Monday, November 12, 2007

It's been awhile...

...mainly because I took the GRES on October 27th in Tegus and was studying like crazy up until then. Since I took the written test, I won't know my score for another 6 weeks...hopefully it's good! Now I'm in the midst of grad school app craziness...I have 3 apps due on Dec. 15 and am nowhere near ready.

I've been living with my family for about a month now. The father works in Tegus (he's in the military) and is only home on weekends, so I rarely see him because I am usually in Tegus on weekends. The daughters, 6 and 7, are very cute. I've even helped them study for Spanish tests already! The mother owns 2 stores, works at a bank, and teaches on the side. She's friendly and young. The parents are bit too religious for my tastes (they're hardcore Catholics who bless each other when they leave the house...I said I didn't want to be blessed when the mother asked me) and they go to church every weekend and are really involved in a bible study group. I would like to go to church with them, just to see what it's like, but I haven't had time.

My biggest complaint is the food. Lunch is almost always good because it usually includes meat and veggies. Dinner is almost always the same: some variation of beans, scrambled eggs, tortillas, and tajadas (fried plantains...usually not sweet). Breakfast can run the gamut from pancakes to baleadas (see my earlier post for a description) to a ham and cheese sandwich on Wonder bread. Sometimes I feel like I'm on the Atkins diet here because all I eat is protein and starch. They don't eat many fruits or vegetables.

Weirdest foods I've eaten with my family:
Breakfast: french fries and koolaid
Dinner: a piece of ham rolled around a slice of melted processed american cheese, accompanied by beans and a slab of salty, i think i'm going to be vegetarian when i return!

For Halloween, I made pumpkin shaped cookies and dyed them orange (the dye and cookie cutters can only be found in Tegus). I'll post some pictures soon. I also made the whole day Halloween-themed. In reading, we read a story about Halloween, in math did a Halloween puzzle, etc. And we also made lollipop ghosts, which are so easy and they love them! (basically you wrap a kleenex around a lollipop, tie it with string, and draw a ghost face).

That's about it for is my last vacation day until Christmas...gotta love that our directors are Ba'hai and all the Ba'hai days are vacations for us...unfortunately, most of them are on weekends this year.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Naca Tamales

This past Wednesday, we had a day off. Christina, one of the Honduran teachers, is an amazing cook. She's cooked dinners for the president (thousands of people) and cooks a lot for local functions as well. We went to her house, and she taught us how to make her amazing naca tamales (tamales filled with raisins, olives, peas, carrots, and chicken...mmmm!), which she served at a teacher dinner we had to celebrate teacher's day. We all contributed to writing down the recipe so hopefully I'll be able to recreate them back in the states. That is, if I can find banana leaves. The recipe made about 100 naca tamales so we have about 40 in our refrigerator since Hannah and I both went. It's like Thanksgiving leftovers....sort of.

Camarie stirring the batter on the outdoor fire

The filling for the naca tamales

Getting ready to roll the tamales

Christina instructing us on how to roll properly

Me rolling a tamale

Hannah and Saira (a Honduran teacher) showing off the banana leaves

The finished product (some are wrapped in foil so that they wouldn't fall apart while they were cooking for an hour)

The first finished naca tamale that we tasted....mmm!

Turning 24 in Tegus!

Four birthday celebrations later, and I had a blast. After the Friday night fun with teachers (see previous post), I was feeling much better and my roommates and I, along with a couple of other teachers decided to go to Tegus to celebrate in style on Saturday night. It was Hector's b-day (a Honduran guy who works at the American embassy in Tegus and a friend of my roommate's boyfriend). He had already planned to go to La Grotta, an upscale trendy club in Tegus where you have to reserve a table beforehand and have to get bottle service. They served free shots that tasted like mango all night and we got a free bottle of champagne with a sparkler in it because it was my b-day at midnight. The cocktails were too sweet though. It was a long, fun night. Normally the clubs close at 2 am but because of some anniversary, the club stayed open until 5. The next morning, Jess, Jess's boyfriend, Hannah, and I went to TGIFriday's in the mall for lunch. They told the staff it was my birthday so they gave me this huge hat (think Cat and the hat) and made me get up and dance while they clapped and sung in Spanish. It was embarrassing but fun. Pictures are yet to come because they're not on my camera. On Monday, my kids surprised me with a cake they bought from the director (chocolate with peanut butter icing) and sang to me in English. Very cute!

The B-day Girls: Sarah and I

La Grotta...where I celebrated my birthday on Saturday night (Sep. 29th)...see, even third world countries have trendy bars!

Some of the teachers at La Grotta

Free champagne with a sparkler in it,
which I got because it was my b-day
Hannah and I at midnight!

Maya and I toasting

Free glow sticks!

The birthday cake my kids surprised me with. :)

Almost a parasite!

Last week, I got really sick. I've been sick a lot since I've been here so I didn't really think much of it. The first day I had a fever and probably 14 hours. I felt dizzy and almost threw up in class. The second day, I did throw up in class (only a little though) and ended up going home early (the only class I really missed was P.E. since I only teach 1 class after lunch). I went to the doctor at 2 in the afternoon and waited over an hour to be seen, even after having an appointment. I had asked for a translator but since all the teachers are at school until at least 2:20, our director couldn't find one. So I wrote down all the symptoms I had (and it was a lonnnng list!) and managed to communicate enough with the doctor to get 3 drugs. At the end though, I had know idea what I actually had, just that I had to buy a lot of drugs. The cost of the doctor's visit was 150 limps or about $7. Not bad, eh? But the drugs were almost 600 limps or about $30, which is a lot for here. It turns out I had an intestinal infection. Better than a parasite, but not great. I wasn't hungry for almost 2 days straight. The worst part was that the day after I went to the doctor was Comidas Typicas or a festival where the high school students make and sell typical Honduran food to raise money for their classes. They made huts out of poles and banana leaves and I wish I had been hungrier because the food was so good! I tried fresh lemonade, which was amazing, and tripe soup (I didn't actually try the tripe though), and rice with milk. All were delicious. I also took home a plate that is typical Honduran food. It had chunks of beef (yes, I actually eat some beef here!), plantains, vegetables, and rice. That night, all the teachers celebrated 2 birthdays-mine and another teacher's, who happens to have the same b-day as me! We made pizza, which was a welcome break from traditional Honduran food, but would have been better with pepperoni which is impossible to find here but you can get at some pizza delivery places. We also had some chocolate cake. One of teachers is a baker (for all you New Yorkers, she interned at Chanterelle last summer....) so we get good sweets when there is a festivity, which is a perk. :) And that was the first part of my birthday celebration.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Independence Day Parade

Ms. Honduras (Kendy's younger 1st grade, I think).

My students holding the school sign.

Joel (pronounced "Hoel" of the cowboys).

My student Dunia and I.

Fernando and Juan Jose in traditional dance costumes (both my students).

My soon-to-be host sisterAndrea (she's in 1st grade). Isn't she adorable??

My other soon-to-be host sister Helen (she's in 2nd grade).

Center of town where the parade ended

Baton twirlers (the girl on the far left, Kendy, is my student)

Some of the teachers and I. The one on the far right was my first roommate here and the other 5th grade teacher. The one in a yellow hat is one of my current roommates. The one from Maine is in the black hat.

Pom-pom girls (my student is on the left).

September is a crazy month in terms of holidays in Honduras, which is why I haven't posted in awhile. The good news is that now I have some pictures to share. Last week, Honduras celebrated children's day with a half day for elementary students. My students and I had a party in our classroom. It was pretty crazy with food thrown everywhere, a few games, and dancing, the favorite pasttime here. Then later that week Juticalpa celebrated Honduras' independence day with 3 parades (one for preschool and kindergarten, one for elementary, and one for high school). These parades are a huge deal....most of the town came out on Friday for the elementary school one and Saturday morning for the high school one. I had to march with my 5th graders in the parade. Above is a picture of some of my students holding the school sign. Street vendors were everywhere, selling drinks, chips, limes covered with chile powder (which I have yet to try), etc. I bought a huge baleada, the national food here, which is a giant flour tortilla usually stuffed with beans, sour cream, cheese, eggs, chorizo, and avocado. Since it rained for the 1st half of our parade, it was a good distraction. At the high school parade on Saturday, they had floats, bands, and more elaborate costumes. I felt dizzy during most of that so I spent most of the time sitting down on the sidewalk watching. Also, sometime last week, I got stung by a bee for no reason and the stinger was left in my elbow and my friend had to pull it out. The other reason why I'm suddenly really busy is that on top of upcoming progress reports, I found out I can take the GRE's in Tegus and will be taking them in a month so I'm studying like crazy. That's about it for now. Send me news from the U.S.!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hurricane Felix passes over us

Despite all the news and hype about hurricane felix, our town went relatively unscathed. There was a lot of rain but no flooding. Some parts of Honduras, mainly the northern coast, got hit pretty badly. Yesterday we found out at 6 am (after having showered and dressed) that classes were cancelled. Last night the Honduran ministry of education officially cancelled today's classes but our director decided at 6 am this morning to have classes anyway. However, only 10 of my students showed up and 10 minutes after attempting to start class, classes were officially cancelled. My classroom was the only thing that really flooded, with a mini-river covering 3/4ths of the floor. I'm wishing I were sleeping in right now, but we have to stay anyways to do "work" in our classrooms. I don't have much to do since I caught up on grading and planning yesterday. Hopefully things will become normal again tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Missing Student

Last weekend I went to Tegu (the capital) with my roommates. It's only about 2 hours in a car. We ate Chinese food (nice break from beans!), I got a cell phone, we went to the mall (which is very modern!), and went out. Bottle service was about $12 per person for vodka and mixers! Gotta love Honduran prices. :) People were very dressed up like in New York...girls in short dresses, guys in jeans...I wish I had brought more going out clothes!

I survived my first week of teaching. It's been 5 days now. I have 29 students. One has yet to show up. Apparently his parents haven't paid his tuition so he's not allowed to come to school. My students are loud, rambunctious, and cute. 29 is a handful! Social studies is the hardest for me to teach. Right now, we're doing latitude and longitude. Ugh. They don't get it at all yet. Spelling is also very difficult for them. They love P.E. and art though. Yesterday we made fortune tellers. So far, I've gotten 2 pieces of candy as presents from my kids.

This past weekend I was sick with the flu. I spent all weekend sleeping and flipping between the Disney Channel and CNN, some of the only English channels. Yay for cable and Vick's cough syrup! My family's house is ready but they didn't move in because the husband had to work over the weekend. This weekend I am going to Tegu again (more to do, cooler weather) for a Honduran friend's birthday party. He's buying kegs of Honduran beer and there might be cake.

That's it from Central America! Stay tuned for the next adventure.