get your license?"
Daniel: "T.I.H....."
Me: "Oh no... what happened?"
Daniel: "I have to go back on Thursday just so they can tell me which day I have to go back again to get my license."

You see.  T.I.H. is quite handy and states so much in so few syllables.

Today at work, a pretty epic T.I.H. moment occurred.

We're reading Stone Fox, a classic book, in which Grandfather falls "ill" because he's lost the will to live. The reason, we just found out today, is because he owes $500 in taxes.
I stopped our reading to find out if/what my kids knew about taxes.
One girl raised her hand to share.  "It's like my aunt. She owns a store and she has to pay taxes to the bad men.  If she doesn't pay them the taxes they will go to her home and hurt her or take all of her store."


My student understands taxes all right... only, what she understands is the war tax, paid to gangs so as to basically avoid their wrath.  Check out this post I wrote about the market fires and the war tax.

T.I.H., where students don't think twice about bidding their teacher farewell for a morning so she can go file a police report for her stolen goods.  T.I.H., where some kids understand the war tax better than a regular one.

Friday, May 04, 2012

May the Fourth

Some people are great listeners.  They really listen to you when you talk.  They are the kind of people that remember the details, even the ones you don't remember telling, and then think to ask you about them later.  I'm always pleasantly surprised when I meet, or discover that I already know, such a kindred spirit.

I'm realizing more and more that I'm not a great listener that most of the time.  Lots of us are good listeners when we really care, or when it really affects us, but not so much when we're preoccupied or uninterested.  I guess I'm more often in the latter category, unfortunately.
Sometimes I "listen," only to realize that I totally missed something important, and must embarrassingly cover my error before it's noticed.  That's no fun.

Lately, I'm terribly guilty of this with my students.  When a herd of nine-year-olds surrounds me at 7:20 in the morning with stories they desperately want to share, I find myself on autopilot... the Wow's and Oh No!'s and Really?'s pour out of my mouth without my really taking in much of what they're telling me.

Today, one of the brightest little boys I've ever known, let alone taught, persisted in asking me the same question.  "Have you seen Star Wars?" he asked a few times before taking off his backpack.  I mumbled a quick, "Umm, yea, kind of..." (or something like that) as I managed the 129 things being thrown at me.  He said something about the force being with me, and I gave him a fake laugh and continued whatever I was doing.
Later, he asked about Star Wars again and, once more, said something like, May the force be with you... and I think I responded with a weak connection to our recent science lesson about force.
Finally, as we all filed out of the room at the end of the day, he tried to bring up Star Wars another time.

For the first time, I actually listened.

"May the fourth be with you." 

THAT is what he'd been trying to tell me all along.  Today is May fourth.  May the fourth be with you.

So, my friends, may May the fourth ever be a reminder to you and to me--listen when people talk.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

How it feels to be robbed.

1.  Scary.
Once you realize that the guys are not just walking down the street, but really heading your way with bad intentions, your body may start shaking and your feet might forget how to work, and your Spanish skills might swirl down the drain.

2.  Outrageous.
After the initial shock, you'll become offended and insulted at the injustice of someone thinking that they can try to point a gun at your husband and take what they want, when they want, where they want.

3. Frustrating.
You might want to scream at them because other time the robbers have been decent enough to give you back your ID cards, which they do not need and which cause a great hassle to replace.  Or your favorite purse that a man would, seemingly, not need or want to carry around.  But no... not this time.  When asked a final time to return the identification, the robbers just might reply, "Come and get it" as they run off.   Jerks.

4.  Lingering.
You might be paranoid afterwards, triple and quadruple checking the street before you go anywhere near the gate.  You might replay the scene in your head a hundred times, wondering how you could have gotten inside faster and avoided it.  Or congratulating yourself for stuffing your wedding rings in your underwear when they were distracted.

You might hate the fact that your friend had to be with you that night, had to be exposed to such a thing.

You might try your hardest not to let events such as these ruin your perception of Honduras itself as you finish out your last few months here.

You might thank God that it was only stuff, and that nothing serious happened, yet still wonder why it had to happen at all.

And you move on.  Because it's happened before, and it could very well happen again.  And there's a life to live out there... free of fear and doubt. 

You might want to throw some humor into it...