Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finca in the Mountains Part 2 (Please read Part 1 first!)

As stated in the previous post, we took an hour long journey up into the mountains yesterday to see the farm of a Honduran family. After the wonders of the farm our day went in an entirely different direction on the ride home. Arturo wanted to show us "where the rivers are born" and so we took a left at the end of the farm road instead of a right and headed further up the mountain. It started to rain along the way and Arturo asked if we still wanted to keep going as we were in the back of the truck, and feeling adventurous we said yes. By the time we got to this waterfall, the birthplace of one of the rivers, we were all soaked and a bit chilly.
We continued on to another waterfall just up the road where a second river was born. At this point Arturo asked if we would like to turn around and go back the same way or to a different way. Having already ridden in the back of a truck for 1.5 hours, we asked which way was shorter and when he said going back the same way that's what we chose. However, Arturo had other things in mind apparently and kept asking if we wanted to go the long way until he finally just made the decision himself and off we went. Now we assumed that the long way would be at most 2 hours or so but we were sadly mistaken. Although going up and down mountains on one lane dirt/rock/mud roads along cliffs several hundred feet above the valley floor in the back of a 1980-something pickup truck for 5 hours may sound fun to you, I assure you that it's not quite all you might dream it is. I can't complain too much because some of the views were breathtaking, but suffice it to say that all of us are a bit sore today and were slightly unhappy that it took so long. We stopped about 3 hours into the trip at this river. You might notice something that sort of resembles a road behind the truck to the right and ask yourself, "Well just where does that road go from there? I don't see a bridge over the river!" Those same questions went through our heads as we plunged into the river in the back of the truck, got stuck in the middle for a few harrowing seconds, but finally made it across the 3 foot deep, boulder strewn river floor and continued our journey home.
The kids did enjoy a good swim in the river before we forded it Oregon Trail style. Luckily none of our oxen died or we might not have made it back!
By the time we got back to San Pedro there were 11 people crammed into the back of the pickup truck as we had picked up some people looking for a ride into town and our bruising was complete. I even made up a song about the journey to the tune of This is the Song that Never Ends from the TV show Lamb Chop's Play-Along. Here are the lyrics (try not to let it get stuck in your head): This is the ride that doesn't end, It just goes on and on my friend, Arturo started driving and he took the long way, And he'll continue driving the rest of the day (and then repeat the whole thing just like Lamp Chop and friends did). All in all it was a great day, and though it was a bit rough at times and I'm being a little dramatic with my story, we really had a good time and would do it all again.

Finca in the Mountains Part 1

Yesterday Jenna and I along with 2 of our fellow teachers Katie and Kim went up into the mountains outside San Pedro with a bus driver from our school named Arturo and his wife Norma who is our maid. Arturo was born on the farm and was quite excited and proud to show it off to us eager gringos. We hopped into the back of Arturo's pickup truck and took the hour long journey up the mountain not quite sure what we were in for. Here's the farmhouse with the truck parked out in front.
From here Arturo took us around his family's land and showed us all the different plants that they cultivated. Most of the plants were entirely unknown to us including this one which I believe is called Lulo and apparently turns purple when ripe and tastes kind of like an orange.
The family's main crop is coffee and here you can see some coffee plants growing under a banana tree.
Arturo donated some of his land to build this school. It's a one room school house where kids who live in the surrounding mountains can come a few times a week for classes taught by the one and only teacher. You can tell a bit about this country's passion for soccer by the fact that even this tiny one room school house has a full sized soccer field in front of it!
Here is the inside of the school. Little Jonathan found a small educational electronic game and we helped him play it for a while. He was so proud of himself when he got questions right!
Right at the edge of the soccer field the mountain drops off quite rapidly as you can see and makes it quite possibly one of the best views from a soccer field in the country (when it's not cloudy). Understandably Arturo said it also makes for a few lost soccer balls!
If you've got to work the fields on a Saturday afternoon, this isn't a bad view to have while doing it! Later in the trip we saw that most of the veggies we buy at the supermarket in town are grown on incredibly steep hillsides just like this.
After the tour Norma made us some fresh and spectacular baleadas including hand making the tortillas.
Jonathan is Norma and Arturo's 2nd grade son and he really enjoys soccer. I'm fairly sure he can kick a ball harder than I can! After stuffing ourselves with baleadas we headed down to the soccer field to play and had a little Battle of the Sexes game. Here Jonathan and I are warming up before our glorious victory in the game
Our experience at the farm was great from the fantastic views and friendly family to the cool, fresh air. Just what we needed to refresh us for the last few weeks in Honduras!

Basketball Junkie

This is something that I have wanted to write about for awhile, just goes to show me how fast time can fly. This past year, Jesse participated in a basketball league with mostly locals. They had practice a few nights a week and games once or twice a week as well. I'm not exactly what you would call a basketball fan, but I went to a game to cheer him on.
Jesse is taking a free throw shot in the picture above. I enjoyed watching him play and it was interesting to see how, just because he is tall, he played almost the whole game! He quit playing a little while ago, however, maybe there will be a team he can play on in Paraguay.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Former Students

Today, there was a basketball game at school and it was my current students against my former students. I have randomly run into two of my former students earlier in the year, but today, I saw 6 of my former students. Even though they are the same age as my current students, it amazes me how much older they look compared to what I remember them being. They wanted to joke around, and they brought up some of the sillier moments of my first year teaching, and also reminded me of some of the mistakes that I made. Thankfully, students don't really realize those too much! I had a really good group of students last year, and they reminded me of the good times I had. They, of course, asked me which school I like better (since I switched from the tiny, sister campus to the main one), and told me that they missed my jokes. They have changed so much already, one commented on his lack of a girlfriend, then proceeded to ask me my age and phone number.

My former students have had a very challenging year. Last year, one of the students had cancer, and left halfway through the year to get treatment. This year, another student got kidnapped for 5 1/2 weeks, and then the principal of the school got shot. When I asked them how everything was going, they said it was good, and that everyone is okay. They all have a really good spirit around them and look towards the positive side.

As another year ends, I wonder how often my current students will look back and remember me. My students from last year, from talking to other teachers, talk about me often and generally with good will. I am looking forward to the move that Jesse and I will be taking in a few short months and returning to 5th grade, but I will remember my fifth grade class very fondly, and hope that someday, I'll have a class like them again. They were a really good group of students for a first year teacher to have.