Monday, January 31, 2011

At Night, the Ghosts Come Out

If Old McDonald really had a farm, it would be in San Francisco de la Paz.  We drove the 4 hours from Tegucigalpa to San Francisco de la Paz getting to know both Oscar, another teacher at the school, and Jose Ricardo, who is the owner of the school.  Oscar speaks English very well, but he has the personality of a Chihuahua—Cute and funny for the first 10 minutes, but rather annoying after the 4th time he humps your leg and bites at your ankles.  Though, when he isn’t around, you kinda miss him—its one of those things. 

Olancho is the largest department in Honduras.  The territory is big and the personality is even bigger.  They call it the ‘Wild Wild East’ because everyone has a gun holstered at their hip and they are just itching to use it. 
Today, Rob and I got stopped in the street by a lady in town who heard rumors that gringos had come to teach.  We explained that we were looking to use the internet.  She told us to come to her house and she would let us use hers.  Perfect.  We went to her house and tried to connect, but the internet here isn’t exactly reliable.  I played soccer with her kids for a half hour and then we decided to leave.  Later, Jose Ricardo told us never to go there again.  Not too long ago her husband killed a man because he wouldn’t let him pass on the highway.  These people have killed for less.  You just need to watch who you befriend.    
Last night we were hanging out in the backyard when we heard a string of gunfire.  It turns out 2 people were killed over a drunken argument.  My previous experience in Central America helps me cope with safety issues and I actually feel quite safe.

It is only when the night falls that all the ghosts come out.  I keep my window open at night because it gets considerably cooler as the sun dips further from the horizon.  The noises are like sound clips from a horror film.  Dogs are fighting, roosters are crowing, guns are firing, yet there are intermittent moments of calm and silence.  The smell of damp sewage lulls me to sleep as the heat from the day is swept by the nightly winds. 
We visited the school already and the kids seem to be very well behaved and extremely perceptive to learning English.  I think it should be a welcome transition into a bilingual curriculum.

Tonight, we are being introduced to the community through local public television.  Apparently, no one believed that we were coming and some families did not enroll their children for classes because they thought it was some sort of scam.  We have become some what of a spectacle around town; like animals at the zoo.  Even adults are curious about what we are doing here.

There is so much to tell, however the internet here is completely unreliable.  I am going to try and post some pictures so you can get an idea of where I am.  I am looking to do about 2 updates a week on the blog, so if it seems like I just from subject to subject, it is because a lot of it was written on different days.  I hear there is a snow storm in Ohio.  Good luck with that….         

Pictures didn't work out.  I will have to upload them when I can.  Sorry...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thoughts from the Road

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Just as abruptly as I left three years ago, I arrived in the same fashion, intoxicated from an overload to my senses.  The reality sets in as every announcement on the plane is given first in Spanish and then in English.  The smell of carbon dioxide from trucks outside ground transport seeps through the airport doors to give the airport a true third world smell.  Maybe it’s paranoia, but you get the feeling that everyone can tell exactly how much cash you have and where your laptop is tucked.  I have to admit, I was feeling a bit nervous during my journey.  There were moments on the plane where I started to feel faint.  Then I realized I was holding my breath.  Lesson number one—remember to breathe.
Traveling in a country like Honduras requires an adolescent, adventurist behavior coupled with responsibility for yourself and every action you take that can only come from adulthood.  It is the combination of young curiosity and adult discovery.  Even if you don’t believe it, you must know and have faith that the future is already written; that is the only way to let go of situations in which you have no control; and trust me, the majority of the situations are out of my control.
My trip started out in Columbus with me auditing an in-flight class titled ‘how to be an idiot’.  I will give you a rough outline of the transcript.  I was pissed at the time because it was 5 am, but now I can look back and give it a hearty laugh.
People come to third world countries for different reasons—some come to do business, some come to volunteer, and some come to meet their prostitute girlfriend in a shanty Mexican town.  Flying from Columbus to Miami, I was unfortunately subjected to a very LOUD conversation regarding cheap prostitution in Mexico.  A gentleman told the guy next to him that he was going to Mexico to see his girlfriend.  Mind you, these guys just met.  Upon further probing (no pun intended), the passenger asked the right question,
“So, what does your girlfriend do for a living in Mexico.” 
“She’s a prostitute.”
“HAHAHAHA no really, what does she do!”
“She is a prostitute.”
“Dude, you are cracking me up! What does she do!”
A serious expression sweeps over his face.  “Seriously, she is a prostitute.”
“You don’t care that your girlfriend is a prostitute?”
“If I did do you think I would be flying to Mexico to see her?”
“Man, I’ve done some F***ked up Sh*t in my day, but that takes the cake!”

“So what is it you do that allows for you to take frequent trips to Mexico to see her?”
“Well, I used to work for Goldman Sacs in London, but I had a stroke so I am on disability.”
“Wow, how old are you?”
“I was 29 when I had the stroke.”
“And the doctors had no idea what happened?”
“No, they said they have no idea”
“You’re not a smoker are you?”
“Yeah, I have been smoking for years, but that couldn’t be it…”

Writing that downe is like coming up with a sequel to 'Bevis and Butthead Do America'.

A Couple minutes later...

“Now, just out of curiosity, how much might one of these girls cost?”
“70 dollars.  And when I say 70 dollars, that is the deluxe package.  One minute, one hour, or the whole night.  Doesn’t matter…."

Yesterday and today I have been walking around the city running errands and getting acclimated to my surroundings.  The hotel I am in right now is extremely nice and neighbors the president's house.  There are automatic weapons surrounding both the hotel and the presidential palace so pending a revolution, I feel pretty safe right now.  The city definitely has some hills.  Definitely not a good place for a marathon.  Speaking of marathon, I met a woman on the elevator today and she was wearing a Columbus Marathon t-shirt from this year!  Who would have thought I would see that in Honduras?

I wasn't expecting my first blog to be so vulgar, so here are a couple pictures to give you a taste of my surroundings...