Thursday, March 3, 2011

Abuelito y Las Monitas

What makes living in a dangerous, technologically adolescent, and often incredibly boring country worth it?

Progress with the kids and yourself—seeing yourself grow and learn.  Seeing yourself become the professional, the teacher, and the person that you want to be.  Everyday brings change.  Everyday you learn more Spanish than you knew the day before.  You learn something about culture, about patience, and about how not to spend most of your time on the toilet with travel sickness.  I have learned that pleasure and pain must come from the same area of my brain.  I often find comfort in my sorrow and the sorrow in others.  I think waiting 2 hours for a four hour bus to leave in the subtropical sun is humorous.  I know that the bus will be hotter and more crowded than the line to get on.  I know that deodorant isn't high on the Honduran priority list, but most of the time I can laugh off the frustration.       
Ricardo is the owner of my school and my mentor so to speak.  His father lives with him and is over 80 years old.  I developed a friendship with him in the past few weeks.  I view the elderly as a dieing breed of primary sources.  They have a first hand account of more or less the last century.  They saw the Second World War, Korean war, the Cold War, man landing on the moon, the assassination or attempted assassination of  a couple U.S. presidents,the hair styles of the 80's, the emergence of technology, the rise and fall of economies, and of course the rise and fall of Tom Cruise.  I make it a point to ask as many questions as I can, especially because I find the historical views from the perspective of a citizen of the third world fascinating.  Everyone forgets about those countries that aren't major players in the global game, yet their story is often just as interesting.  I often ask his dad a question about what was happening with him when a specific event occurred.  Sometimes I get a historical, world view and other times he says things like, 'well i was working on a farm at that time period so I don't really know what was happening.Or one time he said, "Yeah, the Germans lost a lot of men at Guadalcanal"--Don't you mean the Japanese? "No, the Germans of  course"--OK! When he talks, he is always touching your arm or shoulder as if he is trying to squeeze as much life out of you as he can.

Initially, we developed such a good relationship because I remind him of his nephew.  Apparently, I look like his long lost nephew who has been in Germany for the last decade.  It seems that Oscar literally and figuratively left the country completely.  He left no roots in Honduras.  Maybe it was pride that caused him to cut all ties of his former life, but it seems as though Oscar hasn't kept in touch with anyone.  It causes Ricardo's father a great deal of pain, I think.  I'm sure he just wants to know how he is doing.  When we were first getting acquainted with Ricardo, I asked him how many kids he has.  He said he has one and his father lives with him as well in the same house.  He told me that his father would like me a lot because I look like his nephew that he hasn't seen in over a decade.  Now, I have seen pictures of Oscar and we look nothing alike.  He is definitely Honduran with dark hair, dark eyes, and brown skin.  Whenever I go to Ricardo's, his father says 'Hola Oscarito' which is like 'Hello little Oscar'.  It gives me a good feeling when someone is missed terribly, because it means that they are terribly and fiercely loved unconditionally.  No matter whether Oscar calls or comes to visit, his uncle is proud of his accomplishments and brags about him all the time.I am glad to fill the role and act as his Oscarito and I started calling him Abuelito, or 'little Grandpa'.  Developing the right relationships is integral to maintaining mental and physical health.  I believe we are most certainly two things--we are what we eat, and we are who we associate ourselves with.
So to answer my own question, what makes it worth it are the relationships, the progress you make with your projects, and the continual personal growth.  I know when it is all said and done everything I did will be worth it.  

I have three girls who I don't even have in class follow me around whenever we aren't in class.  They are Rob's students in the 3rd grade.  Monserat, Jimenez, and Kaity are their names.  Rob calls them the child models because they are so adorable.  I call them 'tres monitas'. The three little monkeys.  They are always climbing all over me!

I am sure you are wondering, did I shave my dome? Yes I did.  Not because I wanted to, but Rob messed up on my haircut so I had to go shorter than I wanted.

EL MATADOR UPDATE-- New Personal Best 40:30:42.  Gotta get into those 30's!

C.S. 100 Dollar Challenge-- With 100 U.S. dollars, you could buy 180.9 Tamales.  They are made from corn, rice carrots, and deliciously tender chicken.
Quote of the Day: "My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe.  To him, all good things--trout as well as eternal salvation--come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy."
                                                                                               --Norman Maclean


  1. That was a good one. Love that you developed a relationship with your "abuelito". That makes my heart happy! Love that you are in your element and feel a sense of purpose. The pictures are great! It's so good to see you. Leche's legs are getting long, must be in that awkward stage! Love the quote too.

    I'm so proud of you!

  2. ¡Hola Patch! I finally have read over your posts. What a fascinating life story you are weaving.
    I'm looking forward to sharing your observations with my students. Funny how from Honduras to the halls of PHS there are still similarities where students' attitudes toward learning are concerned! It seems you are doing a great job and have a gift for teaching. Keep up the great job. Julie