Thursday, January 29, 2009

Job Fairs and Soccer Stars

Yesterday Jenna and I set out from Honduras to Waterloo, Iowa for the Overseas Teaching Fair that is hosted there by the University of Northern Iowa. Waterloo seems a weird place to have an internatinal teaching fair since the nearest major airport, Chicago's O'hare, is about 4.5 hours away by car (which we know because we rented a sweet '09 Nissan Altima and drove it), but that's another story for another time.

We will be interviewing tomorrow with various schools from around the world and then will hopefully be faced with the difficult decision of where to take our lives for the next 2 years. Current candidates include Chile, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Korea, China, and the UAE. Any input from readers on where we should go and why would be welcomed and we of course will post as soon as we have made a decision.

On the way up here yesterday however, we had our 3rd encounter with a famous person at the San Pedro Sula airport. Now as some of you know, SPS is not the capital of Honduras but it does have the country's major international airport. Tegucigalpa is the capital but tha airport there is one of the most dangerous in the world as evidenced by the plane that crashed off the end of the runway there last year.

That results in everybody who wants to leave Honduras by air doing so through SPS... including famous people. Last year on our way to Roatan we met Carmen Jara who is evidently a pretty famous Mexican singer as evidenced by her website

That same day while stuck at the airport for several hours we met the reigning Ms. El Salvador and I got my picture taken with her.

Yesterday we noticed a bunch of photographers gathered around a guy who was signing autographs and I guessed that he was probably a soccer player because that seems to be the only reason people in this country would get that much attention. I was correct... he is a player for the national team named Walter "Peri" Martinez and was on his way to join his new team in the Spanish leagues. Here are 2 Honduran newspaper articles about the event of him leaving at the airport if you care to read them: and Of course Alex and I had to get our picture taken with him to remember the moment.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Asilo de Ancianos

This past week, I went on a field trip with my 6th graders to an asilo de ancianos- or a nursing home. This is not our typical idea of a nursing home- elderly people wearing a cable knit sweater, sitting in their wheelchairs in the living room knitting or playing checkers, looking at pictures of their grandkids. These people, for the majority, have been dropped off their children or relatives because they could no longer take care of them or afford to feed them. Many of the elderly were barefoot, with deformed feet after years of abuse, and senile. Some of them had wheelchairs that had been donated from the states, others had walkers or canes. Their common areas were outside, with a thatched roof over their heads, and dirt for a floor. Each adult had a twin sized bed and a three drawer nightstand as their only personal space. And these beds and nightstands were in a room with 30 plus other beds and nightstands.

The students were instructed to bring with them a bag of non-perishable food items to give to the elderly people. They were very happy to have it. This center is not a state funded facility, those don't really exist in Honduras, so it mainly runs on donations from the wealthy people in the community or from charities in the U.S. In December, the center has plenty of food, however January and February are lean months there. Some were eating their Pringles and Jello snackpack immediately upon receiving, while others were storing them away. There was one man who had dropped his cookie on the ground and was picking the crumbs off of the floor to eat them. I did hear stories of some of the elderly people stealing food from others that couldn't walk or protect their food supply.

A lot of parents came with us, and they brought with them a chicken rice dinner with dinner rolls for the residents. The children served a plate of food to each resident and then sat down and ate with them. Many of my students were telling me that they couldn't really understand what some of the residents were telling them, because they had problems with their gums, jaws, or teeth. There was a Red Cross station there, but no medical supplies that I could see of, except a makeshift catheter- a gallon jug carried around by the person with the tube coming out of the bottom of their shorts into the jug.

I'm extremely glad that my students were able to have this opportunity and that I was able to come with them. It was the most depressing thing that I think I have seen so far in Honduras. My students behaved very admirably; sitting and chatting with the residents, buying some of the goods that they had made in their spare time. I live in a developping country, but I don't see the true extent of what that means very often. This two hour field trip re-opened my eyes to the circumstances in which many people here have to endure, and I feel incredibly greatful to have the type of life that I am living.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Starting a New Year in El Salvador

After resisting for as long as possible, I suppose it's time for me to begin pulling my weight in this whole Wandering Wisconsinite endeavor. Since giving Jenna the title for the blog and providing the quote that adorns the top of the page I have been resting on my laurels for a couple of months but it will be more fun if I contribute as well.

A few months back we had planned to take a 3 day weekend and drive to El Salvador with our friends Alex and Caitlin as it was one of 2 Central American countries we had not visited yet. One slippery Guatemalan road, one large truck, and a "pay by the hour motel" later that trip was canceled, so we had to find another time to make it to El Salvador (for those of you who don't habla espanol, El Salvador is Spanish for... The Salvador). So we planned to dig out from under all that snow in Wisconsin a bit early and spend New Year's Eve on a black sand beach by the Pacific instead.

It was a worthwhile and fun trip and Jenna has already posted a few of the pics from the art museum in her last entry here so I won't bore you with details about that. However, I would like to make a few observations about the country from our breif visit there. As we have found in all of the other countries we traveled to in Central America, the roads were better than they are here in Honduras. No surprise there, but what was pleasantly surprising was how nice the city of San Salvador was in general. We were able to walk around at night, there were parks, people used the parks, and the sides of the road were not covered in trash. There was also a lot more "culture" there in the form of museums and such. Just though I'd pass that along to dispell the rumors that seem to be all over the place about how terrible El Salvador is and to encourage you to visit because we really enjoyed it.

I think I've rambled on long enough for my first ever blog post so I'll wrap up by giving you a link to my facebook album of pics from the trip so you can check it out/get jealous of us for being somewhere warm while most of you are freezing (literally from the weather reports I've seen) up in the Midwest.
Click Here for the El Salvador Photo Album

Sunday, January 11, 2009

El Salvadoran Art

Jesse and I went to an art museum while we were in El Salvador for New Years. We were really happy and excited that there were museums there to get a little bit better insight into the culture of the region. Honduras doesn't really have anything to compare with it. As we walked towards the MARTE complex (Museum of Art), we saw this huge monument that was the Memorial of the Revolution. The MARTE complex looked like a building that one could find in Chicago or Milwaukee. The museum only showcased artwork that was either created in El Salvador, or was created by an El Salvadoran abroad. Needless to say, we were very excited to enter.

Inside the museum, the exhibit was divided into four different sections. Two sections were on El Salvadoran identity and history, and the other two were focused on fantasy and dreams- more modern in origin. Many paintings depicted traditional scenes like the one below.

This sculpture welcomed us as we entered. This was part of the fantasy or more modern art section.

The next two paintings were both painted during the Civil War in the 80's and early 90's. There were many paintings and sculptures created during that time. Most of the artwork openly displayed the feeling of pain and suffering that existed in the country at that time.

Overall, we really enjoyed our time spent at the art museum. We learned a lot about the country and as we were walking through, we really wished that more Central American countries had the infrastructure to have these types of complexes celebrating their heritage.

Remembering the Snow

As I was sweating cooking dinner tonight, in our small kitchen without airflow, Jesse forwarded to me the pictures of us cross country skiing when we were in Wisconsin for Christmas. There is just something for how beautiful the snow can be, especially if one hasn't seen it for awhile, and really doesn't have to worry about shoveling it or scraping it off of one's vehicle. We really had a wonderful time in Wisconsin, and here are some of the pictures.

Jesse and I skiing around the bend.

Us wrestling in the snow. I think I was at a bit of a disadvantage.

The pristine view from the trail. A beautiful lake in the Wisconsin Northwoods.

The only way I can be as tall as Jesse.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas break in Wisconsin

It just seems incredible, that the long awaited Christmas break is over. For the 10 days spent in Wisconsin this holiday season, it was wonderful. Despite the fact that one certain nephew was sick for a decent portion of the break, it was defnitely worth it coming home for a bit and seeing everyone. I got to: meet my new niece, attend two Packer parties, go cross country skiing, see Maggie's dad play, and spend some much needed time at home. It seems like the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. It was great getting to see everyone again, and it reminds me of how much I miss when I'm gone, and how happy I am to come back and visit. We will be back in the states in four short weeks to attend an international job fair, where hopefully a job somewhere in South America awaits. I'll add some Wisconsin pictures later.