Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Tour of Tegus (Part 2)

23/6/12
Kristen says...

Hello again. Snide car comments aside, (and life without a car aside) this has been our last week in Honduras and we decided that we'd better make the most of it...

Monday: Packout Day 1...the day in which the packers came and wrapped up all our stuff in multiple layers of paper and cardboard and left them stacked in a corner

Tuesday: Packout Day 2...the day in which a big truck came and took them all away


Writer's note: I can't believe this was just this past Monday and Tuesday!! It feels like such a long time ago already!

Wednesday: In the morning I went to the bank to close our accounts...it went remarkably well considering...Chris is slowly weaning himself off of work, so we took the opportunity (and the afternoon) to go to all the places we haven't been the past two years. (OK, not ALL the places, but some of the places we wanted to go). So without further ado (yes, that is how you spell it, I checked) here is your second Tour of Tegus:

We started off at the one part of the city that I've wanted to see the ENTIRE time we've been here, the Basilica of Suyapa...it's this pretty blue and white church on a hill with a big cemetery in front of it



We'd never been before because it has a bit of a reputation for being dangerous...so we brought our own bodyguard :)  (ok, so he's really our friend the Spanish tutor/football player/bouncer Alejandro...still, I felt better having him (and that billyclub) around)



 There are actually two Suyapa churches in town, the big blue one (above) and the smaller tan one (below). Actually the smaller one is the really dangerous one...I took this picture while still in the car, we decided not to get out...


 We were on our way downtown when I mentioned that I've never seen this:


I've heard of it referred to as the Plaza de Paz (not sure if that's its real name) but it's located up on one of the hills surrounding the city and was definitely worth the trip! It was very well taken care of by a corp of firefighters and gave really beautiful views of the city.

For example:

This church and the area in front of it were burned in a really big fire a few months ago...the hill behind it used to have houses on it, but they were all swept away when The Mitch hit...how sad!
If you didn't notice it in the picture above, here is the National Soccer Stadium
Thanks for the great two years, Honduras!
 Next we decided to head downtown to see something we've actually already seen, but with a twist...this time we got to take pictures with the real camera (remember the bodyguard above?)

This globe is supposed to mark the exact center of Tegus and is the 0 KM mark for the roads that leave the city
Here's the globe in context, in front of one of the downtown cathedrals
We also thought it would be fun to get a few more pictures with the things on the back of the Honduran money...lucky for us, these two are located right next door to each other!
The Central Bank of Honduras (front) and former Presidential House (back)



 On our way home we passed an old wrecked building that Alejandro (now in tour-guide mode, since we were back in the car) said was an old jail that was flooded during The Mitch and left to rot...

 We also passed this truck...hahahahahahahahaha!!!

 It was a great day!

Thursday and Friday: Very low-key days. I taught an English writing class Tues-Fri for two hours in the morning, and Chris stayed home to work. On Thursday I picked up Pip's leave the country papers and got in touch with the the cargo company that is shipping him to make what I hoped were final preparations...wouldn't it have been nice if they'd told me before that I needed to pay for his flight in cash?!

So the past three days we've gone to the mall to take money out of our US accounts to pay for that...good times.

We've also taken in a couple of movies (they are sooo much cheaper down here than in the US!) We saw 21 Jump Street (not really that great) and American Reunion (also not terribly awesome--but both were pretty funny).

What is particularly funny about our movie choices is that this weekend is our 10-year class reunion. Clearly we're not there (and honestly wouldn't have gone even if we'd been in the States (Chris and I graduated HS together, FYI) but American Reunion inspired me to revisit another reunion-movie, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, which I have now watched twice in the past two days...hil-arious! Probably combined those two movies are better than a real reunion anyway?

This morning we had breakfast with a friend and then went to the mall to try to disconnect our cable and Internet...obviously that was a failure, considering I'm going to be able to post this in a minute or two...turns out that only one person can authorize cable disconnection...and of course that person doesn't work on Saturday...because obviously Saturday isn't probably the most convenient day for someone to try to disconnect their cable...GAH!!!!

We also had lunch with some other friends...I'm not sure I ever want to eat again... :)

Anyway, our departure from Honduras in eminent...who knows, our next post might even be Stateside!?

Thanks so much for following our Honduran Adventure...I hope you're excited to stay tuned for the next chapter! :)

KF

The Car is Still Gone!

We're still celebrating!

This was the bumper sticker on the back of the car...

And here are our...interpretations...

Artwork by Chris

Artwork by Kristen
Tee Hee!
KF

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Car is Gone!!!!

20/6/12
Kristen says...

Well, normally I wouldn't be so excited about not havng a car, but today I am ecstatic, because as of today I will never have to deal with a crappy 2001 Honda CR-V ever again!!!!

Yes, the car is gone! Even after all the drama, including this past weekend's issue (just a battery that wouldn't hold a charge, thank goodness), the buyer still wanted the car, so bright and early this morning I drove it over to the school, picked up the cousin of the new owner, drove myself home, handed over the key, and almost did a dance of joy!

No more CR-V! No more CR-V!
No more drama, no more fuss, no more feeling like a wuss!
No more mechanics, no more tears! No more old crappy car-related fears!
YAY!!!!

Of course, now we're sans-transportation, but since that's been the case for (I counted it up) OVER A MONTH of our 2 years here due to car problems, I think we pretty much can handle it. Taxistas rejoice!

With tidings of comfort and joy,
KF

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pack-Out!

18/6/12
Kristen says...

Why are we so tired? If you were here with us right now you would see two half-asleep Finks on their couches trying to "recover" from Pack-Out: Day 1a...and we didn't even have to do any of the packing!

The pre-packing, however, was a process.

It started actually over a week ago, when we found out the State Department would send a crew over to pack us out, and that we wouldn't be paying for it ourselves...that's when we decided to go ahead and buy a piece of furniture that we both have been wanting for our entire two years here:
A hand-carved wooden trunk!
We love it, and got a pretty good price on it, too, if I do say so myself. The only problem was...it stank of the chemicals they used to stain or seal it, so we did some searching on the Internet and tried various ways to remove the stink...baking soda, white vinegar, and what seemed to be the most effective...
Yep, that would be coffee!
 Apparently throwing coffee grounds (something available in abundance here) into a chest helps remove stain odors:

So we tried it out, blew the fan on it to help speed the process, and I have to say at the end of a few days it smelled much more like coffee than stain in the Fink household, so that was good! The bad part was that some of the coffee stuck to the inside of the chest, but we will take care of that when we see it again...wherever that might be...

Anyway, with all our major purchases out of the way, we were ready to be packed out...kind of. As of Friday night, everything was in its place in the apartment; clothes hanging in closets and folded in drawers, dishes in the cupboard (or the sink, if they were dirty), knick-knacks strewn appropriately about, paintings on the walls...not really appropriately placed for movers to find them...

However, by Sunday night, the clothes were packed in a second packing dry run (the first was over Semana Santa), the furniture was moved against the walls and the "things" that we're shipping out of here were strewn about in the "dining room" area of the apartment like so: 
 All my teaching stuff was in the spare bedroom:

 By this morning (Monday) it was all consolidated like this:
 So that when these arrived:
 We could do this:
 While these guys did this:
 And this is what our apartment looks like now:
All our life in 24 boxes!
Crazy! Who knew all that could fit into all those. It was actually very interesting to watch them pack; some of the items could fit into their regular boxes, but others had to have custom packaging made. They used no bubble wrap or packing peanuts, just brown and white paper and nice thick cardboard. Oh, and packing tape. Lots and LOTS of packing tape!

They will be back first thing tomorrow morning to pick the boxes up and pack them on a pallet for shipment to the storage facility...we won't see these things again until we arrive at our first post...wherever that may be...

Of course, we had plenty of time on our hands this weekend; more than enough to get ready for today...this was wholly due to the fact that OUR CAR WAS ONCE AGAIN NOT WORKING!! I'm serious, this car has been a big pain in the posterior! We were so busy packing on Saturday that we never did go anywhere, but Sunday we were going to go out for breakfast before climbing back on the packing wagon...we went down to the car, buckled ourselves in, turned the key and...nothing. Yes to the radio, no to even a hint of engine. Seriously. Did I mention we actually found someone to buy the car, someone who transferred half of the money to us over the weekend, and is giving us the rest of the money tomorrow (hopefully) when we deliver the car to them (hopefully). Right now we're waiting for the mechanic (we've been waiting on him since 8:30 this morning) to come look at the car so he can diagnose the problem...it's 3:49 PM!!!!!!!!!!! ARGH!!!!!

There are many times I am very, VERY sad to be leaving Honduras. Whenever I think about that &%(#$ car...it can't come soon enough.

One week left!
KF

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Side of the Story

15/6/12
Kristen says...

Well hello there! Did you miss me? My husband has been very prolific with his blog posts recently, whereas I...have been rather (unusually for me) silent. There are a few reasons for that...

1) I've been busy! Whether or not someone else is orchestrating it, moving from one country to another is NOT easy! There are lists to make, last-minute things to buy, oh, and the little matter of removing a cute 11.9 kg pooch named Pip from the country. I have now made two! trips to the airport this week alone for this very reason...it wouldn't have been so hard if, on Tuesday, the cargo office I'm coordinating with had actually given me a name and telephone number of the person I was talking to, instead of just picking up the phone for me, having me talk to a mysterious person at the other end, and then promising to send an e-mail that never came...at any rate, with the help of a VERY nice gentleman named Franklin I got it mostly figured out today, and still had time left over to get Pip checked out by the vet too...so theoretically Pip is set to head out with me...theoretically. Over the past two years I've learned not to count anything in Honduras as official until it is actually happening...and even then sometimes things change!

2) I'm still teaching! Ok, so technically this last week it was tutoring, and next week it's a 2-hr writing class, but still, it takes time out of my day. One of my bestest friends here taught our AP Environmental Science class, and few of her students managed not to pass her class (to be fair, I had a few that didn't pass my class either!), and so in order to be ready for their recoup test next week, one of her students asked me to tutor them for the exam...which is super-funny since my science skills are only slightly higher than my math skills...but, with a little effort on my part (and a little help from the study guide and textbook) I think I did a pretty good job...I guess we'll see if the student passes the exam next week!

3) I'm a little overwhelmed! Ok, maybe "a little" is a little of an understatement...imagine, Chris applied for the SD last August (like, the first week of school!) and we have been working, planning, hoping, and maybe even praying a little for news since then. Each e-mail and phone call (we got your application, we want you to interview, you passed your interview, your medical clearance is done, your security clearance is done, and then just over a week ago, welcome) was exciting, but we couldn't really say much about it, because at any time it could be the last thing we heard...(which was super-hard for me, let me tell you! The things I wanted to blog about! Chris was gone for an entire month in January due to the date of his interview and I barely blogged at all that month because I couldn't say anything about him being gone or the reason why. Later, we had inch-wide bruises on our arms during our medical clearance testing from our tuberculosis test (negative, btw). Fun anecdotes that aren't as funny when they're not fresh--although I do have a picture!)
  Anyway, after months of "sitting, waiting, wishing", everything is now moving really, REALLY quickly. We've only been "official" for a week+ but it seems like every morning Chris wakes me up (Oh, did I mention it's summer? ;) Tutoring doesn't start until after 10am for a reason!) two or three times with new information; packout scheduled, housing found, details that I have no say in planned...for a control freak like me (yes, I admit it, it's true) it's very hard to sit back and come to terms with the fact that I have nothing to do with any of this. Chris has to be the contact on it all!

I have to say, it is nice, in a way, but also kind of hard to swallow, especially since we've been pretty much on our own here in Honduras, making things happen in spite of everything for two years now. So this whole the-government's-in-control thing is weird! And unsettling! And kind of cool...and I'm just going to have to get used to it, and I will...but it's taking some time.

Plus we don't know where we'll be in 6+ months, which is also freaking me out! I mean, we knew we were coming to Honduras a full 7 months before we moved down here, and we're under that time frame for the next move now, and won't know for at least another 6-8 weeks...eek!

DEEP BREATH

Anyway, I've been dealing with all the change and information and lack of information in the most constructive ways I can think of: see #s 1 & 2 above, and follow this link to my brand new tatting blog!

You see, with Chris back in the blog-o-sphere it's not going to be a one-woman show any more here at TeguciWhat (or whatever we decide to change the name to) so I decided that it was time to create something that I could control and plan and implement wherever we are, and also give me a place to further explore my hobby and other stuff like that there (movie reference? I don't remember).

Anyway, for those of you who liked the tatting posts but wanted to skip the travel stuff, Tatting All Over the Place is for you...for those of you who groaned when it was tatting post and like the others, stick with TeguciWhat...and for those of you who like both, check both often or subscribe via e-mail to get posts both blogs sent directly to your e-mail inbox!

But enough of that...I realize after reading this post over that it sounds like I'm complaining, and maybe I am a little, but I have to tell you, there are some things I am REALLY excited about...so it's time to play a little good news/not so good news...


Good news: Chris and I get to meet our niece for the very first time in just under two weeks! And we get to catch up with our nephews, siblings, parents, and other family members! Yay!
Not so good news: We have to say good bye to friends, both here in Honduras and at Principal Financial Group, Chris' work home for over 7 years (in case you're keeping track, yes, that's more than the entire time we've been married and, thanks to the paid pre-senior year summer internship and afternoons of work throughout his last year of college, Chris got me a beautiful engagement ring. I don't take that lightly!) Principal has been an AWESOME company to be associated with, and I'll admit a source of stability for me the past two years...I took pride and hope that if, for whatever reason, everything collapsed in Honduras we always had Chris' job with Principal to go home to. It's a bittersweet parting, I assure you.

Good news: We get to go watch the US Olympic swimming trials in Omaha with almost my entire family while we're home! Go team!
Not so good news: Chris' class starts in DC in mid-July (ok that's actually good news, but read on, dear reader). The Olympics start in London in late-July. We cannot be in two places at the same time. Qué triste. Yes, it is true, we are forgoing our Olympic dreams for this, something that really, really, REALLY hurts...but as I keep rationalizing to myself, there will be another Olympics in 2 short years, maybe even in the country we move to... (hey, I'm a Cubs fan...eternal optimist here!)

Good news: Being in the States means I get to have all the tatting stuff I ordered today... :)
Not so good news: It was expensive! And we have to pack/ship it, perhaps to a storage facility for 5+ months...

Good news: We have an apartment in DC reserved for us, Pip can stay there with us, we will be able to catch up with many friends who live in the DC area, and Chris is excited about his new opportunity. Oh, and I get to spend 5+ months in WASHINGTON DC WITH NOTHING TO DO BESIDES VISIT MUSEUMS, WALK AROUND, AND BE IN WASHINGTON DC!!!!!!!!!
There's not really anything I can "not so good news" counter that with...6 months of museum hopping?! Seriously, be still my nerdy, history-loving heart! I already renewed my subscription to Smithsonian magazine in anticipation of July-November. Woot!!!

So, it's not all sunshine and daisies here...there are good things happening, but also things I'm sad about. I will miss Honduras, my AWESOME school, our beautiful apartment, and ESPECIALLY all the wonderful people we've met here, but I am really excited for our short trip home, an extended stay in DCland, and of course the "Great Unknown" as I call it...

I hope you'll stick around with us after our TeguciAdventure is over and our new adventure begins! There will be lots more to come, I'm sure! :)

KF

Packout!!!

Chris says....

Wow, very fast week! Last week of on-call for PFG and scheduling our exit from Honduras has kept me busy!

Packout from TGU scheduled for 9am, 6/18! Packout from Oskaloosa, IA scheduled 7/10! Money for car should come by Sunday/Monday - hooooray!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sentimental?

Chris says...

I think sentimental is the correct adjective to describe my emotion tonight. On the whole, Honduras has been a very rewarding - though sometimes frustrating experience.  708 days - that's how long we have been here....amazing. Just shy of 2 years by the time we jet back to the States. I continue to say, if we had to do it all over again - I think we'd make the same decision. I'm happy to be going home (if only briefly), but sad to be leaving the place we've called our home for the past 2 years.

At some point, I will be anxious to come back and see how things have changed, or stayed the same. Possibilities for Honduras' future are enormous and so are the challenges. It strikes me the same could likely be said about any country in the world - at any time in history. As cliche as this may sound, Honduras' future will be what Hondurans make of it. I'm hopeful Hondurans make the most of it. This is a beautiful country.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

An exciting new adventure...

Chris says...

We're about to undertake an exciting new adventure! I recently accepted an Information Management Specialist (IMS) position with the United States Department of State.

How did this happen?

One short answer could be, "I applied". Another might be, "With patience".

A longer-ish answer is (take a deep breath): August 2011 I applied for the position after having a number of conversations with myself, Kristen, and many, many others. By January 2012, I had been asked to go to Washington D.C. for an interview. By May, I had passed all clearances (what a process). Finally, this past week I received and accepted an official offer to join the State Department.

Why did this happen?

"Because we're nuts!"

It is true, we're nuts - but that's not why we're doing this. The easy answer is: the same it was last time.

The longer answer for me is: we still have a desire to live abroad, and I've learned something about how I want to work.

The Principal Financial Group has been a wonderful place for us. I have had so many great opportunities and have had the privilege of working for and with some of the most talented, hardworking and humble people I have ever met. I cannot say enough about the company and the people - it truly is a great place to work. That being said, this Honduran experience brought about some questioning of the status quo (and that's putting it lightly). One of the things I started asking myself was about what I wanted out of my job/career. After having quite a long internal conversation and many, many discussions with Kristen and others - I figured out that right now, for me, I know that I can be successful working remotely...but working remotely is not something I want to continue to do for any length of time. I've learned that, for me - there is some intangible about being in an office setting that cannot be replicated, no matter how good your video conference or communication capabilities might be. I know now that how I want to work includes some interaction with my team beyond phone calls, emails or video conferences.

Many, many other reasons exist that answer the question, "Why we are doing this?", but the explanation above hopefully provides some insight into the personal reflection process that this initial experience has triggered. It's been a great learning/growing opportunity - and I can't wait to start the next phase!

One closing note - thanks to all the family and friends that have been been supportive throughout this process. It's been a long time coming...hope you can all come see us wherever we start this next chapter!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Motifs 9-18! Believe it!

7/6/12
Kristen says...

Hello again everyone!

Yes, you saw correctly above, I completed 10 MOTIFS this week!!

How did I have time for all that tatting?

Well, two reasons:

1) They are motifs, after all, and are much much faster to make than doilies that take more time :)
2) It is the last week of school, and I've had quite a bit of time on my hands, since most of the kids are gone so I have had a lot of just me-and-the-classroom time, which I naturally filled with tatting. :)

      
Here I am on my last day of school, with our pretty new Honduran trunk and our old map of the world :)
 I'm still working out of Gun Blomqvist and Elwy Persson's Tatting: Patterns and Designs...for the most part:
Number 9
Number 10
Number 11
Number 12
Number 13
Number 14
Number 15
Number 16 (and my favorite!)
Number 17 (this one really needs blocking!)
Number 18 (My second favorite)
And this is the mystery project...I will let you know when it's finished :)
None of these motifs have real names, just numbers, but they're mostly in the book. :)

So there you have it! :) A week's worth of work and I'm just one motif away from where I stopped last year...and it's just June! I WILL get to 25 this year, I am sure of it! :)

KF