These days in Honduras are never dull. Elicia and I have been having a blast teaching at the BIT and exploring the city of San Pedro Sula. We have been running around like crazy trying all the Honduran food that we can get our hands on, because the more we try the more we are convinced that American´s have no idea how to eat. Well, except maybe for Red Robin and Ben and Jerry´s. I have sold my soul to the Baleada Express, where they spread creamy bean and onion paste onto an extra thick, warm tortilla, spoon a chicken mixture onto it, sprinkle it with cheese and drizzle sourcream over it. I beg them to put avacado on it, too, and they DO. Our new friend Karen from the ward took us to a little wooden shack where they sell pupusas, fried corn patties with stringy cheese in the middle topped with marinated shredded cabbage and onion salsa. Every time I try one of these news things, I say "I NEED to learn how to make this!" so I now have lessons scheduled throughout the week for Baleadas, Pupusas, and Tamales with different ladies from the ward.
Some of the foods are not so awe-inspiring, such as the banana chips that I bought the other day. They were very salty instead of sweet and somwhere near the middle of the bag I found a puffy something that tasted like fish... I remembered my lessons from my childhood about "one of these things is not like the others" and threw the bag away. I have always jumped into the culture though, trying anything and everything (within the bounds of safety and reason... mostly), but China still holds the prize for the strangest foods. The home cooking of the Galindos is by far the best food we have had and continues to fatten us up nicely. Each meal, I try to find a better way to express in Spanish just HOW good it is but it is getting to the point where simply tagging on yet another "Muy" to my "Bueno" just sounds stupid.
Elicia and I finally ventured out of the city. Karen offered to take us to the beach after her morning classes last tuesday. It was the first time that we have gotten to really see the countryside of Honduras and also the more rural homes. The poverty that we have been told about became very obvious as we came out of the city. Peoples homes are often only made of tarps and metal sheeting and they are squished up next to their neighbors on the bank of some trash filled stream. At church yesterday we were talking to one of the sister missionaries and she told us that many of these members have to choose between feeding their children and paying their tything every single month. It made me think about my own testimony of the law of tything. Have I ever had to actually sacrifice to pay mine? Not really, no. For that I am grateful, but based on the spirit in testimony meeting this sunday, I know that these people have been blessed by such sacrifices with a powerful foundation of faith. A God who lets His children struggle is truly a God who loves them.
The landscape of Honduras is beautiful. San Pedro is nestled against some pretty high mountains considering which part of the continent it is on, and they are covered in thick green forests. The beach was not their nicest beach, but it was the closest, only 45 minutes from the center of the city. The beach was called Cortez, which I thought was kindof interresting...
We ventured out onto a wooden dock upon arrival and Elicia and I enthusiastically kicked off our sandals and dove into the water. We came up spitting and tearing. For some reason these Gringas always seem to forget that the Ocean has salt in it. The water was incredible, though. So warm and clear. There were little striped fish swimming all around and we even saw a jelly fish, though much deeper than we were swimming (some guy came over to us on the dock and said, "Did you see the jelly?" It took me a second to realize why it was so strange that I had understood him. Yes we saw our first Americans since we arrived here in Honduras.)
We met some Honduran beach bums who sell rides on their motor boat for about 2 dollars a person. They also tow people behind their boat on a huge "Banana" but only on certain days of the week. Not tuesdays. Karen flirted it up with them and we got their number so that we could call them the next time we were coming to the beach and have our own personal tow session any day we wanted.
Another week of classes and Elicia and I have perfected the art of turning boring lessons into fun games. I am growing way too attatched to my students. Unfortunately, in one case, the opposite is true too... Remember in one of my previous posts when I mentioned that one of my students had asked for my e-mail? And that he had gorgious green eyes on his handsome latin face? Well...
We teach one group of students on Saturday from 2-5 pm that only comes that one time during the week. Its a long class and we have to work extra hard to keep them interested in the English language. The previous week, Elicia and I had stayed after class to discuss the formal ball the next friday that the Young Single Adults were having. This time it was in a safer neighborhood and Elicia and I were determined to go. I refused to leave Honduras without some real latin dancing. Gladys and David (the YSA representative for the stake) told me all the particulars, while Hector hung around. "You will need partners for the dance, of course," Gladys said. I nodded. We would figure out something. That's when Hector touched my arm, took a deep breath and said, "You would like to be my companion for the party friday?" I said I would love to.
The next Saturday, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. Elicia was feeling very sick and so I agreed to take her home and come back to teach the rest of the class with Gladys. That lesson was about names and titles (first name, last name, Mr., Mrs., etc.). I demonstrated by putting my own full name on the board and pointing out the different parts of my name and my title. In Honduras, each person takes the last name of both their mother and father, so they say that they have a first and second sur-name instead of a last name. I explained that my middle name was not my mothers last name, but simply a second name. Then I told them what we do with last names when we get married. I erased my last name and put a big question mark in it's place.
As I turned back around to erase the board and move on, I heard Hector call out something. I looked to Gladys for interpretation and she had this funny smile on her face. She told me that he had said his own last name. The whole class went silent and sat there staring, waiting for my reaction. Not awkward at all. I think I blushed a little bit (dang it!) and did some kind of stupid giggle and shrug and tried to move on. But Gladys wouldn't have it. She said loudly, "I think he just proposed to you!"
I decided to face the awkwardness head on. I turned to Hector and said, "Really?" Gladys mumbled what she had said to me in Spanish to him. His eyes got wide and he said "No!" The class was really enjoying the show, heads whipping between Hector and me. I tried again to make it into a definite joke. "Well that's okay. It wouldn't have worked anyway. You are a student, and I am a teacher." I said this slowly and pointed at us both. No one needed interpretation on that one. The class burst into laughter. Hector wasn't laughing though. He looked at me and said, "Why?"
Oh man. I sighed. What the heck could I say? I thought the obvious would work: "Well, for another thing, I speak English and you speak Spanish."
Hector smiled and said confidently. "I can speak English."
I couldn't very well say, "Um, no you can't" to one of my own students, so I just said, "Well, then. I guess we're good!" Then I turned back to the board and started erasing furiously.
It didn't end there, though. For the next three hours, Hector tried everything he could to get my attention. He always somehow ended up at my elbow and everytime I turned around, he was there smiling at me and tried to strike up some kind of conversation. When Gladys and I were wandering around helping each of the pairs practice the model conversation, he would wave me over to his desk, "Teacher, question me."
At one point, I was standing at the back of the class waiting while the students did some writing portion and he turned around in his chair and said, NOT in a whisper, "I like you. You are very pretty." I said, "Thanks, Hector. I like you too" in the same tone that I used to compliment his English sentences, but I knew that wouldn't make a difference.
By the end of class I had resorted to drawing desperately from my water bottle just for something to do in response to all of Hector's stares. He plowed right on through, though. "You like much water?" I said that I did. His eyes lit up, "You need more water?"
I smiled, "No, thank you. I will just get more when I get home. Thanks." He nodded and winked.
I was flattered, but I knew that I might have to pull him aside and request a little bit of propriety in class in the future.