Friday, August 30, 2013

Because Everyone Says, "Tell me ALL About It."

6:40am... I woke up before my alarm. I wish I could say it was to the rustic call of a rooster, but in reality it was the slightly less melodic blaring of a car parked down the street whose alarm must have been tripped by every person walking by. I walked outside and brushed my teeth, walking in circles around our little terrace. "Buenas días, Poli." I said to our little parrot. "Gordita!" it squawked, which means something like "little chubby one." My mamá assures me the word is affectionate.

7:00am... When I went upstairs, my mamá had "panqueques," pancakes, waiting for me. I never thought of pancakes as a Central American food, but I eat them for breakfast every day. The news was playing in the living room-- I thought it might be about the Honduran Attorney General who had recently quit amidst scandal. I knew there was a committee to choose a new one, but I couldn't figure out how to ask my mamá in Spanish. Instead, we talked about fruit. She expressed her sympathy at the lack of cheap fruits and vegetables in North America.

7:40am.... All ten of us Calvin students met by the bus stop. The public buses here are converted school buses shipped from the United States and other countries around the world. They aren't repainted, so it really does feel like swarming on the bus to go to school. Inside, the bus drivers deck their space with stickers that say things in Spanish like, "God is my guide," or "Jesus loves all." These proclamations share space with Looney Toons characters and Playboy emblems, in a combination that is both very American and very not. I always sit alone, and try to strike up conversation with whoever sits next to me. People are extraordinarily patient with me. If I'm feeling ambitious, the conversations turn to the Presidential election coming up in November. When I'm not feeling up to it, we talk about how cold it gets in Michigan or how good the food is here.

8:30am... A van picked us up at the bus stop and drove us to the Pedagogica, which is a Teacher's College in downtown Tegucicalpa. Half of us went to their Spanish 201 class, while the rest of us sat around a table with a tutor. We talked about a short story we had read and I only mostly understood and I despaired again of ever becoming conversant, let alone fluent in a second language.

10:00am... At the end of our class, I walked to the cafeteria, where many different windows sold different versions of the same food. Every day I order something at random, and every day what I get is a surprise. Enchiladas here, for example, are open-faced tacos topped with cabbage and carrots. But I have yet to try food that I really haven't liked.

10:30am... We all came together  for our Calvin class, taught by our professors who work for Calvin but have lived in Honduras for 25 years. For the first few weeks, we're taking a crash course of Honduran history, politics, and culture. It's fascinating and completely new to me. I've only been here for a week, and I've already been convicted of my ignorance in foreign policy and world history. We're also studying current events. We spent almost 30 minutes talking about the events leading up to the Attorney General's impeachment, as well as the consequences. Studying politics here where they're happening is so different than sitting in a classroom in Michigan and trying to care about people you don't know and incidents you don't understand!

1:30pm... We all went to the mall before heading back to Santa Lucia. The currency here is the "Lempira," and one Lempira is about equal to a nickel. Even though I know the exchange rate, it's still feels strange to pay 200 of anything for a small bag of groceries!

4:00-6:00pm... During this time, I usually start my homework, take a nap, or visit the internet café down the street. For about a dollar I can get a delicious iced coffee and use the wifi while looking out over the fantastic view. There are mountains everywhere you look in Honduras, and as the light fades at night and the fog rolls in, I'm convinced this is the most beautiful place in the world.

6:00pm... For dinner, we eat a lot of eggs, a lot of corn tortillas, and a lot of refried beans. I've never once been hungry here. My family is always coming and going, so we don't usually eat all together, but by about 7:30 most everyone has settled down to watch TV.

7:30pm... I've watched Enchanted in Spanish, and both the History and Disney channel, but usually my family watches the news. I ask a million stupid questions, and they correct my butchered Spanish while 2-year-old Zoe (pronounced like Soy) pulls on my arm to try to get me to play with her. They try to help me with my homework, and I try to hold up my half of a conversation. Sometimes some of the younger Hondurans will take me on a walk, and sometimes I'll visit the other Calvin students.

10:00pm... After thinking in Spanish all day, two 45-minute bus rides, and challenging homework, I'm exhausted by the end of the day. I take a shower in the usually-cold water (there's only one knob, so you take what you can get) and retire to my little bedroom, read my Bible, and go to bed.

And that's my routine so far. I feel welcomed and safe, and though I can get frustrated at my inability to communicate, overall the experience has been amazing. These are my quiet days. I know in the months to come I'll go on trips and adventures, try new things, and probably get lost, but it's nice to have a habit to fall back on.

I've loved every day of Honduras so far, and I can't wait to learn more and do more!

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