S: Utila, Honduras 2008
FC: Utila, Honduras 2008
1: The Longest Day (6.25.08) Well, somehow my hotel room can barely get a wireless signal from a network associated with the the local cell phone company TIGO. Hopefully it will last long enough to upload this post and some pictures to Flickr. Today has been incredibly LONG!! Dad and I left my house at 2:30 this morning and I think I slept as much on my flight to Houston as I did at my house. The flight is only two hours, so that should give you some idea of how much sleep I was operating on. One really great thing was that the security people did let me take my icepacks on the plane! My flight got into Houston on time and I got to my next gate without any problems. The flight was very crowded but we all made it on. I think I got the best seat on the plane because I was in the row right after first class that had twice as much leg room as any other row. It was great! Plus, even though it was a crowded flight, there was an empty seat next to me and a hibernating twelve year old by the window. He woke up when we landed and gave me my first mini-tour of Honduras from the air. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I could tell the environment was different. Everything looked different and smelled different and it was kind of like Mexico and kind of like Peru, but not really. The airport was pretty small. Ok, really small. After I got my bags and went through customs and immigration I was expecting to go into some kind of terminal. Nope. I was faced with a sea of people looking for their loved ones. I was not who they were looking for. I asked for the Hedman Alas office and found out I had to wade through the crowd to get my bus ticket. I got the bus ticket and then walked outside to the other end of the airport. I was told to wait at “Terminal B.” When I got to the building that said “Terminal B”, there were lots of little shops and places to sit inside, but all I saw for a bus terminal was the sign outside. I asked the guard at the bank inside and he assured me that the bus would come there. I had about an hour and a half to wait, so I bought a popcicle and a newspaper and tried to make both last a long time. I tried to get a phone card to call home, but all they had were phone cards for cell phones.
2: Sure enough, at 1:30 on the dot the Hedman Alas bus pulled up and we all got on. They took us to their main terminal in San Pedro Sula and then I got to wait some more. (Notice the trend?) As I was boarding the bus to go to La Ceiba I realized that just outside the security check-in there was an internet café, so I probably could have exited security, used the computer, and gone back in. Too late. The trip to La Ceiba was really pretty. I’m glad I went by bus instead of trying to fly. Everything was really green and there were lots of mountains. We passed tons of palm trees and banana trees. Honduras is similar to southern Mexico but it definitely has its own flavor. I think what I saw today is going to be totally different than what is on the island. I tried to take as many pictures as I could, but it rained during part of the trip. I thought we would be arriving to a bus terminal in La Ceiba, but we pulled up to a deserted grocery store a little after 6:00 p.m. Luckily, the taxi drivers knew about our arrival. J I asked a Honduran woman how much I should pay for a taxi to my hotel and she told me no more than 50 lempira (about $2.25). I was glad I had asked her because when I asked how much to take me to El Paris the taxi driver didn’t bat an eye when he said 80 lempira. I told him that was way too much and we settled on 50 lempira. (Later when I realized I was haggling over $1.50, I thought it was a little ridiculous, but it’s important to know what the “fair” price is for services so you don’t get taken advantage of.) I’m so glad Sarah recommended this hotel for me because it is perfect. When I got to the room I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a mini-fridge complete with a tiny freezer. I was even more shocked when the bellboy said he would get me more ice. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to worry about my typhoid medicine anymore!!! Maybe Honduras does use ice, or maybe God is just watching out for me. The hotel has free internet in the lobby and a restaurant, so I got to let my parents know I was here and eat my first meal of the day. A few random observations about Honduras so far ~There seems to be an obsession with picture-taking. When I went through customs they took my picture and they took it each time I got on the bus. Are they afraid they are going to lose us? ~There are lots of bikes here. I’ve seen tons of people riding bikes. ~It gets dark really early. It was starting to get dark in La Ceiba when we arrived at 6:00. Maybe that’s just because it was also raining? ~It is incredibly humid! (I know, the rain, but still!) ~I’ve seen a lot of really big churches, but none of them are Catholic. I just think that’s kind of unusual. I’ve never seen that in a Latin American country before.
3: First Day in Utila (6.27.08) It’s been less than 24 hours since I wrote and I feel like it was another world ago. I don’t know when I’ll get this posted, but I’m writing at about 4:30 on Thursday. This morning I woke up early, about 6:00. I’m really glad I got to spend a night by myself in La Ceiba. I felt very refreshed and excited about getting to the island. I left the hotel and decided to walk around the center a little bit. It was pretty and there were coconut trees everywhere. I took some pictures of the HUGE trees in the plaza. My taxi driver told me they were ceiba trees. I’ll have to look at a dictionary to see what that is in English. I had breakfast at a little restaurant behind the hotel. I had a desayuno típico (typical breakfast) which consisted of eggs and ham, tortillas, black beans, and something called cuanaja. It was a kind of cheese. It was a little like Oaxacan cheese--very soft and porous. After breakfast I walked around a little more and took lots of pictures. I hope I can get some of them on Flickr soon. I need to figure out how to get them smaller before I upload them because they are taking up too much space. About 8:30 I left the hotel and took a taxi to the ferry dock. There were lots of backpackers at the ferry dock, young couples spending a summer in Honduras or Central America or wherever. I left my suitcase with all the other luggage marked “Utila” and sat down to sweat and wait.
4: The Honduran coast is beautiful. I tried to take some pictures, but I’m sure they won’t be as gorgeous as the real thing. There are emerald mountains draped with greenery and shrouded in low hanging clouds. I can only imagine what it must have looked like to the first explorers that arrived here. The ferry ride took about an hour. We never lost sight of the Honduran coast, but about halfway out I could see Utila. It was a lot bigger than I expected—really long. I could see Pumpkin Hill very easily—basically it’s the only part of the island that isn’t flat. To the far left I could see the island stop, then water, then more trees. I figured those must be the cays. I do have a bit of bad news about the name of my blog. See, when I named it “K’ in the Cays” I thought it was a clever play on words and use of sounds. You know, K for my first name and “cays” (which I pronounced “kays.”) Well, it turns out that you say them “keys.” “K’ in the ‘keys’” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. When I got off the ferry I got my luggage and walked down the ferry dock. Sarah, the volunteer I’ve been corresponding with, and Jo, a volunteer from Georgia, were there to meet me. It was great to see them and know my journey was over! We walked a short distance to the mission house where I am staying. It is right in the center of town and in the middle of everything. There are four of us living here at the mission house: Janet, the pastor AKA “Rev”, Sarah, Jo, and me. It is a three bedroom house with two bathrooms. I will try to post some pictures later after I’ve been here longer. Jo and I are sharing a room with three beds in it. I looked out the window and we are only about 25 feet from the ocean!!!!! I can see the Caribbean from my bed!!!!! I visited with Jo and Sarah a little bit and then unpacked my suitcase. There is no air conditioning here, but there are lots of fans. As long as I am in range of a fan, I am okay. Otherwise I sweat. Around noon all four of us went across the street to eat at Munchies. I had a chicken and cheese quesadilla topped with something Sarah called “Spanish butter.” It looked like crema that I’ve had other places, kind of like sour cream but more the consistency of mayonnaise. That’s not a very good explanation. It was really good though. We got to visit and learn more about each other. Rev is from Britain and has lived here for about 3 years. Jo is a deaf and hard of hearing teacher. She is a short-term volunteer like me. She’s been here three weeks and still has two left. Sarah has been here since late January and will stay until November. After lunch we came back to the house for a while and then went up to the school. The whole island is very small and the streets are narrow and windy. There aren’t many cars here. Most people walk or use bikes, scooters, or golf carts to get around. The mission house is right on the water and the school is two streets up. There is a mission team here right now and they were doing a VBS with some of the kids. I got to meet some of the kids and even one of my future students. Apparently my arrival to the island has been more anticipated than I ever imagined. Sarah said there are two local TV stations and she and Jo were on TV talking about my arrival. They announced that there was an English teacher who could teach the people who spoke Spanish and people starting calling the station to find out how to sign up. Sarah said she will arrange for me to be interviewed on TV to help spread the word. Jo laughed when Sarah said that, and said it’s really just a room and a video camera—pretty low tech.
5: The island’s make up is very interesting. It has such a rich, confusing history, even more so than I realized earlier. There are expats who live here—citizens of other countries who reside permanently in Utila. They speak English. Then there are the old Utilian families who are Anglo. They speak Caribbean English, which I still don’t always understand. Then there are old Utilian families who are Hispanic. They look like the rest of Hondurans, but are completely bilingual. Finally, there are recent migrants to the island from the mainland and maybe some subpopulations who have lived on the island a long time. They speak only Spanish. There are schools here: the Adventist school and the public school. All of the schooling is in Spanish, but a lot of the kids speak English. I’m not sure if that’s because of tourism, or because that’s what their families speak, or both. Many of the people who speak English perfectly don’t read or write it fluently. That’s the group that Sarah has been targeting with her classes. Hopefully my classes will target the part of the population that doesn’t speak any English at all. What makes the whole thing even more confusing is that you can’t look at someone and tell what language is going to pop out of their mouth. When we were at Bible School today some of the kids would come up and talk to me in English. Others would come up and motion to me and I realized they only spoke Spanish. It was all very surreal.
7: Surrounded by Water and Not a Drop to Bathe In (6.28.08) Utila is a funny sort of place. I am on an island, surrounded by water on all sides. I can hear the ocean from anywhere in the house and I can see water sitting on my bed. Yet as of tonight, we have no water in the house, except drinking water. The city of Utila controls residents’ access to water. Every home has a tank on the roof or somewhere on the property. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday (I think) the city opens the water valves and lets water flow through the pipes. On those same days, everyone opens the valve on their pipes to let water flow into their tank. When the tank is full, everyone turns the valve off (so your tank doesn’t lose water) and then the city turns their valve off. Water in the house then comes directly from the tank. Water is a precious commodity here and it must be conserved. When I take a shower, I only let the water run when I’m actually under it. There is no hot water in the mission house, which I must say isn’t that much of a sacrifice with all the heat. Today we got a phone call from one of the church members that the city had opened the valve. Sarah, Jo, and I double-checked to make sure our valve was open. It was, but our tank never filled with water. Sarah said maybe someone further up the line was taking all the water or there wasn’t enough pressure to fill our tank. Whatever the reason, we didn’t get water today, and our tank is empty. When the tank is empty, there are several alternatives. We tried to use the pump in the laundry room to pump rainwater into buckets to use for bathing, but the pump didn’t work. The next step is to go into Rev’s room and open a hole in her closet floor, which gives access to rainwater pooled under the house. Fortunately, there was water there, so Sarah and Jo were able to take bucket baths. I’m waiting to take mine in the morning. If the rainwater runs out, there are other options. For about $30 you can pay a guy to come and fill up your | tank. I asked Sarah if this happens to everyone on the island. She said that some people pay to have water pumped/brought to their house, so they always have a good supply. But she also said that sometimes even the hotels run out of water and have to tell the tourists they can’t take showers or wash their hands. We don’t get more water until Sunday, so I don’t know what we’ll do until then. We buy big jugs of water to drink, so we still have water to drink, but it is way too expensive to bathe in. Maybe we’ll be taking more bucket baths or maybe we’ll pool our money and get the tank refilled.
8: Running of the Bulls (6.28.08) Yesterday I went with Sarah to get the mail at the post office, which is right by the ferry dock. As we were getting there, we realized something was going on. It turns out that they had just brought a boatload of cows over from the mainland for the island’s meat. The cattle were all corralled on the ferry dock, but one had fallen into the ocean and dory (small boat, not sure if it’s spelled right) pulled it to shore. There was a lot of drama getting it back with the rest of the herd and it was MAD. There were probably 20-30 bulls total. The gate to the dock was opened and they herded the bulls down the street, tied together by rope. One got away and started charging at everything. People were screaming and running everywhere. Sarah and I were right in the thick of it!!!
10: Sego Cave (6.29.08) Yesterday I got to explore a part of the island totally different than the touristy parts I’ve been so far. A friend of Rev’s, Phil, wanted to go visit a cave that Sarah said was really cool and was a good place to swim. Since Sarah had already been, Rev was gone, and Jo didn’t want to go, it ended up being just Phil and me and our guide, Ferron (rhymes with Darren). Ferron is a 12 year old boy who has grown up on the island and is completely bilingual orally because his dad is Utilian and his mom is from La Ceiba. His mom only speaks Spanish and his dad is bilingual. Honestly, the whole tour was worth it just to spend time with a local Utilian who has grown up here and speaks “island English.” I think you could do a doctoral thesis on the way the locals here speak. I told Phil that I thought having a Utilian child | enroll in school in the States would be a teacher’s worst nightmare. Ferron spoke English fluently and had good vocabulary. His grammar was perfect—in “island English.” When compared to Standard English in the US, his grammar was abysmal. He said things like “You careful, you pop yo’ head” which meant “Be careful, or you’ll hit your head.” Talking to him was quite an experience! To top it off, he doesn’t read or write English at all—just Spanish. I tried to get him to talk while I videoed him, but he wasn’t interested. Ferron, Phil, and I walked along a dirt path through banana, coconut, and “swamp” trees. We saw hundreds of little blue crabs skittering into their holes when they heard us. There are a lot of iguanas on the island and Ferron was an expert at spotting them. He liked to throw rocks at them and scare them. Phil and I were nervous he would actually hit one, but he assured us that it would just “knock dem out, it no kill dem.” While we were walking | we came across a young boy with two dogs holding an iguana whose toes were tied together. He stopped to talk to Ferron and show him the iguana that his dogs caught. Phil and I naively assumed that he had rescued the poor iguana and was going to take it to the island’s Iguana Station to recuperate. Wrong. He had been hunting and he was holding his supper!!! When questioned, Ferron assured us that this was a Highlander, not an Utilian (endangered) iguana. Ferron said he and his dog loved to hunt iguanas, but that his dog, “he like to tear dem up. I be behind him o’ he eat it up.” We walked to the main airport road and stopped at Ferron’s house to get flashlights. After about thirty minutes of walking, we came to a big pole with the word “cueva” (cave) written on it. Ferron led us among the rocks and trees to a sunken hole in the forest floor. We climbed down an 8 foot ladder and Ferron pointed out
11: two different caves. Straight in front of us there was a pool of fresh water that went back into a cave. Above us we could see blue sky and sunlight filtered through the trees. Ferron immediately peeled off his shirt and jumped in. Phil and I looked on skeptically as Ferron described how cool and refreshing the water was. The water had “dust” on the top of it, but I was so hot that I didn’t care. Phil and I got in and the water was amazing!!!! It was the first time since arriving to Utila that I wasn’t hot during the middle of the day. The water was crystal-clear and you could see all the way to the bottom. The area wasn’t super-big, and the rocks were razor-sharp. I wished I had water shoes with me to protect my feet. After a while we got out and Ferron asked us if we wanted to go in the other cave. Originally he had told us he didn’t like going in there because it was dirty and slimy and you had to be careful or you would “pop” your head. That’s the cave the Sarah had swam in, and we decided to go have a look. We lowered ourselves down into the cave and crawled on our hands and knees part of the way. I was thankful Ferron had flashlights because it was pitch-black inside. There were some candles standing on some of the rocks, held there by melted wax. We didn’t have matches, so we couldn’t light them, but it would have looked magical. When we got to the narrowest part of the passage, I was getting a bit nervous. Ferron assured me this was the smallest part and that it wasn’t much farther.
12: The Canadians, Eh (6.30.08) I’m sure some of you are wondering if I came to Utila to do any work, or just to play. :) Well, I’m happy to report that I actually have been doing some work the last couple of days. You may remember from one of my earlier posts that there is a Canadian group here on the island right now and I was supposed to be their interpreter. I must say it is eye-opening being on this end of the mission experience. I have been part of many mission teams and led many mission teams, but I have never received mission teams. Being here has taught me a lot about the sacrifices that hosts make for incoming teams. In addition to taking care of the team, Rev and Sarah have many other responsibilities. When the team changes its plans or doesn’t follow through like the promised, it | The cave opened up into a decent sized cavern with a pool in it. As we were sitting there, we heard wings flapping—bats. Our flashlights were disturbing them and they were flying all around. Fortunately their radar was more effective than our weak eyes and they avoided colliding with us. There were lots of times when I felt a breeze go by near my head or arm. Once I could see one coming straight toward me. I shut my eyes and scrunched up and he flew right past. Inside the cave there were stalactites and stalagmites and even two that had grown together to form a pillar. We didn’t get in the pool inside the cave; by that time it was late and we were worried about getting home in time for supper. We went a little farther back in the cave, carefully picking our way over the rocks at the edge of the pool. Farther back there were lots more bats and a really deep, clear pool of water. I took as many pictures as I could back in the cave, although it was hard to tell exactly what I was taking a picture of. We made our way back out of the cave, with muddy hands, knees, and clothes. I was totally exhausted at that point, but we still had a thirty minute hike back home. Ferron of course, was not fazed by any of the journey. In fact, he was so adept at climbing out of the cave that he had time to get back into the pool where we swam and rinse off before Phil and I even emerged from the cave. We made it home about 6:40, over an hour later than we anticipated. Jo had made spaghetti for dinner and it was delicious! Still No Water (6.30.08) The city opened the valves again yesterday, but we didn’t get any water. Maybe today.
13: throws everything into turmoil. I can also see why it is so important to work with local leadership, not just show up and do your own thing. Teams should come to support what is happening locally, not push through with their own agenda of “feel-good” programs. This evening Jo and I went to Christian Endeavor, which is kind of like a youth group for younger kids. The kids ranged in age from three to ten. We did a couple of activities with them and sang a few songs. Tomorrow I need to get my classroom ready! Tomorrow night I go on TV—it should be a hoot! Apparently you just show up at 7:00 p.m. and tell them you want to go on the air and they put you on live, right then and there. Wednesday morning is the matriculation—officially located “under Frankie Morgan’s Mango Tree.” Today I put a notice on TV and this afternoon a man from El Salvador came up to talk to me about enrolling. He said he wanted lots of homework and vocabulary to memorize. | He might be disappointed. He did, however, say he owned an air conditioned internet café here on the island, which he offered for the matriculation. I turned him down because it was already advertised on TV, but maybe we can trade extra English classes for free internet or something. | Utila Methodist School (7.1.08) I’ve learned a lot about the history of the school since I arrived and why they asked for volunteers to come to the island. I am going to try and explain some of it here, although I’m sure I still don’t have everything exactly right. As I have mentioned before, the island was originally permanently settled by the British, not the Spanish. As a result, the island retained many English influences, even after the Honduras government took over the Bay Islands. Many of the older people here on the island do not speak Spanish at all. The descendants of these original British/ American/Irish/ settlers wanted their children educated in English
14: The Methodist School has a long and esteemed history on the island. Children went to “Spanish school” up through sixth grade, either at the public school or maybe another private school. After sixth grade, they could enroll in the Methodist School, where all of the classes were taught in English. The island schools ran on a Feb-Nov calendar and the Methodist School ran on the US calendar (Aug-May). They used curriculum from the US and their students took New Jersey’s GED test at the end of their studies. Students were able to transition quickly from doing academic work in Spanish to English for several reasons. First of all, many of them learned to read and write English at the Methodist Sunday School. Secondly, many took private English lessons from Miss Violet, a legend here on the island. Lastly, the Methodist School taught “Remedial Work” between Jan-Aug when students were entering sixth grade. (So they finished fifth grade in November, had two months off, and then did “remedial work” until August when they started sixth grade.) The “Remedial Work” was really catching them up on academic English. One of the people I have met here used to be the director (principal) of the school. He is a US citizen and taught math at the school in addition to being the director. He said that many of the students went on to college in Louisiana. (There is a strong connection between Utila and New Orleans because of banana exports and other produce exports. Apparently New Orleans has a very large population of Utilians.) The school used to be located right down on the ocean. Apparently you could look out the window as you taught and gaze at the Caribbean. Anyway, about 13-14 years ago, the school was moved up the hill to the facility that is used now. It is a beautiful facility, with a large courtyard, large library, and 4-5 classrooms upstairs. I have been told it is much nicer than the other schools here on the island. Students paid tuition to go to the school, but I guess maybe it was also partially subsidized by the church. | Several years ago the church (still located by the ocean) began building an Annex next door. It is supposed to be dedicated later this month. As people’s attention focused on funding and building the Annex, the school wasn’t as much of a priority. The school’s finances were in trouble and last November they had to close the doors. Losing the Methodist School is very upsetting to a number of people on the island, because it is where many of them went to school. I have also heard people say it was the only school on the island that was truly bilingual, where students got an education in English and were able to go onto an English-speaking university. After the school closed last November, they asked for volunteers to come and keep the school open in some capacity. Sarah came in early 2008 and began offering private English classes at the school. She teaches three classes four days a week. Her students speak English fluently but do not read and write English (or need extra help with it.) The email that I responded to was for additional volunteers to come and spend at least four weeks teaching. Sarah runs her classes on four week cycles, so a volunteer could come for four weeks and offer one cycle of classes. I don’t think that it matters exactly what you teach (someone may be doing a physical education class later in the year) but the point is to keep the doors open. I will be teaching three classes; two for kids and one for adults. My classes are geared for the Spanish speakers on the island. English is such a big part of people’s lives here, both because of tourism and because of the history. Interestingly, one of the people I’ve talked to said that he fears English will disappear as more people from the coast (read=Spanish speaking Hondurans) move to Utila in search of work. I don’t necessarily see that happening, but he knows a lot more about Utila than I do. He said that the Spanish influence on the island has increased dramatically in the last 30
15: years. Most younger people know English and Spanish or just Spanish. Most older people know English and Spanish or just English. Today I went up to the school and cleaned out my classroom. When the school closed they left everything as it was and locked up-bulletin boards were left intact and student files were still there. I cleaned out a lot of stuff and threw away old papers. I tried to save anything I thought could be salvaged. There are shelves and shelves of old textbooks from the US, encyclopedias in English, tattered chapter books, and a smattering of Honduras’s National Curriculum. One of my students, Belky, showed up today, and she helped me get everything in order. The room looked nice when we finished with it. I just need to find a broom to sweep the floor and get some rubbing alcohol to clean the dry erase board. Tomorrow morning is the matriculation (registration) under Frankie Morgan’s mango tree. Hopefully there will be a good turnout! | I'm a TV Star! (7.1.08) I just got back from my TV interview–it was hilarious!! Jo and I walked over to the TV station about 7:00 and waited on the balcony of building where they film. A few minutes after 7:00 the host showed up and said, “Oh, you guys wanna be on tonight? Okay!” The room was small and the cameraman ate supper and texted during most of the show. At one point the phone on the host’s desk rang and he answered it. It was a caller saying the volume wasn’t adjusted correctly. They adjusted it on the spot and went on with the show like nothing had happened. The show was done in English and Spanish and sometimes the cameraman would shout corrections to the host’s Spanish when he was doing Spanish segments.
16: There was one interview before mine–a Utilian woman and her husband (from the US) were on to talk about the 4th of July celebration. Yes, you read that correctly. I never dreamed I would be celebrating the 4th of July here in Honduras. Apparently there is going to be a big fishing tournament, a Miss Playa contest, and a cookout and fireworks on Chepe’s beach. The host was happy to have me on the show. He told everyone I was the “Spanish teacher. Well, she’s not going to teach Spanish, but she speaks Spanish.” I got to give all the information about my class in Spanish (since it’s targeted for Spanish-speakers) and then we kind of summarized in English. When it was over, I asked the cameraman if I could give a copy of the recording, but he said he hadn’t recorded it since it was live. Then the host piped up and said, “Don’t worry, you can be on again. Drop by anytime.” If I go again I’ll ask him to tape it before we start! | First Day of Classes (7.2.08) Today was the matriculation and the first day for classes. Jo and I spent three hours sitting under the mango tree this morning during the registration. It was very hot, but kind of fun to people watch. The turnout wasn’t as big as I had expected, but that’s okay. We registered two kids and five adults. Later in the day Shelby, the man who runs the TV station, came by and enrolled two of the kids whose father works in his house, and one of the workers. I also picked up one more child during the day. In total, I have five kids and six adults enrolled. Shelby said he would keep pushing it on TV, so we’ll see what happens. Tonight was my first class with the adults. I thought it went really well–they are a fun group. Tomorrow at 1:30 I will have class with the kids. Rev and Sarah are gone right now. They had to go to the mainland on Monday morning and they were planning to come back today, but the ferry isn’t running. Hopefully it will be fixed by tomorrow morning and they’ll make it back. When I came home tonight I thought I could hear water running near the valve where it comes in from the city. Hopefully we are getting water!!!
17: Señor Presidente (7.4.08) Today was supposed to be a big day in Utila. The president was supposed to visit the island today for the grand inauguration of the new desalinization plant. Spain donated over a million dollars to fund the project and the Spanish government was supposed to be sending a representative. I first heard about the president’s visit when I was on TV Tuesday night. Shelby (the host) was talking about how important it was to make sure the town was neat and tidy and he read an invitation from Alton Cooper, Utila’s mayor, inviting everyone to the inauguration. He was supposed to arrive at 10:30 today, so about 10:15 or so Sarah and I headed up the Western Path to the plant. When we arrived, there were tons of school children waving Honduran and Spanish flags, and crowds of people gathered under the trees. We waited. And waited. And waited. Finally a helicopter arrived and everyone rushed up the hill. There was lots of shouting, but no president. After a little while the helicopter left and the crowds descended. The news media had arrived in that helicopter, and the rumor was that the copter was headed back to Tegus to pick up the president. Sarah and I finally got tired of waiting and came back to the house to eat lunch. I’m still not sure if the president ever came today or if the desalinization plant ever got inaugurated. Someone told me that when the president was supposed to be in Utila he was actually in meetings with bigwigs in Tegus about the reopening of Toncontin (the airport). Who knows. I do have two pieces of good news. First, we got water Wednesday night!!! I thought I could hear water running when I came home from my class. Jo and I weren’t sure if we could turn the valve off, so we decided to check the tank. We got a flashlight and I climbed the big ladder up to the tank and peeked inside-it was half full!!!! Taking a shower tonight was so wonderful!!!! The second piece of good news is that Sarah and Rev made it back. The ferry still wasn’t running this morning, but they were able to charter a flight and make it home. I had my first class with the kids today. They were a lot of fun, but there weren’t many there. I think the excitement of the president’s supposed visit probably threw everything off.
18: This afternoon I took a walk down to Bando’s Beach. It is at the far end of East Harbor. Chepe’s Beach is the public beach and Bando’s is private. It was gorgeous-the sand is white and there are Adirondack chairs set up under palm trees where you can sit and gaze at the ocean. You can also see the Honduran mainland from the beach. While I was walking near Bando’s Beach, I saw a woman showing her children the “sleeping plant.” It is a curious little fern that snakes across the ground on vines. When you touch the leaves, the ferns fold up. It reminded me of a venus fly trap or something. | Fourth of July and Snorkeling (7.5.08) The last two days have been busy! Yesterday was the 4th of July which, oddly enough, was celebrated on the island. In the morning we all went and had breakfast at Munchies, the restaurant across from our house.
19: After that I headed up to the public school to talk to the students and see if anyone wanted to enroll in my class. I didn’t have any new students at my afternoon class that day, but I’m going to go back on Monday and try again. In the late afternoon Sarah, Jo, and I walked down to Chepe’s beach where the 4th of July celebration was being held. There wasn’t a lot happening yet, so we wandered on down to Coral View. I had never been that far down on the island and it was really pretty. Coral View is a hotel/restaurant that sits right near the coral reef (hence the name). We wanted to have breakfast there the next morning, but had to let them know we were coming. We walked all the way to the end of the part of the island that is accessible by foot from East Harbor. We reached the entrance to the lower lagoon and could see across to the Laguna Beach Resort. There were lots of neat pictures. About 6:30 or 7:00 we went back to Chepe’s for the 4th of July celebration. There still weren’t a lot of people there but we ate hamburgers on the beach with the sand stinging our legs. It gets dark here really early (by about 6:30) and they had strung up some light bulbs over the tables so we could see. Sarah and Jo stayed out late and watched the fireworks, but I was tired so I came back early and went to bed. I wanted to be well rested for today (Saturday 5th) because we were planning to snorkel! We got up early this morning and had a devotion and hiked down to Coral View. The mountains were spectacular this morning! Normally we can’t see the mountains on the mainland, but they were incredibly clear this morning. One of the women from the church, who is in her late 80s said she can’t remember another time they were so clear!
20: Miss Tonya made us an AMAZING breakfast–scrambled eggs, fritters, beans, Spanish butter, mango jam, and juice. The fritters here are different than the fritters on the mainland. As soon as I saw them, I thought they were beignets, which Mom and Dad used to make sometimes when we were growing up. I remember Mom telling me that beignets were from Louisiana and as I thought more about it, I realized that it was likely they were the same thing since there is such a strong tie between New Orleans and Utila. We let our breakfast settle a little and then Jo and I snorkeled for a while. It has been a long time since I snorkeled and I forgot how buoyant salt water makes you. We got in the water right by the dock and were almost immediately over coral. You have to be really careful not to touch it because it is living. Snorkeling was so much fun!!! I swam way out to the coral wall and there were lots of brightly colored fish swimming. I saw purple sea fans waving gently with the water and fish darting in and out of caves. For lunch we ate at the Driftwood and then rested this afternoon. We didn’t get home until about 2:30. This evening Jo, Sarah, and I walked down to the Point, which is a bridge over the upper lagoon. We stopped on the way home and had lemonade at La Pirata. Tomorrow is Sunday so it will be a busy day. We will go to the Cays in the morning for church. Usually they go on a dive boat, but tomorrow we’ll have to rent a dory. I’ve heard a lot about the Cays and I’m really excited about going!
21: Church at the Cays (7.6.08) This morning we went to the Cays (pronounced “keys”) for church. Normally they go on one of the dive boats, but we weren’t able to do that because there wasn’t room. We ended up going with a guy in his dory. We made it over there in about 20 minutes or so. It was really neat because we went along the whole length of Utila. The largest cay is where everyone lives. I’m not sure how big it is, but you can easily see water on both sides if you stand in the middle. The houses on the cay are really tiny and cute. We wore shorts over in case we got wet on the dory (and to make getting in and out of the dory easier) so we had to change clothes at the house of one of the church members. Sarah gave us a mini-tour of the cay before church. Everything was very close together. The Methodist church on the island was the first Protestant church established in Honduras and possibly in Central America. (I guess there is a bit of a dispute between the cays and a church somewhere else in Central America.) In addition to the Methodist church there is also a Church of God and a Seventh Day Adventist Church. There are a lot of Seventh Day Adventists in Utila, too. The church itself is tiny and very cute. Before I went there, the congregation was described to me as small in numbers but mighty in faith. Most of the songs here are unfamiliar to me because they come from the British tradition of Methodism. The hymnals are a 1933 copyright of the British Methodist hymnal. After church we had a real treat-we got to eat lunch at Miss Sheila’s house. We had barbecued chicken wings, beets, baked potatoes, and rice. For dessert she had the most divine cheesecake ever! We raved and raved about it and she laughed and said it was from a box-we were all shocked! The dory ride on the way back was a little rougher, but nothing compared to some of the stories I have heard. The waves sprayed up on either side of the boat 3-4 feet above the sides of the boat. | People on the sides got wet, but I stayed dry in the middle. (A dory is just wide enough to sit three across.) Sometimes everyone on board is soaked to the bone. This afternoon I went to Sunday School for the first time. All of the classes meet in the Sanctuary here in Utila. I think they used to meet in the Annex next door, but it was torn down and rebuilt. The grand opening will be on the 18th. Having five classes meet in one room is a little chaotic, but it worked. After church one of the families had a birthday party for their kids, who were born just a day apart. Sarah, Jo, and I spent most of the afternoon trading and organizing pictures. Jo is leaving on Tuesday :( and we are trying to make sure we all have copies of pictures and videos. I can’t believe Jo is leaving already. We only overlapped by about 10 days, but I will miss her a lot! Tonight we are going to church again here in Utila. There are two services every Sunday-one in the morning and one in the evening. Every other Sunday Rev and “The Posse” as we call ourselves do the morning service at the Cays. Next week we’ll be back in Utila all of Sunday. The week ahead will be busy–hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with my posts!
22: Sacrifices (7.6.08) Sarah, Jo, and I were talking a couple of days ago about living here in Utila. Although we live without many of the conveniences we are used to at home such as a regular water supply, hot water, air conditioning, and potable water from the tap, life is good here. Sarah said that for every “inconvenience” there are five amazing things here we couldn’t experience at home. We have gorgeous ocean views every single day by just looking out the window. We are living in a house where there is a sense of community and fellowship. We have a huge variety of restaurants just a walk away. We can listen to the ocean from our backyard. We have a sense of peace and security on this little island. I could go on and on. She said that many people spend a lot of money trying to achieve for one day what we have at our fingertips on a daily basis. How true!!
23: whole north shore of the island. I haven’t been over there yet, but Jo told me it’s much different than the south shore where we live. It is supposed to be rockier, kind of like northern California. We dragged ourselves to school Monday and I sweated through another class. I am getting better, though. Sweat used to literally drip from me when I did nothing but stand still. At least now I have to walk or move a little to get soaked. After class Jo and I went to the Iguana Station. It is dedicated to education about and protection of the Utilian Iguana AKA Swamper Iguana. It is native to the island and is endangered. Part of the reason is that the locals | Catching Up (7.9.08) A lot has happened since I wrote last, and there are lots of things swimming around in my head that I want to write about. We’ll see how this goes... When I last wrote, I think I wrote about church at the cays. Monday was a very busy day. Before class Sarah, Jo, and I hiked up to Stewart’s Hill where the water tower is. We climbed to the top of the water tower and were rewarded with some incredible views of the island. I didn’t realize how much of the island is just mangrove swamps. From the water tower we could see the
24: think it tastes the best. Yum! The iguana station was very interesting and we got to see an iguana that had hatched that morning. Some of the adult iguanas are HUGE and they can run really fast. Monday night I taught my adult class and then Rev, Sarah, Jo, and I went to eat dinner at the Mango Inn. Monday night was Jo’s last night in Utila. Tuesday morning she and Sarah got up early and took the ferry to Ceiba and her plane left today (Wednesday). Last week the ferry was broken, and there are still problems with it, but another boat is running. The boat running now is the boat pictured on the Utila website. It uses a lot more gas, so it only runs once a day, leaving Utila at 6:30 am and returning at 5:30 p.m. It’s not very convenient, but at least something is running. Tuesday morning I ran errands and taught in the afternoon. Later than day Rev and I went down to Chepe’s beach. I tried to snorkel a bit, but the waves were up and it was kind of hard. I did manage to see a bit of a wreck that is right near the beach. It is cool because there is coral growing on the wreck and lots of fish swimming around it. I’d like to go back some day when the sea is calmer.
25: Yesterday also marked a monumental moment in my time here-I got cold!!! Yes, I know, difficult to believe, but true. After we went swimming we got out and the wind was blowing really hard. I was so chilly that I–gasp!–wore a short sleeved shirt to dinner instead of a tank top. I don’t plan on wearing it again until I’m on the plane home. This morning Rev and I went to the Cays to teach the children there. I worked with some sixth grade students on basic English literacy. The other grades she usually works with weren’t in school today, so I had a bit of time to explore the cay. I saw some boys fishing off the bridge that connects some of the tiny islands together. The water is so clear here, fishing off a bridge doesn’t hardly seem fair. You can literally drop bait in front of a fish swimming six-eight feet under water because it is all crystal-clear. I also spent quite a bit of time watching pelicans. They were swimming around and grooming themselves. Things people here take for granted are interesting to me because I am not used to sea life. I waited in a local shop owned by one of the church members until it was time for the dive boat to come back. She is a very sweet and interesting lady. Her daughter-in-law makes amazing coconut candy that she sells in the shop. I hope to bring some back with me when I return to the States! The shop itself is adorable. You can buy half a Coke, a teaspoon of oregano, or just one clove of garlic.
26: Just before the dive boat came back, we went to wait on Captain Morgan’s dock. The trip back home was really rough. We weren’t in a dory, but in a bigger dive boat. The waves were really high and a lot of people were drenched by the time we reached East Harbor. I was lucky because Rev told me where to stand so I’d stay dry. :) I’m sure the larger waves are due to Hurricane Bertha, which thankfully is not headed toward Honduras.
27: Mainland: Projects and Canopy Tour (7.13.08) Friday morning Rev, Sarah, and I took the 6:30 boat to La Ceiba. We rode up in the captain’s quarters because Sarah knows some of the crew members. A bunch of the captain’s friends were up there, too, all captains or sailors. It was interesting to hear them talk. Most of it I couldn’t understand because their accents were too thick. A lot of the men on Utila are sailors. They go all around the world-the Middle East, South Pacific, etc. Some are gone for a couple of months at a time and then home for a couple of months. I think it would be a hard life, but it pays well. The sea was rough Friday morning and I nearly got sick. I ended the trip on the main level of the boat sitting cross legged on the floor directly in front of the AC vent. I think the AC is the only thing that kept me from actually getting sick. I was so thankful when we arrived in Ceiba!!!! The whole time I | kept thinking of two of my adults students who are pregnant. There are two doctors on Utila, but neither of them delivers babies. All the women go to Ceiba for all their doctor’s appointments and the birth. I can’t imagine someone traveling on the ferry just a few days after giving birth. Thankfully, once we landed in Ceiba I felt fine and we spent the day touring projects in and around the city. There is a group from Georgia that does a lot of mission work with this circuit. We visited a clinic in Bonitillo that will open later this year. Across the street a group of boys watched us with great interest. They were adorable and let me take a picture. We visited a community center in La Union where young people can go and learn a job skill. They also hope to partner with the Rancho de Aguila project and provide a home for at-risk youth. The last place we visited was El Pino. They have a clinic, preschool feeding program, guesthouse, and a chicken project. The chicken project is the newest one and they raise chickens to sell to the community.
28: Friday afternoon Sarah and I visited the Mazapan School in La Ceiba. It is an incredible school very close to the hotel we stayed in. It was started by Standard Fruit Company, now Dole, as a school for its workers’ children in the early days of the fruit boom along Honduras’s northern coast. Most of the coursework is done in English and I think most of the teachers are from the States. All of them must have a masters’ degree to teach there. The campus is beautiful and the classrooms are really nice. They run on the US schedule (Aug-May) so we didn’t get to see any classes in session, but the guard said we could walk around all we wanted. | Friday night we accompanied Rev to a circuit meeting, which was very interesting. We got to meet many of the other pastors in the circuit and hear reports from all the projects. It is interesting to me that the majority of the Methodist churches on the north coast are English-speaking. A few are Spanish-speaking, but most are not. All of the pastors in the circuit did their seminary/pastoral preparation in English, with the exception of one. He is from Panama and he did his studies at the UBL (Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana) in Costa Rica. I am surprised by that; I am constantly surprised by how much English is spoken here along the north coast.
29: Saturday morning Sarah and I got up early and had a hearty breakfast in preparation for our canopy tour in Sambo Creek. We were both really excited about going-she had been before (in Ecuador) but it was my first time. We went with a group of seven other people in a tourist van to Sambo Creek, which is a Garífuna village about 20 minutes outside of Ceiba. We didn’t actually get to see the village but I may go back there later. We had to wait for about an hour while the guides finished checking the cables and saddling the horses. (We decided we would wait as long as necessary for them to check the cables!) They finally called us over to get all strapped into our gear. Then they took us over and gave us a few instructions. (Rule #1: NEVER touch the gear! Always let a guide do it!) After our crash-course training, we climbed onto the skinniest, saddest horses I have ever seen in my life. The guides said they were “automatic,” but mine was not very cooperative. As soon as I got on, he tried to go get a drink from the trough. He liked to go under low-hanging branches, near barbed-wire fences, and when he jostled past other horses, my knee was in an unfortunate location should any of them have raised their tails. I think we were all relieved to make it to the top and dismount, and we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the Caribbean below. We still had a short hike up to the first line where we were each strapped on and then sailed through the jungle canopy. There were 18 lines in all and each one was exhilarating!!! Some lines were fast and others were slow. When I went through dense jungle and was surrounded by deep green leaves, I felt like a monkey. The longest line was 300 meters and went through jungle and then past a clearing where you could look to the left and see the Caribbean slipping by; I felt like a bird gliding over paradise. Words cannot describe the experience, but if you ever have a chance to do a canopy tour, DO IT!!!
30: After the canopy tour was over, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and check out. We still had a couple of hours before the ferry left, so we grabbed some lunch and then tagged along with Rev on some errands. I was really not looking forward to the ferry ride (it’s generally worse in the afternoon) but it was bearable. I got to sit down on the main level fairly close to the AC vent. There were lots of people (tourists) sitting outside on the back that got soaked. The boat rocked quite a bit (enough that you couldn’t walk and it was hard to stand up) and they came slipping and sliding into the cabin shivering and trying to keep their balance. One of the crew members said, “I tell dem, I tell dem, dey get wet. But dey not listen. I say dem, you need yo’ snorkel out heyah.” I really hope I get a chance to record some of the locals here talking before I leave, because their English is so different. The trip home took almost two hours (normally takes around one) and I was so relieved when we docked. We were met by dozens of hotel owners and dive shop employees asking us where we were staying and offering us maps. When I shook my head at one who offered me a map, he said, “Where are you going?” I kept walking and called over my shoulder, “Home!” I think that a place feels like home more once you leave and return after a brief absence than when you’ve just stayed in that place. I felt like that in both Mexico and Peru, as well. I felt like I lived in those places, but it wasn’t until I was returning to my house after a weekend of traveling that I felt like they were “home.” | The island felt familiar and comfortable after a few days in La Ceiba. It was quiet and peaceful-no buses or cars rushing by, only golf carts and motorbikes whizzing along narrow streets. Sarah, Rev, and I walked around and invited people to All Age Worship before eating dinner at the Italian restaurant near our house. This morning was All Age Worship. It was neat because there was a lot of participation from the kids. This afternoon Sarah and I rested and recuperated from our time on the mainland. We went to the evening service at 7:00 and then came home. This week will be another busy week. On Friday we will be celebrating the opening of the Annex. It is located right next door to the church and it is the original location of the Methodist School. The opening of the Annex is a huge event and I’m really excited I get to be here for it. Reflections on Mission Work (7.14.08) Being here for such a short time has really made me think about the purpose and value of providing help for a short period of time. When several of my students enrolled in English classes, they asked how long I would be staying. When I told them I had to leave at the end of July, they asked what would happen to the classes when I left. I couldn’t honestly tell them that anyone would be able to continue the classes, and that made me feel really bad. Sometimes getting a taste of what | you want and then having it taken away is worse than never having an opportunity in the first place. I think the ideal situation is that a volunteer provides the energy/time/expertise/whatever to jumpstart a sequence of events that locals are able to continue. Most volunteers are at their location for a finite period of time, even if it is long term. At some point they will leave and some provisions must be made for the continuation of their work, if it is valued by the community. I think it is important for local people to take responsibility and initiative for what happens in their community, as well. This is true regardless of where the community is located; it is not constricted by economics, geography, politics, or religion. If a community becomes reliant on an outside person or entity to provide for them indefinitely, the local people lose ownership and motivation and become incapable of functioning independently. However, if outside volunteers or entities assist initially and are able to successfully step away and cede to local control, the situation can be incredibly beneficial to all parties. Hopefully by the time I leave there will be a local person able to take my place. We offered to provide a second language pedagogy class to people here on the island in the hopes that someone would be interested in continuing the beginning ESL classes when I leave. It remains to be seen exactly how that situation will pan out, but I sincerely hope that
31: it happens. That would mean that what I have done here is not just a random four week course, but the beginning of a long-term program here on the island. Living out James 2:1-4 (7.14.08) Not too long before I left for Honduras, my Sunday School class was talking about James 2:1-4, which talks about how you should not treat people differently based on their appearance. A richly dressed man should not be given a better seat at the meeting than a man dressed in rags. Here in Utila we are constantly talking about how hot, sweaty, sticky, shiny, greasy, and just generally gross we are. The local Utilians, meanwhile, look cool and fresh. Occasionally they will glisten with tiny beads of moisture. We, on the other hand, begin sweating before we finish drying off after a shower. We were joking the other day that we are giving other people an opportunity to live out James 2:1-4. Even though we are disgusting 99% of the time, we are treated no less respectfully than the glowing locals! Fires in Utila (7.15.08) There have been two fires in Utila yesterday and today. Last night a house caught on fire about 9:00 p.m., apparently from an oil lamp. It caught the house next to it on fire and burned the roof of a third house. | The first two houses were completely demolished. It is right on the path I walk to get to school. | was getting to the Cays at about 7:45 a.m. the kids were all going home. I had a baleada for breakfast and then asked one of the church members what I should do. She said I could go on over to the church and ring the bell-the kids knew what that meant and they would come. I unlocked the church and opened all the windows and turned on the fans. I rang the bell and waited. And waited. And waited. I looked through the hymnal. I checked their collections of Bibles. Then I rang the bell again, longer this time. A few minutes later six or seven kids came bursting into the church. None of them were particularly interested in learning anything about English-I think they were just bored since they hadn’t been in school all week. It was an chaotic lesson, definitely not very effective. Their boredom transferred into goofiness and most of them weren’t interested in doing anything except throwing tic-tacs and elbowing each other. I took the tic-tacs away and finally asked the youngest boy to leave-he was only 4, way too young for the class. After that we settled into some songs and games. When that group left I was a bit apprehensive about ringing the bell againI was afraid the same kids would come back. I visited the local shop and spent some time reading before having lunch with one of the church members on the Cays. She and her family are so hospitable and welcoming, it was great to spend some time with them. | The other fire this morning was down on the main street. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I don’t think there was a lot of damage. The good thing is that no one was hurt in any of the fires. I'm Glad Today is Over! (7.16.08) Today has been a long, hot, icky day and I’m glad it’s over. I got up early this morning and rode the dive boat over to the Cays. I was supposed to take some of the kids from the public school and teach them English, but when I got there I found out that the kids weren’t in school. Again. Whenever the teachers have meetings in Utila, they call school off, but there is no advance notice. The kids show up for school, and if no one is there, then they just go home. When I
32: Fortunately the dive boat came back right on time, so I didn’t have to wait long at the dock. This morning I rode on the top, but this afternoon I rode inside. The trip home is rougher and I didn’t want to get wet. It was miserably hot today and there didn’t seem to be anywhere to get away from the heat. It looks like I will be teaching an ESL pedagogy class before I leave. I just found that out last night, so I tried to put some stuff together for it this afternoon. After a while, though, I gave up because I was just too hot. This afternoon Sarah and I took some stuff down to one of the church members for the Grand Opening of the Annex. Sarah and I are in charge of the games Friday afternoon for the children’s celebration. We are having a piñata as well as doing some other games. Tonight I only had one student show up for class. Next week is Carnaval, so this may just be a precursor of what is to come. We worked for a while and then I came home. As I was leaving school biting ants attacked my feet. By the time I got home I was hot, sticky, itchy, and altogether ready for the day to end.
33: Jam Packed Day (7.18.08) This morning Sarah and I took a hike to the other side of Utila. We got up very early and left the house about 5:30 to beat the heat. It starts getting light here about 5:00, so by 5:30 it is plenty light out, but still very cool. This morning it was raining, but we decided to go ahead and go on the hike anyway. Tomorrow Sarah is leaving to spend a week traveling with friends and when she comes back, it’s time for me to go, so if we didn’t go this morning, we wouldn’t get to go. We walked all the way down to Bando Beach and then took the Old Airport Road to the other side of the island. We walked through an area called Tradewinds which has $500,000+ homes. They are very large and very nice, with ocean front views. We didn’t get to take many pictures of this part because it was still raining, but we did | find a gazebo to stand under to take a few. We stopped briefly at the Iron Shore and then headed deeper into the bush. The bush is what the islanders call the jungly parts of the island. We walked along a dirt path through a sea of green vegetation. All along the path were huge crabs that skittered sideways into their holes when they felt the vibrations of our feet. Fortunately by this point it had quit raining and was just getting steamy. We walked beside Pumpkin Hill, but didn’t go up. Sarah went to the top once, but she said you need a guide and a machete to make it. There were a few houses out by Pumpkin Hill, but it is a very remote area. | After about two and a half hours, and shortly after passing Pumpkin Hill, we emerged to find ourselves at the beaches on the northern part of the island. Technically, this is not what the islanders call the North Side; that is across the canal and only accessible by boat. However, this is the northern part of what you can get to by foot. The ocean was totally different on that side of the island. Gone were the gentle aqua and turquoise waters, replaced by steely gray waves crashing against huge rocks. It reminded me of the northern California coast. We walked back into the bush a little ways and came out again on Pumpkin Hill Beach. There were huge rocks at the beach and we climbed up on them and took pictures. We also saw lots of snails, a sand crab, and small hermit crabs. We enjoyed the scenery for a while and then started the hike back home.
35: We had heard that another boatload of cows was scheduled to arrive on the island today, but we were surprised when we met the herd along the path!! We asked the men leading/herding them where to stand and we got a great view. This looked like a herd that was going to stay on the island, not be butchered right away. There were bulls, heifers, and several calves. Fortunately they were much more docile than the last cows we saw!! By the time we got back to the main road ((New)Airport Road), we were hot, tired, and covered in mud. Our feet were heavy with packed-on mud and I was SO ready to be home. We still had another 30 minutes before we got back home, though. We finally made it, and I took off my soggy socks and collapsed on the couch. This afternoon we had a party at the new annex for the children. They were the first ones in to bless the new annex and then Sarah and I had some games organized for them-Pin the Nose on the Pig and a Spoon and Egg Race. Some of the women in the church provided refreshments. This evening we went to the Grand Opening of the Eric Bryant Methodist Centre. It was a nice service-lots of sharing about the history of the Annex.
36: Pedagogy Class (7.19.08) I taught a pedagogy class this morning for people who want to learn how to teach ESL. I thought it went well. There were only four people there, but I guess it’s not the kind of class everyone is interested in. I may end up teaching it again before I leave. One of the women who was supposed to come was sick and we got a call this afternoon from another person who is interested. There was a death in the church this week and the funeral is this afternoon. There is no funeral home on the island, so funerals usually happen really fast since there is no embalming or preservation of the body. This woman died in LaCeiba, so she was taken to a funeral home before her body came over on the boat. | Last night when I woke up during the night, it struck me that I don’t have many more nights to wake up and hear the ocean lapping near my window and feel the cool salty breeze fill my bedroom. I know the time will pass quickly! Carnival (7.19.08) Today is the beginning of Carnival in Utila. For the past few days they have been decorating the streets with brightly colored streamers and everything is looking extra-spiffy. This afternoon I noticed booths being set up along the main street. This evening when Rev and I were eating dinner we heard and saw the parade come down the main street. First came small children all dolled up and walking in couples. Next came the teenagers who competed in Mr. Utila and Miss Utila. The couple who won was the last couple in the parade and they were appropriately regal and elegant. The parade was capped off by the town band, which has been practicing noisily every afternoon I’ve been here. They were interesting to watch-not only did they play the also had a little dance they did as they made their way down the street. Carnival continues all week and every night there is a parade. From what I’ve been told, Coco Loco (the bar on the water next to our house) may not be what keeps me awake this week. One of the local men has a huge sound system and they move the gigantic party around the town all week. We are right in the center of town, so I’m guessing there will always be action around here. Plus, they are shooting off fireworks and bottle rockets like crazy. Bang! We have been watching the hurricanes in the Caribbean this week. Rev jokingly gave me a “Hurricane Preparedness” sheet earlier this week. We have been getting a lot of rain lately from the hurricanes, but so far we aren’t in the direct path of any storm.
37: Break-In (7.21.08) We share our home with many creatures on an island: geckos, ants, cockroaches, and rats. The geckos are cute and harmless; the remaining three we try to get rid of. We have been trying to get rid of at least one rat for the past couple of weeks. Saturday night Rev thought she heard the trap snap shut about 2:30 a.m. The music at the local bars was really loud that night anyway, so she put in earplugs and went back to bed, leaving the rat until the morning. Sunday morning Rev knocked on my door at 5:30 and stuck her head in. “We’ve been robbed,” she said. I jumped out of bed and we went to investigate. The noise she heard at 2:30 wasn’t the rat trap, it was our living room window being broken into. Our windows have metal bars on the outside, narrow panels of glass that operate like horizontal blinds in the middle, and a mosquito net on the inside. The metal bars were bent, the bottom three glass panels removed, and the mosquito net was cut. The hole wasn’t very big at all–at its widest point I could cover it with both of my hands when holding my fingertips together. We also found hacksaw blades outside that someone had tried to use to cut open the locks on two of the doors. Whoever came in spilled the contents of Rev’s wallet, which was in the living room, and took all the money. They also went through all of the desk drawers in her office and took some money belonging to the church. I was surprised to find two laptops, a printer, and two digital cameras still in the office, all in plain sight. Rev said whoever it was probably just wanted money for drugs. Besides, on an island this small, stolen items would be hard to dispose of. You would have to take them over to the mainland to sell them or you’d get caught for sure. We called the local man in charge of security and he walked up to the police station to see about filing a report for us. The police here have pretty cushy jobs for the most part-usually their work consists of corralling drunken tourists. Since Saturday night was the beginning of Carnival, they must have been working extra hard because no one was at the police station to take the report. Rev had to go to the Cays and preach, so I stayed home to watch the house. There wasn’t really any danger of someone coming back, but it didn’t seem like a good idea to leave with the house still vulnerable.
38: Midway through the morning the municipal security people came by to take a look. They had a suspect with them who had been detained based partially/fully (?) on the fact that he had a piece of paper with a Canadian address in his possession. (Remember, we had a Canadian team here earlier this summer.) He was a tall, skinny teenager who they said could have fit through the hole in our window. I called Rev and she said the address was not one that she recognized. This did not seem to convince the officer that he may not have the right person. He took the boy with him back up to the police station and told me to call his cell phone when Rev returned. In the meantime, word was getting around fast. Our next door neighbor came over to check out the damage. She said she was sure the police had caught the right boy because he was no good. She also suggested that we replace the bars on the windows for newer, thicker bars and add interior bars as well. Good idea, but I’d hate to think how much that would cost. After Rev came home we talked to the security officer who had been down to the house earlier. He said the police had the suspect locked up in jail. Rev said it was good the municipal security had taken him and not the regular police because he would be treated better. Usually prisoners here are treated poorly–beatings are commonplace. Sunday afternoon a man named Froggy came to repair our window. He had either Saturday night’s or Sunday morning’s alcohol on him, but he did manage to get everything patched up. We found an extra mosquito screen to use, he slid the glass panes back in (the thief left them stacked up neatly by the window), and bent the metal back into place. Today (Monday) we will have some extra metal pieces welded on to make it more secure. While it is somewhat unsettling to think that someone was in the house while we were asleep, I don’t feel scared here. In fact, Utila is one of the safest places I have been outside of the US. | You can go out by yourself at almost any time of day without worrying. Although crime is common in Latin America, it is usually petty crime-thieves take money, but people are not usually hurt. In the US, I think it is the opposite. Thieves are more likely to be armed and the chances of the victims being hurt are much greater. At any rate, we are all okay. The only thing taken was money, and it can be replaced. We are thankful that nothing else was taken and that the thief didn’t confront us. Last night passed uneventfully and I fully expect the rest of my time here to be the same. Jade Seahorse (7.21.08) This morning I went to visit the Jade Seahorse, which is a really cool hotel/restaurant/bar here in Utila. The guy who built it is an artist and the whole place showcases his talent. He also designed the local museum, which isn’t open yet. The gardens at the Jade Seahorse are beautiful! | Museum
39: North Shore Beach
40: Cemetery and Canups (7.21.08) This afternoon after my class I decided to walk up by the cemetery. Sarah told me where it was last week and she said the path up there had some good views. The view was really pretty, but there were a lot of trees in the way. I spent quite a bit of time walking around the cemetery.I noticed several things in the cemetery. First, all of the tombstones I saw were in English, except for one. I think this just reinforces the fact that this was an English-only environment until fairly recently. There are some people on the island who, despite being Honduran and having lived in Honduras their whole lives, do not speak Spanish. Most of them are older, but I did meet one girl recently who is in her mid-twenties and claims not to speak Spanish. (She does, however, manage to shop at the mall in Ceiba, so I think she can speak a little.) Today, though, all the kids have to speak Spanish because all the schools do their instruction in Spanish only. It kind of seems like a status thing: the old, “pure” families speak only English. | One of the tombstones I saw said that the person had been born in the Cayman Islands in the mid 1800s. I’m guessing that this was one of the early settlers of Utila because many of the first inhabitants came from the Cayman Islands when the land became overfarmed. Another tombstone was from a 12 year old Danish boy who died at sea. His tombstone said he was an Assistant Engineer on the S.S. Pizzati. It seems strange to think that a 12 year old would be out working on his own, halfway around the world, even in 1895. It just listed his age, not his birthday, so I guess they didn’t know a lot about him. Maybe he was an orphan or ran away or something. On my way back from the cemetery, I saw some kids eating canups. Canups are little fruits that grow on trees around here. I think they must be native to the island because the only references I find on Google are related to Utila. Kids here love them–they climb
41: over fences and into yards to pull them off trees. The house where this canup tree is located is empty right now, so I’m sure the kids knew no one would scold them for pulling branches off the tree. Canups have a thin, hard shell that cracks open. Inside they are kind of like peeled grapes, but there is a big pit in the middle, maybe half the size of a peach pit. You crack the shell and squeeze the shell so that the fruit slides out. The whole thing goes in your mouth and then you spit the pit out when the fruit is gone. They taste very sweet when they are ripe, but most of the ones I’ve eaten have been tart. Snorkeling at the Cays (7.23.08) This week Rev asked me what I wanted to do before I left and I told her I really wanted to go snorkeling again. Yesterday we went down to Coral View and went snorkeling again, but the sea was really rough. We didn’t stay out too long because it was hard to swim without bumping into the coral. Today (Wednesday) was my day to go teach the children on the Cays. The dive boat was planning to stay later today (normally they come back at noon) so I took along my swimsuit and Rev’s snorkel gear. I spent about an hour in the water right off of the dock where they pick us up. The views were AMAZING!!!! I think it was even better than Coral View. There wasn’t as much coral, but there were tons of fish. Right when I got in and put my head under I was surrounded by millions of tiny silversides. They were swimming all around me, as far as I could see in every direction. It's All Relative (7.24.08) When I first came to Honduras, I sweated from the moment I awoke until well after I went to sleep at night. During most of the day, I would literally drip with sweat when I was doing nothing but sitting in a chair or standing still. The 5-10 minute walk up to school would leave me drenched. I could not imagine ever being comfortable here. | Fast forward almost five weeks. My definition of hot has changed. Don’t get me wrong, in the middle of the afternoon when it is 93+ inside the house, it’s still hot. But it’s bearable and I don’t drip with sweat anymore. This morning as I’m writing this it is 7:30 here and the temperature inside the house is 88–it feels very comfortable and cool. In the evenings it gets even cooler–sometimes down to 84 and I cover up with a sheet at night. What does all this mean? Probably that I will be pulling out my winter clothes to survive the air conditioning when I return to Missouri! Electricity (7.24.08) Electricity is extremely expensive here in Utila. I have been told that it is either the most expensive or second most expensive in the world, with Fiji being the closest competitor. You have to buy your electricity in advance here. You go to the electric company and pay them and then they give you a code. We have a little box in the house that shows how much power we have left. We take the code and punch it in the little box and it shows our new balance. Because electricity is so expensive we take great measures to conserve electricity. Lights are off during the day and at night they are only on if you are in the room. Basically everyone on the island uses compact florescent bulbs. Fans go off if no one is in the room. I was in a store a few weeks ago and the owner was talking to the girl working the register. They have a small store–maybe the 1012–but it has air conditioning. He told her that this was probably the last summer for the AC because it cost him $4,000 US just to pay the electric on air conditioning. Can you imagine??? Some people have their own generators and I guess over time it pays for itself. Although electricity is very expensive here, it is fairly reliable. We have
42: only lost power three or four times since I’ve been here. Roatan, the next island over, has much cheaper electricity, but they lose power on almost a daily basis. I guess it’s all a trade-off. Hummingbirds (7.24.08) There are always hummingbirds flitting around the flowers around the school. Today while I was waiting for my students to arrive, I snapped some pictures. Time is Slipping By (7.26.08) Friday and Saturday passed very quickly. I figured they would-it seems like when you get near the end of something time speeds up and everything slips by before you notice. I spent Friday morning packing up my things and sorting out all my papers from school. I also ran next door and got our 10 year old neighbor, Laura, and asked her to help me buy things for a party for my students that
43: afternoon. She told me what kind of chips and soda would make the biggest hit with Utilian kids. My last class with the kids went really well. They amaze me when I think that four weeks ago, when we began, most of them couldn’t say anything in English. Now they can count to 50, use some present progressive verbs in the first and third persons, make simple statements, and they have a bunch of vocabulary-school vocabulary, house vocabulary, body parts, island vocabulary. They have worked hard and I am really proud of them. We had class for about 45 minutes and then I pulled out the food for the party. One of the girls told me that she didn’t want | to have a party because that meant our class was really over, but I persuaded her that she might as well enjoy the party because I had to leave no matter what. They all seemed excited about the prospect of another teacher taking over the class. That still has not been ironed out yet, but I am hopeful that it will happen. My last experience with the kids was a pleasant contrast to my last adult class. Adult education can be difficult because they have many demands on their time. When they get stressed or busy, class is usually the first thing to go. Also, the classes we offered were very inexpensive. In my experience, it is more successful to charge a steep | enough price so that adults feel like they have to attend to get their money’s worth. At any rate, the adult classes started strong and kind of fizzled out. Sarah had some friends visiting this week and we went out to eat with them Friday night. I had amazing chicken in marsala sauce and we topped it off with chocolate cake. Saturday afternoon Rev and I went to the beach. I took her snorkel gear with me. I love snorkeling-there is so much to see under the water. It is a completely different world and so beautiful. Sometimes I wonder why God made the sea so beautiful. It is not visible to the human eye from above the water, yet He took the time to make it breathtaking.
45: Leaving Utila (7.28.08) As I sit writing this morning, I am surrounded by the silence of ceiling fans and clicking geckos, interrupted by the occasional motobike on the street. It’s hard to find silence when you live in the middle of a island tourist town next to a bar. In about an hour I will leave Utila–it’s hard to believe time has passed so quickly. Five short weeks ago I arrived, not really sure what to expect. As I leave, it is hard to explain everything I have experienced. The culture of Utila is so different than any other place I have ever travelled. It is a bizarre mix of British, US, Honduran, Caribbean, and mostly Island. I have learned a lot while I’ve been here, but mostly not the things I thought I would learn. I guess a lot of things work like that–we think we know what’s going on, what we are going to experience, but later we find out that we were wrong. Yesterday was a great last day in Utila. We went to church in the morning–my last morning sitting in church, seeing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, and feeling the ocean breeze on my skin. There was a baptism at church yesterday, which was neat. After church we attended the baptism party at their home. We came home and rested for a while and in the afternoon we went snorkeling at Bando Beach, which is the private beach near the Point. I had never been snorkeling at Bando–you had to swim way, way out to get to the coral. It got deep for a while and then really shallow. It looked funny from shore to see people 100 meters out in the ocean standing up with the water going up only to their ankles–it was like they were walking on water. Past the shallow sea grass it got deep again and there was lots of coral. I was snorkeling with Brandy (Sarah’s friend who is here visiting) and Laura, a ten year old from church. Laura goes swimming every day, but she said it was her first time snorkeling. We saw huge rainbow colored fish, and teeny tiny blue and yellow ones. The coral at Bando was more spread out so it was easier to swim around the different parts. Brandy also spotted an octopus and sea urchins for us. By the time Laura and I made it to the octopus, it was hiding in a hole but we could see the suckers on its long arms curled up under the rocks just about a foot under the water. The sea urchins we saw were tiny and black, and not as close together as the ones in this picture. We would see them every now and then, peeking out from a group of rocks or coral. After returning from the beach, we attended the evening worship service, which was led by a pastor from the US who is originally from Utila. My “last meal” in Utila was at the Jade Seahorse–if you remember from the pictures I posted earlier, it is a really cool place. The restaurant had good, simple food and the ambiance did not disappoint. | When we returned home it was late and I still had to finish packing. We did our final photo trading on the compturs (have I mentioned I LOVE digital photography??) and then I finished my last bits of packing. It doesn’t feel like I’m leaving, but I’ll be heading for the boat in about 30 minutes. I feel like it is time for me to leave–my life in the US is calling me back. In the past few days I’ve started thinking about what is waiting for me at homeworkshops, a new school year, etc. I have enjoyed my time here a lot, although it hasn’t been without its difficulties. I leave Utila today, but I don’t fly home until Wednesday. I wanted to take a few days and see things on the mainland before leaving. This will be my last post from Utila–next stop La Ceiba.
49: Sambo Creek (7.28.08) Thankfully my ferry trip was uneventful today. The sea was like a sheet of glass, still and calm. Getting my suitcase off the boat took quite a while since the crew members just pulled items out and stacked them in a giant pile. Meanwhile, a huge crowd of people gathered around the pile and tried to watch and see when theirs came out. It wasn’t a very efficient system, but I eventually got my bag and shared a taxi with some Irish girls to get to the hotel. The hotel didn’t have any open rooms so I stored my luggage, had breakfast, visited the travel agency, bought my bus ticket, and went to the mall to have a fruit salad. The mall is right next to the bus station and I have been craving fruit like crazy. There was hardly any fresh produce on Utila and what was brought over on the boat was usually way past its prime. There is a little place in the food court at the mall that cuts up fresh fruit and drizzles honey and granola over top. It was delicious!!! | Around 11:00 I went back and got checked into the hotel. It was nice to be able to sort everything out the way I wanted it for the day. I slathered on some more sunscreen and headed out for Sambo Creek, which is a Garífuna village near La Ceiba. My original plan was to take a guided tour of Sambo Creek. It’s the lazy way to do it, but it is a lot easier when you are by yourself. However, when I went to the travel agency this morning, they didn’t have any tours leaving this afternoon. The woman explained to me how to get to Sambo Creek on my own, and it didn’t sound too difficult. The worst part of the trip to Sambo Creek was walking to the bus station-I was dripping wet by the time I got there and there was no air moving at all. I felt like the heat would suffocate me. The bus for Sambo Creek wasn’t leaving for another thirty minutes, so I got on and waited. At one point I climbed off to see if it was cooler outside, but there was no shade and no breeze, so I climbed right back on. I felt sorry for the woman who sat beside me, because sweat was rolling down my face and arms until after we’d been moving for a while. When we finally left the bus station it took about 45 minutes to get to Sambo Creek. We made lots of stops along the way-this was a local bus, not a tourist bus-to pick people up by the side of the road and let them off.
50: The last stop for the bus was Sambo Creek, and it was not what I expected. I guess I expected it to be more touristy or for there actually to be something to see. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right places. I walked through the streets of the town to explore. Some of the signs were in the Garífuna language, which was neat. They had a long beach stretching the length of the town and it was beautiful. There were tons of kids playing in the water, and I was tempted to join them because of the heat. I finally got to the “official” beach which is where most of the kids were. There was a little canal that opened into a small lake of what I assume was saltwater. There were kids bathing in that part and a woman washing her family’s clothes.
51: I’m not sure how clean saltwater get clothes, but I guess it’s better than nothing. In Utila I know I always felt cleaner getting out of the ocean than I did getting in. That may tell you something about how dirty I always was. I had heard that Sambo Creek has wonderful coconut candy. I tried some on the Utila Cays, but I was hoping to buy some to bring home at Sambo Creek. I finally found a hotel/restaurant/shop and asked where I could buy it. Unfortunately the woman who sells it had just left to go back to Ceiba, so I couldn’t get any. They did have a really nice second story deck, though, and I sat up there and watched the kids play in the ocean while I had a lemonade. The trip back to La Ceiba seemed to go really fast. I came back to the hotel and cleaned up. It feels wonderful to be clean and dry-my hotel is air conditioned and it feels amazing (although I had to turn it off for a while because I got cold). Tonight I am going to dinner and then try to figure out what I’m doing tomorrow-my last day in Honduras!
52: Cayo Menor is a scientific research center, but Cayo Grande has a community living there. The side we were on looked like large vacation homes, but the other side had a regular town there. Right when we were leaving the dock at Cayo Grande to go snorkeling, we saw two reddish-orange starfish in the water. They were beautiful-the water was so shallow and clear that you could see every detail. We took the boat out a ways and got on the snorkel gear. Snorkeling at Cayos Cochinos was different than the other places I’ve snorkeled. That’s what I like about snorkeling-everywhere is a little bit different, but they are all incredible! When we were out snorkeling I saw a yellow starfish. | Cayos Cochinos (7.29.08) My last day in Honduras has been wonderful and has included lots of my favorite things. I was supposed to go to the Cayos Cochinos with a group of other tourists, but somehow that kind of fell apart. I still got to go, though, and it turned out to be great. Yesterday and today were my “all Spanish” days, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was sad I didn’t really get to use my Spanish that much in Utila. The tour company picked me up at the hotel this morning and drove me toSambo Creek! It is one of the places boats take off to go to the Cayos Cochinos. “Cayos Cochinos” means Hog Keys in English. I asked the guide how they got their name and he said there are three theories: 1) The first man who lived on them had a lot of pigs; 2) From the air the two big islands look like the mother and father pig and the smaller islands look like piglets; 3) There are lots of “pez chancho” found in the water-this might be pig fish in English???? The guide says he prefers to think it is the last option. We took a lancha, or dory, to the Cayos Cochinos. On the way we passed a man in a small canoe fishing. Exon (the guide) said the man had left the coast at about 2:30 a.m. and would go all the way to Cayos Cochinos. That is a distance of several miles-way farther than I would want to go in a tiny canoe! The Cayos Cochinos are absolutely breathtaking and pristine. Everywhere you look is more beautiful than where you previously looked. The water was crystal clear and many parts of it were a soft turquoise color. Deeper parts were a brilliant blue and the reef and sea grass was brown. We made a quick stop at Cayo Menor to register ourselves. The whole area of Cayos Cochinos is a Marine Protected Area and is also a Honduran National Monument. Next we headed over to Cayo Grande, where we dropped off a guy who was working on the wireless internet at one of the houses there. Ironic, huh?
53: One of the neat things about going with a guide is that he showed me things I might not have noticed on my own. For example, he told me the names of some of the fish. I also saw the Christmas tree worm growing on some brain coral. I noticed it on my own, but he told me to watch carefully. He swam down deep in the water and moved the water around the Christmas tree worms. Whoosh! They collapsed into themselves and became little inverted circles. Some of the other sea plants did that, too. Exon never touched them (that destroys the coral), but different parts would close up when the water around them moved. I was proud that I spotted the sea cucumber on my own-it looks like a giant black caterpillar lying on the ocean floor. There were tons of fish where we were snorkeling, too. We saw schools of blue and black fish, three colored angel fish, and tons of others. I liked to float in the water and make up names for them: rainbow fish, Mizzou fish (black and gold!), ocean goldfish, etc. After about an hour or hour and a half we got back in the boat and went to Chachauate, which is a small cay that is home to a Garífuna community. The Garífuna people have a long and interesting history, which unfortunately I didn’t learn very much about. I have read that the Garífuna people originated from a group of would-be slaves from Africa bound for the Caribbean. There was mutiny on the ship and the people on board were dumped off at Guanaja (one of the Bay Islands). | Cayo Chachauate was very interesting. It is very small-you can walk around the whole thing in about 10 minutes, but it is home to about 50-60 families. Many of them moved there from Nuevo Armenia, which is a Garífuna town on the coast. That is where Exon was from, so he knew pretty much everyone on the island. A lot of the cooking and washing happened outside. The houses were very tiny-maybe 1010. I think most of them just had sleeping mats or hammocks in them. They were made out of wood, palm branches, or thick reeds. All of the water is brought to the island-drinking water comes from the coast and other water comes from Cayo Menor. They have electricity from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. There is a hotel on the island run by the community with the help of the World Wildlife Federation. It is very simple, but I think it would be really fun to stay there. It kind of reminds me of when Jill and I went to Lago Titicaca in Peru and stayed on Amantaní with a local family. I heard lots of people speaking Garífuna, but everyone spoke Spanish, too. There is a pre-school on Cayo Chachauate with a big “welcome” sign in Garífuna. The older kids go to school on Cayo Menor-just like kids in the US take a school bus, they take the school boat. We were on the island when the boat came bringing them back from school.
54: After spending some time on Cayo Chachauate and arranging to eat lunch there later, we headed out for some more snorkeling in deeper water. In some places it was 60 feet deep, which seems weird because I never felt nervous at all, even though I don’t think I’m a super strong swimmer. The buoyancy of saltwater cannot be underestimated! It was neat to see the ocean floor from so far up-you couldn’t see as much detail, but you get a bird’s eye view of everything. The coral stretched out before us like a busy city full of commotion-schools of fish swimming this way and that, sea fans waving gently, giant cactus-like plants swaying with the currents, large fish scattering groups of small fish with a flip of their tail. The coolest thing we saw in that part was a ray. I would never have seen it, but Exon pointed it out to me. It was lying still under a rock against the sand, almost perfectly camouflaged. Then fish started swimming around it and it kept moving, which stirred up the sand around it and made it easier to see. I watched it for quite a while, until it got fed up with the fish and went and hid under some coral.
55: Around noon we headed back to the Cayo Chachauate and had lunch. I ate fish-strangely enough the first time I’ve had fish in Honduras-with fried plantains and beans and rice. It tasted really good. After lunch we headed relaxed a while and then headed back to the coast. The tour company picked me up at Sambo Creek and took me back to the hotel. I cleaned up and rested a bit, and then headed to dinner at La Plancha, which is a restaurant Sarah recommended to me. I had a fabulous steak, which I hope will fill me up for a long time, because I doubt I get any real food tomorrow. My day tomorrow starts super early-I leave the hotel a about 4:30 to go to the bus station, then to San Pedro Sula, Houston, Kansas City, and finally home!
56: I'm Home!!! (7.30.08) I made it home about an hour ago. My morning started early–I got up at 3:30 a.m., got to the bus station at 4:30, took a 5:15 bus, got to the airport at 9:30, took an 11:55 flight, spent about two hours in Houston, and then flew into Kansas City. I am tired but happy to be home!!!