Monday, December 15, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

As I sit in my apartment, with my Christmas lights on, and a Charlie Brown Christmas special playing on Jesse's laptop, I'm exhilerated. Just two more days of school left until I head back to Wisconsin for a much needed break in the cheese and the snow. I realize it has been over a week since I last posted. I've been very busy with grading, Christmas gift buying, and planning the month of January. So here's a little update of what's been going on.

Last week on Tuesday was the big EIS Christmas party. All the teachers, assistants, maintenance, cleaning, and copying crew came out in nice attire and went to Club Arabe, the fancy smancy club in SPS. I was a little disappointed because the party was on a Tuesday, and Jesse refused to dance, but we ate a nice dinner and got to see everyone dressed up. I didn't bring my camera with, it just didn't go with my outfit, but I plan on stealing some from Caitlin later. The most entertaining aspect of this night was the belly dancers and hula dancers that the school provided as "entertainment" with we ate. Interesting.

This past weekend there was a huge Christmas carnival set up just down the street. They has an ice skating rink (the plastic ice stuff) and lights and decorations and a huge Coca-Cola Santa. Jesse and I debated going, but since the likelihood of them having skates in Jesse's size was slim to none, we decided to head to the theater for a movie. On the way back from the movie, we ran into a little traffic problem. The championship game for Honduras league soccer was Saturday night, and there was mass chaos in the city. There were hundreds of people in the streets, with people jumping in and out of the back of pickup trucks, jumping, screaming, fireworks were being shot off, it was absolutely crazy. It reminded me of the pictures of when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. Except that down here, there are only 10 teams in the whole league, with only four of them actually winning the championships. AND there are two championships a year. AND that the team that won, won the championship last fall. I just don't get it.

Tomorrow is the last day of "classes", which for me is watching The Muppet's Christmas Carol. Wednesday is class parties with a cuchumbo (gift exchange- the kids take this very seriously), and then a middle school staff party at my principal's house. I'm bringing mashed potatoes. She bought a ham and a turkey. She said that since the Christmas party was on a Tuesday, well the middle school staff needs a real party. That should be a great time. Her husband makes a great margarita. Then Thursday brings the flight to Chicago and the drive back to Wisconsin. I hope the wintery mix that is predicted for Chicago doesn't cause any problems with my flight.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thanksgiving Part II

I don't know why, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Most people say Christmas or Halloween, but for me its Thanksgiving. I think its partly because its my mom's favorite holiday and it wore off on me, but I just love having family and friends around, talking, laughing, and eating fantastic food without any other pretenses. Its just about being together and being thankful for what wonderful lives we have. Last year, was my first Thanksgiving away from home, and it was quite difficult for me. My roommate and I made a makeshift meal of chicken and au gratin potatoes on Wednesday night, and then we had gone to Utila for diving and had a pseudo Thanksgiving meal there.

This year however, I knew that I wanted to give my favorite holiday its dues. Realizing that most people travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had invited neighbors and friends to come over to our house the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend to celebrate. Even though Jesse and I had a Thanksgiving Japanese meal on Thanksgiving, I still wanted to celebrate the day traditionally.

Everyone I invited was excited, and they were all really happy that someone had come up with the idea. I went out and bought two turkey breasts (there is definitely not enough freezer space for a full bird) and told everyone it was potluck style- so bring your favorite Thanksgiving dish. Everyone brought such amazing food! We had brussel sprouts with bacon, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, real mashed potatoes, potatoes with crunchy onions, stuffing, homemade bread, carrot cake and apple pie. I'm probably forgetting something, but it was all amazing! It really made me happy to have friends over to celebrate everything that we are thankful for. For many of our neighbors, they have never been in our home, so it was a nice way to bring the apartment complex together. It finally feels like the holiday season has started and it helped me realize that holidays away from home don't necessarily have to be sad. Everyone that came over tonight brought with them a piece of their Thanksgiving tradition and it was a fantastic evening. I'm very thankful to have such supportive friends, without them I wouldn't have had this wonderful Thanksgiving meal.
Jesse, carving up the turkey breast.

The table with all the delicious yummies on it.

Ryan and Alex scooping up their food.

Dan and Katie watching soccer. I suppose it makes sense to watch futbol on Thanksgiving in Honduras!

Alex, Kim, Caitlin, and Jesse sitting at the table, enjoying dinner.

I felt like it was a great evening. Thanks everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Animales in mi aula parte II

So last week, I needed a pencil. I keep the pencils in my desk drawer. I open the desk drawer, and there is a small furry creature in my drawer. I, of course, freak out, slam the drawer shut, and race to the office to tell my story. Miriam (7th grade science teacher) joined me and we returned to my room and small rodent. We opened both desk drawers-no mouse. However, the mouse had been making a nice, cute, little home in my second drawer with the carbon copy paper. As we move the drawers again, the mouse was hiding under the three hole punch and proceeded to race all over my room and out the door. I really have had enough of these animals in my classroom.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

This past weekend was Thanksgiving. There was school on Thursday, a half day of typical Honduran games then it was freedom for three and a 1/2 days. There were a couple of options of where to go and what to do, however, with the snafoo of the residency cards, I decided to just stay home. It actually turned out to be a nice weekend. Jesse, Alex, Caitlin, and myself went to a restaurant called Bonsai for Thanksgiving dinner. Bonsai is a Japanese restaurant.

This is Alex and Jesse's sashimi boat. They split it for dinner.

Myself and my Thanksgiving dinner. Not quite as exciting as Jesse's, but I think it tastes better.

Friday, the four of us went on a hike on one of the surrounding mountains. There is a path up the mountain to the words Coca-Cola (kind of like the Hollywood sign) on the mountain. We walked most of the way there, then hiked up the mountain. Below are some of the beautiful pictures of the city from the mountain. Since it has rained recently, there wasn't a cloud of smog and pollution covering the city.
We tried to find our house, but we were just too far up to find it. We could find other buildings and landmarks in the city though.

After hiking the Coca-Cola, we walked down into the city for some lunch. Saturday and Sunday were spent lounging at the pool, and catching up on some reading.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gotta Love the Way Things Work

So, I had left Honduras last year not expecting to be a returning, 2nd year teacher at EIS. So when I left last June, I handed in my cell phone, my keys, and my residency card to the HR department. Upon my re-arrival here in September, I was told that my case is "unique" and that I'll need to register again with Immigration just like a first year teacher would.

Approximately two weeks ago, I received a knock on my classroom door. It was Alex, telling me that he could cover my class, but I had to head down to the library and get fingerprinted in order to get my renewal residency card, since my old one, the one that I had turned in, was expiring soon. The HR department called me a week later, requesting my residency card, since they needed it to give to Immigration for the renewal card to be processed. I told them that I don't have it, I turned it in, in June. Ok, they would look around for it.

Today, I got the joyous honor of going to the police station to report my residency card stolen. Since the HR department lost my card, Immigration can't issue me a new one without first collecting the old one. And since HR doesn't have my old one to give to Immigration, I had to report it stolen, in order to get the police report to give to Immigration to get my renewal residency card. Yes this is how the system works. You can't just "lose" something here. There are five to six steps for everything. To add excitement to this wonderful event, I had the guy who drives us to school every day, Arturo, as my trusty translator and helper in the police station. This becomes a problem since Arturo doesn't speak any English, sometimes I don't think he's speaking Spanish. Now the problem with reporting it stolen, is that I had to say that it was stolen yesterday, because all thefts have to be reported within 24 hours. So if it actually had gotten stolen way back in July, and someone had been using it for the past three months (highly unlikely), there could potentially be a problem. However, this is Honduras. They won't even look for the "theif." Needless to say, I had a wonderful morning hanging out around the police station with a guy who I really can't understand, nor who could actually help me say anything to the police officer.

On another note, last night, three other wonderful ladies and myself went out to dinner; a ladies out on the town for dinner and cocktails kind of evening; when we started commenting on how it doesn't seem like crazy things are happening to us, like they did last year. Last year had the crazy episodes of my shoe getting stolen in the movie theater, Caitlin losing her sandals in the flooded market, Jesse getting two door knobs put on his door so he was required to use both hands to open his door, and other such nonsense. That's when it dawned on us; its not that the crazy things aren't happening, its just that we're so used to them that they don't seem crazy anymore. Our faucet getting completely broken off by the maid, and neither one of us really noticing or caring; Jesse drawing a picture of where we live for the cable company since there are no addresses; getting our fingerprints taken again because fingerprints change from year to year; getting pedicures at a salon/ tatoo parlor; the potholes in the road getting filled in with sand during the rainy season; and etc. Its just Honduras, and it doesn't seem all that strange anymore.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Murder in San Pedro

This past weekend, the vice president of the Senate in Honduras was gunned down in a neighborhood not far from his home. His friend and lawyer was gunned down with him. He was up for re-election in January. The extremely sad aspect of this tragedy is that the vice president of the senate had three children, all of whom are under 18. Alex, Jesse, and Caitlin have his daughter in 8th grade. I'm reminded again, of how corruption works and that the country of Honduras is not as stable as the U.S. is. The murderers will most likely never be incarcerated, or even caught. Whether this politician was involved in bad dealings or not, I do not know. What's worse is that this is not an completely out of place phenomenon. If someone's parent was murder in central Wisconsin, the entire school would attend the funeral and the counselor would give large group sessions to help students deal with the event. Here, its not exactly commonplace, but its not out of the ordinary. We take for granted our safety in the U.S. and how well our judicial system actually works (most of the time). It definitely makes me think from a different perspective.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Conference in Tegucigalpa

This past weekend, four hard working teacher from EIS middle school joined teachers from the other divisions to attend a teacher's conference in Honduras' capital- Tegucigalpa. We left school early on Thursday, which one of my students was very unhappy about.
Five extremely cramped hours, and only one short stop later, we arrived in Tegucigalpa. The best part of the weekend, was the hotel where we stayed- the Mariott!!! Jesse and I were on the 7th floor with an amazing view of the city.
The thing about Teguc is that it actually feels like a big city, with tall skycrapers, and houses built into the surrounding moutainside. The climate in Teguc is also a lot cooler. We wore sweatshirts and jackets most of the time, while some native Tegucians were wearing mittens and scarves. The premise of the conference was teachers sharing what they do in their classroom with other teachers. The problem was that there wasn't a lot of seminars for middle school or high school. I had plenty to go to, but Jesse, Alex, and Caitlin had a little bit more trouble. Caitlin and I did go to the only art related seminar entitled: Green Art. The synopsis of this seminar stated that they were using recycled items to create art work. What we actually did was create cookie cutter art projects using paper plates and construction paper.
I really felt like I used a lot of recycled goods; can't you see the recycled newspaper in my turkey?
Caitlin is very proud of her turkey. Since Caitlin teaches art, this seminar was hard for her, because this isn't "green" art!
Overall, I learned a couple of things from the weekend, which Ximena (middle school principal) said is all that we can ask for; learning a few things at each conference we attend. The best part of the weekend was the hotel room, which included a king sized bed. Jesse actually fit in it. Amazing!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Animales en mi aula

It is 6:40am, and I put my key in my classroom door to unlock it. I turn the handle, and an all encompassing smell overpowers my senses. I quickly send a student to the office for some air freshener, then look around the room for the culprit of the odor. There, in the middle of the floor, is a dead, furry spider a little bit bigger than my thumb. I kick the spider outside, but the smell remains. I search around, trying to uncover the mystery of this stench. I move my wastebasket aside, and there it was- a dead mouse. I had seen evidence of this mouse before- all of my tootsie rolls had been eaten from my desk drawer- just the wrappers with tooth marks remained- but I had assumed the mouse had moved on. It hadn't. It died in my room of a diabetic shock. Too much sugar. My principal came to my room and helped me remove the rodent. After dousing the afflicted area with Lysol spray, my room smelled like a field of wildflowers. My students made comments about the particular smell of my room all day long. I thank the mouse for allowing me to add it to my list of dead creatures that I have found in room E4 at EIS. gecko, spider, fly, mouse, cockroach

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Actual Full- Size Mattress Anyone?

Jesse and I have been noticing lately that our bed appears to be a little bit smaller than a normal full size mattress, which face it, Jesse is too big for a full size anyway. Well, we recently acquired a key to our spare bedroom, which the school is using as storage for extra household items, including mattresses! So Jesse, using the broom as an accurate and precise measuring system, determined that our bed was about 6 inches smaller than the other mattresses in the spare room. So we switched them! An hour later, after moving two other mattresses out of the way, ripping plastic off of one boxspring, we had the bigger mattress in our bedroom. Then we start making the bed, only to discover that our sheets don't fit this mattress- its too big! We switched the mattresses back, and are defeated in our attempt at getting a slightly bigger mattress to sleep on. We have no idea what size the one mattress was, because it definitely wasn't a queen, but it wasn't a full size either. One and a half hours later, nothing was different in our apartment, except that we were really sweaty and exhausted!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Saturday Afternoon and Date Night in SPS

During Saturday afternoon, Dan (fellow teacher and Wisconsinite) organized a friendly soccer game for the foreign hire teachers and some Honduran friends. It was a blast. Granted I have never played soccer outside of a PE class, same goes for Jesse, there were quite a few people out playing who are not what you could call outstanding soccer players. There were quite a few instances of trying to block a kick with hands raised high in volleyball fashion, or running to the ball, stopping, then kicking it. It was a fun way to spend time with other teachers and Hondurans that we don't see very often. It is quite a humbling experience to play a game that you are not very good at.

After returning home, dirty, sweaty, and sore, Jesse and I decided to continue on our scheduled date night. We went to this restaurant called "Dino's" which a middle school teacher's mom's boyfriend owns and operates. It was a fantastic Italian meal. After sharing a Cesar salad, and purchasing a bottle of Merlot, I received my ravioli and Jesse got his pesto. This restaurant is one a fancier restaurant in the city, and the restaurant is surrounded by gardens where the restaurant owner grows all his own spices for his entrees. My ravioli was absolutely delicious and I told Jesse that we definitely need to return to this place. Afterwards, we went to Baskin-Robbins for some ice cream, headed home and watched the movie "Ray" on TV (since we now have cable, watching TV is actually an option.)

We have decided, however nice it is to sit at home and relax on the weekends, we're both ready for another traveling weekend, which unfortunately, won't be occurring until Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


During the last week and a 1/2, since moving into the new apartment, there has been a lack of entertainment options in our apartment, due to the non-existent cable that we had. Well, that has been remedied today. The cable company pulled up, with a foot long drill bit and a ladder. They drilled a hole through our wall, climbed up into the ceiling through the opening in the laundry closet, and apologized for drilling a hole, two hours later they left. Very Honduran, to show up at an apartment building and not knowing how to hook anything up and just start drilling holes in walls!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is the sky falling?

So in the last few weeks, since the rainy season started, a mysterious event keeps occurring. Bits and pieces of the 9 month old middle school building are falling down. It has been very Chicken Little-esque. Not long after the east side of the second floor ceiling fell down, the west side ceiling over the stair case has decided to fall down as well.

Fantastic isn't it?

This is Dan, Jesse's really good friend, who also followed Jesse to Honduras and had the ceiling right outside his classroom collapse.

Gotta love the way Hondurans build their buildings! Yesterday morning, I came into school, unlocked my classroom door, and turned on my lights and fans. When a piece of ceiling tile fell shortly thereafter, it hit the ceiling fan and proceeded to shatter into many pieces of fiberglass all over my room. Luckily for me, Caitlin didn't have class on Tuesday morning so I was forced to relocate my classes for the day into the art room.

Monday, November 3, 2008

New Furniture

So Jesse and I have now been living in my apartment for officially one whole week. It took only a few days for it to feel more homey than Jesse's apartment, and we did add a few things.

This is our living room/dining room. Notice the great lawn chair in the corner! We are waiting for our recliner to show up.

This is our wonderful kitchen! I'm a fan of the countertop on the right and the cupboard space.

Our dining room with the wonderful painting from Nicaragua on the wall. I like the cut-out area between the kitchen and dining area.

Now finally, the addition! Stools!!! I love countertops like this, and as soon as I walked into this apartment, I knew that I wanted to get stools for the countertop. Now these stools are handmade from a guy in San Pedro. The lovely cost for these stools?? $15 for the pair! I felt I could spend the money to have stools to sit on at the countertop.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Africa Based Novels

Lately I have discovered that the literature that I am choosing to read has been mainly focused on one geographical area- Africa. I have read two books taking place in Africa and just started a third. I have always wanted to go to Africa, and these books are increasing my desire to go there. I read "The Poisonwood Bible" which is about a missionary family in the Congo during the independence of the Congo in 1960; "Unbowed" which is Wangari Maathai's personal memoir (she won the nobel peace prize in 2007 for her work as an environmentalist and promoting democracy in her home country of Kenya.) Now I am reading "We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families." This book is based on the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda which started in the 1950's and continued to the middle 1990's.

I have decided that I want to go to the continent of Africa for my next job, I just have to convince Jesse of this. He wants to go somewhere stable, and safe. He doesn't want another San Pedro Sula adventure! Africa will not be a safe, secure place; most places have unstable governments or high poverty and crime rates. Some areas are better than others, I just need to find the right place, school, country. If its French-speaking, well that's even better! I'm working on Jesse so that everyone can come visit me in Africa!!

My New Hobby

I think that most people start blogs when they are embarking on a new adventure, or are making a change in their life. Well, I just got tired of sending mass emails out and finding out that day to day details of my life weren't getting across to those I care about. So after some very careful deliberation, (Jesse decided that I need a hobby) I have decided to start a blog. After that very big decision was made, then the all important decision of what to call my blog appeared. That took a good three to four days. Most of the ideas that I came up with were already taken, which dampered my spirit for a blog. This morning, as Jesse was coming up with inappropriate blog names, he came up with the alliteration of Wandering Wisconsinite. I liked it, I asked Caitlin (neighbor from downstairs- also a Wandering Wisconsinite) what she thought about the blog name, we deliberated for a few minutes, then it was decided. Its a go. My goal for this blog (other than to give me a hobby- we haven't had cable since we moved into our new apartment) is to write not only about the big vacations that Jesse and I go on, but also to incorporate a little of our day to day life in San Pedro Sula. I hope that my computer illiterate family members can manage to open this blog as easily as an email attachment.