Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.

Christmas has slowly started taking over CEE. All of the classroom doors are decorated with various Christmas paraphernalia, as well as the comedor and library. Sarah's gone all out decorating each of her classroom and, not to be left out, we've done our fair share of decorating in Grade 1 and 2.

Grade 2 got the ball rolling by decorating paper Christmas ornaments and hanging them on the Christmas tree on our giant bulletin board. We also colored Christmas stockings that are now hanging throughout the classroom. Just to lift our holiday spirits some more, we did all this while listening to Christmas music. Which included listening to "Feliz Navidad" on repeat. Over and over and over again. Just a little bilingual fun at the bilingual school.

Grade 1 quickly followed suit by making paper plate snow globes and strings of paper Christmas lights with their names written on them. They've been begging me to decorate Christmas stockings and Christmas ornaments, so that's on this week's agenda.

Reading Buddies has been a HUGE part of our Christmas festivities as they've really helped my kiddos with all their Christmas crafts.

Each day we read a little bit of the Christmas story and then talk about the real meaning of Christmas. No presents here, these kids are all about Jesus. And fireworks. Christmas and fireworks go hand in hand down here in Honduras.

Our Christmas party is coming up this week and I just cannot wait to celebrate with my Grade 2's. As much as we all love each other, we're all ready for a break.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice...

...that's what my Grade Ones are made of.
I adore my Grade Ones. We've had weeks worth of struggles and there are certainly still days where we are all staring at the clock, counting down until 2:15. But that doesn't mean that we don't love each other. Drive each other crazy? Yes. Love each other at the end of the day? Yes.

My cuties.
But it has taken us a long time to get to this place. We've put in weeks worth of routines and butting heads and tears before finally reaching this place where we actually enjoy being together. I wanted to share some of my joys, as well as struggles, with everyone here at CEE, so Cristian and I decided to switch classes for one class today. He taught my Grade Ones while I taught his Grade Threes. Hands down Grade Three is the easier class. Poor Cristian had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to this.
So I teach two classes of Grade One before Cristian comes into my room. I explain to my Grade Ones that I had to go somewhere, that Mr. Cristian would be their teacher, and that I expected them to be on their verrrrrry best behavior. I walk out the door, smirking to myself, and head on up to Grade Three.
Easiest 40 minutes of my life. The kids were engaged, they were quiet, they participated. We made a little deal that if they could all get to "Terrific", I would give them each a Siguabuck. We finished class a little early, so I gave them about three minutes to talk to each other. They chose not to. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I almost wanted to shut the door, teach through recess, and let the kids go home early at the end of the day. It was incredible. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Mr. Cristian's experience in Grade One.
While I wasn't there and can't say exactly how the students behaved, I can say that my Grade Ones weren't exactly at the top of their game today. Not exactly the best day for a guest teacher and certainly not showcasing off their best behaviors. I definitely received a negative report from all teachers involved and a firm "I am NEVER doing that again!" from Mr. Cristian.
Despite the fact that it was a nice, easy break in my day and the fact that my Grade Ones were downright dreadful, I was glad to return to the classroom after recess. They were nowhere near as calm as Grade Three, but they're mine. My precious, rambuctious, wild Grade Ones. Who are funny and goofy and really, really smart. They've got a tough exterior, but crack through that and the tough exterior actually seems worth it.
Mr. Cristian might not be coming back to Grade One for a long, long time, but that's okay. Because I couldn't imagine giving them to anyone else.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dive In And Explore Grade One And Two!

Pretty catchy title, huh? It works wonderfully for my underwater bulletin board and my sad attempt to have an underwater themed classroom.

I know it's hard to believe, but I am actually living in Honduras because I am working here. I'm not just here taking a nice little vacation, hanging out with friends, and traveling on the weekends. But I promise you-- my Monday through Friday is a whole different sort of enjoyable.

My Grade Ones are improving each and every day. They can now recite our class rules to me without any prompting-- thank the Lord. We're working on actually being able to follow the class rules, but as of this week, they have been able to tell me that I moved their clip down because they broke rule number 3. While I'm not a fan of how I'm a slave to the clip chart these days, it's working for my kiddos, so I'll put it up with it.

Grade Twos and I are kind of at a stand-still right now. We aren't doing terrible, but we certainly aren't on a roll or anything. Between the cold temperatures and overcast skies and the fact that Christmas vacation is just too far out of reach to be able to count down to it, we're all a little antsy. Their attention spans are short and my patience is even shorter. We're making it work, but no one is absolutely loving it.

I feel like I say this every time I talk about what is going on at school, but there is ALWAYS so much going on! In the month of Novemeber we had the CEE Anniversary, the Spelling Bee, a couple different birthday parties, and some fun activities in Grade One.

Since pictures can explain these events better than words can, I've uploaded some of the winning shots for your viewing pleasure.

CEE Anniversary

The Spelling Bee

Grade One Science

Sunday, December 2, 2012

PANACAM-- Where the Scenery is Beautiful and the Guests are Cranky.

Disclaimer: Personally, I loved this trip. I had an amazing time with my friends and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was with my some of my closest friends here in Honduras on top of a beautiful mountains. While the weekend did have it's ups and downs, I would give it a positive rating overall. My tone in the following play-by-play doesn't exactly convey that, but it's true. The weekend spent in PANACAM was filled to the absolute brim with adventures, laughter, and memories as well as a lot of crankiness. Mostly memories though.
Another weekend, another set of travel plans, right? Absolutely right. This weekend we packed up and headed up to PANACAM which is a forest (rainforest?) with great hiking. Our entourage consisted of myself, Sarah, Cristian, Hector, Daniel, Ricky, Ricky's friend, Lauren, and Erika. We had a bit of a late start while leaving (shocker) and arrived at PANACAM around 6:15ish. In theory.
Yojoa from PANACAM Lodge
Weekend Adventure #1. We were in the final stretch of our drive to PANACAM. Quite literally in the driveway to the hotel we were staying at, about five-ten minutes from our final destiantion. It's dark and rainy and there was a giant delivery truck blocking the road. As in, it was horizontally across the road making it quite impassable for us. So we turn around, find out there is no other way up to PANACAM Lodge, and wait for something to happen. And wait. And wait. And wait until we finally got a hold of the people at PANACAM who said they would drive down to the truck and then walk to meet us. We could leave our cars at the pulperia where we were waiting and get them in the morning. Sounds like a legitimate plan, correct? Except it was raining and dark and we all had our backpacks and blankets and it was at least a 45 minute walk. Idea vetoed. We eventually found some people who would let us park at their house, drive us to the truck that was blocking the road, and then the people from PANACAM would drive us the rest of the way. Honduran people have such big hearts.
We arrive at PANACAM Lodge, get settled in to our college dorm room/ camp cabin, and make our way to the restaurant for dinner. It's about 8:45pm at this point, so I think it's safe to say that the restaurant staff was less than pleased with us. We ate some dinner, played some cards, moved to a table outside, built a fire, played some more cards, and finally quit when we were all cheating so badly that we couldn't actually finish a game. That was around....2am.
Despite the nights adventures and the intense card gaming, some of us still couldn't fall asleep once we got back to the room and ending up having some intense teacher bonding. It was needed and successful, don't even worry.
A late breakfast and some hummingbird watching before starting on what turned into a treacherous hike. The hike itself was diffcult, but managable. I survived and enjoyed it, but it was certainly tough. But EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of us was wearing our cranky pants. Cranky. Cranky. Cranky. It was too hot, the hike was too far, we were too hungry, we were too thirsty, we didn't know this is what we were getting ourselves into, the hike was too hard, we were too tired. If there was something to complain about, I can certainly guarantee we complained about it.
We finish the hike, shower, all ready to go back to Sigua. Oh wait, the truck that is supposed to drive you down the mountain to the pulperia isn't here, just wait over there. Fine, done. OH WAIT. You have to wait TWO hours. Now let me tell you, out of the five of us who completed the hike and were waiting to drive back to Sigua, there were ZERO people who dealt with hunger well. You can only imagine the crankiness and nastiness that ensued. We were not pleasant people to be around. We finally made it to the pulperia and stopped for dinner at the lake. After consuming some tasty, tasty fish, we were back to our normal selves.
At the top. Hot, sweaty, and so cranky.
Roll into Sigua late on Saturday night and I was asleep the second I touched the bed. Oh PANACAM, you provided me with more 5 Year Perspective stories than anything else has in a long, long time.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Is The Best Holiday...

... No presents are required, all you have to do is eat, and you're expected to take a nap at the end of it.
While being here is everything I could have hoped for and more, I frequently miss people, events, and activities at home. Especially Thanksgiving. This year there were no days off from school, no Macy's Day Parade, and no Black Friday commercials. On the Honduran homefront, it was just another week.
Luckily the Hagler's stepped up and hosted an American style Thanksgiving at their house. Filled with lots and lots of food, great company, and some intense card games. And football, of course. Sarah and I tried our hand at cooking and prepared four traditional dishes-- corn casserole, scalloped potatoes, apple pie, and cupcakes. All delicious, if I do say so myself.
Afte gorging ourselves with a disgusting amount of food, we settled in to play some Uno and then Hand and Foot. Standard Thanksgiving festivities.

We had our fair share of Thanksgiving talk in Grade One and Two as well. We made turkeys a couple different times for Reading Buddies. Of course, I had to introduce my Honduran lovies to making handprint turkeys. They may not be Americans, but they have an American teacher. We talked and talked and talked about what we were thankful for and prayed to God many times thanking Him for all of the wonderful things in our lives. 

So, what is Mees Clatelin thankful for this holiday season? In no particular order-- my Top Five Things To Be Thankful For In 2012.

1. My family. Standard, right? But in all seriousness, Momma, Daddio, Seester, and Broski have been more than supportive in my international endeavors and I cannot even begin to express how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family.
2. My friends. Another standard. But the more I travel, the more wonderful people I meet. And in turn, the more I appreciate all of my crazy, wild friends back home. It would be a lie to say that I'm not counting down the days to see them again.
3. The opportunity to travel the world, meet new people, and experience new places. 2012 has been filled to the brim with adventures. From my time in Brazil to a brief pit stop in the States, and finally my new Honduran life-- my life has been abundantly blessed.
4. Getting to see Vilma each and every week. Four years was too long to wait. Though it's only ten minutes a week, it's easily the best ten minutes of my life.
5. Technology that allows me to stay in contact with everyone who is important to me. It may sound shallow, but having such easy and instant access to the Internet allows me to still feel like I am involved in the lives of everyone back home. I can reach someone in an instant if I am feeling homesick, my friends and family are only a call away. There have been times in my life where this has proved to be invaluable to me.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'm In Love All Right...

...with my crazy, beautiful life.
Well, we did it again. Two weekends in a row we've had what could be called the "best weekend ever." Not unlike last week, nothing incredibly monumental happened. But when you spent the first 9 weekends of your time here sitting in your house working on school work, anything is an improvement.
Friday night consisted of more fireworks. Of course. Cristian took us to the fireworks market (seriously, that's what it is) and I took a particular liking to one booth. All of the fireworks sold are pretty much the same, so it doesn't really matter which booth you buy them from. I just happened to really like the lady and kids at one booth. So now she's my firework dealer. She's pretty much the only lady that I'll buy fireworks from.
It was at my fireworks dealer that we got to witness Cristian's awesome translating abilities. The lady shows us a firework and says "Pew! Pew! Pew!" Okay, got it. Cristian looks at us and goes "She just said 'Pew! Pew! Pew!'" Yeah, thanks, sound effects are pretty universal.
8:30am Saturday morning rolls around and my phone is ringing. No one calls anyone before 9am unless it's an emergency, so something had to be going on. Right? Wrong! "Hello?" "What are you doing?" "Umm, I was sleeping...?" "Oh, want to go to the Lake today?" Really?! Luckily our conversation still followed the standard pattern, but 8:30am?! Cristian, you're killing me. Despite the 8:30 wake up call, we didn't leave until about 1pm. Standard.
Pick a fish, any fish.
So Cristian, Hector, Jorge, Daniel, Sarah, and I all pile into Cristian's car and drive on up to the lake. 45 minutes later, we're hanging out at the restaurant waiting for our freshly caught tilapa to be brought out to us. We actually got to chose the fish that we wanted to eat, which kind of grossed me out a little bit. In typical Honduran fashion, we had our share of vendors coming up to us trying to sell us various things. Which included Kenny Rogers CDs because that was the only CDs they had in English. Nahh. I'll pass. Jorge did end up buying some weird magnetic bird things that we included in a litle science experiment the other day. Our fish come out and we chow down. Including eating the eyeballs. Disgusting. I actually only ate half and it was sandwiched in between two pieces of plantains. It was just so slimy. That isn't to say that I didn't take the eyeballs out of everyone's fish and pile them on my plate. Because that definitely happened.
Love is blind.
Back into the car for the drive back home to Sigua and we find ourselves completing a little
science experiement. Can we stick the magentic bird on the hood of the car and have it stay all the way to Sigua? The answer is no, we cannot. Well, yes, we can stick the bird on the hood of the car. No, it cannot stay on the hood all the way to Sigua.
We also stopped to pick up some fruit. Like licha, but bigger and better. One of the many things that I love about Honduras is that everything is so relaxed and chill. For example, as we're eating these licha on steroids, we're just throwing the skins and pits out the window. And that's totally normal. It wasn't even a big thing, just a very small drop in the bucket that is my time here in Honduras, but it caused me to have one of those "Oh my gosh, I am living in Honduras. This is my life right now." moments.
We stopped at some random house that I THINK is Hector's property, but he doesn't actually live there. I'm not exactly sure why we stopped, I missed that part of the conversation, but I ended up chopping down a banana tree while I was there. With a machete. Yepp, that happened.
Upon returning to Sigua, we decided that we were going to go to the movies. What was playing, you ask? Tinkerbell. Yepp. Two girls and three guys all over the age of 22 went to see Tinkerbell. Don't even worry, we did have Hector's niece and nephew with us, so that softened the blow a little bit. That doesn't change the fact that Sarah and I were super into the movie because we could actually understand what was going on. Yes, the movie was in Spanish.
Post-movie included fireworks and a trip to Wendy's. Not a huge excitement, but Sarah and I got to drive. Cristian graciously handed over the keys and let us take the wheel. So let's check that one of the bucket list-- driving in a foreign country.
And there you have it. Yet another play by play of an unexciting, yet completely wonderful weekend in Honduras. It truly is the people who I meet who make or break this experience. And I have met some fantastic people who are fun and spontaneous and who have become huge aspects of my life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer... singing loud for all to hear.
Well, Halloween has passed and Honduras doesn't celebrate American Thanksgiving (obviously), so the next big holiday is Christmas. After hearing Cristian sing the praises of the new grocery store Maxi Dispensa ("It's soooo cheap! Cheaper than La Colonia. You have to go! It's sooooo cheap!) all day long on Saturday, we hopped in a taxi and spent a pretty penny on Christmas decorations. As in... $60.
Our purchases included:
-4 Christmas plates
-4 Christmas cups
-4 Christmas candle holders
-candles for an advent wreath
-4 tubes of ornaments
-a house ornament
-4 clay ornaments
-2 strings of lights
-3 rolls of ribbon
-4 Christmas signs to hang on our bedroom doors
-1 star
...and a partridge in a pear tree.
A (slightly expsinve considering our salary) shopping trip and a couple hours later and the teacher's house is officially ready for Christmas. Complete with non-stop Christmas music playing 24/7 and a fire blazing in the fireplace. You're welcome. And Merry Christmas.

Or should I say Feliz Navidad?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Best Weekend Ever?

I can make friends. I can hold my own and meet new people. That being said, I am not great at it. I'm not naturally inclined to be extroverted and come across as super awkward when I'm with a crowd of people that I don't know. That being said, I have made some truly WONDERFUL friends down here in Honduras. God has blessed my life is numerous ways-- the least of which includes filling my life with incredible people.

This past weekend doesn't hold stories of anything incredible. We didn't do anything notable and we don't have pictures to document our time. (It figures that the one day that's ideal for pictures, I leave my camera at home, right?) But this weekend was spent hanging out with friends, laughing, and making memories. Cliche? Yes. True? Also, yes.

So here you go. A play-by-play breakdown of what has the potential to be the best weekend in Honduras to date.

Friday night Sarah and I went to the grocery store and then headed over to the steakhouse next door. Here we are ringing the doorbell to be let into to this fancy restaurant, carrying our bags of groceries. Definition of class right there. The restaurant was all decorated for Christmas and the food was divine. After dinner, Sarah, Jorge, and I came back to the house to bake cupcakes, watch a movie, and hang out with Nelsy. The cupcakes were a success, the fire in the fireplace was a raging success, the movie wasn't such a success. So we filled the night with countless games of 20 Questions.

The other week Sarah and I went to the movies with Ricky and Cristian. While hanging out after the movies, Cristian mentioned that he had been down in Comayagua during the weekend, but had to return the next weekend. Sarah had only been to Comayagua once and I have never been there, so we pretty much invited ourselves and told Cristian that we were tagging along. That was awesome. Until we realized that Cristian wanted to leave at 8am. We stumbled out of bed and into the car at promptly 8am. Which is what led to the forgotten camera. And forgetting to turn the water off in the washing machine and flooding the laundry room. Mornings are rough at the teacher's house.

We pulled in to Comayagua around 8:45 and Cristian was finished with his errands around 9am. Soooo, what to do? There's a famous church in Comayagua with the oldest clock in Central America, so naturally we had to go. There was a tour guide milling around so Cristian asked him if he could let us in to the clock tour so we could head on up. The man said yes, found the guy with the key, and let us in. We climbed up the narrowest, scariest staircase I have ever encountered in my life to the top of this belltower. The tour guide told us that he was waiting for his actual tour group outside, so we could look around until he came back, but not to touch the bells. Not bells. Got it. So we're looking around. A bell- mmhmm. The views-- mmhmm. Hey, can you see me if I stand down there and look through the hole in the ceiling-- mmhmm. Oh, look at this wooden thing with a crank that the tour guide didn't say we could touch. Cristian turned the crank, made some noise, we carried on looking out the windows. A few minutes later we heard the tour guide huffing and puffing back up the stairs. Apparently said wooden contraption was only spun ONCE A YEAR and the priest of the church had heard the noise and called the tour guide in a panic asking what was wrong. Oh, oops. Worst tourists ever, we're sorry. We hung out in the bell tower a little bit longer, then decided we were bored. We make the trek back down the sketchy staircase and go to pay the guide. But wait, on our way out, we closed the door behind us. The door that locked. And there was only a small handful of people in Comayagua who have the key. All of which were otherwise occupied at the time. Oops, we're sorry, I suppose we really are the worst tourists ever.

Not my picture. The cathdral.
After having to ask for directions because we couldn't figure out the map between the three of us, we made it to the Archeological Museum. Since we're gringas, Sarah and I had to pay 40 lemps more than Cristian for admission. We were also followed around by one of the museum people who gave us the whole rundown of everything. I don't know if she was following us because we were white or just to give us the whole museum schpeel. We were able to see a lot about Comayagua and see the original clock face from the cathedral. Like I said, nothing monumental, but kind of cool.

Not my picture. But a picture of the original clockface.
At approximately 10:30am we rolled into Burger King for some healthy eating which was promptly followed by a trip to Baskin Robbins. We are the picture of health down here. And wouldn't you know it? The circus was in town. So we meandered across the street to see some African animals. The actual show wasn't for another 6 hours, so we just looked at all the animals and left. Sarah and I also touched a lion, no big deal.

We start to head for home and Cristian decides to take us to an atoleria. Which is a place where they sell atol which is essentially liquid cornbread. Not a fan really, but I tried it. This particular atoleria is also where all unsafe and old American playground equipment goes to die. This is not a joke. We played on some of the jankiest teeter-totters and see-saws. We also walked across the ricketist bridge I have ever encountered in my life. Sarah and I were terrified and hanging on to the edges for dear life whole Cristian was just jumping around behind us having a grand old time. AND THEN! At then of the bridge was a slide. Okay, I can do slides. Nope, think again. This is where American playgrounds go to die, remember? There's a litttttttle tiny bump in the slide, guess who FLIES off the slide? Painful and not enjoyable. We headed to the zoo which was comprised of ducks, raccoons, a wolf, and some rabbits. Yepp, that's also not a joke. And back over the rickety bridge, down another slide. This one had tires at the bottom to stop you. How nice of them, that sounds like the perfect way to sprain an ankle. In all seriousness though, we did spend quite awhile there, so it was clearly enjoyable for all of us.

Typical afternoon at the Teacher's House-- naps, Lifetime movies, and lesson planning. Yepp. Then I get a phone call. "Hello?" "What are you doing?" "Nothing, just les--" "Good, come outside. I ahve fireworks." Perrrrrrfect.

In standard fashion, we proceeded to climb onto the roof and shoot of fireworks. Why? Why not? Because it's Saturday and Saturdays always deserve to be celebrated. But before we were setting the fireworks off the roof, we were standing out on the patio shooting off fireworks. Some of the fireworks just required a flame and were then tossed into the air. But two of them were just a little different. You lit them, they exploded. Lights, loud noises, smoke, ooooh. Fifteen seconds later-- BAM! SUPER LOUD EXPLOSION. Hector, Cristian, Sarah, and I were standing around talking about how cool the firework was and next thing we knew, we were all hiding behind bushes or the flagpole. I was a little worried that I had peed my pants. It was terrifying and awesome all at the same time.

Rounding out the weekend with a little 24/7 and then some Christmas festivities. Like I said, it wasn't a monumental weekend in Siguatepeque. Nothing major happened, but it was spent with some of my favorite friends. Easily the best weekend since my arrival three short months ago.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Missionary Problems.

Now I'm not perfect, I'm not even going to pretend that I am close to perfect, but there are certain things in my life that I excel at and others that need a little bit of work. You are about to witness one of the things that need work.

I have never liked asking people for things which, I think, goes back to my insane fear of rejection. I avoided any activity that involved a tryout or an interview for as long as possible because I couldn't handle being told "no". While my dad totally loved bundling up and trekking around the town to sell Girl Scout Cookies, I absolutely dreaded it because I didn't like people telling me no. Clearly, this has been something that has been an issue in my life for quite some time.

And here I am, having to ask what is easily one of the most difficult questions to ask. As you are all aware, I am completing my first year of teaching at Siguatepeque Bilingual Christian School. I'm here as a missionary teacher and reaping all the benefits of being a missionary in a foreign land. One benefit includes a missionary salary. I am paid on a monthly basis and make more than enough money to eat, to go out to the movies, to chip in for bills, etc. I do not, however, make enough money to save up for anything which includes a plane ticket for my return flight in January.

If you feel led to support me financially, you can do so in a number of way. You can click the link underneath my picture that says "Donate" and donate through PayPal. You could also visit the "Support Me" tab at the top of this page and donate through the "Donate Here" link. Lastly, if you are in contact with my parents at any point, you could give money to them and they would know how to make it avaliable to me.

Whether or not you choose to support me financially, I am always grateful for support through prayer. While I have many general prayer requests, I also have frequent "short term" prayer requests. I plan to keep an ongoing list in the "Support Me" tab, so you are always welcome to check that out and see how things are going.

Regardless of how you choose to support me, please know that I am forever grateful for each one of you and the place you have in my life.

[Phew, that was painful. I'm glad we all survived]

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Estand Up! Estand Up!

One of the many perks of working at CEE is the fact that we have to leave Honduras to renew our visas every 90 days. Let me reiteratre, we receive a check every 90 days whose sole purpose is to fund our travels. Not educational/ professional travels. Relaxing, fun vacations.
For this trip, we decided to pack up and head on over to Playa El Tunco, El Salvador for some surf, sand, and sun. All of which we received. Josh Vega and Daniel picked us up around 8:30 on Saturday morning and we began the 10 hour trek over to El Salvador. Erika, Sarah, and I pretty much slept the entire time, so the whole day was pretty uneventful. After rolling in to El Salvador around 6:30pm, we set off for "downtown" to find some good eats. And by "downtown" I mean one of the two main roads in the town. We were looking for a relaxing beach town and we had certainly stumbled into one.
Might've had a photo shoot. Might've loved it.
Sunday morning called for some swimming and preparing for our 4:30pm surf lesson. I was NERVOUS! I envisioned a lot of this happening:
Miraculously, I did make it to the standing position on more than one occassion. Enough times that it couldn't even be considered a coincidence. Not to say that I didn't have my fair share of sitting around on the surfboard or riding the waves in on my knees because that certainly happened as well.
Ready? Ready!
Monday rolls around and we had a NINE AM surf lesson. Good grief, I could barely get out of bed. I had muscles hurt that I didn't even know existed. But I pushed through (sort of) and made it through another morning of surfing. Despite the fact that I was one on one with my instructor this time, depsite having the same instructor as Erika the night before, I did exponentially more sitting on the board this time than the night before. My instructor told me to paddle, I looked at him like he was out of his mind. He told me to get ready for the next wave, I just laid down on the board. I'd just like to stay out here and chat, if that's okay with you, bro.
I have to give my instructor credit though. I'm not a natural surfer, nor was I super inclined to work hard to enhance my abilites, but he was very encouraging and seemed more than willing to just let me hang around. He got paid either way, so I don't think he minded too much. I did frequently hear the same phrases from him over and over throughout our two days of surfing together. One: estand up, estand up! Clearly, when I was riding a wave and needed to stand up. Two: muy fuerte, muy fuerte! When we were taking the board under a wave and I had to hold on tightly. This came about when I didn't hold on and was propelled backwards due to the strength of the wave. And three: ees okay, ees okay. When I was coming back from yet another failed attempt to stand on the board. Or when I could sit on the board. Or when I could relax and lay day. Basically any time the language barrier came between us, he started saying "ees okay, ees okay".

My surf instructor and myself.
 Monday after our surf lesson was spent in the ocean and napping. That was all. Swim a little, nap a little, eat a little, and repeat. Not a bad life, if you ask me. Unfortunately, our weekend in paradise had to end on Tuesday when we packed up the car and headed back to Siguatepeque.

Surfing at sunset, eating delicious food, relaxing with friends, and not being required to wear anything more than a bathing suit all weekend? Not bad for the end of October.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ten Months Ago.

Ten months ago I was preparing myself for the "journey of a lifetime", ironically not my first journey of a lifetime this year. I was packing my bags in preparation for my three month stint in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Here I am, ten months later, living and working in yet another foreign country. And here I am, ten months later, with a completed (slash almost completed) photo book. I still have the finishing touches-- making sure that the fonts are the same size and style, checking for spelling mistakes, etc. And I have mementos that I collected throughout my trip at home that I want to scan in to add to the "Week One, Week Two, etc" pages, as well as hand-writing a little something something each week. But I'm in the homestretch.

                                             Click here to view this photo book larger

And here it is, for your viewing pleasure, $87 of awesome. (The password is my name, by the way. Capital C.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Honduran Life.

I feel like I haven't crossed a ton of things of my Honduran bucket list, yet at the same time, feel like I am always doing something. Usually those somethings are meetings or teaching or tutoring which is the real reason I'm here, but isn't much to write home about.

So here goes; my Honduran, child wrangling, baleada eating life. In no particular order.

I saw Vilma yesterday, my heart is super, super happy when I see her. We only spend about five to ten minutes together each week, but its the best five to ten minutes of my week. We hang out, chat about life, hug a lot, and tell each other how much we love each other. She's told me that I'm her best friend and her older sister and that she misses me on the weeks when I don't get to see her. Be still my Honduran lovin' heart.

We went up to Lago de Yojoa on Saturday for a little weekend getaway. I ate a fish. And I liked it. I did not appreciate the cold temperatures or the motion sickness however.

Skyped with some of my sister friends this weekend. Google+ was created for long distance friendships. I can see this becoming a weekly habit, for sure. Like I've always said, I love being here, but I love catching up with everyone from home. Things haven't changed on the homefront either. All of us trying to talk over each other about something super dramatic and life altering.

High School Cultural Day was last Friday. I ate my weight in tradition Honduran food. And didn't regret a bite of it. They also had some animals in cages that were attracting the students attention. Like the SQUIRRELS. This is not a joke. They had squirrels in cages and they were the biggest hit with all the kids. Squirrels. Not even joking. These children would have a field day on Ashland's campus.

I was harassed by my Grade Twos for about twenty minutes about not having a boyfriend. Which resulted in them drawing pictures of me with random male teachers at the school. Of which there about 5. Most of whom are married. Awesome. No wonder you guys are failing spelling. In the midst of their harassment, they asked me why I had my hair braided and if it was "to make me more beautiful for my boyfriend." I wasn't aware that was how it worked, but had I known, I would have saved myself a lot of heartbreak in high school.

In Grade One we were practicing words that begin with B. I was taking some suggestions from the students as to which words would be written on the board and then copied into their final projects. I received the usuals-- boy, bear, book. And then I got booty and boobie. Unfortunately, those two words just didn't make the cut.

And there you have it folks. A day in my life. What a life it is.

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 6-- Let's Go To A Water Park.

Cristian offered to take us to Otoro on Saturday to go to a water park. While we love our little house/ school complex, we jump at any chance to get away. So we packed up the car and headed up the mountain (and then back down the mountain again) to go to Otoro.
As a side note, it's always great to have a Honduran to take you places because we've frequently been going somewhere and the last stretch of the trip seems a little sketchy. And it's sketchy just long enough that we'd turn around if we were alone. But while having our own personal Honduran tour guides, we push through the sketchy parts and end up eating delicious pupusas or hanging out at a gorgeous water park or riding horses at some hidden Honduran restaurant resort.
Anyways. We get to this water park and pay 50 lemps a piece (about $3). The place was empty. We had the entire park to ourselves. And it was in the 80s. Let me remind you that it was October 6. I can't say that I hate any part of being here.

We stayed for the afternoon-- jumping off pirate ships, chowing on some Honduran food, enjoying the company of each other, and going down the waterslides. Some were faster than others. As in, the one made us feel like we were bullets coming out of a gun and on the other we came to a standstill.

I also had a few minutes of panic when preparing to jump off the top off the pirate ship into the pool. Which is ridiculous because I've jumped off the rock at Headlands. The five year perspective came into play here. Again. And it worked. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

En Honduras, En Honduras.

My most heard song since being here in Honduras. Band concerts, school assemblies, Independence Day parades. Anywhere, really. Cultural Day was no exception.

We had normal classes for the first three periods of the day and then the rest of the day was spent immersing ourselves in and embracing the Honduran culture. Activities included typical dance, singing some Honduran songs (definitely including the one linked above), and tasting some typical Honduran food-- which was fine by me. The kids also came dressed in their traditional Honduran clothing which was so stinkin' cute.
Days like Children's Day and Cultural Day are so fun for the kids because they're learning, but they aren't confined to a classroom. They're running around and being kids and just having a great time together. And it's great for me, as a teacher, because I get to form different sort of relationships with my students. Yes, I still have to be the teacher. But I'm not up in front of the classroom telling them to stop running around or to sit in their chair. We're able to hang out on more friendly terms and get to know each other differently.

Being in Honduras has given me such a glimpse into the history and culture of another country. I'm immersing myself as much as I can into the culture of this beautiful, wonderful country. It's also given me a greater appreciation for the culture of my own country. For apple pie and baseball games, for Lake Erie and life in the snow belt. I'm in love with my Honduran life, but I can never stray too far from the life that I have been given in the States.
Oh hey world, this is Rafael. You'll be hearing a lot more about this little stinker. Because the things he does and the words that come out of his mouth are funny enough to land a book on the New York Times best-seller list.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Te quiero...

...como si fuera mi hermana.
Being abroad for extended periods of time opens my eyes to things that I am aware of while I am in the States, but tend to forget. Such as how many wonderful people bless my life. I know, everyone things that they have the best friends, the best family, the best life. But really, that's how I feel.
I go to bed each night thanking God for blessing me with such fantastic people to interact with on a daily basis. On Tuesday, God gets an extra dose of thankfulness.
Typically I go to Bible Study at the Pastor's house on Tuesdays. Who happens to live right next door to Vilma. Life is perfect, right? I went the first Tuesday I was here (really, four days off the plane) and our reunion was everything my heart needed, yet not what I ever could have imagined. Week two was the reunion that I dreamt about for the past four years. Fast forward FOUR weeks and I'm just getting around to seeing Vilma again. It's amazing how I went four years without seeing her and, while it felt like a long time, it seemed manageable. Now here I am living in the same city and four weeks was pretty unbearable.
I was picked up by the pastor and a couple of my friends and we made the bumpy trek up to his house. I saw Vilma's house, but didn't see anyone outside. I looked over my shoulder as we drove past and there she was standing at the door. Ughh, precious. We went inside, socialized for a few seconds, and then I came back outside with Lorena. And there was Vilma, standing outside looking up at the house. I waved, she waved,  and she started runnng up the hill.

We legitimately greeted each other with an embrace just like this. Smiling, running into each other's arms. Be still my heart. We chatted a little, she corrected my Spanish. And then we began throwing rocks at a post to see who could hit it the most. (Just throwing it out there, I won.)

We threw rocks for quite some time before we said our good-byes. I might need to find a bigger bag of tricks for when my Spanish skills run out, but, for today, she and I were just having so much fun together. We were saying our good-byes, which isn't a short process, but involves lots of hugging, kissing, and "te quiero"ing. As we were hugging, she looked at me and said "Te quiero. Te quiero mucho. Te quiero como si fuera mi hermana." I love you. I love you a lot. I love you as if you were my sister.
Me too, Vilma. Me too.