Sunday, March 9, 2014

Here's To The Good Times, Here's To The Sunshine.

We currently find ourselves in the season of field trips here at CEE. A few weeks ago the older kids went to Copan, this weekend the biggest kids went to Cayos Cochinos, and on Friday my kiddos went to the zoo. Since we are in the season of field trips and beautiful weather, a few of us took an unofficial teacher field trip to the lake this weekend.

After a bit of a late start, Hector, Cristian, Brenna, Nick, Annie, and I were on our way to Pulhapanzak, El Nacimiento, the lake, and Carrizal. Phew, what a day.

But no trip would be complete without about fifteen different stops for various foods to fill our bellies. Which included chicharrones (fried and un-fried), pineapples, coconuts, and oranges. Fast food in Honduras is vastly different from fast food in the States.

Imagine gnawing on that like you would a chicken leg. You now have a brief glimpse into my life.

Our first stop was to Pulhapanzak which is a waterfall that I have been dying to go see ever since arriving in Honduras. It was my lucky day. Allegedly there's also a place to go cliff jumping here, but we couldn't find it/ didn't want to pay to go find it, so we missed out on that opportunity. The views were incredible though! There's something about water that just makes me really happy. Rivers, lakes, small ponds, oceans-- maybe I'm part mermaid. Regardless of the cause, I'm pretty sure I was walking around with a perma-smile. Couple that with the sweat that was pouring down my face and I was a real sight to behold.

See what I mean?!

My best friends.

If there's one thing I cannot do, it's be in a picture alone.

Teacher Field Trip 2014
After Pulhapnzak, Annie, Brenna, and I decided to aprovechar the truck bed and the fact that it was an incredibly sunny day and rode to El Nacimiento in the back of the truck. Girls gotta tan somehow, ya feel me? We stopped to buy some roadside oranges and I have never felt more Honduran than I did sitting in the back of the truck, hair whipping all around my face, eating an orange. Cue that perma-smile.


Pure Catracha.
We went to El Nacimiento again this year to swim in some crystal clear, freezing water. I also wanted to conquer that darn rope swing. But I didn't. Sigh. Instead, Brenna, Annie, and I all assigned ourselves a category and rated the guys' jumps on things like distance, splash size, and presentation. And we fished. Without poles. But we used the leftover chicharron for bait. So there's that.

As am I still undecided as to where I am going to be next year, I've compiled a list of all the things I want to do while in Honduras. Some of them grander and more exciting (like go to Utila), some less thrilling (like taking my picture with this giant Honduran chair). Its just so bright and cheery and Honduran. I also may have made everyone pose for one too many pictures throughout the day. Sorry not sorry.

"Do we have to?" "Yes, I'm the princess."

I've given fish a good, honest effort. I truly have. But I just don't like it. To me, all fish taste the way that Lake Erie smells. And, don't get me wrong, I love Lake Erie as much (if not more) than the next person. But I do not always love the way it smells. I had a fish at the lake last year that tasted like chicken, that's the kind of fish I could get into. But I digress. As a white population, we tend to go to a restaurant on the lake called Rancho Bella Vista because it's slightly more upscale. Thus the prices are slightly more upscale. Cristian and Hector adamantly protested against Rancho Bella Vista today and my wallet agreed with them. We ended up at one of the many lake restaurants where I think I was served half a chicken. And I couldn't stop staring at the lake. As in, open mouthed stare. Look at those colors! Beautiful.

One would think our day was over after so many adventures. One would be wrong. Our last stop was at Hector's property in Carrizal where, unfortunately, no poisonous snakes were to be found and no bananas needed chopped. Our ride home was made slightly more exciting when we got a flat tire.What can I say? Life is never dull.

We rounded out our day by seeing a snake on a leash. I'm talking a 5 foot long snake on a LEASH. It was fascinating until they wanted to throw it at the gringas who, if you recall, are sitting unprotected in the back of a pickup truck. It did leave me with so many questions though. Was it poisonous? How did it get on the leash? What are they going to do with it when they take it off the leash? Did they find it in Sigua? Do I need to be worried about other 5 foot long snakes slithering into my school? Is it your pet? What do you feed it?

If I had a dollar for every time I said some variation of "It's so beautiful!" today, I would have easily had $100. I can't stop saying it, this is a beautiful country.

And so to recap...

Waterfall hiking. Rope swinging. Pole-less fishing. Truck bed riding. Orange eating. Hair blowing. Giant chair sitting. Tire popping. Snake on a leash spotting.

Phew, Honduras. I didn't even know you had it in you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Was Born And Raised Here.

I got it made here. 

As with any big event, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember where I was when I found out. I remember the emotions that went through me. I remember where I was when I actually realized what had happened.

I was completing my fourth week of student teaching at OLM in Rio de Janiero, Brazil and had just begun packing up to go to lunch. My roommate walked in my classroom, just as she did every day, so that we could walk to lunch together. But that day she asked if I had ever heard of a town named Chardon. Of course I had, I grew up there. My heart would forever left in that sleepy, little town. 

I knew something was wrong just by looking at her eyes. And I nervously laughed when she told me that there was a shooting at the high school. I accidentally left my cell phone at home that day and thought that I could make it through the rest of the day without going home to get it.

Fast forward twenty minutes and I realized mid-bite that I HAD to go home and get my cell phone. I didn't have any messages. Nor could I get a hold of my mother, father, brother, or sister. (I hadn't discovered the magic that is MagicJack yet, so I was relying solely on texting.) Where were they? Was my brother okay? What in the world was happening?

I called my best friend and hysterically asked him to call my parents or my siblings and then call me back as soon as he knew everything. He called me back at about the same time as I received texts from my parents. My brother was okay, everyone was okay.

Two years later and I'm not sure that everyone is okay. Physically? Yes. Emotionally? Doubtful. 

CBS' 60 Minutes aired a special about the shooting and Coach Hall tonight. I sat on my coffee table and sobbed. I sobbed to see the snowy streets of the town that will always be my home. I sobbed when I saw my teachers, my school, the hallways that I walked down every single day. I sobbed when I saw my brother. I sobbed when they showed Coach Hall's first Lakeside versus Chardon football game where the Chardon students rolled out a "We Love You, Coach Hall" sign.

It's likely that I will be posting about this every February 27th from now on. But it's worth repeating.

That's my town. Those are my teachers. That's my family.

And while my mailing address might currently be Siguatepeque, Honduras, but home will always be in Chardon, Ohio. To show their support for their favorite English teacher and the town that raised her, Grade 1 and 2 came to school sportin' their red on February 27.

Two towns. One heartbeat.