Friday, April 29, 2011

Black Gold

My recent blog on the price of coffee and the implications for the Third World.  You can check it out at the Roots and Wings Blog:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Work, or Something Like It

After Semana Santa, I was definitely excited to be back to work. This coming month of May represents an entire semester of work--our second semester here. We are trying to pack as much information as possible into these few weeks until we go on break for a month. If the kids are anything like how my friends and I were during summer break, they won't study or retain much of the information they have already learned. All of us are trying to establish some goals as to where exactly we want to stop.

I thought Father's day was ridiculously overdone, but when I asked about the Mother's day festivities to take place next Thursday my boss told me to times the Father's Day celebration by 2. All of the foreign teachers were just told about Mother's day about a week ago. We weren't given a specific date as to when it would take place. Apparently it is going to take place sooner than we thought and we are not ready. Although the fathers are paying for school, it seems that it generally isn't their responsibility to worry about their children's education. My boss told me that the mothers will be watching every little thing the kids are doing and will openly critique the activities; so, basically, don't screw up.

If I thought I was going to be able to get any serious work done before break I was mistaken. When I say serious work I mean teaching English. In the next week the students and I need to prepare a homemade gift for the mothers and it better be creative. To add to the pressure, we don't have a full day tomorrow due to student elections. There are two political parties that formed in the school--F.U.D.E. (I don't remember the acronym) and Estrellas del futuro (Stars of the Future). Many of my students have been out of class all week campaigning and buying votes by giving candy out. Like true politicians, both sides are promising some big changes and are proposing projects that they will make sure get done--no one has figured out where the money is coming from yet. I have never seen so many students so aware of politics, even if it is only at an extremely local level.

In what is going to take about 15 minutes to vote, my boss gave the school the afternoon off. Honduran Labor Day is this Sunday so we don't have class on Tuesday--If you think this seems random that's because it is and it makes absolutely no sense. Mother's Day is Thursday so we aren't going to have classes, just a two hour assembly. Friday we aren't having classes for no apparent reason at all, maybe because we didn't have classes on Thursday and they want a long weekend. This no school thing is getting a little ridiculous. I know it is probably a cultural thing, but I would at some point actually like to get some work done. We are strapped for time anyways because of the upcoming month long break, and now I have to prepare a song for the moms and a homemade gift.

To top it all off, I was sick this weekend and the beginning part of the week. Diarrhea during school hours isn't pleasant since the seat-less toilets are a glorified outhouse that smells of humid, rotten excrement. I had to visit the bathroom 6 times one morning. I was trying to keep myself hydrated in the subtropical heat, but every time I put liquid into my body it flushed right back down the other end. It is only when I am fighting travel sickness that I feel at all homesick. It sure would be nice to have the comforts of the developed world when you have explosive diarrhea.

We are inching closer and closer to break and I have yet to lock down plans for a volunteer project. I would like to keep myself busy in June doing something anywhere but here. It will be nice to live another place for a while and have a chance to miss my current situation. If you have any suggestions please let me know…

C.S. 100 Dollar Challenge: With 100 U.S. Dollars you could buy 210 pounds of pasta.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Roots and Wings International

I am the newest edition to a blogging team for a nonprofit that does work with the indigenous in Guatemala.

I will be posting links here on "Blogging Honduras" to the "Roots and Wings International Blog" so that you can keep up with my writing.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Amazing Race: Tegucigalpa

As I locked the gate behind me, the wind bit my cheek with cool morning air.  Although it was unseasonably chilly that morning, I knew that when the sun came up it was going to be hot.  I had gone to Tegucigalpa on this same early morning bus, but never alone.  In all my travel experience in Central America, I rarely have the opportunity to travel alone, which is something that I very much like to do.  I sat on the curb of my street corner 15 minutes early waiting for the bus to make its 5 o'clock pass.  Tick-tock went the clock and soon enough 5 o'clock was history.  Besides a few women carrying fresh ground corn meal on their head to make tortillas, the town was dead.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday San Francisco de la Paz was completely shut down.  No stores, restaurants, or businesses of any kind functioned.  I had a fear that the bus wasn't working either, but I thought I would try anyways.  When I finally realized the bus wasn't going to come I had a few moments of panic which in turn blended to anger.  I knew what I had to do.

Chad was the name of the Peace Corp volunteer who recruited me to teach English in Olancho.  My impression of Chad is that he is quite the character.  Chad is very popular among his Peace Corps peers, so whenever I meet a PC volunteer I just mention that I worked with Chad Ryerson and they normally have a good story to tell.  Chad is a story teller himself.  When I first got here he made sure to tell me every good and bad story he had about the past two years he spent in Olancho.  Stories included watching someone being shot and burned alive on the side of the road and witnessing fatal car accidents.  None of this bothered Chad one bit.  He has the ability to separate his life from the world spinning around him.  I think this helped him function so well as a volunteer.  I met a Peace Corps volunteer recently who spoke of Chad, "Chad is such a goof ball, but for being such a goof ball he accomplished so much in his time here."  The Third World atmosphere never seemed to phase him, considering the murderous things he saw and the many robberies in which he was a victim.  For the first part of his deployment, Chad was dating another PCV who was stationed on the other side of the country.  Chad would go see her when he could, but the bus system from Olancho is quite difficult.  Normally, in order to take a trip from Olancho, you first need to go to Tegucigalpa, the capital and hub for bus routes.  This is often incredibly inconvenient and expensive.  On one occasion, Chad bought a bushel of bananas, hitchhiked for 14 hours to his destination, and gave a banana to each car that gave him a ride.  Chad said about this experience, "I have never felt more alive than when I was hitchhiking in Honduras--especially on the back of motorcycles.

Now, I didn't expect to have this same experience with the same amount of risk, but I knew if I wanted to get to Tegucigalpa to make my hotel reservation and renew my visa, I would have to hitchhike.  I left the corner and went home to grab an extra bottle of water, not knowing what was in store for me, and set off on foot toward the main road leading out of San Francisco.  I tried a couple times to flag down cars but to no avail. If I couldn't get a ride, maybe I would just walk the 300 km.  As I was trying to flag down another car I spotted two women at a bus stop with luggage.  "Where are you guys going?", I asked.  "We are going to Juticalpa.  The bus is coming at 6."  "Do you think there is a bus from Juticalpa to Tegucigalpa?". I said.  "Of course, they leave every hour on the hour."  Crisis averted.

I knew from my experience in Guatemala that going to the immigration office to get a visa renewal is painful.  In Guatemala I had to leave my passport there for a period of time and come back a day or so later to pick it up. You don't want to lose sight of your passport in a country like Guatemala.  You may never see it again.  Most of the others I was traveling with were under the impression that we would arrive at the office and they would just stamp our passport with a smile and we would be on our way.  Not quite.

It was like an Amazing Race scavenger hunt.  It made me realize that government anywhere in the world is ridiculously inefficient.  First of all, Hondurans hold little regard for the concept of a line.  People would blatantly cut in front of you and not even act embarrassed about it.  After a while, I just started cutting back.  We waiting in the immigration line for a good 15 minutes.  When I got up to the window I told the lady I needed to renew my passport.  She gave me 5 forms to fill out and told me to make a copy of one of them and get back in the same line.  Task number one: Fill out paperwork and make a copy.  After a copy was made and paperwork was filled out to the best of my ability I got in line and waited.  When I got to the window again she looked through the paperwork, barked at my mistakes, and gave me my next task.  Task number two: go to the bank, any bank, and pay 380 Lempiras into the office of immigration account and come on back and wait in the same line.  At least the bank had air conditioning.  I waited at least a half hour in the line at the bank and finally got my receipt of payment.  I returned to the immigration office, waited in line, and got up to the window.  "Give me your passport", she said.  "We will call you when it is ready."  Immediately after she sent me away she went on lunch and there was only one other lady working.  The passports didn't get stamped for another 30 minutes.  They called me up to the window after all my friends had already received their passports and said, "I am going to need to see your passport."  Did they not understand why I had been waiting for the last 30 minutes?  You are supposed to be stamping it right now!  Finally, after a scavenger hunt and over 500 lempira in fees and cab rides we were done.

We were traveling with two other Americans in Tegucigalpa who work at another similar school in Juticalpa.  They are both from Columbus, Ohio, which was weird.  Then, when we were waiting three hours for the next bus to Olancho, I spotted a blonde girl across the bus station with a University of Arizona bag.  I went up to her and said, "Excuse me, did you go to U of A?"  She did in fact go to U of A.  Not only did she go to U of A, but she graduated the same year as me.  We both agreed that we had been missing Tucson.  We both hadn't been back since we graduated.  I asked her where she is from originally.  "Ohio", she said.  Small world, I guess.  She is a PCV in just outside of Catacamas.  It will be good to have another Ohioan and fellow U of A alumn around if I get homesick!

On the bus ride back, I was bored from the day of bureaucracy so I decided to take a bunch of pictures of Tegucigalpa as we left the city.  Don't know how they turned out because we were moving, but I am going to post them anyways.  There are also a couple from the river we swim in.  


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Real Madrid and the Rugrats

The Rugrats doing what they do best--nothing.

Tail end of the market

Beginning of my running path

A mango tree in the middle of the arid land



One of the largest trees I've ever seen

I have to admit that I am getting pretty bored in the house for Semana Santa.  Although it is extremely relaxing, I would rather be working or swimming in a crystal clear ocean.  Today, I went on a long walk on my new running path.  It is completely different than "El Matador".  Instead of steep climbs and river crossings I get flat dirt roads and farm lands with a mountain view in the distance.  It is a nice change of pace, and I am enjoying alternating between the two.  It is also much safer to alternate between two different paths and to run at different times of the day.  I have heard horror stories from Peace Corps volunteers about running the same path at the same times--pretty easy to target.  

In Honduras, and quite possibly the entire Latin American world, you are either "Barca" or "Real", referring to the Spanish Futbol clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid.  It is one of the first questions someone will ask you here.  It is as though they are asking you whether you are a Red Sox or Yankees fan, a White Sox or Cubs fan, a U of A or ASU fan, or an Ohio State or Michigan fan.  Real Madrid and Barcelona have played twice in the last two weeks and will play twice more in the upcoming weeks due to their tournament schedules.  The two teams are extremely popular here--you will see bumper stickers, key chains, and flags around the city almost as though you are walking the streets of Spain--only much, much dirtier.  I of course chose sides based on who my friends root for, but I have become a fan of Christiano Ronaldo in the process.  As a soccer player myself I love watching the games, which are a pleasant change from the American football dominated sports world of the United States.  

I have some groupies in town that will wait outside my house for me to come chat with them.  The town calls them the "Rugrats", because they are basically a wanna be gang of teenagers that group together because they resent the fact that as individuals they are just kids.  It has definitely been good for my Spanish to get to know these kids, but just as it is with the basketball players, their language is just a scramble of vulgarity with a few personal pronouns mixed in.  I doubt most of them have a good family life and I feel more like a father toward them than a friend.  They haven't shown any signs of aggression or any bad intentions to other people so I don't see a problem with them hanging out and talking.  Although I appreciate the practice in Spanish, I resent the fact that I can now express myself using whatever Spanish expletive I choose.  I feel like that foreign guy who says inappropriate things because he has no idea whether the words are bad or not. 

I included a picture from outside my window of the busting market.  I took that picture as it was wrapping up, so usually there are many more buyers and sellers.  What amazes me is the efficiency of the whole operation.  They set up their goods at around 4:30 in the morning and end the market around 1 pm.  The market is elaborate with a large amount of goods for sale.  This time, they were selling fish right outside my window.  The fish were cut in half, dried, and salted.  I woke up the other day to the smell of dead fish in the rotting sun.  It was such a pleasant smell to wake up to--if pleasant meant vomit inducing.  Despite the morning noise and the stench, the market is fascinating as one minute it is bustling with products and people and the next minute is a ghost town where the only thing that is left is a few scraps of trash.

The electricity continues to be unreliable in Olancho and we lost power for much of the evening.  The lack of electricity is actually a blessing because I get a lot of reading done.  I finished another book, "Imperial Life in the Emerald City", which I had started reading a while back and just now finished.  I tried to read this book after reading Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars", which basically gives the history of the CIA and their involvement in Afghanistan from the Soviet Invasion to September 11th.  I wasn't quite in the mood for more talk about the Middle East and how we are supposedly screwing it up.  So, I took a break from reading it and just finished it tonight.  It is an intimate look at the occupation of Iraq and how things could have gone much better.  Definitely a worthy read.

C.S. One Hundred Dollar Challenge-- I was floored by the price of a chicken here.  When I say chicken, I mean an actual living and breathing chicken.  With 100 dollars you could buy 75 chickens.  Each chicken costs 25 Lempira or 1.32 dollars.  That is amazing.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Porch Sitting

It is a community of porches here.  Everyone has plastic chairs set out and most afternoons are spent on the porch gossiping with the family.  Each person that passes the porch gets an “Adios” or a “Que la vaya bien”—“Have a good one”.  If you stop to say a few words, they’re going to bring out a chair and you might be there for hours.  Maybe that’s why a lot of times they say “Adios” instead of “Hola” in passing.  Maybe Adios means, “Don’t even think about it.  I’m not staying.”  When we first got here, that is something that seemed strange to us, saying goodbye before you have a chance to say hello.  Everyone gets a greeting though.  If you don’t greet someone it is taken as an insult.  Just the other day, I didn’t see a colleague of mine on the street in passing and she asked me at work if I was mad at her because I didn’t say hello.  “Not mad”, I said, “It’s just that I didn’t see you.”

When I was growing up, there seemed to be much more of a community than there is now.  No one really needed to lock their doors at night.  Families did things for fun together.  Kids turned the TV off to hang out with their friends outside.  Sometimes I think we sacrifice sentimentality for efficiency.  It’s too hard to get everyone together for dinner most nights, so let’s just abandon that idea all together.  Why deal with the heat and the bugs outside when I can watch TV indoors.  I can tell you that when I am having a bad day, it really lifts my spirit to walk down the street and get a greeting from about every door I pass.  It reminds me of my neighbors growing up, Paul and Don.  Paul and Don would always be porch sitting and bantering back and forth, sometimes as if they hated each other.  Paul always called me Patty, which would have normally bothered me, but for some reason it didn't.  When I was riding my bike or walking past his house he would always greet me with a "Hey Patty."  When he died a couple years ago, I thought, "Well, Paul was old.  That makes sense."  It wasn't until tonight that I realized how terrible it was that he's not around anymore and how I should have seen him again.  He would have liked that.    

The incessant greetings do come with downfalls—but they are always good downfalls.  Sometimes when you actually have to be somewhere it just isn’t reasonable to make a stop at each house.  We went to the river a couple days ago and on the way we visited a quaint farming neighborhood.  Mario knows a lot of people in the neighborhood and they would scream his name from the porch giving us the obligation to go say hello.  Each time we got to the porch we would start talking and one of the family members would hurry inside and get out some chairs before we could leave.  I really wanted to go swimming, so each stop I thought, “Oh great.  Here come the fucking chairs”.  Now I know why everyone in Honduras is late.

I decided to save some money instead of taking a trip for Semana Santa.  I thought it was going to be much more boring staying here than it actually is.  Not having to work has given me the chance to connect with the town and practice my Spanish.  With just one Gringo left in town, it is pretty difficult to speak English.  I had a great night tonight just sitting on a neighbor’s porch talking.  It was an “Aha!” moment in Spanish where everything clicks and you surprise yourself.  I am starting to be able to speak without thinking.  When I do try to think about what I want to say in Spanish and it finally clicks I get a fuzzy feeling in my head telling me, “yup, you got it.  Go ahead and say it.” 

As well as helping my Spanish, this week has given me an opportunity to catch up on some reading.  As the weather turns warmer in the United States, we are beginning to enter reading season.  Grab an iced tea and find a shady spot on the porch to enjoy a good book.  Here is a synopsis of one of my favorite books I have read here so far.  Going to go for a hike tomorrow somewhere I haven’t been.  Hope to have some pictures for you.  Please stay tuned…

“Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins

This is a tantalizing tail of the inner workings of international economics and the way the United States positions itself politically and militarily to promote its interests abroad.   John Perkins tells his James Bond-like tale of manipulating presidents and other important international figures to undertake development projects through his consulting firm, which eventually leads their countries to corruption and financial ruin.  John started his career as a Peace Corp volunteer in Ecuador.  After his two year stint, he was recruited by a family friend to join the National Security Agency, only to be advised to join a private international business consulting firm because they do the same thing and get paid better.  His training was that of some sort of international government agent, although he was never officially considered under the employment of the U.S. Government.

The first part of the book reads like a first person adventure story.  The second half is almost like an apology letter for the bad things he’s done.  Definitely makes you think about the dangerous mix of business and politics.  It is a treat for any conspiracy theorist.

C.S. 100 Dollar Challenge--With 100 U.S. Dollars you could buy 47 liters of peach jam.  Here, you can have all the jam you want, but it's the peanut butter that will put a hole in your pocket.   

Friday, April 15, 2011

When Technology Fails

Tensions were to be high as all of Olancho left work on Thursday looking forward to vacation, only to find a power outage looming on the horizon.  'Tis the season to burn your fields to plant crops in anticipation of the impending rains.  We haven't had a good rain in at least 3 weeks leaving the river beds dry and the mountain-scape a deathly gray color.  Not only do farmers burn their fields, hurting their local ecology, they don't control the burns leaving technology to suffer.  The dry wood telephone poles connecting our power to the main grid through the mountains was burned--a yearly tradition as I'm told.  When I was running with the light of my lamp just after darkness fell, the faint orange glow of the fires in the distance almost looked beautiful--If only I had known that its beauty would cause more frustration that it was worth.

The obvious luxuries to stay connected to the modern world strike you immediately, such as computer and TV--things that fill your life with the busy entertainment we are all so accustomed to.  As you look for food for lunch or dinner, you realize that there isn't a cold drink in the city.  Then comes the apparent essentials--the things we need and rely on because they have become crutches to our very existence.  You realize that without electricity, you can't see at night.  Inside turns out to be darker than outside as the light of the moon is much more luminous than you thought.  Streetlights provide much needed light to cities, but what you realize without electricity is that streetlights also create the absence of the light they provide, leaving places on the street seemingly much darker.  In just the dim glow of the moon, the playing field is leveled and it is as though you can see better without unnecessary, unnatural light pollution.  In our blackout, it seems that as darkness befalls the city just after 6, the town counts the ticks until it is a reasonable time to find the comfort of their bed and the hope that tomorrow will of course be filled with the light the sun promises.

The black out couldn't have come at a worse time for me, as I neglected to make the appropriate plans for a week of travel.  I am rendered helpless without access to information technology to make reservations or map my journey.  As the last bar of my cell blinks away,  I feel the fear of being disconnected completely.  It's even strange to pen a blog entry in a candle lit room, like a Medieval monk transcribing a bible in the comfort of his den.  As modern humans, there is something to fear in a regress of technology.  I can't help but wonder how safe it is to have such an addiction to anything.  In the end, no matter how compelling the argument, I'll always chose light over darkness.

And just minutes after I finished writing, the microwave beeped and the lights flipped on.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What am I doing? What are YOU doin?!!?

It has been hard for me to manage my kid’s behavior in class this week.  I attribute half of it to the fact that my kids are rambunctious and half to the fact that I haven’t prepared much for the kids to do.  I feel like I am in a perfect stopping point to take a break.  I don’t want to teach a little bit of a new tense just to have to learn it over again after Semana Santa.  So far, the part of their education I have neglected is art, music, and physical education.  I have been so focused on English that the kids seem to get burnt out.  They have more hours of English a week than any other subject.  So today, I let both 4th and 6th grade bring in breakfast.  I brought a blender and we made banana milkshakes.  With the milkshakes they had beans, cheese, fried bananas, and avocado.  It was a delicious start to the day.

In 4th grade music, we are choreographing a dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  They are absolutely hilarious with the motions acting like zombies.  It is kind of a drama as well as a dance, which I copied off of the real music video.  There is a boyfriend and girlfriend walking and the zombies bite Michael Jackson—who is played by my best student Kevin.  Kevin turns into a zombie and they do a dance aimed at intimidating his girlfriend—played by the blonde damsel in distress, Alondra.  This week since I took it easy in English, I had them make paper mache zombie masks that turned out really well.  We are having an assembly for Mother’s Day and I told them they could perform their dance and drama for the school and their Mothers while wearing the masks.  I hope it won’t be too scary for Mother’s Day.

As for 6th grade, we have made some incredible progress these last few weeks.  The kids can use the present tense—I play soccer.  They can use the past tense—I played soccer.  They can use the future tense—I will play soccer.  The present continuous tense—I am playing soccer.  The past continuous—I was playing soccer.  They are much better at writing than they are at speaking, but I think that is pretty normal at this point.  I am going to try and implement more oral exercises to the curriculum so they have a chance to practice actually using the language.

I don’t know yet whether I am going to be traveling for Semana Santa.  I am bouncing back and forth mostly due to the cost and time of traveling.  I would like to see as much as I can while I am here, but I have also already seen so much of Central America that I may want to stay around here and save some money.  We get the entire month of June off and I think I am headed back to Antigua, Guatemala to do a volunteer project that I asked my study abroad program in Antigua to set me up with.  If they find me something,  I imagine I will need money to live for the month in an expensive city like Antigua by Latin American standards.

I have been playing quite a bit of basketball in the park with a group of guys that plays every night at 5.  It is a pretty competitive game and very good practice for my Spanish.  Speaking Spanish on the street is a whole different ball game than speaking in the classroom.  They speak in an entirely different, informal tense to each other that isn’t seen in books.  The slang and cuss words out number any normal resemblance of Spanish.  It’s probably not the best education to learn a bunch of slang and cuss words, but it is really good for your ear to be able to sift through the bull shit and understand what they are saying.  They speak unbelievably fast and most of them are young so they have the teenage mumble going.   

What has surprised me so far as the weeks pile up quickly is that I don't have many moments where I wonder what the hell I am doing here.  It is all pretty clear to me.  I am here to teach and to learn.  In college and in my  post college work experience, sometimes I wanted to stand up in the classroom or in a large meeting at work and say, "What the hell am I doing here!  I don't belong here! This isn't me!"  I rarely wonder why I am here or if what I am doing matters.  The phrase I use most often now is directed not at myself, but my kids. "What are you guys doing!" "Don't do that!"    

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pre-vacation blues...

Seems like the house is in a rut before vacation.  A couple of my roommates are sick and I feel like I am fighting something off.  I napped today for like three hours, which is great, but now I am going to be an insomniac tonight.  When I woke up from my nap I decided I needed to go for a run to clear my head.  It was already dark and the big dipper was just above the mountains.  I decided to do some laps near the house because it is dangerous to be out after dark.  When I got away from what little light there is in the city, I looked at the mountain and it appeared to be glowing orange.  Half of the mountain was engulfed in flames.  Must be that slash and burn agricultural technique.  I passed a couple kids on my first lap who asked me why I was running.  It puzzled me a second and then I answered, "Why not?". They also reminded me how dangerous it was to be running at night.  I thanked them and was on my way.  They asked me if I was going to come around for another lap and I told them I would.  I felt like I was flying on the way back from my first lap and then I realized I was on a steep decline.  It felt good to carry that kind of pace again.  Sure enough, the kids were waiting for me when I returned for my next lap.  They ditched their soccer balls and bikes and ran about a hundred yards with me.  They must have asked someone what my name was because they knew it on the second lap.  I had a pretty good pace going and I was surprised that the kids held on as long as they did.  I told them to be ready because I would be back for one more lap.  I took my time on the next lap--a little slower, like a warm down lap.  The kids must have thought I wasn't coming because when they saw the light of my lamp they started cheering.  They ran with me until I reached my house and then there was a sort of Forest Gump moment when I stopped running and said goodnight.  They kind of looked at me like, "What now?"  After a couple seconds of awkward silence they decided to call it a night and walk home.  After a good run, I feel better already.

I have noticed a similarity in two subcultures of people--Travelers and Runners.  Both groups are extremely resilient.  I have run with people that the general population would think are insane.  They are like mailmen--rain or shine they get it done, and early--15 mile runs at 530 on a Sunday in 20 degree weather.  And they call that fun.
I have also traveled with some people on the border of insanity--15 hour chicken bus rides in 85 degree heat nursing a wicked hangover.  Very Anthony Bourdain like...
And they call that fun.

The thing that separates these subcultures from the mainstream population is that when they set their mind to do something they follow through regardless of the conditions.  They wear the bad situations like jewelry.  It is accomplishing something in order to go back and say, "parts of that journey sucked horribly and I may not do that ever again, but it was totally worth it."   The reason I got into running is because I read a book called, "Born to Run" about a group of ultra marathoners running a fifty mile race in Mexico.  Mixing traveling and running makes for a damn good book.  Read it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Classroom Dancing/Weekend Swimming

When everyone is gearing up for Semana Santa, there isn't much real work to be done.  I would say that other than Christmas, this is the biggest holiday of the year.  Semana Santa starts the week of Monday the 18th.  We don't have classes this upcoming Friday the 15th in observance of the holiday, so it will be extra travel time wherever I decide to go.  

Today, we went to Camponario, which is a little neighborhood outside of San Francisco de la Paz.  I had been there once before to eat lunch and swim in the river and enjoyed it very much, so I made subtle hints here and there that I wanted to go back.  The father of one of our teachers has a beautiful set-up.  Two of his grandchildren are my students, so it is fun for me to hang out and see what they are like outside the classroom.  We went to a section of the river perfect for swimming.  The owner of the land created a dam with sandbags to stop the flow of water just enough that there is a large pool of water that is in places almost too deep to touch. It was a good swim with the bucolic scenery and the cool water.

The video below is two of my students dancing for music class.  There is a cheesy CD of English songs that comes with our English books and the students like to dance to them.  We finally got one of the boys to dance with a girl so I recorded it.  
It is safe to say that both teachers and students are ready for a vacation...