Sunday, February 27, 2011

Discipline? I think that was an old wooden ship...

I can’t believe it took me this long to notice, but the girls in sixth grade always sit in the back of the class.  I think this causes problems.  They are always the ones that cheat on tests and quizzes.  I am thinking about moving to an assigned seating chart.  The girls seem timid and nervous in class and I think that is because of their age. The other problem is that there is a discrepancy between the levels of intelligence in the class.  Half the class is extremely intelligent, and the other half doesn’t care at all and doesn’t want to study.  So the intelligent kids move much faster.  After the intelligent kids are done with their activities, they are very bored and end up getting in trouble.  Nelly, the principal, said that if the kids get done early we should just allow them to go outside and play so they don’t bother the other kids.  In the United States, we wouldn’t dream of letting the kids do such a thing.  It is too dangerous for the kids to be unsupervised for that long.  If that is the culture here, I may give it a try. 

To end the day I had music with both the 4th and 6th graders.  The 4th graders are really into choreographing a dance, so I have been doing that with them.  We have been dancing to some really cheesy music for kindergartners, so now that I have a speaker for my ipod, we should be able to do something better.  I just need to pick out a song.  Its really tough to keep the 6th graders attention without good music to play.  I think I may teach them Oasis, Wonderwall tomorrow.  It is an easy song with easy lyrics to pronounce.  If you have any other suggestions let me know.

Rob, the other American teacher, had a bad day with the kids and brought up the issue of discipline.  We all agreed that we were having discipline problems.  The discipline problems are more so for the younger kids.  The problem with the older kids seems to be apathy toward school.  I think this is a common trend even in the Unites States, but I think it is on a whole different level here.  The kids don't see a reason to be educated.  A lot of the kids will work on family farms, in family stores, or end up not working at all.  I told the students today that learning English will get them a better job, the same as me learning Spanish would, in some respects, get me a better job in the United States.  A student said, "No me importa, solo voy a trabajar aqui in San Francisco de la Paz."  Here, no me importa, basically means I don't give a shit.  

We got together with the principal of the school and the owner and talked about the problems we are having with discipline.  Rob and Marie are having problems with a few students that are basically ruining it for everyone.  Rob felt that the principal wasn't being tough enough on the students when he sent them to her office.  I couldn't really relate to this part of the conversation, because my kids are a little bit more mature than theirs and I haven't sent anyone to the principals office.  I think I am lucky to have the age that I do.  I think I have more variables and different types of problems, while they have severe behavioral interruptions that I just don't have.  I have the burden of dealing with students that weren't taught properly in previous grades and have trouble writing in Spanish let alone English.  I have some students that are extremely smart by American standards, hell even by Asian standards (well not in Math I guess).  I think the more intelligent students deserve the opportunity to move quickly and absorb as much information as they can, but I also think that the less fortunate students deserve not to be left behind.  It is a bit of a conundrum.  

C.S. 100 Dollar Challenge-- With 100 U.S. dollars, you could buy 630 organic bell peppers. Can you imagine if Peter Piper could get a hold of that peck of pickled peppers?


From Left to right: Julio Paz, Julio Funez, Hector David

The Julio furthest on the left is my most intelligent student.  He knows a ridiculous amount of English already and I feel as though he might be bored in class because of his advanced level.  I am going to talk with his parents and see if I can tutor him outside of class and basically give him advanced English lessons.  I think working with him for a couple months would put him in to the intermediate/conversational level.  The students talk about Julio as if he is already a doctor, lawyer, or successful business man.  When I need class participation and the pool has run dry, I can always turn to Julio.

Julio Funez is one of the students that is relatively quiet.  He is popular not for his extreme good looks, charm, or intelligence, but for his soccer skills.  He is an excellent soccer player.  Great touch, great vision, great shot.  It is a pleasure to watch him play.  We were playing a pick up game the other day and I was dividing up the players and one of the students said, "Hey, that's not fair. Julio counts as two players."  The problem with Julio's work inside the classroom is that he has one of those "I want to be a professional athlete" attitudes.

Hector David is kind of a complainer in class, but I got the opportunity to go to his house today and his family was really great.  We had lunch at his house and then swam in the river near his house.  His grandfather let us play with his gun, so I guess my opinion of him has changed...


"There is beauty enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look."
       --Beauty is hard to catch, hard to make, hard to see.  Just when you think you've captured it--its gone.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Rite of Passage

It is almost a right of passage in Honduras that when you are of the appropriate age, you should try to make a life in the United States; whether you have the means to enter legally or illegally.  For this reason, the economies of Central America are in part held together by the money being sent via Western Union or Money Gram from the U.S. to Latin America.  We estimate that there are approximately fifteen million illegal immigrants in the United States earning about sixty billion dollars a year.  Ten billion dollars of this money without a doubt and on record, leaves the United States and bolsters the Mexican economy enough to make a significant impact on the value of the peso.  Ten billion dollars alone goes to Mexico, and it isn’t hard to imagine that the figure is equally as impressive in the smaller countries of Central America given their size.  The prospect of earning twelve dollars an hour working construction is enough for Central American citizens to sacrifice their family, money, and even their lives to chase the amenities of the American Dream.

Mario, my neighbor in Honduras, has his own story of illegal immigration.  As if it was a right of passage, Mario turned nineteen and left for the United States.  The route to the United States isn’t an easy one.  A person has to ride on public transportation from Olancho to the border of Honduras and Guatemala, which is about a 15 hour trip.  Anyone that is familiar with the ‘chicken bus’ transportation in Central America knows that the journey is as boring as it is uncomfortable.  After leaving one of the most dangerous departments in Honduras, you enter one of the most dangerous cities in the world—Guatemala City.  The central bus station in the most dangerous city is located in the most dangerous location.  At night, the streetlights rarely work giving the criminals a perfect office for business.  When traveling in Central America, you only need to hope that you don’t arrive at your destination after dark.  After staying the night in Guatemala City, you hop on a bus to Mexico.  Regardless of how it looks on a map, the distance from Guatemala City to Mexico’s border is equally as grueling as the first leg of your journey.  As you get closer and closer to the northern part of Mexico and ultimately the U.S. border, your travel becomes more covert.  You begin traveling under blankets in the back of pick up trucks and in secret compartments as practice for the real deal.   And so it was with Mario at the tender age of nineteen. 

The ‘coyotes’, as the human traffickers are called, are most often linked to the drug cartels.  In terms of profitability, human trafficking can be just as lucrative as drugs.  Illegal immigrants often spend their life savings of up to ten thousand dollars to enter the United States illegally with the possibility that they may not even make a successful trip.  Mario and his parents paid his way with three thousand dollars that was supposed to be paid to the cartels upon his successful arrival in Houston.  Mario made contact with the cartels near Juarez, Mexico to begin the most dangerous part of his journey.  Upon arrival, the cartels kidnapped Mario and demanded payment up front.  The money was already in Houston and took a long time to be rerouted to Mexico for prepayment.  Mario was kept in a cell with one wool blanket and one meal a day consisting of a corn product such as tortillas and a glass of water.  This went on for several weeks.  Mario was fighting intestinal distress from bad food and water, as well as a fever and chest cough from the wet, cold conditions of his captivity.  Mario explained, “Since then, I have never felt as close to death as I was when I was shivering in that cell.”

The journey to Houston is approximately four days under a plank of wood in the back of a bumpy truck with little food or water.  I can only imagine his feeling of relief when he arrived in the United States.  Mario spent time in Houston and traveled to meet some family in the Mid-Atlantic.  He was only in the United States for about four months when he was asked by an immigration officer for his papers.  Mario, unable to speak any English, was not able to defend himself or offer any explanation as to where he came from or why he was there.  Mario was taken into custody by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Mario was incarcerated for a week in the United States and again was placed in a situation where hunger became an important factor.  The U.S. officials provided absolutely no food for five days in custody, only a glass of water midday.  Mario had never experience such intense pain as the distress of hunger.  Finally, on the fifth day, Mario was given a ham sandwich with disgusting moldy bread.  At that point, Mario didn’t care too much about the quality of the food, only that it was in fact food.  Regardless of the conditions of his captivity, Mario says it was a blessing that he was caught, because he was the only one left out of the group that he came with.  Everyone else had surrendered or had been caught already.  After several months of hardship, Mario made his journey back home.  If given the opportunity to return to the United States, Mario said he would return in a heartbeat. 

Mario’s cousin Edgar has a similar story.  Edgar looks very out of place in San Francisco de la Paz.  He is clean cut and handsome with dark skin and a square jaw line.  If he weren’t in Honduras, I would think that he was of African American descent.  Though, he made it clear that he wasn’t.  Edgar doesn’t talk much.  He has a quiet air about him that makes a lot of people nervous.  He only offers his opinions when directly spoken to, which is why it took me so long to hear his story. 

Since just September, he has been living in his birthplace of San Francisco de la Paz.  Before September, Edgar had a life in the United States working construction.  He met a girl born with citizenship in the United States, whose family is originally from El Salvador.  Frequenting the Washington D.C. nightlife, Edgar got the opportunity to meet people from a variety of Latin American countries that made the journey to the United States.  Edgar began establishing routes in Virginia.  After five or six years in the United States, Edgar became more comfortable and had a child with the woman with El Salvadoran ties.  Edgar was involved in a traffic accident that was not his fault, and was discovered by police.  It was only after his return from the United States that he found out his significant other was pregnant with his second child. 

It is never easy to see another man stricken with sadness and grief.  Even more so, it is difficult to see a callous man unable to express or deal with grief in front of others, because he lives in a world insensitive to emotion.  He asked me how he might be able to get back.  He asked me as if I could call the land line to the White House and ask for a personal favor.  Tears began to fill eyes that usually never see a drop.  Edgar the usually callous and emotionless conversationalist said in broken English, “I cry to sleep every night here.”    

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The other American that teaches at the school is teaching the students Tom Petty- Free Falling in music class.  These are the lyrics that the students have been singing instead...
And I'm freeeeee, Frijoles! (pronounced free-holays.

Frijoles are beans.  They thought he was saying frijoles the whole time.  Pretty funny to here the classroom next to you screaming frijoles.


Salvador and Cristy

Salvador is relatively quiet, but he can be encouraged and influenced by the other students.  If someone bothers Salvador, his move is to just wind up and kick someone, usually in the shins.  I would scold him more for it but it is kinda funny.  I find it amazing that kids can switch from an all out brawl to friendship and laughter in a moments time.  Salvador has an older sister who is one of the most intelligent students in the 6th grade.  Salvador is pretty smart, but I get the feeling that he doesn't have the perfectionist personality that his sister does.  He has an awesome throwing arm.  He can wing a football with a spiral pretty much across the courtyard in our school.  He is probably the most athletic person in the 4th grade.  Him and his sister look a lot alike and I see them roaming around the streets after school together.

Cristy is one of my favorites.  I have been told that she is one of the most intelligent students in the school.  I don't think she has missed a single point.  She is an absolute joy to have around.  She is one of the 3 girls that refuses to use their own desk, they just prefer to share my desk with me.  I don't mind because they are quiet and always get their work done.  Undoubtedly, the thing that makes Cristy successful is her parental support. I have seen her walking with her mom around town and she seems like a really nice lady.  Every time I see Cristy with her mom I always talk to them and Cristy gets extremely shy.  Her mom always makes sure that she is polite and responds to each of my questions.  Cristy is one of the students that I have high hopes for.  I know that she can speak quite a bit of English already, but she is too shy with her English accent.  I am thinking about working with her outside of school in a different environment so that she won't be so self-conscious with her peers.

Beat my time today on the Matador.  Ran it in 40:34.  I think the key is to push it on my way out of the city and when I am in the city on my return.  It is too hard to push it on the path because of rocky terrain, rivers, cow and horse poo, and all the hills.  Looking to squeeze into the thirties either this week or next.  It was raining really hard on my way back and I think the cool rain had a lot to do with my time.  I usually run at the hottest point in the day.  The first half of my run is always scorching, but I can always expect sprinkles or a rain shower on the way back.  The showers are like a mid afternoon florida rain, where you know its not gonna last and you know its going to be sunny afterward.


With 100 U.S. Dollars, you could buy  78.73 pounds of organic, fresh chicken.


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- 
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

"Yet knowing how way leads on to way"
I can always find significance in this poem, regardless of when or how many times I read it.  It reminds me that no matter how bad you want to, you can't take more than one path.  It reminds me that sometimes life is as simple as choosing between right and left.  It reminds me that you have to choose and you have to be confident in your choice. Way may lead on to way and it may seem like you can't steer.  But you can, and if you chose a hard path, make your path green with attitude and observations.  Be the path you seek and you will never have to choose.   

Monday, February 21, 2011

Leche and a Good Day

My roommates went to Catacamas Sunday to get groceries and a couple other things and the only thing they came back with was a puppy.  All in all, I would say it was a good trip.  Leche (milk) started following them through the streets of Catacamas.  He looked extremely week, bones protruded through his frame.  He probably was born not too long ago and was not able to get the appropriate nutrition from his mother.  It is extremely rare for a street dog to interact with humans, because street dogs are treated horribly here.  Leche chose his home.

They brought him back in a box labled Leche (hence the name Leche).  He has been getting stronger each time he eats.  We have taken him on quite a few walks and to the park to roam around.  He is really starting to come into his own.

School today went well and I think I am starting to make some progress with my students.  The one thing I wished my language professors would do when I was in school is TAKE their TIME.  All my language teachers in college moved so quickly through the material that even if we learned something enough to do well on the test, we forgot about it the week after.  I have been quizzing the kids after learning new material and then I have cumulative tests over all the material.  I will keep adding sections to the cumulative test until it gets too big and then I will shave off what they already know.  With kids this age, everything needs to be a game.  I play a lot of a game that resembles Jeopardy.  The students really get engaged and forget that they are basically running through flash cards.  I usually get through at least 50 words and phrases in one game.

In 6th grade, I am introducing verbs and how to conjugate verbs.  I am starting with the most important verbs- to be, to do, to walk, to talk, to listen etc...

Here are some pictures of Leche.  We just went to the vet and he gave him some vitamins and a flea treatment.  I tried to explain heart worms to the vet but he didn't get it.  Maybe they don't have them here?


Kevin is kind of a class clown.  He talks with a raspy voice, like he has been given one too many doses of cough syrup as a kid.  Because of his raspy voice, Rob calls him DMX (like the rapper).  He is constantly interacting either with me or other students, except when he is doing art work.  He loves to draw and he is a heck of an artist.  No matter what we are doing, he always incorporates a little art into his work.  If we copy down vocabulary words, he will draw each action or noun that I write down.  He definitely is not annoying with his jokes.  He is the alpha male in the fourth grade, although he has cried in class more times than any of the girls or guys put together.  Whenever the kids complain or get upset I just say pobrecitos which basically is a sarcastic way of saying poor baby.  They love it.

EL MATADOR UPDATE-- Ran the Matador twice more this past week.  I finished both times in 42 minutes within a few seconds of each other.  So 42 minutes is my record.  Looking to beat my record this week.

C.S. Hundred Dollar Challenge- With 100 U.S. Dollars, you could buy 2,833 ounces of delicious pear juice

Sunday, February 20, 2011


The prospect of assuming risk is much more enticing than risk itself.
I like to think of my experiences as a milti-colored abstract painting rather than a monochromatic self-portrait.  Each color represents a different experience and a unique thought.  This is why we take chances--to reap the benefits of the risk.  The greater the risk, the brighter the colors.  Risk is different to some people.  Risk can be having children, accepting new jobs, getting engaged, or buying a new home.  I have found that the prospect of risk is easy to rationalize, whereas experiencing risk itself takes a bit longer to swallow.
Last night just when I had fallen asleep I was awaken by six loud gunshots right outside my open window.  I rolled off my bed on the ground to take cover.  At first I thought I was dreaming.  After consulting with my roommates, they confirmed that they were in fact gun shots.  In the morning, I woke up to my roommate Rob putting 6 bullet casing on my bed from just outside our house.  I guess I need to laugh it off and quit putting a microscope to everything.  Some drunk, adolescent Honduran was probably on his scooter shooting his dad's pistol in the air for fun.  I just don't want to think of the alternative: that someone was trying to send a message, that someone was trying to scare me, or worse yet that someone was trying to shoot at me.

Of course I find the irony in the fact that the bullets were American.  It is a .40 Smith and Wesson bullet originally developed for the FBI.  Of course, American bullets and guns are all over the place here.  Remnants of the cold war conflicts of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.  Honduras was used as a base to stage U.S. Military and C.I.A. covert operations to support the dictators who fought against the leftist guerrillas.  Of course, there are soviet weapons here too--a collection of AK 47s from the Russians.  One of the U.S. policies that get us into trouble--arm them and then curse the fact that they are armed.  The guns fueled drug trade in Latin America and the insurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The same guns we sold the Afghanis during their Soviet conflict are the same guns that are killing our soldiers today.  They are the same guns that are killing innocent civilians, law enforcement agents in Mexico, and U.S. border patrol agents.  Our policies are hot and then they are cold.

Governments are like individuals--They assume risk.  Their risks are public and they involve the lives of billions of people.  Like individuals, they must assume the responsibility of their risks.  Governments and individuals do what they think is right for the situation they currently find themselves.   You just hope you don't take a risk that you can't pull yourself out of.

As for me, I'm going to keep my bullet casing as a souvenir.  Maybe i'll make a key chain or necklace out of it to remind myself that this was all worth it, that my colors are bright and abstract.          

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First Student Profile

Student Profile- Alondra "Shakira"

There are two blonde girls in the school and I have them both.  Its absolutely unheard of to be blonde here and I have no idea how it happened that 1) they are both blonde 2) they are both in the same class 3) they are best friends.  Alondra is one of my favorite students.  She is always quiet and has a really sweet personality.  I change classes often between 4th and 6th grade and most of the time she comes to wherever I am and carries my backpack for me to my next class.  Alondra is always around me.  She doesn't talk a lot like the other kids, she just kinda chills and hangs out around me.  She is attentive in class and always takes the notes I ask of her, but I wouldn't say she is one of the most intelligent students in the class--she just has an awesome personality, which I think will do just as much for her in life as raw intelligence.  We hang out a lot at school and she usually sits near me on the bus to and from school.  I wish I could have 10 Alondras in each class, my blood pressure would be much much lower during the day.

C.S. Hundred dollar challenge-  With 100 U.S. dollars, you could buy 209 bars of soap--And you need them in this dusty town!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Short update...

El Matador (the killer) update--  I had a good run on the matador today.  Made it in 41:08, which is like 20-30 minutes faster than the first time I did it.  I am almost 100 percent sure that it is around 4 miles because I am guessing that my pace was 10 minutes per mile.

CS 100 dollar challenge-- With 100 U.S. dollars, you could buy 161 liters of Sprite.

Tomorrow--First installment of CLASSROOM PROFILES...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Exams and Frustration

I gave my first exam today in English to 4th and sixth grade.   The fourth grade exam was a disaster.  They didn’t study at all and they were complaining the entire time.  After the period was up, they were still on the first section.  They didn’t understand that they should complete as many questions as they can and then return.  I have gone over parts of the body with them many times and they seem to be able to come up with the answers when I am verbally asking them, but when the information is on paper, it is a different story.  Fourth grade is a collection of the cutest kids you have ever seen, which makes discipline very difficult.  It is tough for me to be mad at them for not studying.  The reason is that most of their parents aren’t around.  Either their parents are in the United States working, or they just plain aren’t around.  It is hard to develop a support system to encourage work ethic when you are the sole foundation of their support.  Ultimately, it spreads you thin to develop 26 relationships like that.  

6th grade was much better.  They were quiet during the exam, although, when I took my eyes off of them I knew they were exchanging answers.  I just want them to learn something.  Maybe if they cheat and have the correct answer written down they will remember it that way.  I don't know.  I just want them to learn something.  

New Horizons School
First Exam
6th Grade English



I. Vocabulary—Fill in the Blank.

1)      Amable--____________                                  3) Enojado--

2)   Triste--_____________                                    4) Viejo--

5)   Nuevo--______________                                  6) Despues--

7)   Antes--______________                                   8) Feliz--

9)   Delgado--______________                              10) Gordo--

II. Questions—Answer in complete Sentences (Frases Completa).

1)      What is your favorite color?

2)      What is the name of your mother?

3)      How many brothers and sisters do you have?

4)      How are you?

5)      What year were you born?

6)      What is your favorite sport?

III. Numbers—Answer the math problems in English.

1)      One + Five = _____________
2)      Ten + Eight = ____________
3)      Three x Four = ___________
4)      Four x Four = ____________

IV. Parts of the body.  Answer each question in English.

Image of Body
1)      ____________
2)      ____________
3)      ____________
4)      ____________
5)      ____________
6)      ____________
7)      ____________
8)      ____________

     This is the exam I gave to the 6th grade.  It really isn't that hard for them, considering that I did a review the last couple days explaining everything on the exam.  \

CS 100 DOLLAR CHALLENGE--With 100 dollars you can buy 80 packs of cigarettes, although I would NEVER EVER smoke.

Later this week, I will begin highlighting a student to give you a little information about who I have in my classes.  It will be called STUDENT OF THE WEEK.

THE MATADOR CHALLENGE--The matador is a path between two mountains that boasts some of the toughest running terrains I have experienced.  Three river crossings, steep hills, unsure footing, heat, rabid dogs (seriously), and cow crap.  I am guessing the distance to be 3.5-4 miles (it is an out and back).  I will be posting my times from now on every time I run it.  My time this week was over an hour.  Couldn't be specific because I stopped the watch when I walked.  Next time I will have a specific time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Martes 08 de Febrero

Today was the first day of real classes.  The work is not strenuous whatsoever, but when you are dealing with intelligent students at an active age, they need to be entertained at all parts of the day.  My two classes are polar opposites—fourth grade has ten extroverts and 6th grade has ten introverts.  The students in fourth grade are not by any means off the wall, but they are just curious and eager to learn.  Sixth grade is calm and they listen very well.  They never talk out of turn and are always respectful.  Now, you would think this would be much better, but it gets kind of awkward because I have to speak and provide all the entertainment for the entire class period. 

I tried to push a couple things in my English classes today: What the students like to do and what they would like to do in the future.  I like to run.  I like to eat.  I like to sleep.  I like to laugh.  I would like to visit the United States.  I would like to play soccer in the afternoon.  I would like to listen to music.  The only way I can think to increase their retention is to say it first in Spanish and then in English or vice versa. 

Me gusta correr.  I like to run.
Me gusta comer.  I like to eat.
Me gustaria jugar futbol en la tarde.  I would like to play futbol in the afternoon.

My students already know colors, numbers, animals.  I plan on teaching basic questions and answers in the coming weeks.  I have scheduled an on Tuesday over vocabulary words that I compiled and printed.  I don’t think the exam is too difficult and I told them today about it so they should have plenty of time to prepare. 

It has been very difficult for me to teach music, because I don’t have the appropriate materials—song books for basic English music, or even a guitar or other instruments.  It is tough to keep their attention when I try to teach them ‘country roads’ by John Denver.  It was the first song that popped into my head…

Art was pretty easy because you can tell them to draw basically anything and put them to work.  It was interesting for me to see which students were good at what.  One kid who is clearly hyperactive and is all over me the entire period calmed down completely when he had art supplies in his hand.  You can tell how creative he is and how meticulous his details are.  I tried to encourage him as much as possible because art is what he likes and it is what seems to calm him down.  His name is Kevin which is obviously the same in English, so he said he wanted another English name.  I asked him which one he would like and he said “Max”.  So, now he goes by Max.  I have the only two blonde girls in the school—one asked to be called Barbie and the other Shakira, I said ok.  I have the sneaking suspicion that I got hooked up in terms of grade assignments.  I walked into Marie’s preschool and kindergarten class and they were riding each other like donkeys.   
Yesterday, we “summitted” one of the mountains near the town.  My friend Mario asked if I wanted to go to the mountains on a hike, but I had no idea it would be as involved as it was.  It was a steep gradient the entire way and must have been at least 2000 vertical feet.  We were all completely exhausted and scratched up when we fought ourselves through the brush to the top of the mountain, but the view made it completely worth it.  On one side there was a view of the city and the other was a view of the countryside and mountains.  I get out of work every day at 1230, so we teachers normally take a little siesta. 

C.S. 100 dollar challenge—With 100 U.S. dollars, you can buy 188 of the best tacos you have ever tasted.  Each taco is smothered in enchilada sauce, fresh goat cheese, and delicious cabbage.  They are deep fried before smothered in sauce.  You can’t beat authentic, gourmet tacos for 50 cents.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tacos, burritos, are coming out of my Speedo

A lull in action combined with a lack of sleep, sprinkle that lightly with diarrhea and you have a recipe for apathy.  I don’t know if it is travel sickness or sun sickness or both, but I tried to let an SBD slide the other day and I can’t be certain, but I think I soiled myself.  The first one of many I guess. 

The reality of living so far removed from American society sinks in when you need to buy food.  There are open air markets here and small stores to buy the bare essentials, but to go to an American style market it is a 45 minute drive on bumpy roads.  Luckily, Jose Ricardo’s 20 year old son goes frequently to Juticalpa for school so we can hitch a ride with him—at 6 am.  So, we arrived at the grocery store at 7 to do some shopping, knowing that we wouldn’t be picked up until Luis got done with class two hours later.  We took our sweet time picking out tortillas, salsa, and pollo.  We paid for the groceries and waited in the subtropical sun for 20 minutes for Luis to arrive jeopardizing our freshly bought perishables. 

I did laundry for the first time since I have been here the other day.  We do laundry the old fashion way here, by hand.  We don’t have a drier either, just a clothes line.  Laundry is something that is accomplished in an afternoon of scrubbing, not the simple setting of a dial and forget about it.  It was a fun first experience but I imagine it will get pretty old.    

The days run together when there isn’t much work to be done.  Most of us assume that we will need to improvise with the students and go with what works.  In this environment, lesson plans only seem to measure a lack of progress.  There are so many unanswered questions that maybe it is better to take inventory after we start to capture what worked and what didn’t so that we can learn from our mistakes.  So, in other words, we are going to wing it.

I have gotten to know Mario who is a neighbor of ours.  Mario is about my age and an extremely nice guy.  He works as a handyman in the town.  He is recently married, and apparently his wife is like 15 years old.  I suppose that is normal here, I don’t know.  What isn’t normal is why he is basically an orphan.  There was a dispute between his father and his uncle over money.  I think his uncle owed his father money.  Mario’s father killed his own brother in cold blood with a pistol.  His grandfather was angered by this, so he grabbed his gun, shot Mario’s father in the chest and then stuck the pistol in his mouth and fired for good measure to make sure he was dead.  The Evangelical Christian couple that we share our duplex with adopted Mario.  Mario’s last name is Zelaya, which is the same last name of the recently exiled Mel Zelaya in a staged coup in 2009.  Mel Zelaya is from this general area, so I asked Mario whether he was related and he says that he is Mel Zelaya’s nephew of some sort.  I imagine the Zelaya family is very large, but I thought it was interesting.

We had a barbeque on Friday as a welcome to the foreign teachers.  This meant that the kids did not have classes.  I was under the impression that we would be starting to teach Monday, but low and behold, we have another party on Monday and classes will be suspended.  Apparently, this happens quite a bit.  There are not nearly as many days in the school year as in the United States.  If the curriculum in the United States needs updated (especially the curriculum at Pleasant High School in Marion, OH), then the curriculum here is absolutely nonexistent.  In fact, part of my job here will be to document everything I do with the kids so that I can pass my material along to the next volunteer.  This should fit well with all my curriculum writing experience…

We had a party for Oscar’s 31st birthday Saturday.  We got a cake from Juticalpa and two candles, one candle was a 3 and the other a 1 for his 31st.  Oscar went around town and asked some younger people if they wanted to come to his birthday party.  Everyone dances in Latin America whether you like it or not.  I am not a huge dancing in public type of guy so this is pretty embarrassing for me.  It is just another way to take me out of my comfort zone.  Before the party Oscar saw the cake and the candles and made us switch the three and the one to make thirteen instead of 31, as if that wasn’t transparent.  Initially when we asked Oscar how old he was he said, “I’m going to be 30, bro.”  Two days later he said, “I need to tell you something, bro. I lie to you.  I’m not going to be 30.  I am going to be 31, I’m sorry bro.”  Oscar has an interesting personality—everything Oscar says in English has ‘bro’ attached, and if Oscar ever lies, he usually tells you the truth within the next couple days because he feels bad.  Delayed honesty, what an interesting personality trait...

Goals for the next week
  • Figure out how to jog in the town without drawing too much attention to myself and putting a target on my back.
  • Weekly hundred dollar challenge… My friend Cass gave me 100 U.S. dollars to see what it was worth here in Honduras.  I am going to post a different weekly product.
  • Post activities and stories about my students

With one hundred dollars you can buy 630 gallons of purified water in Honduras.