I am in Honduras! San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in the country. Elicia and I kept looking for the city that we were going to land in all the way down to the tarmac. It never came. We landed in a small town and they call it San Pedro Sula. Thank goodness! I was picturing soot and grime and smog like in some of the cities in China, but this place is lovely. It is clear and green and all the roads have two lanes (or fewer). I guess I should have been clued in by the fact that the population of the country is the same as the entire CITY that I lived in in China (a small village of 7 million).
The seasons are two: hot and humid, and hot and humid and wet. We are not in the wet one, though I am hoping that we will get to do a serious, Honduran, Gene Kelly number. I thought that I would be miserable in the heat, but I am actually loving it. No need for lotion or chapstick, though my hair has finally filled its poofing potential. We live in a tiny apartment right next to the Galindo family's home. It has a ceiling fan that tries really hard, but we were advised by cousin Miguel (the 16-year-old nephew of Hermano Galindo) to buy a good fan or we "will die." We said, "Yeah, we will get one soon. Maybe tomorrow?" His eyes widened and he shook his head. So we bought a Honduran fan. That was actually our second purchase. My first purchase was a sharpe and a stack of Honduran sticky notes. Elicia and I are going to stick the spanish language (or at least most of it) up in our apartment. We found out that what we learned from the children's spanish picture dictionary in Arizona, "Que aventura!" actually isn't enough. I am happy to report that I actualy understand a great deal more than I thought I would. Speaking is the problem. Our family is patient, though, and very good humored. We had lots of fun trying to communicate yesterday, shaking our heads and laughing at each other.
We are staying with an LDS family, the Galindos. Madre Galindo, Padre Galindo, Alejandro, and Elias. Granny Galindo lives with them, too (and she is adorable), and there are always a bunch of uncles and cousins and aunts around as well. Full time family reunion : ) The boys are 18 and 15 years old, I think, and they speak pretty good english. The mother is eager to cook for us and yesterday we had a heart-to-heart about our food preferences. When I said that we would eat mostly fruits, veggies, and bread, and not much meat, she got a really concerned look on her face. She said that we will go home to the states all skinny and that our families will think that they starved us in Honduras. When we told her that we would like tacos, enchiladas, and omelets, she was much relieved. We were also told that a peanut butter sandwhich is "not appropriate for lunch" by uncle Galindo. He informed us that the main meal of the day here is around noon. It is the Honduran way!
I guess I should share a little about what we are doing here. There is a small non-profit organization called One Life at a Time that is based in San Pedro Sula. It consists of a school and a pre-missionary program. It is not organized by the LDS church, but works closely with it, locally and generally. The pre-missionary program helps get missionaries prepared for missions. The LDS church will pay for the mission, but many, many families here cannot come close to affording the clothing, medical, and dental that are needed to be able to go. LDS Institutes in the US donate clothing and supplies. They have been able to send out over 100 missionaries so far.
The school is called the BIT, and there are school buildings here, in the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, and in Nicaragua. Mostly LDS students, from around 18 years old and above, study English, computer, and finance classes to build a skill set that will make them much more employable. The program's aim is to break the cycle of poverty through education. Students graduate in a year. BYU Idaho has agreed to accept a BIT degree for a high school diploma, allowing students to take a very cheap, accesible bachelor's degree online. This is absolutely life-changing for these students! I am excited to be involved.
Elicia and I came into the BIT this morning and participated in the morning English classes. These, we have been told, are all ours. They are EAGER to turn over to us as much of the program as we are able and willing to take. The days here are long (12 hours) and so we agreed to take the classes all day from wednesday to friday, and Saturday afternoons. Monday and Tuesday are our "weekend." This morning's class was very beginner, still learning pronounciation of the alphabet. Elicia and I want to make an ABC rap to make it a little more fun. Haha. Hopefully they won't boo us out the door. We are excited to start planning lessons and to create some fun activities. Nervous, too. At least this time I won't have to send them to a chair in the corner for speaking Chinese or dance around the room and make painfully grotesque faces just to get their attention. Well, at least I hope not.
Okay. This has gotten out of hand again. I promise shorter posts!
One last moment-- they love to gossip about love and dating here in Honduras. I guess that is pretty much universal. Aunt and cousin Galindo took us out for ice cream yesterday and asked us about boyfriends. Miguel said he has a brother who is 21 (Elicia laughed and said, "Shouldn't be a problem for YOU, Kathryn!' Perhaps she thinks I have a history of dating younger men...?) and I said that was a little young for me. And Miguel said, "For love, there is no age." There you have it. I guess that is the Honduran way, too.