Thursday, December 4, 2008

#1 Setting the Scene...La Ceiba, Honduras

How the heck are ya, you ask? Well, to be honest, I’m doing quite well, which is great for 5 days in the developing world, 3 days into teaching in a rural school in that developing world, etc, etc.

I got here safely. David (the wonderful dentistry student I met here this past summer and with whom I kept in touch) met me at the airport in San Pedro Sula and we took the bus to La Ceiba together. I was able to get into the house where I am living without too many complications (by Honduran standards) and spent a lovely evening and then a lovely afternoon with David and his family before he got back on a bus for San Pedro Sula and his studies there. I then proceeded to cry for hours on Sunday night, don’t ask me why, probably sheer terror of “what the f*** have I gotten myself into?” and after spending time with a lovely family that reminded me of having just spent lots of time with my own lovely family for Thanksgiving, I was missing my now very far away lovely family like crazy. Thank god for Skype and my mother, that’s all I’m saying. “Thank god for Skype and my mother” will likely be a tagline for many evenings of my time here in Honduras. There’s nothing like facing the deep, dark inadequacies of the world to make you want to crawl back into the womb.

My house here is good…palatial luxury when I see where my students live. I live in the city of La Ceiba, near the outskirts in a neighborhood called El Sauce. Many people live here and it can be noisy…lots of dogs barking and car alarms going off in the night. But it is convenient to both the city and the road out to the school and it is quite safe (again, by Honduran standards.) I rarely travel alone except during the afternoon. We volunteers ride bikes to get to school each morning, meeting here at our house where we lock them up inside for safe keeping. We have to leave quite early as it takes an hour. We’ve discussed finding a place to live closer to the school, but it wouldn’t be as nice or as safe, and as it is rainy season we stand a chance of the road washing out between the school and the nearest village to it where we would likely live (as it is further up the mountain.) That would put a damper on our ability to do our jobs, so, for now, we are here. I live in a house with Cynthia, an Australian woman who is here for a year to be the volunteer coordinator for Helping Honduras Kids. Carly, a British woman, lives upstairs in another bedroom, and teaches at one of the many bilingual schools here in Ceiba. There was a Dutch woman named Ninca living here but she has moved out in search of cheaper abode, so I have moved rooms because my original room has a tendency to leak when it rains and the shower doesn’t work. Now I am in a smaller, more comfy room with a shower that won’t seem to turn off, which is a bummer as I just finally managed to get my bowels calmed down a bit and now I will have to pee all the time from listening to the constant drizzle, but there are worse things in life than spending an significant amount of time on the toilet, right?

Enough about my bowels…I’m sure I’ll have plenty of decorative things to say about them before my four months here is up.

The weather is…well…tropical rainy-season Honduran weather, I guess. Everything is moist. Not soggy, but noticeably moist. The air feels just a bit thick. It rains, sometimes all day and night, sometimes just a constant never ending drizzle that then lets forth a short deluge…I’ve learned that short, can include up to and even over an hour here. My first two days were amazing…hot and dry…not a cloud in sight. It still gets hot most afternoons but the evenings really cool down. While it isn’t cold, there is something of a chill in the air in the evenings. Not like in the States, more like a muggy summer evening when you want to wear a light sweater but then it feels silly to have it on. I often sleep with my sweater on so that I can comfortably keep a fan on…keeping the air moving keeps me from sticking to the just ever so slightly moist sheets. Teaching in this weather is hilarious. When the rain pounds on the tin roof, the kids have to crowd up the board to be able to hear me and then I can’t hear them or understand their shouted Spanish at all. Craft projects are rather a joke…construction paper in this weather tears easier than wet toilet paper! The upside to the rain is that it batters the hell out of the mosquitoes, so those haven’t been too bad so far (by Houston standards, at least.)

Now to describe the school. It is an hour’s bike ride or an hour and a half walk from my house in El Sauce. We go out of the city on one of the highways just far enough to cross the Rio Cangrejal and then turn up the road, which quickly stops being a paved road and becomes a gravel /dirt/mud road as it ascends into the mountains. (Thank god the up is in the morning after a night of sleep. We get off and walk up most of the hills. By the time we get to school, our shoes and legs are caked in mud but that’s just life at the Jungle School I’ve learned.) There are two classrooms, one upper and one lower. There are also bathrooms, a kitchen (we give the kids milk, lunch, and a vitamin each day), and a small playground. The land is incredibly steep, so there is no wide open area for the kids to play soccer, which they instead play in the road. For a reason I cannot see given the expense of dry erase markers, chalkboards are nowhere to be seen in Honduras. (On the upside, you can leave the cap off dry erase markers here and the air is so moist they won’t dry out, not even over the weekend, we’ve learned!) Each classroom has dry erase boards, which we rely on heavily, as materials for the kids are incredibly expensive.

It is all rural and minimal and difficult, but each day, even in the rain, it is breathtakingly beautiful. A small stream runs right by the school right now, and the road winds along the river which is roaring full at the moment and the banks are covered with different leafy flowering plants. The sight just stops all thinking at some points. As I ride my bike up the mountain in the morning, mist is hovering over parts of the forest and I can see huge cascading waterwalls coming down the mountain in the distance…

1 comment:

  1. Sounds super exciting, a little worrisome. Best of luck! Michael & Christina