OK....so you know things have fallen into a "slump" when you haven't updated your travel blog for over a month. Wow. Time flies...when not a lot is happening.
Just kidding. My sister and friend just came to visit, so I've got lots to update about our adventures together. This post, however, is from a couple months ago. It's a letter I wrote for the "Lawton Free Reader", a publication in my hometown. I figured I'd dig up an old stone and try and kill another bird with it! My birthday seems ages ago...but it was good memories!!
Here's to getting some actualy up-to-date updates written.
PS HAPPY 4th OF JULY!!! I really miss the holidays!!!
Hola de Honduras!!
May 1, 2008
Dear Friends back home,
I’m still here in Copán Ruinas, Honduras. We finish classes in the bilingual school the end of May and then teachers are finished 2 weeks later. Right now we’re in the middle of the dry season. The nights and early mornings are still cool, but the day is HOT, there is dust everywhere and now the humidity has kicked in! It doesn’t seem as bad to me as last year, but that’s either because I knew what to expect this year or we just haven’t gotten to the worst of it yet. Plus in mid April we had two weeks of cold fronts come through, bringing rain, clouds and chilly weather. AMAZING compared to the days of 90 and 100 degrees we had earlier in the month. The rains usually begin the end of May or beginning of June, so when it started raining everyday in April some people thought the dry season (or “summer” as they call it) had ended early. There’s very minimal weather forecasting for Copán, so people usually just go on instinct.
I’m getting better at living with running water just every other day. Bucket baths aren’t nearly as bad as they were before, and I’ve learned how to be more prepared. For example, I always check to see if the water is on before flushing the toilet (because who knows when I’ll be able to flush in next)! Also, rather than dump it down the drain the water I use to wash my hands and face can be dumped in the back of the toilet for a future flush. It’s the little things that make life easier.
My host family has been doing some construction and “remodeling” to their house (built 2 ½ years ago) and church (built 4 years ago). When I arrived last year the church was 4 cement block walls with a tin roof, dirt floor and boards on blocks for seats. Now we have plastic lawn chairs (so much more comfortable!), a cement floor and painted walls. It looks great. To clean the church you just need to splash water on everything to dampen the dust and then sweep it out.
This past weekend they also put a cement floor in the kids’ rooms in the house. Up until last year just the parents’ bedroom and the two main rooms in the house had an actually floor. When I arrived they cemented the floor that’s my bedroom, but the 2 other bedrooms were still just dirt floors. Now there’s cement down on the whole house, and an expanding cement patio outside. There’s no yard or grass, so laying down concrete helps to keep the dust down and everything is easier to clean.
We had Spring Break in March, the week before Easter. I traveled in El Salvador with another teacher from Mayatan and two of his friends that were visiting. The trip wasn’t as relaxing as I had hoped. We ended up going to several different cities, so there was a lot of time spent on “chicken buses” (on one there was actually a man with two crates of chicks!). But I’m really glad I got to experience a new country. We spent two days in the capital, a day at the Pacific Ocean, and then the rest of the week at three other towns. The highlight for me was a mountain hike to four waterfalls where we got to swim in the crystal clear water. Gorgeous!
The people of El Salvador were especially helpful and friendly. Wherever we went there seemed to be someone ready to give us directions or tell us which bus we needed. There also seemed to be a lot more creativity there. We noticed it in how they decorate the buses and the parks we visited.
A strange part of the trip was that El Salvador uses the US dollar as its currency. It was interesting to see everyone, including the very poor, buying and selling with dollars, quarters, dimes, etc. (in Honduras it’s rare to see dollars unless you’re a tourist or working in tourism). Bus fare was cheap. Twenty-five cents for a city bus, 40 cents to a dollar for longer trips.
In the end of March I had two college friends visit for a week. I met them in San Pedro Sula (about 3 hours from Copan) and we spent 2 nights in a super nice hotel (a birthday gift from a family member). I felt like ROYALTY in the hotel. All the rooms were carpeted (there’s no place in Copan with carpet), and each bed had at least half a dozen pillows, and a thick comforter, and hot water, and US programs on TV…! It was the best thing to walk barefoot on the carpet and take a warm bath and lay in bed channel surfing! I felt spoiled!
My friends and I went to a profession soccer game while in San Pedro. We were the only gringos there and as soon as we sat down a guy asked if he could get his picture taken with us. We found out a couple days later that the press also got our picture and we ended up in the sports section of one of the national papers! The caption said, “These well-identified North American ladies came Saturday to support Marathon in their victory over Vida.” My friend said “well-identified” translated to “stuck out like a sore thumb”. But you can’t complain about 15 minutes of fame.
I’ve actually made it on TV too since I’ve been here. In January a local station did a segment on the kids’ baseball team that a couple foreign guys have started here. I was helping them out for a while and was interviewed when the station was doing the story. I didn’t get to see me on TV, but students and taxi drivers have commented on it.
In April I celebrated my 25th birthday with my host family. There’s a tradition of dumping water on the birthday person…as well as eggs, flour and anything else handy. When I got home from school Sarai and Daniel, my host siblings, doused me with water, sand, chicken feed, a tomato, flour, coffee, butter, an egg, ashes and who knows what else! Once they started they just could not stop! Thankfully I was able to take a bucket bath and get cleaned up before we ate. My hostess’ sister made an incredible three layer neapolitan cake! Incredible! Last year I got my face stuffed in the frosting. I think I prefer that to my birthday surprise this year.
Once I finish the school year at Mayatan I’m going to do some more traveling in Honduras and hopefully bus it down to Panama to visit a friend there. I’m excited about the prospect of getting to visit the rest of Central America. The end of July I should be helping with some mission projects near Tegucigalpa and then I have my ticket to come home mid August! Still got a lot of adventure left, but I’m looking forward to being back in the States!
Lots of love!
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