Friday, October 31, 2008

Soccer is King

It’s no big cultural news that soccer is big in this part of the world. More surprising is how much I like watching games. Most likely it’s just because it’s a chance to be with people and feel part of the culture here, but it’s pretty fun, whether it’s watching a big game at the bar, going to a local field, or watching local professional teams at the stadium.

A few weeks ago, a woman named Katie was studying Spanish here. She’s quite connected with a local family, and she invited some of us along to watch a game with them. About ten family members were there, including this little guy and even the six week old baby. I couldn’t tell if she was watching much of the game, but she seemed pretty content.

I’m seated between Katie and her friend Joe, and right below us is Ashley, one of the volunteers I live with who's become a good friend.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rain Days

When one of the 7th graders told me that school here is sometimes cancelled due to rain, I was pretty excited. Between the number of classes that I have to prepare and teach and the differences in culture, work can be exhausting. I think it will become less so as I understand more of the school system here and continue to adapt, but it’s definitely difficult right now. So when I walked to school Tuesday morning, only to have the principal tell me that the department of education had called off school for the city because of the rain and flooding, I was ecstatic. Remember that feeling you had on the morning of a snow day when you were a kid? It doesn’t feel any less great as an adult.

Other than the inconvenience of near constant rain and occasionally flooded streets that usually quickly drain, our area wasn’t affected much. It wasn’t until I watched the local news and read the paper later that day that I realized the severity of it in other parts of the city and country. The rain has lessened now, but in the past several days, 29 people have died, 14 are missing, and 20,000 moved to shelters. 200,000 people have had damage to their homes. Though the damage has been nowhere near comparable, Hurricane Mitch is often mentioned, and it’s clear how much this country is haunted by the devastation Mitch caused almost exactly 10 years ago. For good reason. Mitch killed 6,000 with 8,000 more missing, left 20% of the population homeless and wiped out most of the country’s infrastructure, an event from which they haven’t recovered.

Don’t get me wrong. I still loved having a day off of school, but I don’t know if I’ll be quite so eager to hope for another.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why I Didn't Go into Photography

A few people have asked for pictures, but I'm terrible at taking them. I usually take my camera with me but never remember to use it or if I do, they don't turn out. However, I do have some that people that people have sent me or random ones I’ve taken.

Here's Katherine riding her bike around the home.

This is Pulhapanzak Falls. Our school had a staff outing to a restaurant and park by Lake Yajoa and stopped here on our way. We were only there for a bit, but I hope to return as you can do a zip line over the falls, swim in the shallow areas of the river, and get guides to take you to caves behind the falls.

A few weekends ago I went to a coffee farm in the mountains. Long story short, five of us volunteers plus three friends who were visiting another volunteer from Holland stayed with the family of a friend of the boyfriend of one of last year's volunteers. It was a random weekend, but really great. We took this truck to the farm after a four hour bus ride and short walk to somebody's home, though I still don't know who. Luckily, it didn't rain much more than the few drops on the camera lens.

Here’s all of us and the family who stayed there that weekend. The family was incredibly kind to us and planned things for us to do. We also had lots of fresh fruit from the farm and plenty of really, really good coffee.

David, my buddy for the weekend. I don’t think I ever figured out exactly whose he was because everybody helped take care of the kids. He helped me not miss my nieces and nephews so much.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Never Write It in Pen

That’s become our joke during staff meetings. Life here is definitely more unpredictable than at home. It’s kind of fun to never know what a day will bring and to learn to be more laid back about things.

Last Saturday, we had a four hour staff meeting planning events for the year, changing most of the dates on the calendar we had been given early on. The best change was that it turns out the Science Fair, which they had told me I was in charge of, is only for elementary this year, so I’m not involved at all anymore. I don’t really do cartwheels, especially in staff meetings, but the thought crossed my mind.

The first event we planned was a Family Sports Day for this past Friday, so I changed my lesson plans. On Monday afternoon, the office brought by letters to go home with the students. I didn’t get one but skimmed one of theirs and discovered school would be ending at noon on Tuesday because of a meeting that most of the teachers (though not me) had to attend. Changed lessons again. On Wednesday the electricity went out around 11:30, so classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. Moved lessons to the next day. Friday morning, the day of the Family Sports Day, it poured rain all morning, so the day was cancelled and teachers had the day to work in their classrooms. It was a great chance to talk with some teachers, study some science so I can stay two steps ahead of the students next week instead of only one, and get lesson plans for next week done. I have to use pen because they make copies of them for the office, but I think I might buy some stock in White-Out.