Honduras Blog #5: All About the Benjamínes

A statue in a garden we pass between home and the airport. The graffiti says "Fuera Golpistas," essentially telling those involved in the recent coup to "Get out!"

Wednesday 8/10/10

Yesterday was a bit of a free day. Two new fellas flew in from the States so Mimi, her friend Brenda, and I hitched a ride to the airport in the mission’s van. Across the street is a little strip mall where Brenda needed to get some copies made for a class she’s teaching, and then the three of us planned on heading over to Pizza Hut for lunch.

Ahh Pizza Hut and your delicious stomach-response-predictability.

While Brenda made her copies Mimi and I hit up a couple stores to pass the time. First we stopped into a book store where half the books were in English but they were all pretty expensive so we just looked. When we went to leave we noticed the door opened into the store instead of outward toward the outside of the building. You couldn’t have that in the States– it’s a fire hazard. We checked as we continued our walk and most of the other doors in that strip mall opened the exact same way.

It’s the little differences…

We walked a little farther and stopped in at a bakery where we bought some cookies and a giant brownie. Everything looked delicious but dry. Don’t know if that was true of everything there, but it sure was about that brownie. Manohmanohman. If that brownie had been a joke even Stephen Fry wouldn’t get it.

Pizza Hut was, y’know, Pizza Hut.

The police station a few blocks from the mission house.

Mim and I walked the rest of the way back to the mission house. It’s only a little over half a mile, but in that heat and sun- phew! I was practically dripping sweat to the rhythm of each step. While sweating our way through town back to the house we passed a book store we kept seeing and saying we should go into. So by golly we did.

The store is called Book Master (we went to the one at the top of the page) and it’s a supply store for teachers at the bilingual schools in the area. Everything inside the store is in English. Very little is even in both English and Spanish. Even the stickers! I’d wanted to find some wall posters to give to the school in San Lorenzo when we go there next Tuesday for our third medical brigade, but those kids won’t likely speak any English at all, let alone enough to make any of these posters mean anything to them. The ability to speak English is an increasingly valuable skill here, but access to that type of education simply doesn’t exist in a lot of these mountain schools because teachers who can teach it are all at better paying schools in the city.

Not to be totally undone I instead bought three large pieces of poster board so I could make my own posters to hang on the walls there. I also picked up some rulers for the classroom, and some cute stickers of small, smiling pencils. I know I’m going to make one poster with a multiplication grid and multiplication tables up to the 12’s for sure. Depending on whether or not my writing implements bleed through the paper I can either make 2 more posters or 5 more by using the back of each sheet. Still gotta decide on content for those last few. It’s hard to narrow it down when the classroom currently has nothing in it whatsoever and caters to 1st through 6th grades.

Jesús and his *hairdryer kebab* trick

After a brief cool-down at the house we all packed into the van to drive to the home of Ana and Deniss, the couple that runs the mission. They live with her parents about 7 minutes over and up (literally) from the mission building. We were joined by more friends of theirs, one of whom was given the task of grilling the meat. Unfortunately something was wrong with the grill… or the coals… or something, so he had to keep using a hair dryer to keep the fire going. Not– not quite sure how that worked, but it did. And the meat- served kebab style- was goo-ood. Dessert was brownies, courtesy of Krystelle. Gooiest, softest, yummiest brownies I’ve ever had in my ENTIRE LIFE. She said they’re from a Ghirardelli box mix. Note to self: BUY MANY BOXES OF THIS MIX.

Thursday 8/11/10

Krystelle and me with some of the kids at the feeding program at the church in Villa Franca

Today was all about the kids. We drove out to Villa Franca with an enormous pot of spaghetti and a big ol’ jug of juice to feed the kids there. They’ve got a nicely organized set-up in place. They lined the walls of the church with plastic chairs where the kids sit and wait for the food to be brought to them. This works perfectly as it keeps a crowd from forming around the food table, and it’s especially nice for the littlest ones who can’t carry their plastic plates back to their chairs without spilling. It’s quite a feat when you’re two, y’understand.

Krystelle was telling us this is her favorite place to go and that she loves the kids there. I could see why right away. The only way they ever greeted any of us was with a huge hug. The littlest ones employed the jump-hug method, ensuring they’d be picked up and swung around. And wouldn’t you know a swing-around-bear-hug is just about my favorite thing to give out?

We came back to the mission house for a quick lunch ourselves, then hopped back into the van and headed over to a grade school a few blocks away. A group from Mision Caribe visits this school every Wednesday, and another school every Thursday.

Mariela reading the kids a story while Krystelle and Oneyda lead them in the motions

The game plan for today was to go into four different classes to share a Bible story with the kids and then to head back home. We got a late start so we arrived shortly before recess. We went into the first class where Mariela, a young woman from Honduras who works at the mission, read the kids the story of Elijah from I Kings 18 where Elijah and the prophets of Baal each call upon their own gods to set fire to their altars. Every time she got to the word “Elijah” we had the kids shout “Escuchame!” which means “Listen to me!” because Elijah was a prophet. Whenever she mentioned the sacrificial bueyes (bulls) we had the kids make finger horns and moooooo. There were a few other words like that where we had things for the kids to say or do in response. It was fun. :)

Recess at the neighborhood elementary school

Recess was its own adventure. As soon as the kids came outside we were swarmed. Word got out that I speak a little Spanish, so it was instantly Q&A time for me with my particular gaggle of girls. And you know what? I think I did all right. There were a few words I just didn’t have, but the thing is: All these girls were the same age I was when I was learning Spanish, so my vocabulary level and composition is probably closer to theirs than to anybody else’s. ;)

When recess (aka 20 minutes of DRIPPING sweat even in the shade along the edges of the cancha) ended I was sitting a little ways away from the group with some 4th grade girls, laughing with them about a tiny deck of cards one of them received from her “noooooviooooo!” (boyfriend) *cue: eruption of giggles* As they ran back to class I saw a crowd gathering around a much smaller girl, who was being led around by the arm by another small girl. I couldn’t see what was happening and the only word I caught was “sangre.” Blood.

Aw geez.

The guard outside the elementary school

I ran over and the first little girl had sliced her finger open pretty badly and her friend was leading her in circles instead of straight to the nurse like she said she was trying to do. She looked a little overwhelmed by the burgeoning crowd so the circuitous route was understandable. :S

I took the hand of the girl who’d been cut and her poor little finger was gushing so much blood so quickly that immediately my own hand was dripping too. I think you’re not supposed to do that in the States… Her friend and I walked her to the nurse’s room where I used my Big Teacher Voice to order all the kids back outside so Bleedy McWeeperson could gush in peace. Turns out she had a glass lip gloss tube and when she fell with it in her hand it broke and sliced her open something fierce. Whoops.

Mini-adventure now ended I rejoined the group and we shared the Elijah story three more times before hitting the road for home and an enchilada dinner. All in all: A wonderful day!



  1. I so love the retelling of your adventurous days! It feels like I’m right there! I’m hereby letting you know that I’m thieving the idea of the crowd participation in the school stories. I’ve been so worried about my LANGUAGE that a little Rocky Horror never crossed my mind. The closest we’ve come to that has been reenactments, which are usually really pitiful due to my lack of ability to communicate well in Guarani.

    And how strange is it to see things that so wouldn’t fly in the U.S., like building code violations and the lack of universal precautions. The other day, a lab tech drew my blood and played all around with the tubes, NO GLOVES! And a dog walked into the ER. And I passed a guy on the back of a motorcycle drinking a bottle of beer, commented that at least he wasn’t the driver, and just then he passed it forward where the driver chugged and drove as he drove past the police check. It’s a wild, wild world.

    Keep the posts coming, and give Mimi a big hug from me. She’s growing on me!

  2. Once again, thou shouldest write a travelogue. Good job.Now you know why I beg for books. Who can afford them at these prices? English or otherwise. And every visitor has to have the PIZZA HUT experience. Hondurans love Pizza Hut.

    1. Are you commenting on my blog from Costa Rica?!?! Oh it’s all just so cosmopolitan. I’m almost cool enough to be European!

      That Pizza Hut is seriously the nicest, largest Pizza Hut I have ever seen. We’ll team up, write a Tegucelogue, and hit every American restaurant in town for Volume 1. Volume 2? strictly coffee and desserts. Mmmm…

      Attention, attention: Now accepting trip sponsor applications…

  3. “Bleedy McWeePerson”…

    heee hee hee…aww, pobrecita!

    (did you know that teachers in Cali are *supposed* to carry rubber gloves with them at all times, just in case?)

    1. Sometimes I am cleverer than I can even stand.

      And I’m not surprised about the rubber gloves rule. I mean– you just never know, I guess. Still: Something, some comfort thing, is lost in the sterility, no?

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