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.