Thursday, December 29, 2011

La Comida

It is here... the thing you all have been waiting for... FOOD! :)  

What does that girl eat over there in Honduras?  Well, wait no longer.  I have compiled some pictures of food that my host mom has made me.  It's not everything, but it gives you a good idea.  Just a thought... don't read on an empty stomach. :) 

Buen Provecho (Bon appetit)! 

El Desauyuno (Breakfast):
Toast, eggs, pineapple (amazing!) and coffee

Plantains (love them!), beans and coffee

Pancakes (really popular!) and coffee

El Almuerzo (Lunch):
Spagetti, sauce, tortilla, and fresh lemonade

Tortilla con queso y vegetales (tortilla with cheese and veggies)

Tortilla, emanada, potatoes and chicken

La Cena (Dinner):
Different type of tortilla with cheese and veggies

Sara, my host mom, and her amazing Christmas feast

Yup, tortilla with cheese. And, lemonade. 

Dulces (candy):
Conserva de coco (this translates funny in English, but it's with coconut and really yummy!)

Are you hungry, yet?

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Christmas Weekend

(Warning: LONG)

As I mentioned in my previous post, my Christmas was a little different this year!  Obviously, I am in a different country with people that I don’t know and nowhere near the people I love the most.  And, as per usual, when you leave your comfort zone, the things that may have been obnoxious (like the cold weather!) or normal (having the internet all the time, or going to Starbucks whenever!) then become what you wish for the most.

So, as the weekend drew near, those are the things that I missed the most, besides my family and friends, of course, and became just a little homesick.  I wanted everything that I knew... being with either Mom or Dad, or being at work on Christmas Day.  That’s normal, too, right?

But, enough of the ‘woe is me’ and Debbie Downer attitude… I did have a good weekend (mixed with a few tears, because let’s face it, it’s me!).  Saturday was spent with a few of the other students at the ruins.  It was hot and sunny, and nice to be around people!  After our tour, we broke off and went our separate ways for a while.  Maude (a friend from Quebec) and I took some more pics before walking back to town.  Her family (who happens to be my teacher’s family) invited her to have lunch at their church.  So, that’s where we headed.  They are Seventh Day Adventist, so I was intrigued what their church was like, as I have never seen it before.  We arrived at the church to people praying over one another.  This was a nice sight to see, and my heart ached a little for some praise and worship from home.  Maude and I waited in the back where some other people were setting up lunch.  We felt a little awkward, but most everyone was really nice and smiled at us.  A few even attempted some conversation that quickly became comical or ended with a smile because no one really knew what the other was saying!

After lunch, I headed back to my house with full intentions to help my host mom with dinner.  Well, she didn’t need help right away, so I decided to rest, but fell asleep… for the next hour.  Oops!  I guess I needed some sleep!  When I awoke, she didn’t really need help, so I read for a while until dinner was ready.  Sara and Ernesto’s oldest son, Marel, came with his wife and children, but were late.  So, we didn’t end up eating until after 7.  It was a great meal, as usual, and conversation was a little on the lighter side.  My family still doesn’t talk to me much.  But, it was really nice of them to include me in their family dinner.

Getting a new outfit is the big thing here.  Exchanging many gifts, or expecting Santa to leave them, isn’t really what happens.  You get a new outfit for the day and you wear it proudly all weekend.  Sara came into my room before dinner to give me something, and it ended up being a present for me!  It is a beautiful scarf.   It was completely unexpected and really thoughtful.  And, it's orange!

Please ignore my sleepy look.

After dinner, I headed out to meet the family (Annette, Michael and Oliver) from school for the procession before Mass.  They had told me about Mass because their host family is Catholic and would be walking in the procession.  I was really happy about this because I had asked a few people about Christmas Eve Mass, and no one knew about it.  I thought it weird that the Catholic Church wouldn’t have a service.  But, I digress.  The procession was really neat.  About a hundred or so people holding candles were walking behind Joseph and a pregnant Mary.  

The crowd gathered in front of the church, where permission had to be granted to enter the church, which, I believe, represented Mary and Joseph finding an inn.  Once we were all in the church, the live nativity continued with sound effects of a real baby crying and all!

Mass was not as long as I thought it was going to be.  It was beautiful, as always, even if I didn’t understand it all.  I love the Catholic Church for many reasons, but one that is high on my list is that it’s literally the same Mass everywhere.  The same prayers.  The same Eucharist.  The same thing.  Because of that, it brings a sense of home, even when I am so far away from my own.  It’s an incredible blessing to be part of something that is so universal.  Good job, God!

After Mass, I was invited back to the Martinez house for more food and to hang out with people that like to talk to you!  Christmas Eve is more of a celebration than Christmas day itself here in Honduras, so families are always together and eating.  Everyone was telling me about the fireworks at midnight… there are a TON!  That’s what I was expecting, and that’s what I got.  Midnight was INSANE.  The fireworks were just crazy.  And, it’s so, so, so dangerous.  I kept having visions of kids blowing off their heads, or limbs.  The littlest of kids are handling these things.  I didn’t hear of anyone getting seriously hurt this year… thank goodness.  I wish I could say it will quiet down, but I think they go on until the Epiphany.

The morning after... this stuff was everywhere!

Christmas day was pretty low key.  I opened up the gifts my mom sent with my.  She is amazing, and gave me some pretty amazing things.  It made the day special!  My host mom asked if I wanted to join them on a day trip, but I declined so that I could talk to my family and friends.  And, boy did I!  I set up camp in front of the school, where the wifi still worked.  I think people thought I was seriously crazy, talking to my computer.  But, it was the best part of my day… to spend time with my family!  I just relaxed, read and made a few calls the rest of the day.  I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life!

Well, thank you for making it this far.  I hope you all had such a wonderful and blessed Christmas!  Feliz Navidad!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Las Ruinas

Feliz Navidad!!  :)  It's warm here, and I am far away from my family and friends: it doesn't feel like Christmas.  I miss the cold (only for Christmas!), seeing my breath, sipping hot chocolate or a Pumpkin Spice Latte, wrapped in a warm coat and scarf.  How different my Christmas, and good, is this year!

I spent the morning of Christmas Eve at the Mayan Ruins, hot and sweaty. :)  I even got sunburned.  I don't think I have ever gotten sunburned on Christmas! haha.  I don't remember the specifics about the ruins, so I will just let you see the pics yourself!  Enjoy!

Macaws are the national bird.

Can you see them?

Maude, Me, Anette, Oliver and Michael.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Giving and a Merry Christmas!

Wow, it has been a busy week!  I can’t believe it’s already Friday of Christmas weekend!

We (the other students and I) found out from some of the teachers that there was a community of about 11 families that were kicked off their land and are now living on the side of a street.  One of the teachers, Julia, was wondering if we could all pitch in and buy some food.  Well, of course!  Every single one of us didn’t think twice.  There is a good group of us here.

So, on Tuesday afternoon we went to the market and a few stores to price out food and water, so we could have a better idea of how much money we needed to donate.  We followed Julia around, as she knew which places would be better to buy from.

Wednesday, we went back to those same places and bought 25 pounds of beans, 25 pounds of corn, packets of rice, packets of salt, packets of sugar, coffee, spaghetti (yes, it’s pretty popular here!), sauce, oil, matches, water and even some cookies.  This all cost just over 100 bucks.  Then we went to the school and divided everything into bags for each family.


Water in bags... I have never seen this before!
Yesterday, Claire, Josee and I (along with our teachers) took 2 hours out of our class time to deliver the bags.  We left around 8:15 in two of these:
This is a Tuk Tuk.

We drove out of Copan Ruinas proper (on a bumpy, dirt back road that leads to Guatamala) for about 15 minutes and came to the community of 14, not 11, families.  Living in houses like this:

It is still unclear why these people were kicked off the land.  The property does have a new owner, so it’s possible they gave the families a deadline to leave, but actually made them leave sooner.  Or, the deadline came and went, but the families didn’t leave, and the owners made them get off.  One gentleman said they had official papers that allowed them to be there, but the owner tricked them and took the papers and in turn, made them get of the land.  Some of the men may have even worked on the land.

Whatever the reason, these people are living in homes that barely protect from the elements, right on the other side of the land that was their home.  They are in need of water, food and stability.  I can only hope that the food and water we brought provide enough sustenance and strength to go a little longer.

A beautiful view on our trip to the Hot Springs!

A few interesting things:
  • Many of the people had cell phones, and Coke was everywhere.  For people who can barely afford food, it’s interesting they have these “conveniences.”
  • The owners happened to come home when we were there… and brought the police.  There was a government official who was investigating things.  I guess the police were there to make sure things didn’t get out of hand.
  • All of the people were grateful for the food and water, even if I only saw an expression on their face.
  • Little kids LOVE to stare… especially when there is a Gringa around
I am also compiling some photos of the food that my host mom makes for me (just me sometimes.  Dulce will eat a Cup-a-Noodles, instead of the meal her mom made me!), so that you can all see!  I have been meaning to do this for a while, but I NEVER seem to remember to bring my camera to the table.

I am not sure how much Internet access I will have over the weekend, so I want to wish you all a Feliz Navidad!!!! :)  May God continue to bless you all!  Enjoy your time spent with family and friends, eating and being merry!  LOVE YOU ALL!

Monday, December 19, 2011

La Misa, Parte Dos

Apparently, I have chosen some good Sundays to go to Mass.  I left my house later and ended up getting to church right before 10.  There were a TON of people outside, and I realized today was the youth mass/concert/party.  There was a parade going on, but I didn’t realize it was part of the celebration.

Mass didn’t begin until about 10:30, again.  So, I am thinking that it really does start then and not at 10.  Ha.  THREE songs were sung before the priest even came out.  They were all praise and worship type songs, many of which had hand motions.  One even had you tickle the person next to you!  I really have no idea what the songs were about specifically, but everyone was having a ton of fun.

Something I noticed last week, too, someone reads some sort of explanation of the first and second readings and the Gospel.  I think.  Of course I am only getting bits and pieces of things I understand.  I am not too sure why they do this.  It’s the only Catholic Church in town, so maybe they want to be sure people understand what’s happening during Mass?  The priest always tells us when to sit and stand, as well.  The only time that happens back home is when there are big Masses with attendees who are not Catholic.

Anywho… I wish I understood more, because again, the homily seemed to be good!  I am pretty sure he was addressing one’s vocation.  Because the Mass was dedicated to the youth, what better time to talk about it! :)

So, going up for communion is interesting.  I said last week that people are eager to get up there, and it took a few minutes before someone let me in line.  Last week, and this week, I noticed that everyone goes at different times.  Overall, each pew gets up, but not all at the same time.  So, it’s confusing when it’s actually your turn.  And, for those of you who are Catholic, the host can be a little different depending on what church you are at.  Most of the time, we receive the small ones, or if you are in front (or an alter server or Eucharistic minister) you can receive a piece of the broken big, main host (I don’t know if it’s called something different).  I go on this tangent, because the hosts at this church are HUGE!  Ha.  I mean, the deacon has to get a good hold on it to push it in my mouth, and I have to REALLY open my mouth, not reverently hold out my tongue.

I am really looking forward to Christmas Mass next Sunday.  My goal for this week is to find out if it’s at midnight or regular time… which is a good thing, huh?

Yesterday was the first time where I really felt tired and blah.  My tummy was a little upset, too.  So, I just basically was a lump on a log.  I watched Polar Express (in Spanish!) with my host-sister, read and vegged.  My host mom even made tomato soup.  It was delish!  She also made a concoction of soda water, lemon and salt for my stomach.  I thought it was nice gesture. :)  I hope that you all are doing well!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Una Semana!

Well, now that I have been in Honduras for a week… A WEEK!  Una semana!  Ok, sorry.  I can’t believe it’s already been a week!  As I was saying, I would like to take this time to share some things that I have learned/found interesting/or just amusing (in no particular order).  Oh, and some pictures, as well!  Enjoy!
  1. I really enjoy tortillas, especially when they are fresh.
  2. It’s really hard to remember to throw away your toilet paper (in the trash, not the toilet) every time you go to the bathroom.
  3. It’s also really hard to not automatically turn the water on to brush your teeth (must use bottle!).
  4. Smells are really important to me (I have not taken my Nemo blanket out of my backpack because I am afraid of it losing it’s smell of home. Luckily, my bear has not).  The smells here are different, some are really nice, but some are not, and I am still getting used to it.
  5. As annoying and sometimes creepy the attention I (and any other non-Honduran woman) get from the men here, you can’t help but get a small boost of self-confidence.  Just a little.  Ha.
  6. The fresh fruit is AMAZING!  I am obsessed with the bananas.  I wish I could eat them more.
  7. American music plays everywhere.
  8. Watching/hearing the Honduran version or Spanish dubbed American commercials are really amusing.
  9. There is only one place to go dancing, but the teachers in the school do not recommend it.  All of the music that plays around here makes me just want to dance!
  10. Kids will be kids.  At the park, there was this cute little girl, maybe 2ish (reminded me of my niece Charlotte b/c her hair is still so short and light!), who kept walking close to me saying “Hola!” And, then her brother was running around so she followed him.  When she got bored of that, she pulled her shirt over her head and walked around.  It made me smile!
  11. If the power goes out (meaning, all of the power in the whole town), life doesn’t stop.  All of the stores are still open.  Even the cafes still serve coffee.
  12. Freshly made Honduran coffee is really good.
  13. It is HOT when the sun actually decides to stay out for a while.
  14. Some of the random dogs are really cute, and only want some love, which I am happy to provide.
  15. The fireworks/firecrackers go off all of the time.  I still jump when the big ones go off, no matter what.  (People just shoot them off in the street.  Kids and adults.  Can you say dangerous?)
  16. People are always willing to say hello, and I am always willing to respond with a hello and smile back.  (Reminds me of St. Therese and her little acts of love)
  17. The only people that refer to me by name are my Canadian friends.  (My host mom has not once called me by mom name, and then yesterday asked what my name was.  I was a little surprised. I did introduce myself, I promise)
  18. Even though I have a routine and am getting used to life, I still miss my family and friends.  A lot.
This is the inside of my house... but it's kind of outside, too. My room is the last door on the left.

Passing the river when I went horseback riding.

Me and Chica Loca (Crazy girl!) :)

Some kiddos trying to sell us their dolls from...

This is where the dolls are made.  A local Mayan tradition.  Japan has given them a grant, I believe.

Coffee ice cream!! Really good, and only 25 L which is just over a dollar.

Church, obviously. :)

The Parque decorated for Christmas.

My Canadian friends, Josee, Claire and Audrey.

The sun was finally out, so we had a pretty sunset. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This and That

[Frist, a few corrections to previous posts.  Sophia is not the name of my older host sister- it’s Sonia.  Oops.  AND, Dulce is 12 (will be 13 on Monday!) not 11. Again, oops.

La iglesisa Catolica is NOT blue, it’s white.  There is a blue sign on it. Fail.]

La Escuela:
La escuela es muy buena!  (School is really good!)  My teacher, Gaby, is awesome.  She is my age, talkative and explains things amazingly!  I am really happy because I believe, with this type of program, the teacher can make or break your experience.  I am on my third day, and it’s a lot of work.  A lot of it I remember, but a lot of it I don’t.  So, after the 4 hours, I am muy cansada (really tired)!  Plus, not being in school for the last four years, my studying habits are out of shape!

La Comida:
I have really enjoyed the food so far.  Sara, my host mom, is a really good cook.  I haven’t taken pictures of anything (I know.  Surprise, surprise!), but I will try to snap a few soon and share them with you.  Breakfast and dinner are the lighter meals, with lunch being heavier and always having some sort of meat.  In the morning, I have had cantaloupe (really sweet!), pancakes and tortilla con queso y chiles (tortilla with cheese and peppers).  I have to say, they have been the heartiest breakfasts I have had… maybe ever!  Lunch has consisted of different sopas (soups) and rice with chicken, beef or yesterday I had gallina (which is hen).  And, I think I have met the chicken that we eat.  I kind of feel bad… kind of.

In the backyard, Sara and Ernesto grow a lot of fruit.  They have lemons, oranges, bananas, some other fruit that helps with blood pressure, coconuts, and coffee.  They make their on coffee!!  I am talking laying the beans out and drying them overnight.  I am going to watch the process one day (and probably take pictures).  And, I have to say, I have gotten used to drinking Sara’s coffee with just milk.  It’s pretty good.  On Monday, I had this tea made from maiz (corn).  It was really interesting.  Probably not my favorite thing, but I’m glad I tried it.

Overall, I think Sara has been impressed with my appetite.  Ha!  But, it’s me… I’ll eat anything.  Paul (yes, you) would really like it because I have a set schedule for all of my meals… THREE meals a day!  I have been hungry for most of them, too, because it’s really hilly here… so I am burning off what I eat.

Copan Runias:
Yesterday was the first time I really explored the town.  I have been a little timid to just start walking around.  I am still trying to get used to everyone staring at me!  There aren’t too many tourists right now, so I guess they just like to get their fill or something.  I went to a coffee shop and had a café mocha frio (iced mocha)… pretty standard and really good.  I studied there for a while and then went to the school to use the Internet for a bit.  While I was there, I met a few otra estudiantes (other students) and we went for a walk.  They have been in Copan for a little longer than me, so were showing me the best places for this and that.  We also went to a bar and had a drink (Blue Lagoon… might be a new fave.  Just sayin’) together.  It was just so nice to be around people and chat!  All three ladies are from Canada.  Tonight we are going out to dinner for Clara’s birthday!  I am excited to go to a restaurant and see how that is.

Every week, the school arranges for an excursion.  Today we are going horseback riding in las montañas (the mountains)!  I’m glad I practiced with my mom back in October!

The weather has actually been quite chilly.  During the day it’s been in the 70s, I would say, but at night down in the low 50s.  So, I am definitely glad I brought my warmer clothes for the evening.  It's been cloudy and rainy the last few days.  It seems that the clouds kind of get stuck, as the mountains surround us.

This is the view from the second level of my house.

This is the view from the second level of my house looking over to Guatemala.

This was on Sunday, looking from the back of the house.


The stairs I go down everyday to school.

And then back up them.

Well, there you have it.  Sorry for the Spanglish… but, I have actually started to think in Spanish.  I hope it’s more entertaining than annoying.  Let me know if there is something specific you want me to blog about!  Oddly, I feel like I need ideas.  Weird, huh?

Ama mucha (much love)!