You may remember the rolling green and cloud-shrouded hills from my last entry. Well, this past Saturday, those beauties were no longer just scenery; we hopped in the bed of a truck (well, two trucks, since there were about 20 of us) and took a trip into the clouds. Along the way, we made three major stops:
Stop #1: A finca (a ranch/farm) with all sorts of animals—I was most surprised by the fenced-in deer pen. Apparently, deer are endangered here in Honduras, largely because they are not native to the area. They are, however, Honduras’ national animal. I also enjoyed the particularly grumpy turkeys, the herd of goats running down the hill and into their pen, the ponds of tilapia, and the gang of butterflies fluttering around—not flowers—but a cement platform.
Stop #2: A nearby watering hole with its own cascade (waterfall)—Some people took cannonball-style leaps off the side; others used the waterfall as a slide. I wish I could tell you that my adventurous side took over, but due to the terrifyingly small area of deep, rock-free water, I remained a spectator (swimming but not jumping) this time around. You’re welcome, Mom!
Stop #3: Roni’s coffee finca – This was at the top of the mountain (inside the clouds!). We took a break on the cement patio overlooking the massive vertical fields of coffee plants, while a few people (mostly our admin—thanks guys!) cooked lunch. I’m confident in saying that all of us enjoyed the slight breeze and absence of humidity up there. I even took a moment to lay back and shut my eyes—not falling asleep, but listening to everything around us: the sounds of sizzling coals, high-pitched bird chirps, see-sawing music from next door, and light-hearted (mostly…) conversations in both Spanish and English. It was one of the calmest periods of time since arriving here in Honduras. We did, of course, have a few serious discussions, including one about the necessity of figuring out how we were going to watch Game of Thrones the next night. Don’t worry, we were ultimately successful, and we are now patiently awaiting what is to come this next Sunday.
Anyway, outside of Saturday, there has been plenty to keep me busy. Here are a few other things that stand out enough to share this time around:
- Teacher Training: BECA does an incredibly job of taking all of the highlights from teacher prep programs and running a crash course, which is especially helpful for those of us who do not have a background in education. That said, even with my four years of teaching and two degrees, I am exhausted by the end of the day! I can only imagine what it is like for everyone trying to absorb brand new content. I’m amazed by what troopers they all are. One of the parts of this week that has been the most helpful for me so far has been the small-group meetings with former BECA teachers who are still involved in the education field.
- Sun Halo: I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me at first, but I got to witness one of these last week. Beautiful, at the very least; unfortunately, this photo does not do it justice.
- Washing clothes: Many people, including my home-stay family, have washers and dryers here. That said, I’ve heard rumors about the reliability of the washer at some of our more permanent locations, and I figured it would be good to practice washing some of my clothes by hand. My home-stay mom, Ceidy, did her best to model the correct procedure, which involved lathering the item with a bar of soap, scrubbing it along the built-in washboard (using arm muscles that I apparently lack), and continuing to do so while gradually rinsing out the soap with water from the pila. The good news: I only broke one fingernail and got rid of all the dirt that had accumulated under the others over the past week or so. Yay for small victories! That said, it’s obvious that I have some improving to do, since the shirt Ceidy washed was soft after drying, and everything else was quite…well…crunchy.
- I have always heard that anything that can break, often does in Honduras. Well, I have begun to learn that lesson is grounded in reality. I’ve sent two pens into the trash bin (for running out of ink) and my journal has begun to fall apart a little, since the pages are bound by a glue (which apparently melts a bit in the heat here). While I haven’t had any major casualties yet, I can’t help but wonder what will have to be put to rest next. Oh well, I can’t say we weren’t warned!
- For those of you wondering what a mototaxi is (mentioned in my last post), you can see some here.
- The people I work with are incredible. Last Friday, we did an activity called “life maps,” which had us track how our lives have led us to BECA. We then shared these with our school-based groups. I don’t want to get into anyone else’s personal stories here, but I was surprised by how similar some of the pieces were. Sure, we have a wide range of starting places: Canada (Victoria, B.C.), the U.S.A. (Maryland, California, and New Jersey), Nicaragua, and even Cofradia itself. Regardless, so many of our stories echo similar hardships, frustrations, hopes, and curiosities. Neat stuff.
- The day after my last blog entry was a big one, since I finally got to see my classroom! I haven’t gotten to go inside yet, so sorry for the creative photographing through the windows. We still have quite a bit of time to go, but I’m excited to see what comes together when I get to start making the room my own. Oh, and I know that daydreaming out the window is often an issue for kids, but I am genuinely concerned that I might end up guilty of it myself with this sort of natural, mountainous view.
- Yesterday, the San Jeronimo Bilingual School (SJBS) receptionist/finance-expert/incredible human being, Brenda, invited all of the volunteers, training staff, and summer camp teachers to her house for dinner. I was amazed by how many people we crammed in her house and in its front yard. The food was delicious! Chicken here is just lightyears ahead of that from the U.S. Anyway, I’m sharing this because it’s such a great example of how loving and generous everyone is here. Not many people I know would invite 30+ guests, many of whom do are only beginning to learn their host’s language, into their home so easily and happily. At home, this is usually something reserved for special events and holidays.
- Bubba: Bubba is a cat. By his own volition, he is, of course, not just any type of cat, but a sort of guard cat who loyally watches and awaits human attention up the stairs and right outside of the apartments. Personally, I’m much more of a dog person, but if I ever were to own a feline friend, I would hope he would be as cuddly as this one. Unfortunately, Honduras makes me a little less animal-friendly when it comes to strays, so for now my cold-hearted soul tries to limit Bubba’s love to the bottom of my shoes, which he loves to rub up against (I promise I don’t step on him!). He’s also a big fan of the broom.
- Cabbage Ball: If you like action-packed, quirky competitions, we should play sometime. It’s basically ultimate frisbee with a cabbage (yes, the vegetable). Definitely a good time, albeit there is almost a guarantee that someone will walk away with a mild injury. My team tied for second place (out of four teams…), and I was lucky enough to walk away with a mere cabbage-shaped chest bruise. Not bad, if you ask me.
Well, I think I’ll go ahead and cut this entry off here. It was a bit of a haphazard comglobolation of observations and details–largely reflecting how much of a whirlwind this experience has already been. I think it’s true that this year will be the fastest, slowest one of my life so far.
Anyway, I actually wrote this about 24 hours ago, but was unable to upload the photos until today. I then published it from–gues where–my favorite local coffee shop. Also, sorry if you were one of the handful who hit my original link to here, as it seems my first final draft was mysteriously deleted moments after posting. Hopefully this one stays around longer.
That said, thank you again for all of your love and support! I got to talk on the phone to some of you (cough Shane, cough Mom) earlier this week, and as much as I’m excited to live here right now, those conversations were a nice bridge to life back home. Remember, if you need me or just want to talk, I’m only a text away (even if it takes me a little bit to answer sometimes).