Friday, February 27, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Situation: class is over, and one of my students, slightly angry with me for giving him a detention, is begging and pleading with me to take it away. His two friends are around him, laughing at his antics, when one of the friends asks me, "Miss, do you hate Jose?" I reply yes. "Miss, do you hate me?" Yes. "Miss, do you hate everybody?" Yes. "Even people from the church?" Yes, I tell him. "Miss, are you a NUDIST?" No. I am laughing too hard right now to say anything else. The other two students are laughing hysterically as well. He starts blubbering out, "Miss,Miss, I didn't mean nudist. I said Jewish. Are you a Jewish?" His friends walked him out of the classroom laughing.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


A few weeks ago I was presented with the idea to have our 8th grade students go through 2 days of classes about sexual education and parenting and then take care of electronic babies for a weekend by our school guidance counselor. I though this sounded like a good idea since our students are kind of sheltered in what they hear about this sort of thing through other sources and because the picture in my head of some of them taking care of babies was too entertaining to pass up. The first class went through the program Thursday and Friday of this week and yesterday were given their babies. If you have seen the movie "License to Wed" the babies we gave to the kids are slightly less technologically advanced versions of the babies they had to take care of in the movie. The babies can cry and move a little bit and they need to be fed, changed, burped, and rocked to stop them from crying. Unfortunately they don't actually produce waste like the babies in the movie. When the babies start crying, which can be at any hour of the day or night like a real baby, the students must try different things to determine what the cause of the problem is. They have to wear a sensor on a bracelet attached to their wrist so that they are the only ones who can care for the baby and the baby will only stop crying if it senses that the correct person is taking care of it. I can't wait to see their reactions when they come back to school on Monday after a weekend of taking care of their new kids!
The babies are all lined up and ready to go!

Last minute instructions on how to care for the babies.

You can actually hear the babies breathing!

Watching the kids picking up their babies and practicing burping them was priceless.

Three proud new daddies!

Are you ready for some Futbol?

Along with owning most major businesses in Honduras, our students' families also own the professional sports teams here, and by professional sports teams of course I mean soccer teams since that is the only sport which most people here are passionate about. What they lack in variety of sports teams they make up for in fanaticism for their soccer. The best team in the country over the last few years has been the San Pedro Sula-based team named Marathon (yes it means the same thing in Spanish and no it's not sponsored by the gas stations). It so happens that our middle school president made a campaign promise that if she won the election, she'd bring the Marathon team to school to play a game against the middle schoolers and to sign autographs. While this sounds like a crazy campaign promise, in reality it was made much easier by the fact that her uncle owns the team. Last Thursday she followed through on the promise and here are a few photos to prove it.

Marathon warming up.

Our middle schoolers warming up.

Header off of a corner kick.

The kids have never been this interested in class!

The game was played on the soccer field just down the hill from the middle school which you see in the upper left of the picture. Not a bad setting to play a little futbol!

The Marathon team bus has a T-Rex on it since that's apparently the team's mascot... kind of cool.

Another action shot... stop that shot Portero!

The girls got a shot to play against the team after the boys were done.

Many of the girls were even more excited after the game to get the autograph of this guy who they apparently thought was "dreamy".

Virtual School Tour

For those of you who haven't been able to come visit us down in Hondoland, you might not realize that we actually do have a beautiful place to go to work everyday. Our campus at Escuela Internacional Sampedrana is situated on the edge of San Pedro Sula at the base of the mountains that ring the Sula Valley. Being in the tropics the mountains are not high and snow covered, but rather covered in a dense tropical rain forest and cloud forest. Here is the view I get to see every morning walking up to my classroom.

The campus itself is designed as several buildings with open-air hallways connecting them. The only truly indoor areas on campus are the rooms which makes for a pleasant place to walk around when not in class.

The middle school is situated on a hill above the soccer field and is built in the shape of an L with open air hallways and an open air "caseta" or cafeteria. Here are 2 views of the middle school.

My classroom is located upstairs in the middle school and has a pretty decent view out the windows. The view and living next to mountains is definitely one of the things I will miss most when I move away from Honduras in a few months.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kids Say The Darndest Things

Since last weekend was Valentine's Day, and since 6th grade girls love romantic stuff, some of my students asked me what Mr. N was getting or planning for me for the day. I told them nothing, we were just going to Tela. One of my students replied, "but Miss, he's a bad boyfriend. A woman has to get roses on Valentine's Day." This started a conversation on Mr. N's and my relationship. Since I choose not discuss our relationship with the students, they sometimes come up with their own ideas. However, as I tried to stop the conversation from continuing, one sweet, helplessly romantic sixth grade girl asked me, "Miss, one question. He's so tall. Do you have to jump to kiss him?" Priceless.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day

This weekend was the big Valentine's Day. Jesse and I had discussed our Valentine's philosophies, and we both decided that instead of buying flowers and chocolates, we would get out of town for the weekend and play tourist for a while. We are running out of time here in Honduras, and there are still places that we want to go, or visit again for one last time. We headed to the bus station, with the intention of going to Copan Ruinas. We have both been there before, both with large groups, and when family has come to visit. Going to the Mayan museum, shopping, and sitting while watching the Mayans in their traditional dress in the town center sounded like the perfect V-Day celebration. However, once we got to the bus station, we came to discover that the premier bus company of the country had not updated their website in awhile, and therefore, there were no buses to Copan on Friday. We headed back home, feeling a little defeated. We talked to some friends about their plans, and decided to go with them on a day trip to Tela.

Tela is a town on the Caribbean that is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from San Pedro. It is the closest clean beach to San Pedro, and it is possible to go and enjoy it on a day trip. It is surrounded by two national parks, one on each end, and some Garifuna villages. The Garifuna are decendants from West Africa who have settled along the Caribbean in Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua. They have a very distinctive culture with music and dance being very important aspects of their life.

Last year in January, we had come to Tela to visit one of the national parks called Punta Sal. We hiked along trails in the park, saw howler monkeys, went snorkeling, and ate a traditional meal of fried fish, rice and beans, and fried plantain chips. This time, we went to Punto Izopo, on the other side of Tela. This national park covers the area where the Rio Platano empties into the Caribbean. Mangroves grow in this area as well as many different bird species, monkeys, crocodiles, caymans, and snakes. The tour we took was a kayaking tour along the mangrove swamp area, to look for wildlife.

The freshwater from the river mixes with the salt water from the ocean and created a swamp. We kayaked for a few hours along different parts of the river looking for wildlife and enjoying nature. We had a guide with us, who actually had grown up in Minnesota. Talk about a small world!! Now, I'm not exactly an avid kayaker, so we did occasionally run into trees and get stuck on roots in the water. Jesse and I used a double kayak, and since Jesse is abnormally tall, the kayak was a little bit small for us. We made due however, and really enjoyed the trip.

This is me, in the kayak, with mangroves behind me. The mangrove is really an interesting tree, since its roots grow from the trunk of the tree down into the water to stabilize it and provide it with nourishment. It provides a very good habitat for many different animals and generally grows in brackish water.

Can you see the Central American crocodile in the picture? We actually saw four crocodiles during our adventure, one of whom was eating a huge fish.

Caymans are a small, crocodile-like creature. Our guide told us the difference between caymans and crocodiles, but I only remember that caymans are smaller. Here is a baby cayman sunning itself on a log. We also saw blue herons, white herons, many other birds of which I don't recall their names, and the coolest thing ever- a toucan in flight. Now, I've seen toucans on the Froot Loops cereal box, at zoos, and at the bird park in Copan, but seeing a toucan flying across the river in its natural habitat was the most amazing thing ever. We could see the colored rings on its beak as it was flying across the river. It was too fast to take a picture, but was absolutely beautiful.

After our kayaking tour, we went to the second largest Garifuna village called Triumfo de la Cruz. Its population is 8,000 people, with most of their sustenance coming from fishing and farming. The community is right on the Caribbean with a white sand beach. They have started to join the tourism route, introducing people to their traditional ways and their culture. Their dancing and music is especially interesting to listen to and watch, however this trip didn't include any of that. It had been rainy and cold for quite a while, so with the sun shining on Saturday, we sat on the beach and enjoyed the sunshine for awhile. We ordered food from a Garifuna restaurant: fried fish (with the head still on- the entire fish) for me, shrimp for Jesse, and fried plantains. Very traditional food and absolutely delicious! Jesse and I then returned to San Pedro, incredibly tired from the kayaking and the sun. Overall, a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Wandering Continues

This past weekend Jenna and I interviewed with several schools from around the world and settled on our new location for the next 2 years... WE'RE MOVING TO PARAGUAY!!! I will be teaching high school biology and chemistry and Jenna will be teaching 5th grade at the American School of Asuncion. Asuncion is a city of about 2 million people and is the capital of Paraguay. More info to follow so stay tuned... and start saving money for those plane tickets to come visit!