Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Review of November: Life the Honduran Way

So, a little bit about the changes I have made to my daily routine now that I have been in my site for two months and in Honduras for 5 months. (Has it really been almost half a year?! WOW!) The next blog entry about my reflections of Honduras is a bit powerful and so I will keep this entry light and entertaining.

First off, the other day I experienced the most overwhelming decision I have had to make in five months . . . what kind of jelly to buy. I was in this new grocery store in Santa Rosa de Cop├ín (a larger city than Gracias which is 2 ½ hours from my site by bus). Walking into the grocery store was like crossing the border and entering a miniature Safeway. I went in simply to get some peanut butter and jelly. I got the peanut butter easy enough, but when I got to the jelly aisle, I felt so helpless. There really were just too many flavors, brands, and prices to choose from. It took just ten minutes to decide on the flavor I wanted! There was blackberry (which would have been my first choice but it was very expensive for a small amount and didn’t come in a good re-usable jar), mango (which I just finished a jar of at home), orange, pineapple, apple, and light strawberry. All types of questions were running through my head: Which flavor would I like best? Of that flavor, which jar was going to get me the best deal? Why is a larger jar less expensive than a smaller jar of the same flavor? Which jelly can I use with more meals? Which brand is better? To add more pressure, there was an employee shelving something in the same aisle and in the time it took me to decide what flavor to get, she had restocked the shelf, left, and come back to find that I was still in the same spot. I even thought about walking around a little bit and coming back later, but that thought made me snap out of my ridiculous stupor and I finally was able to make a decision.

One pretty drastic difference from my life in the states compared to my life here is my morning routine. Even though I used to claim that I hate jogging and that no one would ever find me running out of my own will, I actually have started to get up at 5:45 am 4 or 5 days a week to run for half an hour. I have found that what I hate worse than jogging is not having any type of regular exercise. There are a few soccer teams here but they are all guys teams and I have thought about starting a girls’ team but have not gotten that idea up and rolling yet. So, Ellen, the business volunteer near me, runs past my house around 6 am and I join her and run with her to La Campa. It’s a great time for us to chat about how we have been lately and to catch up on any chisme (gossip). I must admit that another pretty big motivator to get up and break a sweat in the morning is that it gets pretty cold here and we only have a FREEZING cold water shower. I will admit that there have been days where I won’t have run in the morning and I will turn the shower on but not be able to get in. I know that’s kind of wimpy, but would you like to start everyday by jumping underneath a waterfall two minutes after waking up when it’s raining and windy outside? The water here comes straight from the mountains so that’s what it’s like.

I am still living with my host family and will be living with them until they build me an apartment behind their house since there are no other housing options in my community. Already, Francisco has started to measure out the dimensions of the room. My family tells me that the construction only takes two weeks and that at the latest they will be done constructing the apartment by the end of December. Although to me this seems a bit improbable, I have decided to remain optimistic and if I am moved in by late January, I will be very happy.

I have started to cook my own meals and my family has been fascinated by the lunches that I have created. I have introduced them to typical foods from India, Indonesia, the Caribbean, Italy, and other countries (thanks to a recipe book that some previous volunteers put together). Actually, their curiosity in the meals I make, which really are so simple, is what gave me the idea of starting a cooking class. Although I have been experimenting for lunch, my dinners I leave to be Honduran. I am addicted to tajaditos (fried plaintain chips) and have become pretty good at making tortillas that once my host mom mixed mine up with hers while they were cooking on the stove! WOOHOO!!

The graduating sixth grade class

The big event of November here is graduation. The “big-deal” graduation is from the sixth grade as most people will not continue their education. Only 5 of the 12 graduating sixth graders are going onto high school. My host sister, Janeysi, graduated from the sixth grade and seriously the graduation was SOOOO LOOOONNNNGGGGG as they first gave a diploma to every single student in the school that was advancing a grade (starting with the first graders). The most unique part of the graduation was when they had a performance in the middle of the celebration. What did they choose to be the entertainment? A dramatization of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Although it’s great that these kids have completed the school year, I wish people here realized that graduating from sixth grade is not that great of an accomplishment. The kids don’t actually really know how to read well until they are in the third grade.

But, it’s a big deal here, and I will remember for next year that I will not have to cook for myself for the whole week of graduations. I had so many feasts that included gallina india (wild chicken), rice, potatoes, soup, cake, sweet bread, and coca-cola that it was like a Honduran Thanksgiving . . . for 7 days.

Idania and Laura plucking the feathers off the chicken to prepare for the party the next day

Janeysi´s graduation lunch

My family, Ellen, and Janeysi´s ´´padrinos´´ (close friends or relatives you choose to go up with you during graduation to represent you and give you gifts)


Photo Jesus H said...

Are you kidding me!? After that whole story you didn't mention what kind of jam you settled on! It better be in the next update :)

Shade said...

OMG, I had the exact same experiance with yougurt when I came home from Nicaragua.

Courtney said...

I chose the light strawberry jam. And I think it was a good choice!