Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Feliz Cumpleaños y Tres Tortas

I am obviously fluent in spanish now (the title), but I will spare you all and write my posts in English, still. The birthday in Honduras was fabulous, and entirely Honduran. Of course. It was honestly one of the best birthdays I have had in my long, long life of 24 years.

I slept in in my casita (that is little house) in Honduras. Elicia and I had to teach from 1-6, so after a fine breakfast of fruit (pineapple, papaya, orange, and bananas covered in dry granola and honey, all better tasting here than in the US), we sat down at the family computer (the one with the space bar that I desire to melt down to be made into grocery baggies) to plan our lessons. The program that the school uses is called Top Notch, and it is pretty much like the 1st level spanish book you used in high school (if you took Spanish, like I wish I had every single day here). We turned the TV on to have in the "background" while we planned our lessons, which is probably why it took us 2 hours... We got very excited when Sydney White came on in ENGLISH.

We went back to the casita to take a short nap and while I was laying on the bed thinking cold thoughts, Elicia was dinking around making lots of noise. I ignored it for awhile, then finally sat up and snapped, "What are you doing?"(the heat made me do it...). She turned around with a styrofoam plate in her hands and said, smiling broadly, "I made you a cake!" She had cut up an apple, drizzled dulce de leche over it (we bought it in a tiny little cup at the convenience store near the BIT. I'm pretty sure it was McDonald's dulce de leche, but it was still pretty good), and sprinkled m&ms on top. A rolled up peice of notebook paper had been stuck into the middle of the heap for a candle, which I blew over when she had finished singing. Elicia is basically the best, right? We sat down on my bed and ate the "cake" together. Que rico!

Teaching was awesome. I honestly can say that I wouldn't have spent that 6 hours of my birthday any differently. I love, love, LOVE teaching here. The students are so eager to learn and so much fun. Sometimes I think that in the United States we take too much precious time getting "comfortable" enough together to be good friends. Here it seems to be instantaneous. I feel like I have known these people for years. We have so much fun with them. The lessons from the book can be pretty boring, so we try to spice it up a bit and play games. This is when personalities really come out. There is one sister in the class that likes to tell everyone what to say. Forcefully. In one game we played, each person had an item that belonged to someone else and they had to say both, "This is so-and-so's cell phone" and "This is her cell phone." I will never forget this sister practically shouting "OR...!!" in another student's face.

They say the funniest things. I have to be careful what I laugh at though. In this saturday class, a 23 year old boy named David was asked if he has a girlfriend and when he said no, we asked him "Why not? Don't you like girls?" just to tease.

His response was, "The woman... is good." I burst out laughing. I couldn't help it! He got embarrassed, of course and I felt so bad. I sincerely apologized and went to the "worst teacher ever" corner and wrote on the board, "I will not laugh at students" for the rest of the class. Not really, but I should have. To try to make up for my insensitivity, I asked David if he has a motorcycle. I had seen him come in with a helmet, so I assumed he did. He brightened up and said, "Yes!" I told him that I loved motorcycles and asked if he would take me for a ride sometime. I was joking, of course. Mostly. He got embarrassed again. Strike two for teacher Kathryn. Goodness.

In the evening classes, we don't teach the lesson by ourselves, but help the regular teacher, Gladys, with whatever she wants us to do (which is usually a lot. Which we don't mind.) and during this class Saturday evening, we were leading some kind of activity and she suddenly said, "I have to go. I will only be gone for like... half an hour... You will be okay?" We said yes, but it was all very abrupt and mysterious. So we kept on teaching. A few minutes later, the door burst open and the entire school -- all the office staff and about 15 more students -- came in singing "Happy Birthday to you" at the top of their lungs, carrying little plates with peices of cake on them. I found out that Dennis had been behind the whole thing. (Dennis is the director for all three BIT schools, and it the most likeable, wonderful man I have ever met. He has a habit of breaking into song or dance or both to get a point across while teaching.) I was so surprised. I have only been here 4 days and these people feel like my family.

Someone whipped out some banana soda (ew) and we started to drink it when, who brings forward two cans of root beer with a grin the size of Tegucigalpa? David! He drove his motorcycle to buy them for me from who knows where. I guess I didn't embarrass him too badly. The rootbeer had much to be desired (namely the rootbeer flavor), but it was the best gift ever.

Before the students filed out the door and back to their other classes, David asked me to dance with him at the stake dance and also said that we could ride his motorcycle sometime. I have heard these latin boys can dance... did I mention this was the best birthday ever?

After the lesson, one of the students approached me and asked for my e-mail. He is... okay, picture this: dark hair, dark skin and GREEN eyes. Yes. Let me repeat: best birthday ever.

Another younger student caught up with me as we were leaving the building. He had told us earlier in class, when we were discussing hobbies, that he likes to collect coins. He had proudly showed us one from Japan that hung around his neck. This is what he pulled over his head and gave to me "for jor birday" ( I am not at ALL making fun of the accent, just showing how adorable I think it is.) He told me that it meant good luck. I made a leather string for it and have been wearing it ever since.

We went to institute that night until 7:00. I asked the teacher, "So you are teaching the lesson in English right?" She thought that was pretty funny. Perhaps she thought I was joking. I can testify, however, that the spirit speaks the same language here in Honduras as it does in the US. After institute, some girls (one of them yet another Galindo niece), snagged us for the rest of the night. No doubt Mama Galindo told them to give the American birthday girl a good Honduran time. She's always taking care of me. We told them we wanted good Honduran food, so we went to the Baleada Express. Baleadas are probably the most typically Honduran food there is. And they are LOVELY. And cheap! Only 14 Lempiras apiece (about 75 cents). Its an extra thick tortilla with a smooth bean and onion blend spread on it, topped with runny sour cream and either chicken, chorrizo, or egg, and fresh grated cheese. Oh man. Two of the boys from the ward met us there, as well.

Next we went to the City Mall. We wandered around the mall until our movie started and I received yet another birthday gift. There was a lost ballon on the ceiling, and my new friends lifted the tiny Andrea skyward to retrieve it for me (really, she must weigh only 90 pounds). She stood on one of the boy's shoulders against the shop glass window and I cringed.  But they were successful. Andrea tied it to my bag. A few mintues later, a little girl approached me and pointed at it, gabbed in spanish and ran away. Maybe she wanted one too? We rode the escalator up a floor and there she was again, like magic! Elicia said, "Oh! It's probably hers!" Of course! I rushed over to her, yanked it off my bag and handed it to her. I wasn't about to keep a little girl's balloon, even if it was my birthday. I am 24 for heaven's sake. Maybe when I was 23, but now I must put such things away.

I bought a Cinnabon to eat in the movie. Yes, a honduran cinnabon... shhh.

After the movie we were driven home, ready for bed. But! Alas! One more party! Mama Galindo had made me a giant chocolate cake. She and Elias and Alejando were waiting there to sing to me (Alejandro was quite bleary eyed, having been pulled out of bed for the occasion). They sang in halting English and then again in Spanish with much more gusto. We sat and talked with Mama Galindo (Elias as translator) over huge peices of cake (the frosting was made with sweetened condensed milk. Oh baby.) and I learned how very, very expensive it is for these families to send their children to a decent school. And how nearly impossible it is to get a decent-paying job without learning English at said expensive schools. And this is in a country where the average wage is 1.65 dollars an hour, or 280 dollars a month, and gas costs 4 dollars a gallon.

So on my birthday, I received many songs, a japanese coin, 3 cakes, rootbeer, 2 Honduran dates, a ten minute balloon, and a greater understanding of just how blessed I am to have been born in Ogden, Utah in the USA.

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