Tuesday, October 29, 2013


A few months ago, or what feels like galaxies ago in February, my boyfriend and I were laid out on colorful flat bohemian cushions on the sand, enjoying an evening of fruity booze buckets and watching fire dancers mesmerise the crowd with their fiery chains cutting through the calm beachside darkness. This was Ko Tao, Thailand-one of the best places in the world to scuba dive. 

Last weekend, I found myself on Utila- the other best place in the world to scuba dive. It's also the cheapest-for $250 you can get your Open Water, or so I hear. This island attracted the same crowd as Ko Tao-20-something backpackers from all over the world, laid back and party-loving. When we got off the ferry it was hard to believe we were only 45 mins away from mainland Honduras-it was a different world. Like Roatan, everyone spoke English and USD was accepted everywhere. Unlike Roatan, all the bars were packed, every night, and it was hard to resist the inviting crowds of new friends (made quickly)-to go to the next bar, join the rest at the other joint, meet the next day to dive, join their sailboat, drink rum, drink more rum, and enjoy the freedom of youth and adventure. I was told by a bartender the Three Golden Lies of Utila on my first night: 

1. I love you.
2. I'm not drinking tonight. 
3. I'm leaving tomorrow. 

So now you know, and if you're ever in Honduras-you have to check this place out cause there's nowhere in the place like this place. (Besides maybe Ko Tao, lots of people we met here have also been there!) 

 Not a lot of beaches, a whole lot of docks! 
 You get the idea. 

Week Seven in Honduras

I have reached the half-way mark of my time in Honduras. I feel strange typing this from San Francisco, on an unexpected trip back to highways, coffee shops, beanies, and autumn weather. I love it but I'm culture-shocked...there is too much talking, too many signs, too many choices of beer. Okay, maybe the beer choices aren't too bad. Suddenly I hear everyone's conversations and I can read every menu, I'm excited to have chai lattes but I feel so shy ordering, using ENGLISH...has it really been over three years? It's like a double-whammy culture shock: how many people go from speaking Chinese and living in Taiwan, straight to speaking Spanish and living in Honduras?

The culture shock just goes to show how El Porvenir has grown on me. I wake up when the sun rises, and I like feeling like I haven't wasted a minute of sunlight. I always have either pineapples or bananas with granola or oatmeal for breakfast, and hardly think about coffee. I think about lesson plans for the day, and if I need to bring money for the student's milk or need to make photocopies of worksheets. I allow myself to wear the same pair of shorts for up to a week, just cause no one cares and neither do I anymore. Locals shout "BUENAS!" as I ride by to work and I nod back every morning. I play with the kinder kids-we have all gotten quite familiar with each other now and I calm daily wars over who gets the pencils with the most eraser bits, etc. I also have to palliate uproars over turns on the playground swings. I drink liters upon liters of water every day!

In the afternoons our bomberos (firefighters) class is going on full swing. I have to admit, at first I was a bit intimidated by the task of standing in front of a group of community heroes with the intent of teaching them conversational English and grammar. But it turns out that these guys are the most easy-going, diligent and sometimes even bashful handful of men in the town. It's my favorite class to teach, by far. This week we went through present continuous verbs: I AM eatING, you ARE sleepING, and so on. Everything I teach them, I learn it in Spanish from them also. It's efficient and beautiful.

I get home each day just as the sun is setting. Unless we have plans to watch a futbol game at the local patio bar, most of the volunteers and I spend our evenings cooking and uncoiling into our own quarters.   On Tuesday I learned how to make tortillas-it's a lot of patting and slapping dough. I take about three showers a day-to wash off the dirt, bug repellent, mud and sweat. Oh, the one thing I hate above all else in Honduras-the insectos. My legs are eaten up and my back is covered in dark blemishes, it's not sexy. This past week I was kept up a few nights, itching in my sleep...even within the drapes of my mosquito net! Even so, if bug bites are my biggest compliant I feel like I'm doing pretty well. There is a purity about El Porvenir, where no one has any money so no one judges and everyone just enjoys what they can out of every day. Last week I really wanted a pineapple. On Tuesday I got one, and I was happy for the rest of the week.

When I get back, I'll be taking it easy on the weekends. There is only one more place in Honduras I want to check out that I haven't yet-the Copas Ruinas. Until then, Rosa-the local kinder teacher, has invited the volunteers and I to help out at a soup kitchen every Saturday. It's a wonderful excuse to stay in town and maybe even check out different churches on Sunday! I've been to one service so far...it was quite an experience that I won't be returning to anytime soon.

Sigh. The days are long, but the weeks are fast. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week Six in Honduras

"Tell us, if there were one thing we could do for your village, what would it be?" 
"With all respect, Sahib, you have little to teach us in strength and toughness. And we don't envy your restless spirits. Perhaps we are happier than you? But we would like our children to go to school. Of all the things you have, learning is the one we most desire for our children." -Schoolhouse in the Clouds 

It's good to get inspired to do something you're already doing. 

Sometimes on a day-to-day basis it doesn't seem so special or heroic-sometimes it doesn't even feel like it matters. This past week I've been contemplating the actual need for me to stay in this village, if the work we're doing is efficient enough to even stick around for. It just seems like education is so overlooked in El Porvenir, the parents don't seem to care if their kids go to school or not, learning English seems silly when no one speaks it here, and the kids are frustratingly academically behind. But I believe that education is so important that I can't leave yet. Learning is never a waste of time or money-investing in an education is a smart thing to do. Or better yet, invest in the education of others. That's what teachers do. I don't think a single teacher exists out there who doesn't believe in the power of education. I suppose that's what I really enjoy teaching, whenever I feel discouraged I stumble across a quote like the one above and feel a swell of emotion. We learned COLORS this week BTW-they all knew 'yellow' really well, not sure why! 

This week our trial program with the local firemen started and it's been great. I really enjoyed getting to know these 15-20-something-year-old team of workers and volunteers. Yes, they aren't children-but lots of them are young men that are yearning to learn English. I think it's wonderful what the firemen do-there are only four actual firefighters, but the rest are volunteers from the local high school. These boys get taken in and trained, they get mentored, have a safe and positive place to hang out, and stay out of trouble because they all want to finish school and go to fireman school. For me, it's a huge relief to have such a captive audience and I feel like I'm really getting to know the community as well. They never want to class to end! When we finish a unit, they beg to go on to the next one-they always go, "No mas?! Mas por favor!" Next week I'll put up a photo of us. I have one now but I'm all slouching funny and looks weird. Haha!

Oh and the past weekend, five of us volunteers hopped onto a ferry for Utila. It was the most fun I might have ever had-partying on dock bars and the beach with a constant flow of new friends-wise. I just got home earlier and I still can't put into words all that went
down. Uh. Our not-to-be-envied 'restless spirits' get the better of us sometimes..a veces...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Week Five in Honduras

I've fallen in love with bachata music. Look up 'Prince Royce' for an example. You can not help but to feel happy if you hear songs like that on a sunny day. I'll lip-sync along til I know the lyrics, and hopefully someday I'll know what they mean as well! 

This week I finally mastered saying "I must exercise every day", "Are you married?" and stuff like "I like your hair."It's still a struggle to carry a conversation, and a few days this week I felt pretty discouraged but then Honduras won the game over Costa Rica and ALL IS WELL. Tickets were sold out, so we watched it at a bar-it's so fun quenching our excitement with Salvavidas (the national beer here-it means 'lifesaver' in Spanish...genius.) and high-fiving bellowing locals!

I burned a CD for the Kinder kids this week, just basic English kids songs plus the Macarena and the kids went crazy over it. We learned farm animals this week, but it was chaos because their teacher was gone a few times and these kids love to destroy the classroom. Ever since I gave up trying to manage this class up to Taiwanese standards, I've been much happier. It's just not going to work here, but as long as the kids love coming to school still, that's okay. Every day there is so much I wish I could say to them, but even now my Spanish just results in cute puzzled faces. 

On Friday night some volunteers and I went 'camping' and then on to a reservoir lake area (Cuero y Salado) the next day to search for crocodiles and manatees. At least that's what I was told! But we only saw monkeys, birds, and lizards instead. It's alright though-manatees kind of scare me. They are so big and float around in murky water like shadowy monsters...lakdjf;ladfjadls. Later on we hiked Pico Bonito up to a waterfall. There are lots of snakes and we had a close encounter with a jaguar (apparently everyone heard it and froze in place while I continued to climb up the trail) and our guide had us eat termites! They taste like carrots, really-just a POP and a burst of carrot flavor in your mouth. 

There is never a dull moment living in La Casa de La Playa (volunteer house). Even though I've only been here a month and a half I'm practically a veteran now since every week people arrive and people leave. Over the course of a week my roommates have changed from two american girls to two european girls, one from Norway and one from Germany. Everyone gets along more or less-it's like Big Brother or Friends. I'm whichever one who tries to get everyone to join my workouts (Day 26 of Insanity now!) and then later to have beers. And you know how I know I'm American? Cause Americans talk about themselves a lot, and often, and basically the three Americans in the house (including me) speak the whole time for everyone...so. I'm going to work on that. It wasn't as obvious in Taipei-I don't know why, but living here it IS. Why do we do that?! Anyways, my two teaching partners from Spain left yesterday, and a guy from Australia arrived, so we went out to party again in La Ceiba. Let me tell you, there isn't a lot of variation in their club music-it's basically dirty Spanish grinding music for hours on end, and the men standing around the bars look greeeeesssayyy. I had hoped it would be more fun my second time around, but now I'm pretty sure my clubbing days in Honduras are over. 

Sometimes I get excited about cooking and reading. I've started reading half a dozen books (I promise to finish at least one of them) and I'm trying out at least one new recipe every week. It's really weird, and I wonder if it means I'm finally growing up. At 25, I still feel like all I've done so far is travel, play and enjoy life-and it's disgusting and unfair to others whom have toiled away at their office desks all day since university. It's not that I don't want to build up a nice career-I do and I will. And when I do, you can bet I will be working my ass off like crazy cause I like to be busy. But I still don't know what I want to do or become yet, so meanwhile it doesn't hurt to see more of what the world needs, learn more about what I can contribute, and meet people that inspire me. And add on to my personal growth on the side, such as enjoying music that I don't understand.
Hasta lluego! 

 The morning papers after our big game!! WHOO HOO!
 This is Moises, he's gonna be a heartbreaker.
 Just look at the evil on their faces lol
My favorite routine.
A donde esta las crocodiles?!?!?!
 Parking our motorboat to admire arbols. (trees)
 The waterfall at Pico Bonito!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Week Four in Honduras

I can't believe a month has passed since I unpacked my bags in El Porvenir.

Things at the Kindergarten are going smoothly, but they have an unusual amount of holidays. I feel like for every week there's been at least a day off. The kids have gotten much better at giving into brushing their teeth, maybe because I enforce it every day and it's finally becoming a routine. I taught about food this week, and we made art with plates of paper food-it was a hit! The more time I spend with these children, the more I witness how much a child's home life affects their behavior in class. One girl doesn't listen to anyone or want to do anything-she is losing both her parents to AIDS. Same with another grumpy little boy-he's losing his mom to cancer. Another boy is quiet and cries a lot, because he gets beaten at home a lot since his dad left the family. Needless to say, some days participation is not good but I can't expect too much. Sometimes I just sit on the stairs of the classroom and watch them, wondering what kind of adults they will grow up to be. Despite everything, most of the students go on every day cheerfully living in the only world known to them. . I'm learning how to chill out and work with a class that is constantly in chaos, to take every day as they come and do the best we can with what we've got.

Next week I will start giving English classes to the local firefighters with my teaching partner. They are a group of good natured men, some are younger boys that volunteer to train with them. I've never really taught English for adults, but I've been a student in adult classes for different languages! They aren't busy here, plus sometimes even if they get a call, they don't have gas in their truck to answer it! Most of their English skills are non-existent, but we've picked out a very basic textbook to start off with. We need to make photocopies week by week for everyone.

This past weekend I took a break from traveling to just hang out. We got three new volunteers, and our project manager organized an International Dinner on Friday where we all cooked food from our countries to share. I felt obligated to make something Asian since I'm the only one here, so I made chow mein! Hahha we had Spanish tortillas, Norwegian crepes, hot dogs (the american dudes of course) grits, sangrias, pina coladas, etc. Yesterday I went to La Ceiba and bought a Honduras jersey cause a bunch of us are planning to go to the Honduras vs. Costa Rica game next Friday, if we can get tickets. It's supposed to be a huge game, cause if we win then Honduras will go on to the World Cup in Brazil!! I also finally went swimming at the beach next to our house! The water was warm, and there are lots of rolling waves that gently float you back to shore. I don't know why I hadn't gone out there before.

Oh, I went out to the club for the first time here last night. We went out in La Ceiba, it was called HIBOU anddddd compared to the laser beam lights at Luxy, or the walls of waterfalls inside Myst, the views out on the balcony of Departure, I was not impressed despite it being the nicest club in La Ceiba. The music was good though-I didn't know any of the songs but they were easy and fun to dance to! They had an outside area, and I was amused to find out we were ON the beach, overlooking the waves. We were out until almost 3am but it never got that crowded, and it didn't feel dangerous.

I'm starting to see the same people all the time here, walking around on the streets or buying things from the pulperias. Every stranger here is my new friend waiting to be made. :) Okay, maybe not EVERYONE. My Spanish has continued to improve to the point where I'm speaking Spanglish! I think it's a good thing, cause I'm generally communicating in Spanish and fill in words I don't know with English. Which is a lot, and it doesn't work here if they don't know the English word either. So maybe not a good thing. I've started to look for the right tutor here.

That's about it for now! One month, check.

Where I finally went swimming yesterday, my backyard beach!

Another successful day of teeth brushings! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Last week I had a very special visitor-the boyfriend!! After picking him up from the airport, we took a quick tour of El Porvenir and then headed straight to the ferry port for Roatan. Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands, an hour ferry ride from La Ceiba. Even though it's so close, Roatan is a galaxy away from El Porvenir, as far as living standards in Honduras goes. It has a reputation for white sandy beaches, beautiful resorts and lots of tourists. We stayed at West End, in a lovely bungalow. Even though I have gotten accustomed to living in a little poverty-stricken village, getting away for a few days was a breath of fresh air. We sprawled out under palm trees, sipped on pineapple rum cocktails, took pictures of sunsets and absorbed the beauty around us. Boyfriend and I absolutely loved every minute of our vacation there, but the best part was, of course, being reunited with each other. Here are some pics, the rest will be on FB soon! xx

The beauty of tandem kayaks. 
 Snorkeling! The waters were transparent and the fish were huge!
 Coconut breaded shrimp was delicious..til I had too many, but still. 
 Sunset at our beach front.
 Water taxi stop!
 Our breezy home <3
 On our way to see dolphins and starfish! 
 One night back in La Ceiba, sunset on the beach. Hot dogs or...? 
 Look who honey found for me! HAHA! 
From our balcony, til next time!