Thursday, January 24, 2008

Una Mas Clase!

Tomorrow is my last Spanish class here. It has been a wonderful experience to spend three weeks in Honduras at Our Little Roses and to learn Spanish. I have learned so much! I will return home able to understand a lot and able to speak a little more. I am far from fluent, but I have a better foundation on which to continue to build!

In celebration of one more class - una mas clase - and as a thank you to Belkis, we went to dinner and a movie tonight. On the way we stopped at Parque Central so I could take pictures of the statues (see Substitute Teacher). Sadly the fountains were not working, but I did get my pictures of the Honduran women. You can see they are very, very strong women! Our Little Roses is a place where strong and caring women are raised. It's been a privilege to live here among them. I have lollipops to give the girls at lunch tomorrow as a 'thank you' for their hospitality. I hope to say a few words of thanks, but I may only get to say "Muchas Gracias"!

I have done and seen things I never would have imagined before coming here. Our Little Roses is a wonderful ministry and I would definitely recommend their language school. The impact of this trip on my life and my ministry will be significant. I have not really had time to process all that I have done, seen and experienced.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey! It's been great to share this with you. Adios!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Home & The Girls

I realize I haven't talked much about the girls here at Our Little Roses. This photo is of the center courtyard of their home. The dormitory style bedrooms and bathrooms as well as the dining room, television room, study room and workshop surround this courtyard. There are approximately 61 girls currently living in the home, and they are between the ages of 4 years to 20 years. There are two houses in the community where older girls live who are attending the university or working.

While I have had meals with the girls and have enjoyed some fun times with them (see Pulhapanzak Falls and A Grand Party) I really have not interacted very much with them. For a few days I did my homework in their study room, but the constant flow of girls in and out and their quarrels about puzzles and games was too distracting for me. And unfortunately they did not seem to welcome my interest in practicing Spanish with them! Not that I blame them. How many language students each year must say to them, "?Como se llama? [What is your name?] Me llamo _____. [My name is ____.]"

It has been interesting to watch the girls and their interactions with one another. There is a real spirit of care and compassion that surrounds this place. The older girls care for the younger girls. And there is a lot of love and protection, not just among the girls but also among the Tias (the employees who live with and care for the girls) as well as the other staff like the cooks, drivers and guards.

The girls have chores in the home and based on a merit system they may receive special privileges at the end of the week or month. There are always girls sweeping and mopping in the home and around the compound. And it is not surprising how much trash can acculmulate, especially considering all of the students, parents, and teachers that come into the compound every day.

The girls have sponsors, people who virtually 'adopt' them and provide financial support for their care. Most girls have more than one sponsor. For more information about sponsoring a girl or to contribute to OLR click here: http://www.ourlittleroses.org/

For me the lasting impression I will take home is the love and generosity that I experienced here, as well as the many, many smiles that reflect God's love for all God's children, including you and me.

















Tuesday, January 22, 2008

La Clinica

Yesterday I visited the clinic as a patient! I had been hearing a rattling in my chest for a week and when I awoke yesterday I had a sore throat and my left ear was stopped up. Fortunately OLR runs a clinic in the neighborhood so Belkis and I walked there so I could see a doctor - el medico. The small waiting room had 12 seats and all were full by the time I got to see the doctor. He diagnosed me with an upper respiratory infection caused most likely by the dust or mold here. He prescribed an antibiotic, advil and a cough syrup. The nurse/receptionist filled the 1st two prescriptions, but we had to drive to the pharmacy - la farmacia - for the cough syrup.

I'm not sure what my experience would have been if OLR didn't own the clinic, but I couldn't help think about the health care system in the United States and the disparity of people not having health insurance, and not being able to afford it even when they are working several jobs to support themselves and their families. Something needs to change.

Anyway, I took a three hour nap after lunch and slept very well last night. Hopefully all this rest in combination with the medicine will rid me of this infection! I certainly don't want to return home sick!

Copan: The Adventure! Part III

The food! I've already mentioned that on Friday night at Via Via I enjoyed a hamburger and fries. Saturday morning, at La Casa de Todo, I had a mozzarella omelet with toasted homemade bread (see photo - Copan Part I)

Saturday night I treated myself to Twisted Tanya's, a very unique and good restaurant in Copan. I selected their 3-course dinner and had homemade mushroom soup (fantastic), tilapia with a unique sauce (the name is laropa, I think) and homemade carrot cake with cafe' con leche. The whole meal with a drink was $21. Extravagant, I know!

Sunday morning I was back at La Casa de Todo where I tried their homemade mango yogurt with granola. It was delicious. I actually spent the morning at La Casa working on my Spanish. I wasn't in the mood to tour and it was raining, so I sat in their garden protected by a roof and watched the rain and a hungry hummingbird while conjugating verbs! It was a great morning!

Fortunately, before boarding the bus I got lunch in the bus terminal. Their special was fried chicken with fries for 50 lempiras - around $2.63. Such a bargain! And it was very good.

Now I know with all this talk about food you may be wondering if I've gone loco - crazy! Well, yes, maybe. You see, I eat with the girls at OLR in their dining room. (see photos below) I'm not used to eating beans and rice with every meal. I'm not used to very tough meat and trying to eat it without a knife. Typically my utensils here are a fork and 2 tortillas. I'm also not used to not eating salads or fruits. I rarely have seen fruit here except for broiled bananas.

So if I sound a little too excited about the food in Copan, it's because they cater to tourists, and I could find food that was more like what I'm used to eating. I am fed well at OLR!




Monday, January 21, 2008

Copan: The Adventure! Part II

On Saturday, after spending the morning at Copan Ruinas, I headed back by taxi (see photo in previous post) to Via Via to rest and freshen up a bit. I was debating whether to go on a horseback riding tour to Hacienda San Lucas or to go to Macaw Mountain. Having recently re-read Lauren & Robin's Adventure in Copan (seminary classmates), I opted for Macaw Mountain. It's not that they didn't have a good time, but the soreness that they experienced after horseback riding was more than I wanted to endure! It was an excellent decision for me because Sunday was a very rainy day and walking around was slippery. [And I wasn't feeling 100% due to congestion in my chest that had been coming on for a week or so, not to mention a painful knee, but more on my visit to el Clinica later!]

So, decision made, I headed by taxi to Macaw Mountain. I actually had the same taxi driver who took me to the Copan Ruinas, and he offered to come back to Macaw Mountain in two hours to take me back into town. Nice people in Copan!
Macaw Mountain is a Bird Park and a Nature Reserve. From the Macaw Mountain brochure:

"The park is nestled in a small canyon formed by the Sesemil Creek, that provides water to the town. The park has a collection of Honduran and Central American macaws, toucans and parrots that have been recovered from captivity. All the birds are carefully maintained and can fly freely in large, naturally planted aviaries. The park has a strong eco-educational component with informative tours emphasizing bird habitat, natural history, biology and conservation."

My guide, Kevin, was very knowledgable about the 140 birds in the park. He was very engaging with me and with the birds. It was a thrill to see the birds, hear their stories from Kevin and be able to actually 'pet' the birds! It's a beautiful park and a great place to visit on a very hot day - un muy caliente dia!





Copan: The Adventure! Part I

Copan is about 3 hours by bus from San Pedro Sula, unless you are traveling on a Friday afternoon. My bus, which was a luxury bus (better than Greyhound) with comfy seats, movies, snacks & drinks served by a 'host', left at 2:30 and arrived at 6:30PM. After a brief taxi ride (see taxi below) I arrived at Via Via - a cute and comfortable hostel about two blocks from Parque Central. For $12 American dollars a night I had a clean room with a very comfortable bed, private bathroom and hot water! The hostel is a Belguim chain and served great hamburgers & fries - my dinner Friday night. What a treat!! The only odd taste was the ketchup which was sweet.









Saturday morning I ventured out early. Belkis had recommended La Casa de Todo - The House of All/Everything! It's a perfect name because they have a gift shop, laundry, dining room, book exchange, internet service, and more! After checking email I had a wonderful breakfast there. The tour book mentions their homemade breads and yogurt, and I can attest that both are delicious! Now, I'm not one to take photos of food, but breakfast looked so amazingly delicious to me that I needed a picture!!








I walked up to Parques Central about 2 blocks uphill and took a taxi to the Copan Archaelogical Site, about 10 minutes out of town. From my tour book:
"Honduras has only one major Maya ruin, but it's a true gem. A Unesco World Heritage site since 1980, Copan archaeological site is known for its remarkable sculptures, especially the enormous and intricately carved stelae depicting former leaders. The site is not as lofty or grandiose as say, Tikal or Chichen Itza but the artisanship is impressive."

"The most famous monument is the Hieroglyphic Stairway (see previous post), the work of King Smoke Shell. The flight of 64 steps bears a history - in several thousand glyphs - of the royal house of Copan; the steps are bordered by ramps inscribed with more reliefs and glyphs. Unfortunately, when the archaeologists uncovered the stairway, its upper section had collapsed. The bottom 15 stairs are in their original position, but the rest of the stones were jumbled and replaced with no way of knowing the correct order. As a result only about 45% of what's written on the steps is decipherable, and the overall story is far from clear."







For a map of the site, as well as more information click here: http://www.adventure-guide.org/honduras/copanmap.html

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weekend in Copan

Here are a few photos of Copan. I stayed at a cute and cheap hostel named Via Via, and I toured the Mayan Ruins in Copan and Macaw Mountain.
http://macawmountain.com/

I ate wonderful food and didn't have beans and rice the whole weekend (subject for another blog entry). I just returned and have Spanish homework to do, but I wanted to say "hi" and let you see some of the amazing things I've seen this weekend. I'll write more tomorrow.




p.s. I love reading your comments!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Substitute Teacher

Yesterday I had a substitute teacher, Ada Raquel (pictured here), because Belkis, my teacher, had to make another trip to Tegucigalpa. For class Ada Raquel and I took a field trip starting at the bus station where I purchased my tickets to/from Copan for this weekend. Then we walked to the Museo de Arqueologia e Historia de San Pedro Sula, the Roman Catholic Cathedral and San Pedro Sula's Parque Central. Our conversations were almost completely in Spanish!


The Museum was very interesting, and I especially liked learning about the history of the Mayan people and seeing their amazing pottery. I will learn more about their culture while in Copan this weekend. The Cathedral was beautiful, especially the paintings of the saints in the Dome.

Unfortunately my camera battery died so I did not get photos of the Parque. The Parque has some beautiful sculptures and fountains so I hope to visit it again so I can take pictures.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

About the Holy Family Bilingual School

I thought you might like to see a little more of the Our Little Roses compound. Here's a photo of the front gate. As you can see there are two signs - Holy Family Bilingual School (preschool thru 8th Grade) and Our Little Roses Home - Ministerios Nuestras Pequenas Rosas.

The Bilingual School is pictured here. This building houses the School, the OLR Administration offices, the apartment and guest suites (which can accomodate large groups of people), the Spanish Language Program's classroom (where I spend 4 hours a day) and the group dining room & kitchen (for service groups like the Palm Beach, FL group).

In the center of the Bilingual School building is an open area which seems to be used for recess. The bedroom of the apartment where I am staying has a sliding glass door to the balcony above this open area and the noise carries - of course, the noise is screaming and laughing and yelling!! In addition to this indoor area, there is a large outdoor playground area. That is where the Grand Party was held and where the nightly movies were shown.

The students for the Bilingual School begin to arrive around 6:40AM. Usually I'm up and showered by then! It seems that school starts for some at 7AM and for others at 8AM and ends between 1PM and 3PM. Maybe they provide before & after school care.

The School is very well regarded and provides income for Our Little Roses Home. Some of the girls at the Home attend the bilingual school.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

3 Days Off

Well, I discovered that 3 days off was not the best thing for retaining Spanish! I enjoyed the 3-day weekend and want to thank the nice people from Bethesda by the Sea for a great time!

Now I am back at work studying and learning more Spanish. I spent most of the afternoon and evening yesterday refreshing my memory of vocabulary and memorizing various irregular verbs. Just when I think I have them they slip my mind! I even did extra homework so that more would stick!

Today we spent most of the class on "to be" and when you use "ser" or "estar". Lots of homework tonight, too! My teacher tells me my pronounciation is good and that I am doing well. So that's good. I also have been having more conversations with the women on campus in Spanish. I am making progress. Still, I wonder if I were 20 years younger would this be so challenging?

Spanish aside, here is a photo (on the left) of one of the two puppies that live at OLR. Next to him is a photo of my dog, Potter, when he was a puppy 6 years ago.








Do you think they look alike?

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Grand Party

The folks from Bethesda by the Sea in Palm Beach, FL hosted a grand party last night in the large pavillion which they had beautifully decorated with balloon, flowers and colorful paper chains. The girls thanked the group by sharing several of their gifts including a beautiful wooden cross made here by one of the girls, a poem, songs and dances. The funniest part of the night was when the girls taught the group a new dance - something like the chicken dance in the states; however, this one had more moves, like wiggle your bottom! See photo.









After dinner, which was delicious and included meat (chicken and beef) and a half of an avocado and limes, it was time for the pinata!! Rick, the leader of the PB group, certainly got a workout pulling the rope up and down while the girls took turns swinging at the pinata. It was fun to watch from the sidelines. The girls whose birthdays are in January received presents and everyone sang "Happy Birthday." There were many pictures, smiles and a few tears.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Episcopal Cathedral in San Pedro Sula

Today everyone went to church at The Episcopal Cathedral. Our Little Roses girls, staff and volunteers made up 1/3 of the congregation. The celebrant was the Dean of the Cathedral, Muy Revda. P. Rosa Angelica Gamez and the preacher was LP. Jackeline de Ruiz. On the front of the bulletin is a picture of the Holy Spirit as a dove descending on Jesus as he walks out of the water having just been baptised by John the Baptist. The caption reads "He aqui el Cordero de Dios, que quita el pecado del mundo." "Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

During the service we renewed our Baptismal Covenant and prayers were said for a baby as he was named - Oscar. I understood maybe 1/2 of what was being said during the service, and was able to follow along in the bulletin and prayer book. The Dean made a very long announcement that included information about their annual meeting in four weeks and the important activities going on in the Communion. She encouraged everyone to become involved, to see, to hear and to work.
Here are some photos of the church and of Oscar with Belkis and some of the girls.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

El Mercado

The Palm Beach group invited me to join them on their excursion to the Mercado. There were two shopping areas on opposite sides of the road. We were warned not to cross the street without the OLR guard. He's pictured standing in front of the artisan market.

I saw many beautiful Honduran crafts: pottery, wood carvings, weavings, etc. Most of the vendors spoke English, or they had their calculators at the ready to convert lempiras to dollars. Several would lower their prices if you were the least bit hesitant to buy. I'm not really a shopper, but I found and bought some great things!

About Pulhapanzak Falls

Pulhapanzak Falls is a magnificent 43m (approx. 140 feet) waterfall on the Rio Amapa surrounded by a lush and well-kept park. This is a popular swimming spot, and there are also guides who will take visitors to a small cave behind the falls. A few of the older girls went to the cave with the leader of the Palm Beach group. They got soaked!!

The park has a snack bar that serves sodas, beer and snacks. I did enjoy a cerveza - beer after zip-lining!

Here are the girls, Nicole and Jackie (they are sisters), who sat with/on me during the bus ride. They took each others' pictures with my camera while we rode to the Falls. Jackie liked my sunglasses!! Nicole was also my hair stylist at the movie.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pulhapanzak Falls

What a great day for a field trip! I was ready at 8:50 AM, as I was told to be, and we finally left OLR at 9:20AM. A two hour, mostly bumpy and uphill ride in a school bus with at least two, more often three, little girls climbing, sitting and sleeping on me! We arrived at the Falls and soon the girls were getting wet, collecting shells and swimming up river.

I decided to take a look at the Falls. This nice gentleman took my picture.
Did you notice the wire behind my head and in the photo of the Falls? It is for something called zip-lining! I didn't notice the wire until Allison from the Palm Beach group was looking for someone to join her for her second trip zip-lining across the Falls! I know, I can't believe it myself....the locals would say "I've gone loco!" but zip-line I did and I have the video (albeit sideways) to prove it!!! It was a blast, and I got a great view of the Falls and the river below. Enjoy!


video