Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Weekend in the Southern Sun (Amapala Again)

Kristen says...

I love weekends this time of year...we're in the long stretch between the winter holiday and Semana Santa (not as long this year as it was last year, but still...), the weather is getting hot, esmoky and miserable, and the upcoming weekends are all that get you through some days.

Last weekend was a particularly nice one, because Chris and a couple friends and I went to Amapala for some R and R. And even though it's hot in the city, it was RIDICULOUSLY hot in Amapala! Our friends' car thermometer registered over 100° on Sunday! It was so hot that the stray dogs were hanging out in the water to cool off...
We had a nice time, as always, staying at the Casa de las Gargolas and eating lots of chicken tacos (me) and fried shrimp, fish, and lobster (everyone else). It wasn't a very productive weekend as far as Amapala trips go...we didn't take a tour or walk around or anything; we just went to the beach, swam in the pool, and of course ate A LOT! One of our favorite Amapala treats is this delicious pan blanco: it's sold in the early morning by a little old lady wandering around in the morning yelling (quite loudly at 5:30 or 6 AM) "¡Paaaaan Blanco!" or in the evening by a guy in a tuk tuk proclaiming to have "Pan blanco en 3-D!" Delicious!
The food was yummy as ever, but the beach was different this time, though...it was the first time I'd seen the water so high! Every trip we go to the same little restaurant/house by the beach, which is usually busy, and watch the sunset and the waves and take turns going to swim...

This time we were basically swimming whether we were out in the sun or sitting in the shade, because the waves were lapping at our feet when we were sitting at the tables! It was also REALLY busy. We'd kind of thought that it would be dead considering Semana Santa starts next weekend, but it was packed! As we went out on Sunday literally busloads of people were heading to the island.

Here's a picture of the high water and a boat that someone decided it was a good idea to dock right on the beach...
Amapala is still pretty un-touristy, but they're starting to do some different water-sport type things...for example, Chris went tubing!
We had a very nice time in Amapala, but it was a little sad, too, because it might be the last time we go down there (more on that later)...we took a picture commemorate the occasion:
After leaving Amapala we decided to make a few stops at places we hadn't been to on the way home. Our first stop was a funny little roadside zoo that is actually located behind a restaurant (how random, right? Go for the food, stay for the animals).
It was actually a fairly legit animal-rescue zoo with monkeys, birds, pig-type animals, and even...


Yes, it does warn you not to "moleste" the pumas...which are about 2 feet away from me, and only kept in their cage by a small padlock...eek! Luckily they didn't seem too anxious to get out.

Here are some of the other animals:

Apparently raccoons are zoo animals in Honduras? (they are native to Honduras, I looked it up!)

After we went to the zoo we decided to drive into the town of Sabanagrande, a pretty little town I've never actually been to before, although I have driven past it multiple times. It was, as you might predict, a really pretty little town:

They also seemed to have a nice public library (above), which surprised and impressed me. I love what it says above the door: "A town that reads is a town that thinks." Nice. Well said. :)

After we left Sabanagrande we stopped at a historical monument(!) commemorating the Battle of Trinidad (you know, the one that's on the back of the 5 Lempira bill...oh wait, you didn't know that? Well, it is! Read this blog post to find out more and see the back of the bill) and the nearby statue of national hero Francisco Morazan.

Not only was it neat to see a Honduran battlefield/historical monument (after spending basically every summer of my youth traveling around the US doing the exact same thing), but we got to check off another of the "bill sites" too.

A couple months ago Chris suggested that we try to visit and get our picture taken with as many of the places on the back of Honduran bills as possible. So far we have Copán (1 Lempira bill), Amapala (above/2 Lempira bill) and now the 5 Lempira bill too! We're on our way! :)

The rest of the drive home was uneventful but pretty. We bought a hammock from this gentleman:
and crashed Honduran spring break in the river (It was so hot we were tempted to join them...kind of) :

And then there was the fun billboards painted onto the rocks at the side of the road:
And all the beautiful views...what a gorgeous country!

It was a great weekend...and next weekend should be great too, for a different reason...it's the first week of Semana Santa and six days of relaxing, tatting, reading, and sleeping. Ahhh! :)

Happy Holy Week! :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Another New Family Member and Visitors, Too! :)

Kristen says...

We have a niece!!! :) I am very excited!!! Norah Grace was born on Wednesday! She is the baby of my brother Daniel and his wife, Amanda, and she is so cute! :) We skyped with her the day after she was born, but I can't wait to meet her in person this summer!!

Welcome, baby Norah! :-D

One of the coolest things is that Norah was my maternal grandpa's first great-granddaughter, and she was born on his 87th birthday!

Yay baby niece! :)

Oh by the way, Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Today is one of my favorite holidays...no, not because of the green beer! (I'm not much of a drinker)...and not because I'm Irish, although I am, on my mom's side...

I like St. Patrick's Day for 3 reasons:
1) I get to wear my favorite shirt, which is white with all colors of green shamrocks...you can tell it's my favorite because it shows up A LOT in pictures of me...like last summer, when I entered my tatting in the fair, and earlier when I got to snuggle with Ezra, back when he was my one and only nephew (I love being an aunt x 3!!! Ezra, Jackson, and Norah are all AWESOME!!!), and of course I took it with me when we took my birthday trip to Guatemala and I got to snuggle with Chris on the Spousal Resting Bench :)

2) Everyone wears green, which is my second favorite color, and I get to do funny things like tape green construction paper to my glasses (2nd grade) or wear funny shamrock-alien antennae:

3) I get to pinch people who don't wear green! Hope you didn't get pinched today! :)

Today's St. Patrick's Day was somewhat bittersweet, though, because my sister Rebecca and her husband Jay (Ezra's parents) left to go back to Iowa today...which of course means they had to have been here to visit, which is true! :)

I love having visitors! Why else live in a foreign country unless your parents or siblings can come visit you? ;)

Rebecca and Jay flew into San Pedro Sula last Saturday...it worked out really well because they wanted to visit the Caribbean coast and I needed to be in SPS for my teacher's conference.

Chris took the bus up to meet us...it was quite nice, it dropped him off right at La Ensenada, the resort we stayed in Tela. I met Rebecca and Jay at the SPS airport and we had a nice hour+ taxi ride from SPS to Tela with a VERY religious and chatty taxi driver...thank goodness Rebecca speaks fluent, beautiful Spanish! :)

Once we were all in Tela and settled into our lovely 2-bedroom 4-bathroom habitación, we basically spent the next three days (Sat PM-Tuesday AM) eating, sleeping, swimming, and hammocking! We didn't even go explore Tela, we just stayed at the resort. What a life! :)

We all *MAY* have gotten a little sunburned...

We left for Teguc on Tuesday afternoon...Chris had a very good experience on the bus going to Tela, but our trip back was s-l-o-w! However, we made it back and had some good times in Teguc.

I had to work Wednesday and Thursday (oh, yeah, it's still the school year!) ;), so while I was working Rebecca, Jay and Chris went to the mall, el Centro, and to the Cristo Picacho statue. Then yesterday we had a shopping day! We started out at the pewter factor and ended up in Valle. Rebecca and Jay really enjoyed walking around the beautiful city and eating delicious paletas! Good times!

Rebecca also brought me a really cute new skirt, and it ended up we were opposite-twins for the day! :)
We had a wonderful week-long visit...it was so nice to get to see my sister! :)

Lots of fun and interesting things are happening down here...we'll update you all soon...


Motifs #2-3

Kristen says...

So, I'm not doing an excellent job of keeping up with my 25 Motif Challenge challenge.

But I did manage to get a little tatting in during the last few very busy weeks (more on that in a few minutes).

I liked my "Peggy" so much that I decided to stick with Lyn Morton's "Tatting Patterns" a little bit longer...

Here is 'Five Point Snowflake" (haha don't eat it...yellow snow!)
and here is "Simplicity"
Monday begins Quarter 4 at school, so I probably won't get any tatting done for at least another week due to planning...but I live in hope! One of the reasons I picked up tatting again during my first year of teaching was to give my hands/mind something to do when I had time for a break from planning , so maybe I will give myself some "break time" this week and make another motif or two! :)

Happy St. Patty's Day! :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

SPS Teacher's Conference and Hondurans and their Phones

Kristen says...

This is going to be a random post, but I guess it's ok to have one of those now and then... :)

I'm in San Pedro Sula today, my first time in the city (except when we were here for a little over an hour dropping my parents off at the airport when they flew back to the states). I was here to present at a Teacher's Conference at one of the local international schools. It was a very nice conference, actually very similar to Discovery's conference, (and, from what I can understand, was actually started as a sort of "north-coast" version of our conference--our logo was even on the nametag and information booklet) and I learned a lot. I was only able to attend for a day, because, well, let's be honest, I've missed a lot of school lately, but it worked out well. Two other teachers from Discovery and I left Teguc just after school yesterday and arrived before 9:00 last night.

I presented my "Teacher Created Games" presentation, which is based on using games you might already have in your classroom to introduce information or review for a quiz...if you're a teacher and want to know more I'll be happy to share information with you; if not, don't worry, I'm moving on... :) I also got to attend an interesting session about using historical simulations with students, and a round-table type discussion about teaching social studies. History nerd's paradise, friends. :)

One of the really funny things about today was that I saw someone I knew back in the day in Honduras! As Chris said when I called and told him, "I knew there would be an Iowa 'thing' someday...I guess today was the day." Basically, one of the teachers at the school here in SPS and Chris and I used to be in the same community theater group in Oskaloosa...what a small world! :)

Anyway, that is not what I wanted to blog about...what I wanted to blog about was an observation that I've had many, many times since moving to Honduras, but have never found it "ridiculous" enough to blog about until now...

Hondurans are obsessed with their cell phones.

It's like an SNL skit I'm convinced I've seen (but can't seem to find on YouTube) where they surgically attach phones to your hand or ear so you never have to stop talking...or in many Honduran's cases, talking or texting.

It's such an issue that we've had to have meetings at school about teachers using phones during class (although to be honest, that's not a Honduran problem, that's a CrackBerry problem! I like to check mine too!)

But seriously, EVERYONE here has a cell phone, and EVERYONE here seems to have their cell phone out all the time! Our "guards" outside the apartment are constantly texting and messing with their phones. I have seen Honduran police officers directing traffic and talking on the phone. At a store today I saw a woman leaning on her broom in the middle of an aisle, half of the aisle wet, half dirty, texting away like she had nothing better to do.

Oh, and today, while I took a half-hour lap swim in the hotel pool to work off the pinchos I had for "lunch," I saw a guy leading a swim team practice while talking on his phone. Seriously. I can only imagine the confusion/annoyance of the person on the other end of the line when the guy he was conversing with kept interrupting to yell, "Chicos, go!"

Hahahahahaha! Super funny!

But yet, super silly, too! I mean really, you can't wait an hour or whatever amount of time your swim practice lasts to have a phone call? I mean, I guess my crazy old swim coach used to slip out during long swims to smoke a cigarette, but that's an addiction...and he was crazy. This guy looked pretty sane, and pretty attached to his mobile.

I mean, even today during my presentation, I had at least 2 of the 23 attendees on their phone for part of the hour and a half session...and our Spanish tutor takes an average of 2 calls during each 2-hour tutoring session.

We were watching Bloomberg the other day (ok, Chris was watching it and I was in the kitchen and thus couldn't avoid hearing what was going on) and they were interviewing a guy from Google who was talking about the fact that the mobile is the first computer most people in developing countries will ever have...I wonder if this is part of the mobile-mania I am noticing in Honduras?

Or maybe I'm just out of touch...is there a cell phone mania in the States these days to match the dedication I'm seeing in Honduras? Have you seen any swim team coaches chatting away while simultaneously leading a practice? Or is this an example of a Honduran obsession with their new technology like that Google guy said?

Interesting stuff...thanks for sticking with me :)