Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Hangers and other such happenings part

The title of my last entry was ¨Stop Signs, Hangers, and other such happenings.¨ Except that I didn´t talk about the ¨hanger s or other such happenings part.¨ In case anyone was dying to hear about my experience buying hangers, here ya go.

I went to Carrion. Which was a nice thing to see in Honduras. There, of course, were various Carrion stores in Costa Rica, and seeing them here in La Ceiba made me feel a little more at home. I needed hangers. So, I walked in, and found the hangers quickly. Immediately, as anyone would expect, there was a girl attached to my left elbow. The conversation went something like this:

Her: What are you looking for?
(I was clearly standing right in front of the hangers.)
Me: Oh, thanks, but I found what I need.
(I start looking at prices of the 10 pack.)
Her: Oh, well these are cheaper.
(Pulling down the three pack.)
Her: See, these are only 29 lps, and those are 34.
Me: But there are only three of them. I want ten.
Her: Oh, well these are better hangers.
Me: But there are only three of them. I want ten.

(I finally pulled down the ones I wanted, and starting looking around at the blankets some. She, of course, was still following me.)

Her: I´ll take those for you. Are you ready to pay?
Me: Well, I´m still looking around.
Her: Well, let me take them for you.
Me: Really, it´s okay. I think I´m going to look around the whole store a little.
Her: (With a surprised and shocked look on her face,) Oh, well, I need to take those for you. Let me take you up to the cashier.
Me: I´m not ready to pay.
Her: Well, I really need to take you up to the cashier.

I finally gave in and just went. But honestly, are you trying to attract business or kill it? And there was no language barrier here either. This interaction didn´t surprise me in the least, but for all of my state-side readers, this is what you get here. Heaven forbid you want to buy something from two different departments. And it´s nice as if there was a separate cash register in the hanger, blanket, picture frame department. She walked me upfront. I guess they´re worried someone will get through the two armed guards they have standing at the doors checking every receipt (that is stapled to the outside of the bag) as people walk out.

I do look a little dangerous.

As for the other such happenings? School has been fine. Little by little I have been pulling in the second graders. Today, I threatened extra homework. Even gave some out to some of the kids who won´t shut up. And, a parent asked me to tutor. So, I´m going to mention it to several parents. Some of the other kids could definitely benefit too. I charge 30 lempiras for an hour if there is just one kid, and 25 lempiras an hour if there are 3 or more. That´s right folks, if I get 3 kids, I´ll be making 75 lempiras, which is a little less than $4. But, it´ll be for 2 or 3 days a week, and when you make $300/month, an extra $8-$12 a week is welcomed. :)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Stop Signs, Hangers, and other such happenings

Stop signs in La Ceiba are completely optional. They do exist at most street corners, however, they are only stopped at if another car is coming - and even then, some of the cars barely slow down, and just swerve. Better hope that you don't happen to be a pedestrian at that particular intersection, because while they might swerve to miss the car, they probably won't swerve to miss you. But don't worry, they usually honk to warn you that you are in their way. That should give you just about enough time to dive out of the way. There may be a little too much of the "pasa lo que pasa" attitude here in La Ceiba. Apparently, hitting pedestrians is not much of a big deal.
I have almost been hit several times. I don't even live right downtown, which may be some of the problem. In the center, there are a few redlights, which generally are stopped at, thank god. The second or third night I was here, Veronica took me for a ride downtown one evening so that I could get my bearings. We were driving down la Avenida 14 de Julio, and went through an intersection and nearly got sideswiped by a car who didn't stop at their stop sign. We did not have one, but they did. Veronica hit the brakes, he hit the brakes (interestingly enough noone swerved though), and both of our cars stopped about 2 inches from each other. Of course, it was on my side of the car.
The next day, someone (who was completely serious) said something along the lines of, "well if you stick around, maybe you should buy a car." I laughed, and I think I offended her, so I added quickly that I could get anywhere in La Ceiba that I needed by walking, and I could always take the bus or a taxi if I have to, so I don't need car. She started to object that a car would be better than walking or the bus, when I gave her a look and said I would rather take the bus than get behind the wheel of a car with all these crazy drivers around.

So yeah. I'm Expatriates using free wireless, but my computer is going to die soon and my fries are getting cold.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Los maestros, part 1

So, one of my avid readers wants to know more about the other teachers that I work with.

The teacher that I will work with the closest is Anthony. He is 21, and was raised in Texas. I think he was born there too. His dad is from Spain, but grew up in the US, and his mom was born in La Ceiba. I don´t think she is 100% Honduran though. He is teaching computaciĆ³n to grades 1-7, and 1st and 2nd grade math and science. He is a little flaky, and I get the idea that he doesn´t plan much. He thinks that he is on Veronica, la rectoras, good side, but in fact - she told me before I met him that she doesn´t really think he´s that good with the kids. haha. But today was the first day of school, and he seemed to interact with them well enough. He has a Honduran girlfriend who is very jealous. If I´m around (even inside the school), he shushes me when he calls or she calls him. He has been walking me home (all 4 blocks) after school and taking a cab home from there, and he said, and I quote ¨I would be crucified if she found out.¨ hmm. Maybe I´ll just have to make friends with her. Because I´m already counting on him to program my remote control for my TV and a couple of other things.

I don´t know much about the other teachers, but they are all Honduran. The grades that aren´t completely bilingual have 3 hours of English a day, even though I´ve never heard the teacher who teaches them English speak English. She´s very nice though. Since it´s a bilingual school, or well almost so, English is spoken here and there by most of the teachers. At least Espanglish. I haven´t heard all of the teachers speak English though, and I´m not sure that some of them even speak it very well. It doesn´t really matter, though.

I finally met the kindergarten-home ec teacher today. She seems nice enough. She´s older, reminds me of my K teacher, Mrs. Porter. She was very old and retired not long after I had her. The kindergarteners though, are sooooo cute. Love them.

I´ll write more about my own students and the other teachers later.

TACA update

So, I went to the TACA office in the mall to try and figure out what was up with my ticket. I managed to have the girl change it, explained to her the situation, and she sent in a request to El Salvador (that must be the main office) to see if they would change it without charging me. God bless her.

So we´ll see. The only thing that´s a bit of a pain is that I have to come back to the mall tomorrow. But, really. It´s fine. The flight itself is changed at least.

Possibly the most frustrating thing about this all is, that when the girl finally told me yesterday that she couldn´t change it on the phone, I figured it was because I would get a new paper ticket. But no. I did not get a new ticket. Maybe I will tomorrow? Who knows.

I bought a cell phone today too. It´s a little one, it cost me about $25 and I got 100L of minutes included. That´s about $5 and it will last for about 18-20 minutes. crappy rates, huh? But text messages only cost 1L, which is about a nickel.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Some busy kids

So, I wrote my own schedule on Friday. It wasn´t done for me, and I realized that I had to write the 1st and 2nd grade schedules myself, with the help of Anthony, who is teaching math and science in English to the 1st and 2nd graders.

3 hours later, we finished it.

The problem is, these kids take so many classes!! And a lot of different teachers have to teach them, because I, as the 1st grade homeroom teacher who is reponsible for teaching a lot of these, am teaching about 30 periods of English a week and simply does not have enough time.

I am teaching to1st and 2nd grade the following:

Reading, 5 times a week each
Grammar, 3 times each
Phonics, 3 times each
Spelling, 2 times each
Writing, 2 times each
Orientation (like health), 1 time (1st grade only)
Music, 1 time each
Social Studies, 1 time each

Other teachers are teaching the following:

EspaƱol, 5 times
Ciencias Sociales, 3 times
Math, 5 times
Science, 4 times
Gym, 1 time
Drawing, 1 time
Caligraphy, 1 time
Library, 1 time
Ed. Cristiana, 1 time

And they have an assembly every Monday morning and Church every Tuesday morning.

Gosh these kids are busy!
Just an interesting tid bit I would like to share with you all. I will try to get a picture of it at some point.

My bed is on wheels.

I may have already mentioned this, but this means that it moves pretty much whenever I get on my bed, or roll over in my bed, or just sit up. I am going to try and pin it in the corner, as soon I get my freakin suit cases out of the way. But honestly, who puts a bed on wheels? It´s pretty high to begin with, so when I´m kind of jumping to get into bed, it rolls away. There is a headboard, but it´s just propped up against the wall sitting on the ground.

Don´t get me wrong, I love my apartment. I just think it´s funny that my bed is on wheels.
I still need to buy hangers, and my cable is blurry for some reason. But, I´m not paying for it - so I shouldn´t complain.

What´s more, is that my furnished apartment, while it has more than I ever expected, did not come with trashcans. For now, I am simply using grocery bags. Guess I´ll have to buy some.

TACA update. I finally decided that maybe if I press 2 for Spanish, that someone halfway intelligent would be able to help me. Well, I quickly learned from the lady that even if they would decide not to charge me to change my flight, I cannot do it over the phone because I have a paper ticket. Goodness gracious. 15 phone calls later and someone FINALLY tells me that I have to go to a TACA office to fix my flight.

School starts tomorrow. My classroom is all set up, so hopefully things go well. I´m pretty flexible, so I´m sure things will be a little hectic, but fine. The guy teaching math and science doesn´t even have any plans ready or anything. I´m definitely about 17 steps ahead of him at least.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I´m here! Safe and Sound!

My apartment is very nice. Way not third world country style, but that´s okay! I have a microwave, cable TV that I´m not paying for, and an AC unit in the bedroom (but I do pay the electricity). From what I´ve seen around here, it´s gorgeous! I haven´t ventured and explored very far, but this weekend I will.

There are lots of palm trees, and though it´s raining now, it didn´t rain at all yesterday until it got dark. How nice. The weather was even a little chilly today believe it or not. Well, okay. probably not actually chilly, but I was a bit chilly from time to time.

I live in a Barrio called Solares Nuevos. I do not know my way around yet, but it´s near a soccer field of one of the local teams, and everyone says it´s pretty centered and nothing is too far. If I walk down my street a few blocks, I´m downtown. I´m told that I can walk to the mall even, and my school is only about 4 short blocks away.

The school is nice, but they are doing a lot of construction on it right now. I finally figured out my class schedule today, after spending 6 hours there yesterday not really doing anything, but that´s okay. Today, the teachers kind of sat around all morning waiting to find out where our rooms were. When I finally figured that out, I took my stuff in there, but then had to write my own class schedule! that´s right ladies and gentleman, I had to get together with the ciencias sociales teacher, espanol teacher, and the math-science teacher so that I could write my English classes for 1st and 2nd. Then, I had to fit in gym, religion, home ec, caligraphy, health, social studies (in english, which i´m teaching in 1st and 2nd), and music (which i´m also teaching in 1st and 2nd, hahaha). The second grade homeroom teacher is only teaching math and science in 1st and 2nd grade, in English, and then teaching computacion for all the grades 1-6. geez. But at leas the schedule is figured out. It will be an interesting first week to say the least. And besides all that, I need to go back in Sunday morning to decorate my classroom because by the time I finished with the schedule it was already 4pm!

So, Veronica - the woman that works at the school and set this all up - and her mom, who lives a block from me, both have vonage phones. That means that they have US (Boston) phone numbers. So, not only call people call me there for free (if it´s arranged), I can call people there for free too! Since it´s a US number, it´s a US call. Cool, huh? However, the bad thing is that it works through the internet. Tried to call TACA today to fix my freakin plane ticket, and well - the internet wasn´t working, so the phone didn´t work either.

It gets dark here by 5:00. That will take some getting used to. I guess it´s been getting dark that early at home lately, but I think it´s an all year round thing here.

Ok, the ac is blowing right on me and I´m freezing. Plus, I still have to go make myself something to eat.

By the way, another random tidbit of information. My bed is on wheels. So, I roll around particuarly when I get in and out of bed, or sit on the bed, or roll over, or .... I´m going to try and put it up against the wall, so hopefully that will keep it less mobile and more stationary.

Oh, and I´m going to meet Bound for Ceiba and La Gringa tomorrow!! We´re going to dinner somewhere in Sambo Creek. How exciting!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Talked to Marcos tonight. I'll write more about it (and who he is since most of you don't know) tomorrow, but we talked for a half hour. Pretty long conversation. He even said that maybe he'd save money and get a passport and try and make it up to Honduras to visit. (There were a lot of "and"s in that sentence).

I have too much stuff.
Packing sucks.
I'm going to use every pound of my 100 pounds.

I've been watching Gilmore Girls. I only have 8 episodes to go in the 6th season. Maybe I'll finish it tonight. Who needs sleep. And I am packing at the same time, so I'm being productive.

Packing really sucks.

And I realized today that my return flight was magically scheduled on NOVEMBER 21st by the damn TACA phone guy, instead of December 21st. And so I called and they are going to go back and listen to the tape of the convo to see what I said and what he said. So, they'll either decide to change the date for free or make me pay $100. At least I realized tonight and not tomorrow night.Geezus.

Monday, November 06, 2006


It's 3:00AM and I'm posty. So I had this dream last night. I meant to write about it this morning, but I forgot. I was going to write about a little earlier tonight, but couldn't remember what the dream was about.I don't remember details, but this is the general gist.

I took someone's baby (the baby of a girl at Red Robin. She brought her in so I could see her and I was holding her a lot last night). So I take this baby (I might have been babysitting it). I continue to walk all across and out of town. (I think I was in Carlisle again, but not sure). It was cold and I was only holding the baby, no stroller or carrier or anything. So, I felt like I was only gone for a couple of hours, but when I called to tell someone that I was finally coming home, It seemed like I was gone much longer. and I didn't call my dad, I called Randy and Shirley. Randy answered and I asked for Shirley and he said something like "I'm not telling you if she's here or not. You just need to get your ass back here." I said something like "I know. I'm coming."

That was it. How strange, right? I don't think I had this dream last night, because I tend not to remember dreams I have at night. I think I had it this morning after I woke up the first time and went back to sleep. Regardless, it was very strange.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

suck it up. pack. and get on the airplane.

So I am getting nervous. I'm nervous about moving and everything, but I'm prepared. I'm going down and have someone to meet me at the airport, a job, and a place to live. More than a lot of people going abroad to teach English can say.

I'm prepared to be lonely at first and not have friends. I'm prepared to have a hard time adjusting to my school schedule. I'm prepared to spend my waking hours thinking about school and what I need to do for school and what my kids need and and and ... I'm prepared to be scared the first few nights I'm there. I'm prepared to be disoriented around town for the first week or so. I'm prepared to get catcalled. I'm prepared to be the center of unwanted attention, because I'm blonde, a gringa, and *oh my god* I speak Spanish. I'm prepared to be really freakin hot. I'm prepared to come home for Christmas and want to go back really bad and not want to go back all at the same time.

But I'm really nervous about teaching. But I shouldn't be. I can't say that I'm completely prepared. But I have the curriculum. I have the books. They tell me what to do. I'm good with kids. I speak Spanish. I have books and lists of all the games that I'll use in class. I have week one (vaguely) planned out for 1st and 2nd grades. Those are the hardest because it's review. They aren't planned out for me. Everything else pretty much is. I have the books and the materials and the ideas. I have the desire. I'm prepared to fall in love with the kids that I teach, even the most difficult ones.

But I'm still scared. It's normal. I was terrified when I moved to San Diego, and my dad was already there. I was scared to go to Costa Rica and have to live with a host family and *gasp* talk in Spanish. I was scared. But I came out with some of the best experiences I have to date. And this will be no different. And well, I can always come home. But I expect to make a new home, there. And I expect that when I finally do have to come home to deal with grad school and undergrad loans and teach for america (if I get accepted) - well, I expect that I will feel the same dread and desire that I felt when I left Costa Rica, but 10 times stronger. I was only there for 4 months and made such a home there. I'll be in Honduras for 5 times that long.

I'm so excited for myself and the experiences I'm going to have. I'm proud of myself for just doing it. It was never a "should I go?" It was a "where should I go to?" I'm proud that I'm confident and independent enough to do what I want to do, what I have dreamed about. Here is when I tell myself "suck it up. pack. and get on the airplane."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Geography Lesson

Since everyone thinks I'm moving to South America, here's a geography lesson.