Tuesday, June 30, 2009

There is a lot of political unrest in Honduras right now. Please pray for this country and the people. Pray for peace.

Friday, June 26, 2009

That´s outside of my room....Remind you of PJ´s house dad??

The cutest boys!!!!!!!!!



I had my Spanish class again today but most of the time as I'm sitting there with my tutor I am wonder whether or not it is really helping. It scares me when I start correcting her on some things (considering the fact that she is the Spanish teacher at the school) and at the fact that she does not speak any English. It can get pretty frustrating at times when I just want to be able to fully explain something and know that she is not thinking I am saying something else. But besides the tutoring part of it she is a very sweet girl. I am thankful that she is willing to help me (even though I do not think she has a choice :>)!
On to the more exciting things…..earlier this morning I walked into the bakery, the kitchen part of it, and saw three fish just laying on the counter ALIVE. They were slowly dying, trying to breathe although every breathe looked painful. Dona Tona thought it would be funny to splash some water on them so that they flopped around but I did not find it very amusing. It just got those poor little guy’s hopes up only to crash and burn with their next dry gasp. I mean I felt bad for the little guys but I just went back to my room and felt better. Out of sight out of mind I guess. Of course that does not apply to all of you however! :>
Anyways I went back into the bakery just now to find a chicken this time in that same spot. Its feathers had been plucked but the rest of him was there...head and all...and I seemed to have come in at the perfect time to see Melissa ripping his feet off, one toe at a time. I thought I was going to yarf. I mean I know I eat chicken and I love it but I never have to see that process, what happens to it before it goes into my mouth!! I hate that it makes me feel uncomfortable. I should be able to watch it if I am going to eat it right? But then again we are so spoiled at home and when I want to eat chicken by the time I get to it, it is already prepackaged or looking good between the mash potatoes and gravy on my plate! Either way I am definitely not eating chicken tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I showed tia all my pictures today of my family and friends and all of the teachers at the school wanted to see them as well. It is funny though because they all get so excited to see the pictures because for them the U.S. is so different and exciting. And they all say the pictures are "so pretty!!" They always say my mom and sisters are beautiful and that my dad looks very young. They also, of course, talk about how “guapo” matteo is. Of course.
I took a nap for 2 and a half hours today and my throat has been bothering me all day. I drank some lemon something or other today so I am hoping that will help and it will feel better tomorrow. I have Spanish again tomorrow, my last class for the week, THANK GOD. It will be the weekend soon and my second week here….seems like a month already!


I had to wake up at 5 this morning because we had to go San Pedro Sula early today and it takes a few hours to get there. The beginning of the trip is always the worst because it is just winding roads for awhile and being squished in the back seat of a small car never helps! Millie, Yassenia, her husband, Anna and I all seemed to be going to the Same Place for different reasons. Yassenia’s husband had to go to S.P.S. for business today and tomorrow, Anna lost her residency card and needs to get back home on July 6th, so Yassenia was going with her to help deal with immigration stuff, Millie had to bring her car into the shop, get her glasses and her phone fixed and I just always seem to be tagging along for the ride!! We dropped Yassenia’s husband off first, then Anna and Yassenia and then Millie and I headed off to the auto repair shop. I pretty much got the best deal out of it all because right next to the auto repair shop was dunkin dounuts!! Of course Millie and I had no choice but to go since it was really the only thing to do while we were waiting for the car. :> We sat and ate our donuts while drinking milk and coffee and then got a dozen donuts to go!! It was so good to have a donut!!! It is funny how once you are in such an unfamiliar place there is so much comfort found in sweets and familiar foods!!! My comfort foods have been chocolate and peanut butter so far. Kinda reminds me of LA Term!!
Anyways once we were done the car was still being worked on so we took a taxi to the city mall. We met up with Anna and Yassenia there and we walked around running Millie’s errands with her and window shopping. It is funny because all of the clothes for women here are tight and frumpy. Definitely Latina style.
Anyhow, we sat down for lunch in between errands and then on our way out we stopped off at the candy store. It was nice to go to all these places while we were there because Santa Rita is a small town and does not have any “touristy” things or foods to eat. It was good to have a few treats today! We finally left and started our journey back home, all extremely full yet continuing to eat sweets and speaking Spanish (or in my case, learning it). I love driving in the car and I really like the long drives here because you are able to see so much of the country and such different parts. San Pedro Sula is very much a city. There is so much smog in the air, so many buildings and businesses and it basically looks like a less advanced North America. Then, as you start heading away from S.P.S., there is so much green, so many cows, people on the sides of the road selling corn, riding horses, women carrying pots on their heads, and the crazy drivers that follow you know matter what part of the country you are in! Once you reach Santa Rita, however, everything is so much smaller and “homey.” There are even more people riding their horses, cows and chickens just crossing the street or grazing in front of houses, skinny dogs everywhere and still plenty of crazy drivers!! There are less buildings though, less industry and modernization. There is more poverty here. It is nice to live in a smaller town though, you see familiar faces everyday and there is more community.
Well the good news is, I, for some reason became a little less intimidated on the car ride back home and I really tried speaking Spanish. It has always been harder for me to actually speak Spanish because I really struggle with sentence structure. I have a hard time knowing where “lo” “que” “me” and “se” goes and I always try to translate things exactly...which does not work. I also have such a hard time conjugating the verbs in my head before attempting to actually say them. It is so much easier to read Spanish! But I finally just started talking more and making mistakes and asking for corrections and even just correcting myself. By the end of the ride, after dropping Anna off and bringing Yassenia back to her house, Millie and Yassenia were surprised at how much I was talking. They really encouraged me and told me how much Spanish I knew. It felt good and really made me just want to talk and learn more. And that is what I need. To really WANT to talk more. Otherwise I don’t. I so badly just want to be able to hold a conversation and not have to be timid or anxious because I only know so much. I just want to be able to understand people! I mean there are touristy parts here where more people speak English but really in Santa Rita there are very few people, just Millie and two other teachers, whom I have not even met yet! It is so frustrating to constantly be surrounded by unfamiliar people and not even be able to understand most of what they are saying!!! I cannot tell you how many times I almost just start rattling off in my gibberish because I am so frustrated!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009


Well today I started my Spanish class!! I went with Millie to the school this morning at 7:30am. There were seven other teachers at the school this morning and Millie is having Miss Juliana, be my Spanish tutor. I was a little nervous at first because Juliana does not speak English so I was thinking, “great how am I going to explain to her what I am suppose to do?!” But Millie helped explain in the beginning and the rest worked itself out pretty well. We sat in one of the classrooms and practiced going over some commands and some phrases that will be helpful for me in the classroom. Juliana is a really sweet girl and she is only one year older than me so it is nice to feel like she is just more of a friend helping me out. I need more friends my age here!!
Then it was time to hit the streets. Juliana and I went to Millie’s aunt’s restaurant first. I love this aunt she is so precious! We talked to her for a little bit and she is so cute because she really tries to make sure she speaks a little slower for me. At her little restaurant she makes enchiladas and tajadas. Las tajadas are kind of like potato chips to them….they are platanos fried. Here, banano refers to the fruit banana and platano refers to the vegetable which looks almost identical to a banana (just a little background info for you all in case you were wondering :>). She gave us a big bag of tajadas as a gift and then took us next door to meet her son who owns the store and where we bought some drinks. Then we left and went back down the street to the Pulperia (my host family’s store) and talked to mama Hilda for a little bit and then went back to the school. I sat and listened to the teachers talk some more… not understanding much that was said, and then at 11am I headed back to the house. Once I got back to the Pulperia mama Hilda’s brother was there. He is visiting from Florida and is only here for a few more days. He was excited to meet me and has been to Los Angeles so he wanted to talk to me about California, how it is a beautiful place and random other things. He was a cute old man with his little cane and he spoke very good Spanish….well I guess the type of Spanish that I can more or less understand! He was cute because if he could not pronounce something, like Azusa and my name, he would have me write it down for him. It was funny to listen to him struggle over my last name and then when I said it was Italian he started going off about Italy!! He talked about how beautiful it is there and how he loves the Italian language. He said Italian, French and Portuguese are all a lot easier to learn because they are closer to Spanish. I was pretty surprised though because he has been living in Florida for several years now and still does not know very much English. He said one sentence in English and I could barely understand what he was saying!! Anyways, people here love to talk so I had to finally end the conversation so I could get some of my homework done while things were fresh on my mind. I had not been working on my homework for very long before one of the teacher’s daughters came in my room and sat on my bed and started talking. She is five years old and so cute but I cannot understand a word she says!! Do you all see a pattern here of me not understanding anything? Well you are right; there is a pattern. Welcome to my life!!
Let us just all pray that I start understanding things!!!


Early this morning at 4am there were more gun shots. This must be a routine….I don’t know who is shooting or what they are shooting at but I would sure like to tell them to keep it down!! But anyways, today was a really hard day in the beginning but thankfully it ended up being a good day. I woke up and cleaned my room. Every week we clean our rooms, sweeping our floors (because they are all tile), scrubbing the sink, shower and the toilet. And I already did my laundry and changed out my towels and emptied out the trash earlier this week but we have to do that too. You know just regular weekly cleaning…although I do not normally do that stuff at home!! :> I just cleaned and read A LOT for the first half of the day. I go to bed so early here… about 9 or 10 every night and then I wake up at 5:30 or 6am so everyday seems pretty long. And there is so much school work involved which I guess is good but never feels like it at the time…. And I thought about home a lot. It is difficult when I have a lot of down time because that is when my thoughts wander and think about being back at home with the fam and being surrounded by people I know and love.
But then, thankfully, in the middle of my homework Elvira came into my room and was saying “venga! venga! Vamanos. Quiere un cono??!” I had no idea what cono was and she does not speak any English so there was not an easy way to find out! But I went with her and she led me down the street to the ice cream shop. Hahaha I should have known oh an ice cream CONE. Make sense. It was so cute though because she just randomly wanted to buy me an ice cream cone to help me get through studying!! She is so sweet. And it is funny because she is the one who is always making cakes and cookies and bread in the bakery so she is gordita and she always has her arm resting on her stomach and always has a little piece of cake or something on the corner of her mouth! She likes to eat and she definitely likes to eat sweets…my kind of girl. :> We got back and then Millie and her mother and I went to get some coffee in Copan and stopped by her friend’s house (who is also a teacher at Los Pinos) and we sat and talked for a long time. She was so nice and she had the cutest daughter and cutest dog. I was so excited to see a healthy and CLEAN dog! You do not find too many of those around here!!
After leaving Copan we stopped by the construction site again to see what more they did today. We picked up three boys on the way, who are also Millie’s students, and then two more boys came and joined us at the site and the next thing you know, of course, the boys are playing soccer!! They were so cute and it is so funny because when they speak it is so freaking FAST!!!!! I just had to start laughing because they just sound like those kids in the emperor’s new groove or something!! I do not even know how their tongues move that fast!! One of the boys also started speaking to me in English a little bit and he was good! He is going into the third grade and he already knows a good amount of English! El es muy inteligente!
Anyways we left the site and dropped the kids and Millie’s mom back off and then took the car back to the school. We stopped by Millie’s aunt’s house on the way home. She was so sweet; I really enjoyed talking to her and I told her I will be coming by everyday so I can talk to her and practice my Spanish. Thankfully she agreed to practice with me and she also makes and sells enchiladas so maybe she will feed me sometimes too!!
Yes tomorrow I start my Spanish class!!! I am kind of nervous because I have to go around and find people to talk to and it is going to be so difficult and embarrassing!!! But I guess this whole trip seems to be humbling me every step of the way. I guess I do need that. But I will go to the school tomorrow from 8-10am and talk to one of the teachers who speaks English and she is going to help me with my Spanish. So let us hope it all goes well. And hopefully this all works and I will be speaking Spanish when I come back. All of the Spanish speakers here tell me I will but I just do not see how it is possible so far…. We will see I guess!!!! Wish me luck!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One Week

One week! I think this has been one of the longest weeks in my life!! But at least I got through it! It was harder to sleep last night. I kept waking up all throughout the night and there were a lot of gun shots at one point. They were so loud they sounded like they were going to come straight through my room! When I woke up this morning Millie asked me if I had heard them so I guess it was not just a vivid dream after all!! Millie says that is why she does not like to be out late at night. Understandable.
This morning Millie and I went to Copan to drop off some quesadillas for a friend and her family. What they call quesadillas over here is a lot different than Mexico!! When we came back home I was off to do more school work AGAIN!! I have 7 pages written already for my family Org class and another 10 pages written for this book/paper we have to write all throughout our GLT.
I did get to hang out in the pulperia for a little while. I really like Elvira, Millie sister; she is so sweet. She is always encouraging me saying I will learn Spanish quickly. It does not seem that way by the looks of it!! But sometimes they say I sound like a Mexican! That’s because I am dating one!! Hahaha and I guess the Gonzalez family rubbed off on me. But Millie was saying that if she goes to Mexico she can barely understand people because they use so much slang. I said I know that is pretty much all the Spanish I learned on L.A. term!!
I do love when it rains here. It calms my heart and eases my soul. It makes me feel better. It takes the feelings of homesickness away. I love laying here in bed and listening to the rain against the roof. I hear people singing in the church every night. I hear the rooster’s constant cry and the dog barks that follow. Neither animal seems to miss a beat. Every so often the mango tree lets go of another piece of fruit and as it hits the tin roof one hears what sounds like a gun shot. The birds are tropical here and they seem to like the sound of their own song because it is continually playing. The thunder is incredibly here. I have never heard something so powerful and majestic than when the rain rushes down and the thunder roars, making everyone stop and listen to the power and beauty of nature. Then one can see the sky light up in only a temporary flash.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The students and their teacher. These were the kids I taught how to brush their teeth!!



Day 6

Today was a bittersweet day. This morning we went to one last school, which was the very first school that the missionaries built over here, and the kids were once again so precious. It was not too long of a drive but because of the rain, our trucks were slipping and sliding everywhere! Good thing Brewer and Thomas are both excellent drivers so we got there and back safely. I fell in love with one of the little boys there, Mario, I wanted to take him home with me!! He was so cute and when he spoke Spanish I thought I was going to die from his cuteness! Anyways, we gave the last of our stuff to the kids and parents and then headed back home. All of the missionaries were invited to Millie’s for lunch where we all ate empanadas (or in El Salvador they are called pupusas), pineapple and pastel. After our delicious lunch we took the missionaries to the construction site so they could see how Millie’s new school is coming along. After visiting for a little longer, the missionaries left. It was surprisingly really sad to see them go, I felt like they were a little piece of home for me while they were here and so it was sad to have to say good bye. It feels a little weird knowing that they will be back in the states tomorrow and I will not be there until November. Time seems to go by so slow over here so five months is now seeming like an eternity.

Day 5

Today was a really good day. We went to another school today and it was an hour drive there and then about a 25 minute walk up to the school. It was quite the workout. I started out in the back of the truck again today with Greg and Thomas but after about 30 minutes I went back inside the car because there was too much polvo (dust).Once we reached the “end of the road” we got out and started walking. It was so beautiful and there was lots of coffee being grown all around us. It was not too far of a walk but it was at quite an incline so we were definitely sweating by the time we reached the school. Unfortunately Thomas has a bad ankle and after starting the walk his walking stick gave way and needless to say he could go no further. So our guide (who by the way reminds me of a Honduran version of Kai :]) and Millie took Tom back so we were left with zero translators. But we carried on and the kids were so good at this school, they all stayed in their seats and were all very polite. When we passed out their toothbrushes and toothpaste I had to explain to them how to brush their teeth. I was pretty nervous but I got through it. I kept asking the kids if they understood and they said they did and their teacher was agreeing with me so I think I got the point across! And afterwards everyone told me that I did a really good job and that I sounded like a real teacher! Hahaha I think they were just trying to make me feel good but it worked!! I get discouraged pretty easily when I cannot understand everything that people say around here so little encouragements along the way always help. On the way back there was another truck on the road that got stuck in some water so we (well the men) helped push the car over to the side of the road and then we gave the guy a ride into town. It was quite the drive but always so beautiful and there is so much to see. I feel like I can never take enough in!
Later that day we went to Copan to get some pizza for dinner. Millie’s sister (Elvira) came with us and it was a lot of fun. Elvira does not speak any English so Brewer (the man who lived in Panama for 23 yrs), Millie, Elvira and I all sat at one end of the table and they told me that I could only speak in Spanish if I wanted to eat. Elvira kept telling me that it is good she does not speak any English so that I can learn Spanish. Hahaha it was frustrating at times when I just wanted to say something in English but it was good for me. After dinner I just followed Elvira and of course they run into their family and friends everywhere so we talked to a few people in the street before heading back to the house. Millie finally had to say okay Elvira vamanos! Haha
Once we got back home I watched tela novelas (soap operas) with Fanny and Melissa. They are so cute and so funny but they are younger, Fanny is 12 and Melissa is 14, and they talk so fast!!! Plus their voices are high pitched so I always have to tell them to repeat things and slow down! Elvira had also put a small thing of tres leche cake in the frig for me so Fanny and I split it. It was sooooo good!! They spoil me here! After the girls all went to bed I stayed up for a little longer on the computer emailing Matt when the power turned off. The computer is in the kitchen and it was around 10pm so it was really dark. I had no idea what to do because I could not see a thing! I kept trying to open my eyes because it felt like they were closed!! I finally felt my way back to my room and luckily I have a little light in my room that uses batteries so I could turn that on once I felt around and found it. Hahaha I almost started calling out for someone to come help me but then I figured they would probably not be able to anyways!! Haha well I guess I am back in my room now so everything worked out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Make sure you guys are scrolling down to the bottom and clicking "older posts" to see more pictures. There´s a lot!

The kids running after our cars as we were leaving.

The girls and their new dresses

Cows in the middle of the road look like India Matteo? This one was caught doing the nasty tho. Kinda reminds me of Ferris.

Inside the pulperia!

You see this a lot. So cute.

These are the little taxis in Santa Rita.

Do you see the girl in the black shirt on the right? That is Melissa and that is the Pulperia where millie´s mother and sister work and where we go to get into the house.

The third class we visited. The kids and their teacher. They were a VERY good class. These are the little ones that I taught how to brush their teeth. :)

Some of the boys at the first school.

Day 4

Today was a busy day. This morning Millie, one of the missionaries, Karen, and I all got up and had to be at the hotel at 8am. We met up with the rest of the missionaries (there is only a total of 9 of them), loaded up the trucks and made our way to school. We went to two schools today and both of them were way far up in the mountains. The first school is one that the missionaries pretty much built (that they paid the locals to build). When they first came to the school several years ago there was only one tiny room for all of the kids, grades K-6th, and so since then they have built on and added more classrooms. The missionaries return to the school three times a year and bring clothes and supplies for the school to continue to help out. I sat in the back of one of the trucks on the way up with Barbara (one of the missionaries) and let me tell you it was one bumpy ride!! The roads were not paved and had lots of rocks and pot holes in certain areas and there was a lot of dust! I had put sunscreen on my face before we left and when we finally reached the first school I felt like all the dust was stuck on my face! (As well as my hair which I had suffered so much to get clean with my cold bucket shower the night before)! Anyways, as soon as we got to the school all the kids started getting antsy. They waited quietly however, until we got set up, and then once they were lined up, one by one they each received clothes, shoes and a stuffed animal. We also gave all of the girls dresses (which women from the missionaries’ church made) and gave out toothbrushes and toothpaste to all of the boys as well as balloons and then candy to everyone as we left. It was so cute to see all of the kids light up as they came through and left with their new gifts. I was helping with the stuffed animals and it was so cute because most of the kids were so shy!! They would stand at a distance looking at me wondering if those toys were for them and then I’d say, “vena qui! Quiere uno? Cual quieres?” (Come here! Do you want one? Which one do you want?) They would give a little timid smile and some would play with their hands and swing back and forth until they slowly pointed to one or picked one up still looking at me with precious eyes wondering if I would let them have the one they wanted. I would have to reassure them one by one, “Que bueno. Ok. Es suyo.” (How nice. Ok. It’s yours.) They would go to leave still with their timid smile…maybe a little bigger this time and would quietly say, “gracias.” They were so adorable.
I was able to talk to one of the teachers there and one of our Honduran helpers that we had picked up along the way. They were both really nice to me and encouraged me greatly. Mildred had introduced me and told them that I am staying here in Honduras for five months and that I am trying to learn Spanish, she tells everyone that! Anyways we started talking, in Spanish of course, and they were telling me how English is very hard for them. I was telling them, that for me, Spanish is very hard but they said I spoke very good Spanish and were telling me that even when they know a word in English, they cannot speak it because they have so much trouble with the pronunciation. It was just really encouraging for me because we talked for awhile and they kept telling me that I was very good in Spanish already, and that it will be easy for me to learn here with not many English speakers around. I also talked a lot with Brewer, he is the man who spent 23 years in Panama and now he even thinks in Spanish and will know words in Spanish and not know them in English!! Hahaha I do not even know how that happens! He was trying to explain something to me today and forgot what scholarship was in English so he just kept saying it in Spanish. And he is white!! He is quite the riot and tells me that I look exactly like his granddaughter and it’s funny because he kind of reminds me of uncle Bill! (Bill Hanley) Anyways it was a great day being able to really get out and see some more of Honduras and meet more people. I am still in awe of this place because it is so beautiful and GREEN. I just cannot say it enough. It is SO green and SO beautiful. Besides the bumpiness and dust, which I can handle, I really enjoyed the ride sitting in the back of the truck and being able to really see the beauty here and say hello to everyone we passed by. It is so funny because you will just see men carrying these huge machetes around like it is no big deal. It is just funny to me when I think about what would happen if we saw one of these men walking around with one of those in LG. Ha! Either way I love seeing people just riding their horses and herding cattle. It’s so peaceful up in the mountains and a lot more poverty up there too. It is hard to even imagine living up there where there is never any electricity or running water. They have a completely different lifestyle and it is just crazy to me when comparing their way of life to our dependence on technology at home.
After our trip, we finally returned home, Millie, Karen and I, to discover we still did not have running water so we decided to go back to the hotel and take showers there. Millie and I are excited to take advantage of nice showers while we have the chance! After we were all cleaned up we had dinner. There was a stray dog by our table that was so cute. He had the biggest ears, kind of like tucker when he was a puppy, and was so timid but really hungry so of course we were all giving him portions of our food. One of the guys, the man who actually leads everything (Para Los Ninos is his foundation) reminded me so much of dad and he was giving the dog the most food. He kept throwing pieces of bread to him and was arguing with one of the women who kept saying the dog was going to get sick. Hahaha and he would say, “well the dog might not eat for three days!” And then give him more queso! After dinner we looked at the Luciernagas (fireflies) that were all over the grass. It was so cool to see because I do not think I had ever seen a firefly in real life before and they are so pretty!! There was also thunder and lighting tonight and it gets really dark around here at about 6pm so the lightning would really light up the sky.
Tomorrow we will go to two more schools except this time it will be about an hour drive and then a 25 minute walk up to one of the schools. Hopefully it is not too hot tomorrow!! I am hoping it will rain! Oh and I found out today that Millie’s sister makes and sells pastel de tres leche (tres leche cake) in the store and I told her that I wanted to learn how to make it. So hopefully sometime in the next few months I will be able to do that and then when I come home I can make it for you all! Oh and I also have to give the kids a demonstration tomorrow on how to brush their teeth. I was volunteered to give the demonstration but I guess since dad just reminded me how exactly I am supposed to be brushing my teeth just before I left home, I will be able to show and explain to the kids how to brush their teeth correctly. ;)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

By the way Im sorry all my posts are a day behind but Im sure you all understand because I am writing what I do each day at night :)

Day 3

Today I spent the morning trying to read for my first class, Family Organization. I sat outside because it was such a beautiful day and the weather here so far has been really nice. Santa Rita is a lot cooler than San Pedro Sula. I had lunch with Mildred’s mother and we tried to communicate the best we could :/. She is a little harder for me to understand but I think it will just take some getting used to. She has had four tumors on her neck and behind her ear. In her second operation they cut a nerve and so now half of her face is paralyzed. She can only eat on her good side so she was explaining to me how difficult it is for her to eat. She is so sweet and always is asking me if I am hungry. Today she kept asking me if I wanted more and I have to explain to her, “no estoy bien, I only eat a little bit.” I think that is the main concern here, food. Last night Mildred came up to me and said, “Everybody is asking me what you want for dinner. They are worried that you haven’t eaten anything.” Oh Honduran women. They are always telling me to let them know if I need anything. They are so kind to me. I guess it reminds me of being at home and being a Battaglia!! (Dad *cough cough*)
After lunch Mildred and I went to see the school. She showed me around the old school first and then we picked up the car. They do not have a garage here so Mildred keeps her car locked up at the school. We then went back to the store and picked up her mother and drove down the street and picked up her tia (aunt) and headed up to the construction site, where they are building the new school. The new school is not far, however, it is too steep and long for her mother and tia to walk. On the way we also picked up Gloria. Gloria is 17 years old and very sick and very poor. Mildred is trying to help her out by taking her to the doctors, buying her medicine and food for the family. Mildred has such a good heart. Her and her mother love to help anybody they can. I am in awe of everything Mildred does for her community and country as a whole. She was telling me how it is so different now than when she was growing up. She said, “When I was younger my family was always together and we were very close. Now it is different.” She says that now there are so many parents trying to go to the U.S. to make money to send back to their family and because of this so many children are growing up without parents. She said many of them are being raised by their grandmothers or other family members so if the kids start to do drugs, etc., their guardians try to reprimand them but most kids do not listen and will say, “You’re not my mom, you’re not my dad.” Mildred says every chance she gets to talk to any one of her student’s parents that want to go to the U.S. she tells them, “Stay. Your children need you. They need parents to raise them and teach them what is right and what is wrong.” She also says, “Yes we have to work harder to make money here but we can do it. We need to stay and help our own country.” She has even been having the kids help her plant trees and flowers at the new school. She tries to teach them how to take care of their country, to not litter but to put their trash in the trash can. She tries to tell them that they can do it, that they do not need to conform to what everyone else is doing. She wants them to be better and have values and faith. She is such a good person with an amazing will. It is so cute to see the kids yell out to her when they see her around town. She is famous with those kids and you can see why.
Anyways, after leaving the school and dropping everyone back off, Mildred and I went to Copan to meet the gringitos. The gringitos, are the white people, the missionaries that come from the U.S. to Honduras three times a year to do what they can to help schools here. The missionaries only stay for a week and Mildred helps them translate when they go to some of the schools. We met them at their hotel and sat down for a drink and talked. I am not going to lie it was really refreshing to be able to understand everything that they were saying! It also made me feel a little better because although I am still a beginner, I am a little more advanced than all of them, well except one man who lived in Panama for 23 years, but besides that! Either way, we only stayed for a little bit and then came back to the house. One of the missionaries is staying with us for tonight and she is sleeping in Mildred’s room.
Surprisingly it got a little chilly today! It rained for only a few minutes during the day but right now it is 9pm and from my room it sounds like it is raining a good amount. I love the sound of rain and it is even better when I can fall asleep to it. On the other hand, when it is chilly it is not too fun taking those bucket showers! I like to take my showers at night so of course while I was in the shower tonight I kept thinking, “dang it I wish I would have taken a shower when it was warm outside!” Although it did feel so good when I was finally out and dry! They have a lot of problems with the water and electricity here. Some days we will have running water and some days we will not; same with the electricity. I was on the computer today when all of a sudden it just turned off. Once I figured out that none of the lights were working either, I just had to wait till they came back on. You never seem to realize what you have until it is gone. We take so many things for granted like warm water and electricity. It is weird to think that at home I never have to think about when I will have running water and how I should prepare for the days there is none when so many people do not have that luxury. Even with minor set backs, however, everyone gets along just fine.
This house is full of people! There is Mildred, her mother, her sister, 5 high school students, 3 girls and 2 boys living downstairs, as well as Mildred’s family friend Tona. Tona’s niece is also here all the time because she helps out in the bakery. Mildred says that her mother likes having a lot of people in the house because they are used to a big family and with so many of her kids gone, she misses it. I am excited because I get to help Mildred’s mom in the store but hopefully not too soon because I would be too nervous with the way my Spanish is as of right now. Next week I need to start my Spanish class which I still need to find a “tutor” for. Mildred said one of the teachers at the school, Manuel can help me but he does not speak any English! I think this is going to be harder than I thought!! Hay Dios mio!! Poco a poco I have to keep reminding myself everyday!!
I still have yet to go to the bank and I will not be able to go tomorrow because Mildred and I will be helping the Gringitos all day. Although, I am kind of intimated to go to the bank because it looks more like a jail! It is so heavily guarded and the guards all have those huge guns that they just hold like it is no big deal! I wish I could take a picture for you guys but I do not think that would be such a great idea. Okay well until tomorrow…adios!

Monday, June 15, 2009

This is in the middle of the house... my room is to the left. When you´re walking on the street you go into Mildred´s mom´s store and walk through the back to get to the house. Those are apartments, what you see to the right...not like the ones at home, it just looks like part of our house. In the middle of all that green is where (and where that little roof is in the middle) we hang our clothes to dry. I don´t think my description of the house was very good...it was a little confusing I know but basically it´s not a "normal" house set up. I like it.

Bucket showers!! I have another little bowl to scoop the water out of this bucket and poor on myself. Each time we fill the bucket with water we have to put 3 tablets of i think chlorox (sp?) in it to get it clean and then we have to change the water after 2 days.

so green.

The view...Santa Rita

My room

Day 2

[Sunday June 14, 2009] I surprisingly slept well last night! I slept on top of the covers in shorts and a tee-shirt because it was so hot and I only got two bug bites. Mildred and I slept in the same room at her sister’s house and we kept the door shut to keep the mosquitoes out and thankfully it was cooler in the room. Mildred gets up at 6am every morning and she had to come wake me up at 9am so that we could get back to Copan. We had to first go to the mall to try and get Mildred’s glasses fixed and then buy flowers for Mildred’s mom and friend before leaving San Pedro Sula. The main mall there looks almost identical to the malls at home; they have stores from Radio Shack to Cinnabon, only with added natives singing and selling things in the middle of the mall but besides that it felt like I was back in the states (although I was not surrounded by Americans)! There was only one other big difference I noticed while walking around, there was a security guard carrying a gun that he was holding by his side, letting it dangle down where it just barely missed touching the ground! That thing was huge!!
After the mall we went to a market where Mildred bought flowers and we walked around. It reminded me a lot of the market that we would go to with the Gonzalez family in L.A. but slightly different; as in, you can tell I am now in a different country kind of different. In the middle of the market there were two long rows of just women in front of stoves, all lined up next to each other wearing aprons and making tortillas. There were two women per each tortilla “station” and they would be working together to roll the dough, spread it out and knead it and then put the dough over the fire. It was quite the site to see and smelled amazing. I had to hold myself back because I was leaning in and almost snatched one! However, I figured that would not be a good first impression and I probably would have embarrassed Mildred.
Anyways we ended up not leaving San Pedro Sula until about 12:30pm and we did not get to Santa Rita until 3:30 or 4pm. It was a long drive and I was tired but I had to stay awake because I wanted to see everything. As we traveled closer to Copan things were a whole lot greener and you could definitely tell we had left a big city and were now in more rural areas. It was a bittersweet, beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time because as we drove on the two lane road with trees and greenery all around, there were so many houses all along the side of the road. Of course, once again, you had so many men ridding their bikes with maybe another friend riding along with him or with sticks tied on to the back, as well as women walking and carrying their babies and people leisurely crossing the road as the Honduran drives barely let them get to the other side. There were so many cows and horses and dogs but pretty much all of them were really skinny with their bones showing on either side. We passed by a few police officers and Mildred was telling me about how their government is so corrupt. She told me that it has gotten to be so bad in Honduras because drugs are everywhere. She was telling me about how life is so hard and people are so poor and they see that in order to make good money and have a big house and a “good” life, all they need to do is sell drugs. When the police catch you they will put you in jail but it does not even matter because the drug dealers have so much money and all they need to do is pay the government and they are put back out on the streets. She said a lot of the Policia work with the drug lords and everything here just boils down to money. All the government cares about is the money they receive for themselves. Mildred said they used to have a middle class here in Honduras but now it is just the rich and the poor and it seems hopeless. The government is power hungry and only getting worse and yet their hearts do not go out to the people on the sides of the road living in little pueblos with open windows and doors with only sheets covering the openings for protection. Some of the houses were made out of what looked like pieces of tin all slapped together to make a wall, something that did not look sturdy or long-lasting. It rains like crazy here for about five months and I have no idea how those houses withstand flooding. Es muy triste. It is very sad to see. There were a lot of fires along the way as well. One was really big and was about 150 feet from us, from the road, and once again I have no idea what all of the people living on the side of the street will do. I was asking Mildred where the firefighters were and she was saying they have firefighters but they might not come and if they do they will most likely be too late. That is another thing, these houses were on the side of the road in areas that were no where near a town or even a store sometimes. Buses travel the road but it was Sunday so Mildred said there were not as many people driving through, including buses. People still need to get places on Sunday! I can imagine that most people walk or ride their bikes anyways though.
We finally reached Santa Rita where the roads are not paved and everything is so close together. The road cuts Santa Rita in half and the town is very small. I have not had time to look around because Mildred was showing me “what is what” at the house and I have just unpacked and began to settle in. Tomorrow however, she wants to show me the school and a quite place for me to read and to go buy fruit from one of her friends. The bank is also finally open tomorrow so I will go there and exchange money as well. These two days I have been without lempieras (the currency in Honduras) but thankfully Mildred never hesitates to keep me fed and she even got me a special treat, a twix bar, at the gas station today. She is very hospitable and patient with me and at times I feel like she is a friend my age. I do not know what I would do without her.
I think speaking Spanish became more frustrating today. It is so hard because there are so many different words just for one thing! Mildred was also telling me today that the people who settled in this region of Honduras (Copan), after the Mayans, used a lot of words starting with “ch.” So for example perro (dog), is called something else here. I already forget the word but it starts with a “ch.” Mildred said, “of course perro is correct but here we say ch…. ” Confusing! I agree with Anthony Winkler as he says, “the despair of it all was that you could never see the movie from the start and so were forever doomed only to dimly understand it.” This is how I feel being in Honduras sometimes. Trying to understand Honduran history, and especially their way of life and language, is so hard when I am only an outsider looking in.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Im here!

[Saturday June 13, 2009] Well today was my first day in Honduras! It started off by getting on the plane in LA at 12:30am and of course the one El Salvadorean man who does not speak a lick of English sits next to me!! Oh it was great and surprisingly he was going from LA to Houston to meet his daughter. I actually really appreciated his company and he helped to calm my nervous and get me excited about going to Honduras. He would just rattle off in Spanish as if I was fluent and then anytime the stewardess made an announcement he would turn to me and say “que dijo?” (what did she say?). And most of the time I would just tell him “no importa!” (It was not important)! He would even try to speak to the other man sitting on the other side of him in Spanish but the other man would just look at him weird and turn away. Then my El Salvadorean friend would just turn back to me, give me a look like, “I don’t know what his problem is!” and then keep talking; so precious. It is funny to me because most Spanish speakers that I have met, at least the ones who do not speak very much English, always seem to just start rattling off to me like I know everything they are saying!
Anyways, after we got off the plane and parted ways I was on to my next flight. I met Kristin at the gate at 5:30am and after venting for a few hours we finally boarded our plane at 9am. Since this was a direct flight from Houston to Honduras, most people on board the plane were Spanish speaking. I sat in the seat right behind Kristin and in between two Spanish speakers. The woman sitting on my right started talking to me, asking me where I was going, for how long and of course was interested in why. After talking with her for some time, the man sitting on my left joined in and said, “I couldn’t help overhearing you talk in Spanish.” He said this in English and then switched back to Spanish saying, “it always really surprises me when I hear someone who is not a native Spanish speaker, speaking Spanish. I like to hear that.” He continued on to tell me about himself and how he was born in Honduras but moved to Texas to go to school. He was extremely kind and ended up helping me with some of my “getting oriented tasks” that I needed a native Honduran to help me with. Getting off the plane I introduced my new friend, Allen, to Kristin. After talking for two hours as we waited in line to get through customs, Allen gave us both his email and phone number and told us he would only be in Honduras for the next two weeks but if we needed any help with anything, to let him know.
At this point it was already 1pm and we finally met up with our host families. Poor Mildred and her good family friend had been waiting for two hours for me!! We left the airport and went straight to “Power Chicken” to get some comida. We walked in the door and it was packed! At first I was honestly really overwhelmed. For one it was crowded and there were so many people speaking Spanish up close and personal after I did not get much sleep and was now dripping with sweat in my new humid habitat, and on top of it all, I stand out like a sore thumb. Even though I am not blonde haired blue eyed, people can still tell I am a gringa and not from Honduras. All I wanted to do was fit in and I felt like everyone was starring at me! Then when Mildred would speak Spanish to me I felt like everyone was waiting for a response to see if I would indeed be able to actually speak Spanish back to her. However, after sitting down and eating and talking for awhile we got back in the car and headed to the beach. We got out and went to feel the water with our feet and oh boy let me tell you it felt good! The water was so warm it would be closer to hot then it would be cold and the sand was so smooth. Honduras is like being in a tropical Mexico. There is so much green everywhere, so many people riding their bikes, horses cows and dogs, people darting out from any and every sides of the street. The driving is a little crazy, nothing like India , but pretty crazy nonetheless. Mildred has been really good with me and is really only speaking Spanish. Of course since today is my first day I was already tired from my travels and with so much to see and hear I am starting to feel a little overwhelmed. It now being the end of day one, I am still feeling a little frustrated and wishing I could understand 100% of what everyone is saying. I know I have to give it time but it is hard to be patient when I am already in a strange environment not knowing really anything about the culture and it would still be hard enough trying to figure everything out even if I did speak the language! Anyways poco a poco (little by little) I will learn.
There are so many new smells and sounds here I do not know how I will sleep tonight. I guess it is a little bit like LA term with all of the dogs barking and music and people and cars screeching in the background but now there are tropical birds adding to the soundtrack and the sound of fans to keep the rooms cool, if that is even possible, and the other sounds I cannot quite put my finger on yet. I took my first bucket shower today and I actually really enjoyed it. I felt good about not wasting water and it was cold but in this humidity it felt so good! I had really good watermelon juice today, it was so fresh and so delicious. I am excited to have so many good fruits around me. We are still in San Pedro Sula tonight, spending the night at Mildred’s sister’s house but we leave for Copan, Santa Rita, tomorrow. I am excited to finally see the environment I will actually be living in for the next five months. I have enjoyed San Pedro Sula but it is so big and crowded here I am excited to be living in a smaller town with more community.

Friday, June 12, 2009

In many cultures, the hero's journey is ritualized as a rite of passage marking the shift from childhood to adulthood. In these rites the young person is physically removed from family and community and put through study and training that culminates in a series of tests. When he succeeds in passing these tests, he is returned to the village, but now having a new place. No longer thought of as or treated like a child, the young person takes his place in the adult community.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Getting Close.........

So I leave tomorrow night at 12:30AM (so...technically Saturday morning but either way). Tomorrow morning Matt and I will go to his grandmas to have a nice breakfast of Papas and Chorizo. We'll probably spend the day making sure I have everything I need and crying and then he will drop me off later that night at the airport. :/ I will meet up with Kristin in Texas and will arrive in San Pedro Sula at 10:52AM. Mildred (aka Millie) will be waiting to pick me up. :) CRAZY!!!!!!!!
Who knows when I'll be able to get on the internet again but I'll definitely write when I get there!

Adios se cuida y Bienvenidos a Honduras!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!