Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's not goodbye, it's until later...

I am officially home, safe and sound. I don't have pneumonia, and if I did it already passed. Even my head lice was taken care of before I stepped off the plane. So I am intact, the only marks left on me were those imprints on my heart.

I'll start from the beginning of my last few days. As expected, there were 20 + people in my house on Saturday. The three families brought over all the food to make rice and chicken and salad. I felt so special, because for them to go slightly above their means to send me off meant so much. We talked and took pictures, walked to the store for some ice cream (my treat) and just enjoyed each others company. Some of them gave me little notes and gifts and I made sure not to open them because otherwise my resolve to not cry might not have stood strong. It was a smart choice, because each of them said such nice things that made me miss everything even though I was still there. I promised I would come and say my last goodbye's Monday after school, so I was fine with the knowledge that I would see them all again. Waldy, Lucia, Nelson and Geni spent the night, I did a piojo wash on the girls, taught them how to use a shower and shampoo their hair, and played tickle monster all night long. It was so much fun. I love Waldy. I say it all the time but something about her stole my heart. I miss her. But back to the moment. Sunday I got up semi early in order to go with the Hogar kids to watch them being baptized. 8 of the older kids each took a turn being dipped under the water, washed clean and given a new start in life. It was really powerful to watch, especially for the kids to whom it meant a lot. When it was Rosa's turn, I was crying, just because I wanted so much for her to be given a second chance and a clean slate. The rest of the day was spent at the river, swimming and laughing, eating and having fun. We went back to the Hogar, watched a movie and I said goodbye as late as possible.

On Monday I felt really strongly how short my time was. With only two days left, the help I felt I could give was minimal, so mostly I tried to stay with the kids as much as possible. During school I took time to write letters, so that I could leave a little bit of me with each and every one of them. After school, the Hogar had a really really nice going away party for me. The tias had decorated with a sign that said "gracias Kyla por su amor" and when I walked up I felt like crying. The kids danced and we ate, and then the power went out half way through the program. Typical Honduras, but I didn't even mind. I was in the company of my favorite people, people I love and all was good. Then came time for the kids to say something to me, little thank you's, and then my turn to say something to them. I completely choked up, and it took all I had not to cry. I handed out bracelets and key chains I had bought, just something to show how much they all mean to me, though nothing I could buy would ever truly show that. Around 3, David agreed to take me back up the mountain so that I could say my first real, final goodbye's. And the final goodbye's are the worst. I hiked up to Geni's house with the 4 older girls and Paola, and we spent a few hours talking and laughing. They again made a chicken for me for dinner, and brought up some Soda. David wanted to pick us up at 5, so I was worried about being on time, but they kept telling me to wait a little longer. Every time I would get up to leave I would start tearing up, and when the time finally came, the tears didn't stop. Doña Lucia, who I call Abuela, gave me a hug and told me she considered me one of her own, and then the kids and aunts walked me down to the road where I had to say goodbye to everyone who went to the highschool. My friends. Geni, Alan, Brenda, Nelson, and finally Denia. Denia and I were both crying. She is an amazing, remarkable girl. David drove off and I waved and then I was gone. But not gone forever. Only for now.

After that, I just wanted to skip Tuesday all together. My official last day. But that wasn't to be done. Tuesday passed. The second graders tied me up with string so that I couldn't leave, and then eventually set me free. I almost preferred staying tied up. And when the end of the day came, more tears flowed again, as I said goodbye to Diana, Arturo, Walter, Wilmer, Eloisa, Nayeli, Waldy and everyone really. And my last stop was the Hogar, where I had time to eat with them, take a picture, and once again more goodbye's. But like Danelia said to me, she wouldn't say goodbye, only until later. Because I will be back. Cherlin was crying as I walked out the gate, and Rosa as well, but I was definitely the worst. Just many tears, which continued the whole car ride back, even as I got my stuff for the bus. Then Goodbye's to Anna, Zoe and David and it was all the same. And then I was on the bus, watching the faces of the people I loved pass until I fell asleep. I think I cried more, not because I wouldn't see them again, but because it will never quite be the same. I'll most likely never be there again for 6 months, and though I'll visit it will be shorter. But it's okay. I always knew there would be a 'see you later'. And I did better than I thought I would honestly.

So now I'm home and settling back in. It's crazy how quickly you can fall back into old routines. Driving, having a cell phone, meeting with friends, fighting with sisters... everything. Though it's not quite the same. I was in a slight daze when I got home. Some friends were at the house to meet me, which was really nice. Some things just seem completely surreal. The perfectly paved roads, the lack of trash, being home in general with everything that I have. I miss the Spanish language. I'm afraid I'll loose everything I've learned. And I miss the kids of course. I was talking to Cherlin on facebook (yes they have facebook), and she used my nickname, Moi, and I almost cried. But it's ok. I can talk to them. And though I miss them I'll be back.

People have asked me what I learned from my experience. What mark has it left on me? My truthful answer is that I have no idea. I wish I could impart some well thought out wisdom to the rest of the world, combine my experience into a series of sayings. I can't honestly say that my time there has made me appreciate my life here more, because I found some things in Honduras to be much better. That isn't mainly what I learned. I can't say what impact this has made on my life, or how it has changed it. Perhaps it is too early to tell, perhaps I don't feel changed, only because I can't imagine it being another way. But the experience has undoubtedly shaped a good part of what I will do in my future. I have formed relationships that can not be broken. As I go on and experience more here, I think my time in Honduras will show itself more and more through me. I know there is another world than the middle class american one that I function in. I have seen what amazing things people can do, but I've also been given things to think about. Cultural differences, child raising techniques, economic imbalance etc etc. The list goes on and on but often times these things don't have answers. That Honduras has impacted me is unquestionable, how much so and to what extent is yet to be seen.

Thank you to everyone who has kept in touch with my journey. I don't know if you will all be satisfied with it's ending, but perhaps that's the beauty of it. It isn't an ending, only a beginning to a life that will hopefully lead me to answers and action. All we can do in this world is try, and I will give all I can to try to help those I know, and many more if possible. So thank you again, but I won't say goodbye. So until later... :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Coming to an end

Some of you may want to stop reading now and turn back, because I'm giving you fair warning that most of my following commentary will be me complaining about the upcoming trip home and goodbye's that will be said. I have spent the last few days mentally and physically preparing myself for my trip home.

But to put that moment off a tad, the time with the group was absolutely awesome. They spent the rest of the week working on the water project which they finished and did an awesome job with!!! Thank you so much to everyone who sacrificed their spring break to work here and hang out with the kids. Now the jungle school finally has running water regularly for the kitchen and for other necessary utilities (bathrooms) in the school. The group was great, worked for the most part without complaint, and worked well with the kids. We had a little fun as well, going to Cayos Cochinos, where I got to join in, as well as hanging at the river. If you would like to hear more about the groups adventures check out their blog at . I think most everyone had a good time, and hopefully we'll have some people returning again next year. I hear rumors my sister may want to lead the trip... who knows? Eloisa did indeed recover and I was happy to have taken her to the doctors. When the time for goodbye's came to be said, their was almost not a dry eye in the entire bus. The hogar put on a really nice little going away party, and the bus drove off on a river of tears. Eye somehow managed to avoid joining in, but it only made me even more nervous for my own turn coming up. I'm going to be a reck, a complete mess.

So since the group has left it's been kind of back to the old schedule. School in the morning, Hogar in the afternoon. I'm enjoying the time with the kids but I feel as if the dread of leaving is taking over. It's not that I'm  not looking forward to going home at all, because I am a little, it's more that I can't say goodbye. The only thing that makes it easier is that I know I'll be back. Hopefully sooner rather than later. I think I must be a little stressed, because I am now sick. I have a nice whooping cough thats lasted for three weeks, and finally yesterday I decided to try to get some medicine. Then today my body up and decided to get another kind of sick which resembles a little of Montezuma's revenge if you catch my drift. These things have stolen two of my days, Wednesday and Today. I missed school, and now I only have two days left. I did use the time though to go shopping, spend lots of money that I don't have on gifts, and write tons and tons of letters. I just feel like I need to leave a little of myself with the people that I love hear, so that they wont forget me. But I am so afraid they will. Well, not forget entirely, it just seems so easy to settle into normal life again. And that is what I want, but still. I'm sure I'll do a similar thing back home, and settle in slowly, but that doesn't mean I will forget. I definitely won't do that. So it will be fine. I had been planning on spending the night with Denia at her house, but my sickness took care that I couldn't do that, but they were sweet enough to come visit me. I was actually at the hogar though, but Nelson, Walter, and Alan came to fetch me on their bikes. I rode Honduran Style- 2 to a bike which was kind of exciting. I felt bad for Nelson because I weigh quite a bit more than a typical small Honduran haha. I passed out some of my gifts for them and Denia already started crying. I tried to pick out something extra nice for her and finally settled on a little jewelry box where I put a picture of us, with a bracelet inside, as well as a picture frame. For others I gave some of my clothes, jewelry that I bought, and other things. I still have a bit to pass out. I spent today packing up the room, just to get everything ready since I had time. I don't want to waste another minute packing when I can be with the kids. Everything seems in order. About three of the families are coming down tomorrow to have some lunch with me. There could be about 20 or more people in the house. We shall see.

Everything will be changing so soon. I can't believe it at all. I think I'm preparing myself well though. I know what's coming, and I'll be back. But I will miss them and everyone, that much is clear. Things like this leave a mark on your heart.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A flurry of action

These days are passing too quickly!!! I've been so busy and so much has happened. The rest of Carrie and Britta's stay was quite fun. We went to Cayos Cochinos and hung out on the tropical beaches yet again. I felt so deliciously lazy, I loved it. I got a nice tan, snorkeled some, saw some amazing jelly fish, and enjoyed. When we got back, we got ready to go hang out at a house by the river for the night. Zoe, Carrie, Britta and I stayed there. The river is truly incredible and beautiful. I went down and read by its edge, listened to the water, and relaxed in the amazing beauty of the place I am at. On Saturday I left nice and early to go to San Pedro Sula to pick up the group! I was so excited. I brought Eloisa along and she thought I was quite crazy the way I was jumping up on down an I peered through this tiny slit where I could see Erica and others emerging. When Danielle came out, I about pushed her over from my hug, and then followed everyone else and it was hugs all around.

After loading up luggage, and the most donations I've ever seen a group bring, we traveled for some lunch, then to the hotel, and finally to the hogar in the night to drop by to say hi really quickly. As the bus pulled up, there were literally screams from inside the hogar in excitement. Everyone from last year got off as fast as they could to embrace their kids, and those who were new jumped right into playing and getting to know everyone. We spent Sunday at the river. The kids got there late because of a miscommunication, but once they were there everyone had tons of fun jumping from rocks and playing soccer etc. Poor Denia gashed open both of her feet. Denia is my closest friend here, 17 years old and one of the toughest girls you'll meet. To see her almost crying I knew she was in lots of pain. But we fixed her all up and it should be getting better. For dinner the group got to sample some Baleadas which they loved, though not quite as much as I love them haha. Needless to say they were delicious.

Yesterday was their first day working. I opted to continue helping with school and skip the hard manual labor. I think it was a good choice. Their project is to improve the water system so that there is a constant and reliable source of water for the kids. We have been without water for the kitchen and bathrooms for the past four days. The group hauled lots of sand, some hacked out a better path, and soon they will begin laying pipes. In the afternoon they all went rafting but I opted to stay behind at the river playing with the kids, since I'd been the week before. My plan was to wait for the rafts to pass, since I was hanging out near the end of the treck. So I passed a lovely 4 hours, playing, being smothered by little ones, etc. I figured they should be by about 3 30. Then it became 4, then 4 30 and at 5 I figured they weren't coming for whatever reason. Eloisa was staying with me,so I went in search of a telephone. Deanna lent me one and I eventually found service to call David. I was quite unsure what had happened. It turns out they simply left me! Ha. My own father forgot me. The rafts had stopped at a higher up place because the river was a tad shallow, and instead of coming to get me where I said I would be, they went back- assuming that I would have left by then! Absurdity. So I was more or less stranded up in the jungle. David did come to get me, and once I was back all the kids told me how worried they were, and how my dad was worried, and they asked if he would be mad at me. It was quite sweet. David had called Denia as well, and before he picked me up, she, Geni, and Brenda came running down in search of me. Denia looks at me and starts to tell me off about how she was studying and then David called so she came looking for me and she thought I was drowned. It was really sweet. I feel safe up there just because there are a lot of people who would take care of me.

Today was a different sort of day. Eloisa got sick this morning and is still sick and I'm quite worried about her. I don't know if she ate something or what. She didn't look to good all morning at the school, but she's one of the girls who could be dying but still have a smile on her face. She wasn't the only one. Joseal was crying because his teeth hurt. When I asked him to show me it was obvious why. He has two enormous holes drilled into his gums from cavity's. He needs them pulled badly and I told his dad that as well. The poor thing it was really hurting. Then I learned one of the girls was being sexually abused by and uncle and that just upset me because she is the sweetest thing. Sometimes things are just upsetting. A lot of the group was sick as well :( So I was wandering around quite worried.

A quick trip to the campisino village today, back to the hogar and then to dinner, and I am now here exhausted writing. Se vaya bien.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The little things

Time has been good here, running as normal, at least as normal as normal gets. I go to school and help with Kinder, or anything else that needs doing. Classes are good, and the school has settled into a nice rhythm. There are always interesting things happening. The kids continue to amaze me. One day last week the bus had to leave an hour early because of a strike that was supposedly going to happen and possibly take over the bridge of the highway so that no one could cross. Since we were early, I watched from the window of the bus as one of the girls, Norma, crossed the river carrying not one, but two of her family members across, barefoot while fighting against the current. She must have feet of steel in order to do that. I have difficulty crossing on my own barefoot because of all the rocks that constantly jab into my feet.

The new play set at the hogar is finished now. It's quite something to watch the kids fly down the slide and then keep going because the concrete in front kind of slopes down to the next classroom. Danerous? Just a little. Supposedly there is supposed to be a fence built in front but we shall see. Fresita got really sick for a little bit. I think she had worms and all of the sudden she became listless and wouldn't eat. I got so worried and we eventually took her to the vet. He kept her for a few hours, gave her some medicine, didn't charge us money! and now she is on the recover path thank goodness. One of the little kittens wasn't so lucky :( She also got sick and didn't make it. The poor thing was so cute, even as you could tell she was fading, she was still purring. The other four seem to be alright. Not perfect because they have some sort of bowel movement problem but they are running around and okay. I just want to deliver them all safe to the kids, and ready to be good pets.

Carlos and Moises had a bit of a fight the other day at the hogar. It's strange how quickly things can turn from play and joking, to pure hostility. They were working on some homework and apparently Moises farted and then put his hand as if to grab it and rub it in Carlos' face. Well Carlos wasn't too keen on that, and since he had scissors in his hand he decided to reach over and gash Moises' leg. After that they  made a move as if to start hitting each other, but luckily Kenedi was there and took a slug on her arm for the team, broke it up and then I stepped in, grabbed them both and tried to sort it out. Moises seemed to kind of shrugged it off, but Carlos was shaking with anger. That kind of took me back, because I still don't see how that could have set him off so badly. I decided he needed to walk it off and try to get himself under control, so we went for a stroll around the block. He wouldn't say much but he looked better at the end of it. I still feel like there must have been something more, but who knows.

Carrie and Britta are here! It's so exciting and we're having fun. I hope they are enjoying themselves. I went to San Pedro Sula on Friday with Cristy. We stayed with Lenner (her brother and nicest man in the world) and went in the morning to get them. Unfortunately I slightly mixed up the times of their arrival so we left late to pick them up. On our way over, we had a bit of an incident when the hood came up and hit the wind shield and completely cracked the entire thing. It was an enormous bang and thank god we were in a semi deserted street or that could have been a problem. We continued on and finally got to the airport to pick them up. Me, Carrie and Britta headed back with a friend of Cristy's to Ceiba while she stayed to get the wind shield fixed, so here we are safe and sound. We went to the hogar the first day, and as we walked in Cherlin took one look at Britta and a mischievous smile lit her face and she tells me all sassy like 'I knew she was coming!'. Britta hadn't told Cherlin, and I'd only mentioned that a surprise was coming. She had then guessed what it was and I denied it, but the two of them really are inseparable. On Saturday the rain foiled our river plans, so we went early to the Hogar to help decorate for the fiesta. The Hogar looked really nice, and Zoe face painted almost everyone. There were lots of little tigers running around. The program was good and the food was nice, and it was my favorite to just dance around with everyone after. I got to tell them about our 5 30 wake up call which they were thrilled about, but they seem to be hanging in there. They are on miscellaneous job duty, which includes organizing the library, painting and covering books. I think they're enjoying it.

On Sunday we hiked to an amazing waterfall, on Monday after school we hung out at the river with 23 kids, and today we went rafting on the river. So beautiful, and such amazing days. Yesterday I was in charge of all the kids, and wore my voice out yelling to not jump off rocks, not bathe naked, etc. etc. I wasn't too stressed though. And today was beautiful. Drifting down the river with the sun and friends and everything. Amazing. So I'm enjoying myself a lot. I'm going to miss so many things. Actually mostly the kids. I love them. So thats it, same old story :) lots to look forward to!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thank God for HHK

There are certain times when I am here that really make me realize the amazing work that HHK does. This past weekend drove that in for me more than any other time I have been here. I decided to go to El Progresso in order to attempt to make some connections with an organization called Students Helping Honduras, which also does awesome work. I had run into them on the Georgetown campus, and since I will be there soon I wanted to see what it was about. They have chapters all of the US that send volunteers down to build housing and schools in and around the El Progresso area. I met the director, Shin Fujiyama, and he and his crew have accomplished an amazing amount. It was great getting to talk with him and meet some people from Georgetown as well. It even looks like we may be able to work out some sort of work together with SHH and HHK, so that is exciting as well. We shall see if it develops. Hope so!

On Saturday morning I caught a bus over to El Progresso, about 2 hours from La Ceiba, and met up with the staff. A new group of 60 volunteers was coming in that day so I met a bunch of new people, and went with two of the girls to see Villa Soleada, which is the pioneer project of SHH. There are 44 homes there that were built I believe, with a community center and what will soon be a full running Children's home. It was nice seeing the families and the kids, and just taking everything in.

Sunday made a huge impact on me. SHH took their group to a state run orphanage in San Pedro Sula. It was awful. Simply awful. The minute I walked into the place I didn't like it, I can hardly imagine living there. It is built like a prison, complete with a guard tower. The rooms are all locked up, and the entire area smells. The only redeeming aspect is a nice play ground in the back, but besides from that there isn't much. The poor kids though are what got to me. These are not healthy kids. Almost all of the boys had scabs on their heads, and a lot of kids had cuts or wounds on their faces and bodies. These kids also weren't socially or mentally healthy most of them. There were  many special needs kids that were not getting the attention they needed. None of the kids get the attention they need. All of the kids are 13 or under and there are about 130 at the facility with 3 staff members to look after them all. One staff is dedicated to the 20 or so 'babies' in the nursery, another to the 20 special needs kids, and another to all the rest. These kids are growing up with almost a complete lack of any adult figure. They don't get medical attention, educational attention, basically no attention. They are growing up among kids in an environment that no kid should be in. But of course the answer is always the same. There just aren't the resources to take care of them. Not enough money sent over. Which is true, but why? So what's the answer. The only thing we can do is build a private orphanage and get them out, which is exactly what HHK did. Thank God our kids are where they are. I don't know if they were ever in a place like that but I certainly hope not. But now that I saw it, I can't stop thinking about the other kids. Who won't grow up healthily or develop correctly. Many will probably become social misfits or gang members.

I went into the baby ward. That for me was maybe the worst part. Cribs are stacked together, each with a baby or two in them. One of the babies was had arms and legs about as big as my thumb. She was absolutely tiny, and just sucking on her thumb like she was trying to eat it, but completely quiet. Others cried from hunger, from needing to be changed, from wanting attention from the one house mother who was paid to watch them. Not all of them were babies in the cribs. There were kids that looked at least 7 or 8 years old, who never developed past the baby phase. I don't know their stories but it's so difficult to see. I worry about the babies who wont get the love they need to grow. The entire thing was a mess and I did not leave that place a happy person. It's not fair.

So after that we grabbed lunch and I had a 2 hour bus ride to sit through with those images in my head. It almost surprises me though how quickly I can get  back into my normal routine, and not think about it. Maybe I"m in the mind set that I can't do anything at present, so it's better not to dwell on it, though I'll make sure not to forget. I am more convinced though that we need to make sure HHK's work continues. It takes so much to support a small orphanage, but the work is worth it. The kids deserve the attention. HHK isn't perfect, but it's quite a bit better than that. Of course it's resources that are the problem, and they could do more with more, but how will they ever get them. Ugh

Monday it was back to class and helping out with Kinder. Actually, thinking about it that's a lie. I came down with a 103 fever on Monday and was asleep all day. I don't know where it came from. Could have been from the orphanage. So that was fun. Tuesday was also a recovery day, but luckily by the night I was ready to go. We went out to a movie with the kids which was fun of course. Wednesday was school again, followed by the hogar and then a night time swim at the beach with the kids. I played some soccer and we all had a blast and it was awesome. I love them. All the time I spend with them only pounds this fact in more and more, and yet my brain echoes ' your leaving... your leaving....' but I try to deny it. Today I went with David to help drop off donations in the Campesino village. I hadn't seen it in quite awhile so it was good to go. In the afternoon we went to buy paint in order to paint the kinder class tomorrow and I spent a bunch of money. It was great. Then I went to the Hogar to pick up a batch of 5 kittens I am now currently caring for. The mother had them in the hogar and then left. They are quiet needy and will be more work, and the house is becoming a half way house for animals but they are adorable. So thats it, I am tired and goodnight!

Friday, March 4, 2011


This week was my first week without a job. I got booted out. Well not really of course, but I was really just beginning to really get into the swing of teaching kinder. I quite love it surprisingly and its strange now that its no longer my classroom. But of course that means that there is good news and that we found a new teacher! He is now teaching 5th and 6th grade and the kids seem to really like him. Bien chistoso. Maestra Kenia went to first and second grade, and the teacher for that level moved down to Kinder. So therefore, I am no longer maestra Kyla. Just volunteer haha. But it's better that way. Since I'm leaving and all. Although, in some way moving out of a teaching position really hit it home for me that I am indeed leaving in a little over a month. My heart kind of aches every time I think about it. So I prefer not to, though it's never far from my mind. I feel like I'm on the countdown now. I had hoped for a little while to extend my stay until May, but it doesn't seem like thats going to be possible.

Anyways, I've been helping the new teacher, Marie, get used to the classroom routine. She is very young, 18 like me, and inexperienced, and to be honest the first three days I was quite annoyed with her. Almost angry. Sometimes she lacks the strength to run a classroom, she is soft spoken and doesn't have that great of control. She would prepare during class and she didn't have a great grasp on when the kids were bored. After working pretty hard at ordering the class, getting kids to listen etc, I didn't want all my work undone. So, for better or for worse, I wrote a note on Wednesday telling her that she needed to be a bit more prepared and a few other things. It wasn't mean but it was pretty direct and I debated whether or not to give it to her, and once I did I regretted it but I figured it was too late to dwell on it after that. Thursday morning came and I was quite nervous that she would be mad at me, but thankfully she took it in the best way possible. She admitted that there were things she needed to work on and she took some of my advice really well. She had a lesson planned out, took control of the class pretty well, looked over both parts of the class, led the line etc. etc. I was really impressed and relieved. No one likes to be criticized, especially by someone that is the same age as you. I also was nervous because looking back it really wasn't my place to say those things. I think once in awhile I have a problem with doing things, or wanting to do things, that are the responsibility of others. I mean it in the best possible way, but I have realized that I do like to be in control of certain things. I'm working on knowing the difference of when help is wanted, and when I'm infringing. Someone needs to give me a job haha. I've taken a backseat in the classroom though.

A new nurse came and he and Kim are working on doing head checks for all the kids at the jungle school and treating the worst cases of lice. We desperately need more lice shampoo. Some of the kids are simply covered. Well not just the kids. You can add me into the mix. Awesome, though I've mostly got control of it I believe. There is also a scalp infection thats going around that makes the kids loose their hair and I reallllly don't want to get it. I should be fine. Lots of hand sanitizer. I feel like I've learned a lot more about abuse lately, different cases of it. There has to be a point where I stop thinking about it, because otherwise I would never rest. These kids who are typically so full of smiles come every day and you fall in love with them and they go through so much. I just hope each and every one will turn out to live a happier life. Today I went with Maestra Kenia to visit a family who isn't sending their kids to school any more, though they did last year. For those of you who remember my complaining about Kevin from kinder the year before, he didn't return to school this year and it made me worried. So we went up their and Kenia talked with the parents. I think they may come Monday, though their seemed to be problems because they had no birth certificates or something of the sort. On our way down we met up with a few of the volunteers who had gone swimming with the kids. While swimming, Samir from my kinder class had fell and gashed his eyebrow, and Deanna, his older sister, was so so worried because she said that her mom was going to beat her for not watching him better. She asked us to stay and talk with her mom so of course we agreed, and so we just hung out for about 3 and a half hours waiting for her mom to get home. Kenia had left with Cristy, so it was three of us. I was worried for her, because I know how things work here, and she was definitely going to get a beating for something that wasn't her fault. It sucks so much and there is so little we can do. Hitting is so ingrained up in the area. The first response to anything is to grab a stick and wield it high until a kid listens. It's kids, animals, anything really. You get obedience through force. I extremely dislike it, even though I love the people. It's so hard to change.

So that is it. We have a full house of volunteers now. It's been fun. Somehow I seem to be spending less and less time with the kids, or it feels like it, but I'm trying to help where I'm needed. Soaking in everything still. Looking forward to certain people coming down :) Missing everyone a tad. I send my love!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I've been working really hard

Yes, I'll admit it now. I've been working very hard. Really sacrificing myself for the good of others while lying on a beach in the beautiful bay islands of Honduras. I think any praise or acknowledgement that has been given to me should be rescinded, because if I was really working I wouldn't have been where I've been the past two weekends. I can't believe it's been that long since I've written. So to begin...

Last Friday three of the volunteers and I decided to go to Tela. Tela is a little coastal city about an hour from Ceiba known for it's beautiful beaches. We left early on Saturday morning to grab the bus over and off we went. The four of us make quite a sight going anywhere. There are two girls from Germany, one from England and then me. Three of us are blond and we are all very tall by Honduran standards. We got there in good time and went to find a hotel. We had booked one a few days before but after talking about it, we decided it was too expensive. Luckily we are all on a pretty tight budget. The taxi recommended a few places and then took us to one. It was nothing fancy but clean enough. Then it was off to the beach. Unfortunately our first day it was cloudy and rainy. We could see the beach stretching in both directions but the drizzle kept us under the palapa of the restaurant. We just talked and laughed and it was good. At one point it was quite funny because there was a group of guys from Mexico a few tables over on vacation as well. They sent over one of the boys who was selling coconut bread to ask us to come over and sit with them. We politely declined and then laughed it away. We went out for awhile in the night to take in the town a bit and then headed back to the hotel to sleep. When we woke in the morning I went over to check my cash stash and discovered an unpleasant surprise. 500 limperas (about $25)  were missing from my wallet. I had left it in the room when I went out the night before and when I said something, Zoe found out she was missing $10. I thought that it was really strange that both of us were only missing some of our money, so I figured it must have been someone from the hotel that took it and was trying to make it so we wouldn't notice it was gone. Then I looked around the room to see how they got in, and one of the windows was completely broken and could easily be slid open without any trouble. Oooh I was mad, but also super happy at the same time that not everything was gone because it could have easily been so much worse. My credit card, camera, etc. When we went to leave, I told the lady at the front that someone took our money and she went right over to the woman who was watching the hotel the night before and asked her about it. The woman was super defensive, and asked why anyone would only take some of the money and it was obvious that it was her. We couldn't do anything more though so we packed up and left. When we looked at the guide book later it said that it was a good hotel for the price but that there were rumors things disappeared from guests rooms. Well, rumors are true. Don't stay at Hotel Bertha.

Sunday morning though was beautiful. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and Anna, Zoe and I were set to go on a tour of Punta Sal. We took a boat across the bay of Tela to a point about 45 minutes out. The tour led us across a small hiking trail where we saw tarantula's, enormous spiders and monkeys! It was really neat. Then, we got to relax on the beach for the rest of the day, taking in the sand and the sun and the water. We made a few friends from Tegucigalpa. One was 13 and the other was 11 and reminded me so much of my little sister it was slightly eerie. Lunch was a traditional Garrifuna lunch of fried fish and the rest of the day was simply nice. Once we got back to Tela, we picked up Miriam, who had stayed behind, from the beach and caught a bus back to Ceiba.

The week went really well I think. The kinder kids did well and I'm just getting into the swing of teaching. Having a schedule to follow every day makes everything a thousand time easier, because there are only a few hours of space each day that I actually have to fill with a plan. The kids are so cute too. The two little trouble makers, Daniel and Samir, are getting closer to me every day. I want to be mad at them but I can't because they are really the smartest kids in the class. It's a cute kind of trouble making also. Erg. I can really tell a difference in the kids when I bring snack versus when I don't. On Wednesday I had the snack set out and completely forgot to grab it in the morning. So frustrating. Carolina, one of the moms who helps me, said that her little kidnergartener went home and told her that I had forgotten it for the day. When I leave I'm going to have to figure out some way to keep it going, because kids don't learn on empty stomachs. On the friday before our weekend in Tela, we had gym class and took the kids down to the river. It was fun and we ran around, but Glenda found something pretty bad on the back of one of the little girls. Leiry, who is the cutest thing with bobbing curls and always a huge smile on her face, had four darkly imprinted belt buckle marks in her back that were just beginning to bruise. You could see the square in her back with the line for the clip. I have no idea what she did or who did it or why, but there is no reason- ever- to hit a kid like that. I realize that hitting is the way to keep the kids in line for most of the people who live up in the jungle, but there is a fine line and that was leaps past it. Even the other moms said that something had to be done, and Leiry just smiled up at us as we looked over her back. She must be used to pain. The following Tuesday she hit her head hard against the table and then got right back up like it didn't faze her. Two minutes later I look over at her forehead and a lump the like a thimble had emerged from that exact spot. Any other kid would have burst out in tears for ages. Anyways, David and all of the teachers got together to write a note to the parents saying that treatment like that needs to stop, and if they notice anything else further action will be taken. What I don't know, but hopefully it's enough just to let them know that we are keeping track. So besides that, kinder is good. Every day I get pretty tired but it's only half the day. The rest of the day I'll either go to the hogar, or go shopping or once and awhile head to the beach, but I think from now on I'll mostly go to the hogar. I love the kids too much.

And finally there was this weekend, which made the list for one of the best couple days of my life. I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday with people I love in a surreal, beautiful place, taking in the sun, the beach, the marine life; opening coconuts, eating, playing and laughing. Eight of the Hogar kids, me, Denia, 3 of the volunteers, Cristy, Meily, David, and some relatives and friends- 20 in total- went to Southwest Cay for the weekend. It is a cay off of Utila that David shares with two other families. Basically a private island that we had to ourselves for the weekend. 20 of us on paradise. It isn't big, but it's just big enough that there is plenty to run around on and especially swim. All the time I was in the water. Snorkeling off the reef that runs all the way around the island, watching colorful fish dart in and out of the coral in the crystal blue water, and seeing the sunlight dapple through the waves onto the sandy bottom below. Taking pictures, some good and some bad, underwater and out. Kayaking and taking turns ferrying the kids around on the kayak. Playing on the pier and throwing kids in, and in turn being pushed in by them. Sad to say they won more often than not. Watching as Rosa, Mercedes, and Denia attempted to go on a fishing trip and then came back with nothing. It's a good thing we weren't relying on their trip for a meal. Laying on the beach, falling asleep if I felt like it. Peeling and breaking coconut after coconut. I got so good at it after awhile although my hands are now stained a purple-ish color for whatever reason. It was all so good, so good.  At night we lit an enormous bonfire on one end of the island, and raced hermit crabs to see who's was the fastest. Mine won 3 times in a row hah. We played limbo in the dark, and then all went out to lay on the dock and look at the thousands of stars that glinted so brightly overhead, and feel the wind blow at our faces and our hair. I felt so full of life. It was an adventure to walk out to the bathroom that was only a hole right over the water, especially at night when you hoped you wouldn't step on a hermit crab. But my favorite part of all were the 9 amazing kids that were with with me. Adjusting Santos's snorkel, throwing Angelo in the water, and then being pushed in by Daniel. Being dragged around by Cherlin and told to open coconut after coconut. Laying on the pier with Rosa, Denia, Mercedes and Sara at night and laughing until our stomachs hurt. Doing all the work kayaking as Daniel and Paty put their heads in the water to take a look at the fish. Putting Santos to bed and having him tell me a story about little red riding hood. Taking pictures with Rosa. All of those moments that stay with you. Those are the one's that last the longest.