Thursday, July 31, 2008

Smooth sailing in Ecuador…and another GAME!

Hola from Ecuador!

So I know it’s been awhile since I checked in and I can’t even use the excuse that I haven’t had time...I’ve actually had more time on my hands than usual. The problem you ask? Everything is going so smoothly here so far that I have no funny, crazy mishaps to tell you all about yet!

But, I thought I should give a quick update on my first few days from a NEW continent in country number 3: Otavalo, Ecuador.

Ok, so first of all, for the last 2 weeks, I have been dreading the actual travel day to Ecuador. I had visions of overweight luggage, lost baggage lines, confused taxi drivers and no host family to greet me. Instead I had two amazing flights, luggage first off the carousel, nice cabbie and amazing new host family!

Of course there has been the “usual” adjustment period. I do miss the familiarity of Antigua and Copan. I miss knowing where to buy water, where to do laundry...um...having friends... :)

It’s been kind of a weird week because I only have Spanish school this week and don’t start on the school project until Monday (stay tuned for good stories from there). So I haven’t really gotten to know the other volunteers too much yet but they all seem really nice and I’m sure before long, I’ll be exploring the Amazon jungle with these perfect strangers.

But overall, Ecuador has been great. Other than the fact that I can’t breathe after climbing two flights of stairs (I am at 10,000+ ft. altitude...), I have no internet or TV and I don’t really know anything or anyone...I am doing great! I thought I’d do a quick run-down of the top 10 simple pleasures that I love about Ecuador so far...

10. I have drawers. This is a HUGE deal. This is the first time that I haven’t just had stacks of clothes around my room in 3 months. Huge.

9. I have a maid. Yep. That’s right. There is a maid in my house and she makes my bed and cleans my room every day. A little strange but quite nice!

8. I am not sweating. It is actually pretty darn cold here! Every day I’ve worn at least two or three layers and my North Face fleece...think very cold fall day in Minnesota. Seriously a nice change from sweltering Honduras...and I get to crack out my scarf collection which I love.

7. Related to number 8 but because it’s not humid, I no longer have the hair of an INSANE person. Gotta love the thin air up here.

6. Again, related to 7 and 8 but I actually get to use blankets here. Again, a first in 3 months.

5. They use American Dollars here. Strange but true. Really nice that every shopping venture is no longer a math quiz of converting whatever currency it is into dollars (the problem? Cash machines only give $20s...I have yet to find a store that can break them...)

4. I’m in the same time zone as Minnesota. Not really sure why this is a good thing but it just feels like I’m closer somehow!

3. There are no mosquitoes...none. Need I say more?

2. My Spanish teacher speaks pretty good English. This is probably actually a bad thing but it is really nice when I have no idea what she is talking about.

1. Have I mentioned that it is cool, there are no mosquitos and that I have a maid? I thought so.

Ok...so as you can see, Ecuador is pretty great and I’m sure there will be even more things I will discover to love about it soon (like maybe the 20-something kids that I am supposed to teach at some point??)

So...without further ado...the game:

After some requests for another game (ok...just from David) and a less-numbered focussed game (again, by request of David), here is the deal:

Clearly there are many wonderful simple pleasures here in Ecuador. BUT...don’t get me wrong, there are many simple pleasures and little things that I still miss from the good ole U.S. of A.

Your job?

What are these simple pleasures that I miss the most?? Keep in mind...this is coming from a girl who is very excited about a set of dresser drawers.

I already have my list of FIVE simple pleasures that I am missing most. You are all allowed to guess up to 5 (but if you want, you can just guess 1 or 2...). You get one point for every one you get right...and possibly additional points for creativity (I’ll be the judge of that...).

Don’t let the pressure get to you...just guess! You all know the only reason I am doing this is just to boost my comment statistics...

Answers and winners will be posted soon...

xoxo,
Debra

P.S...I promise pictures soon for you visualists out there...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Return from Paradise...

The last week has (again), been nothing short of amazing!

If any of you have ever considered visiting Belize, thought of what it would be like to Belize or have ever heard of Belize...GO TO BELIZE!

So the adventure started last Saturday morning...and Saturday was a FULL day of travel and so of course, came with lots of funny travel mishaps and crazy rides. Alison and I were picked up in Antigua at 430 and the day began...

After a 5 or 7 hour journey (seriously...these bus rides are starting to all blend together) we arrived in Livingston. From there is where the ride began. We boarded a boat that looked like it would be a nice smooth ride across to Belize. Wrong.

We had about an hour of whiplash, getting soaked and thinking more than once that our boat was going to shatter into about a million pieces in the middle of the Carribean Sea! But it really was a blast! We laughed for about an hour straight...who needs 8-minute abs?

So I really wanted to capture this moment on camera so I strapped my camera to my wrist and tried to take a shot of ourselves being blown around in the middle of the sea. Really, I thought this would be impossible. My arm was wildly jerking up and down and I was ramming into Alison's side the entire time but I snapped and Voila! A picture that is as close to ever caturing this crazy experience as will ever be...
Ok...so we stumbled off the lightning speed boat and into a town called Punta Gorda. Ok...so to set the scene, Punta Gorda literally translated means Fat Whore.

Yep...as in:
Q: Where do you live?
A: Oh, I live in Fat Whore.

Let's just say that this place lived up to it's title. It was definitely not the vision I had of Belize in my mind. But we got through "customs" (aka...guy behind a card table in a shack) and looked for the FIRST bus outta there. But...we weren´t going anywhere too fast.

It turned out we had missed the last bus to the coast. Ok...don't panic, I though. Just get out your Belize guide book (which by the way was my bible for the last week without which I'm sure I would have had to move to Fat Whore permanently) and find a hostel. So there were very sparse hostel choices but we found one and took a look around.

So for any of you out there who read my last backpacker adventure journey know that I have no problem staying in less than 5-star hotels. In fact, I have really grown to love this kind of travel. But I do have standards...and let's just say, Punta Gorda was not meeting them.

Luckily, Alison was on the same page as me as we decided, we were GOING to get OUT of Punta Gorda! So we found a taxi and asked him how much to drive us the 1.5 hours to Independence. Well, I'm sure he saw the desparation in our faces and completely overcharged us but you know what? He got us out of there and we weren't shedding any tears to say goodbye to the Fat Whore...

Ok...so we were off to Independence. A TINY town that is really only a boat and bus station to get to where you are really going. We arrived and of course, we were 10 minutes past the last boat to Placencia. But again, the boat drivers must have seen the look of desperation and defeat in our faces and again, SPED us across a small lagoon in about a 20 minte boat ride.

So after one long bus ride, one crazy boat ride, one encounter with an unfortunate town with an even more unfortunate name, one god-sent taxi ride and another crazy boat ride, we made it to Placencia...and let me tell you...it was worth the trip.

We got to this little piece of heaven, cracked open the "bible" and found ourselves an adorable little beach house hostel called Dave and Deb´s Last Resort. We had our own little house and it was fabulous...and only $12 a night each. Done.

We were supposed to be meeting up with two other volunteers, Ross and Moli, here in Plancencia but no one's phone worked and we didn´t make such an airtight plan before we left but we just headed off to dinner and that's right, you guessed it, we just ran into them!

This wonderful coincidence was pretty much a great sign of things to come for us in Placencia. It really was one of THE most beautiful places I have ever seen. Sunday, the four of us did nothing more than lay on the beach, drink smoothies, eat gelato (honestly THE best gelato I have ever eaten...we went there every day we were in Placencia and I am still wondering why we only went once daily...), read, swim, repeat. I highly doubt that any of our heart rates rose about about 18 beats per minute the entire day.
This town also had a couple really funny signs that I had to capture...
Monday morning we decided it was time to remove ourselves from our pool chairs and go snorkling. We went to a caye (pronounced Key but for some reason, not how they spell it...) called Laughing Bird Caye.

Sometimes I can't even believe these places actually exist. This teeny tiny, uninhabited island was no bigger than the size of a small cul-de-sac. Before this, I thought these places only existed in stories and for Mark Burnett reality TV shows. Enough trying to explain...see pictures...

We snorkled and I took some pictures with an underwater camera that I can't upload but we saw everything from flourescent corals to lobsters and rainbow of fish to Nemo himself. Here is a picture of us...I opted for a t-shirt considering I was so white that the sun actually just reflected off of my skin...somehow I didn't think that floating towards the top of the open ocean baring my glowing white back was such a good idea...
After an amazing day of snorkling, we all decided, there was NO way we were leaving the beach. Our originaly plan was to head out on Tuesday but nope...we just "couldn't be asked to leave" (can you tell these brits are rubbing off on me?)

So Tuesday was another day of beach, gelato, you get the picture...but just in case...here are a few more...
So despite the fact that we actually considered staying yet another day in Placencia, we decided we probably should see a bit more of Belize...bad, bad idea. Listen to me...if you have found utopia on earth, do NOT leave...

But, we did. We were off to the inland of Belize to go to San Ignacio. On the way, our bus broke down several times, we inhaled the smell of burning rubber for a few hours and people actually tried to sell us rice and beans on board...but we made it.

Now San Ignacio was nowhere near as bad as Punta Gorda (aka...Fat Whore) but it was also miles away from the heavenly beach. We arrived in this place around lunch time, found ourselves a "passable" hostel and went to grab a bite.

We are all pretty sure that our chicken strips were drugged. Not 20 minutes after we had all finished, we went back up to the room and promply lost consciousness for about 3.5 hours, left the hotel for dinner, tried to go out (to a bar where we were the only souls inside), got eaten alive by mosquitoes (although my guidebook assured us there were no biting insects in San Ignoacio) and went back to bed.
Needless to say, we were all missing the beach.

But the next morning, we tried to make the most of our San Ignacio experience and went to go tubing through caves! Now this sounds very cool and actually would have been very cool had it not been for one thing...TWO massive cruise ships had arrived that day and the caves were jammed with these people!

Alison quickly dubbed the experience "A Parade of Unattractive Swimwear." It was a little annoying, pretty darn funny and actually really cool. We had only head lamps to navigate our way through the caves. Again, the pictures of this are on my waterproof camera so you will have to use your imaginations a bit...
After the caves and swimwear show, it was off to the Guatemalan border heading to Flores. It was a bit of a rude awakening to have to speak Spanish again after a week in English-speaking Belize but it was good to be back in good old Guatemala. We had our last dinner together and watched a beautiful sunset over the lake surrounding the island of Flores.
For you loyal readers, you may remember Flores because that is where I flew into when I went to Tikal to see the ruins. Alison hadn't seen the ruins yet so she spent Friday there while I has a very relaxing last day of my vacation doing a bit of souvenier shopping, a bit of reading and then heading to the airport to catch my flight back to Antigua.

I have today in Antigua to rearrange my overstuffed lugage, get a new guidebook, eat at my favorite Antigua places and get ready for ECUADOR!!

Yep...I'm off to Ecuador tomorrow AM and am so excited. I'm sure as I start the next three months, I will have more crazy rides, more insane encounters, grungy hostels, beautiful beaches, amazing friends and incredible kids. But for now, Belize was the most perfect intermission I could have ever asked for.

More from south of the Equator...

xoxo,
Debra

Friday, July 18, 2008

Three months.

Yep...I have already been gone 3 whole months. I´m sure some of you out there reading this cannot believe how fast the time has gone. While others of you feel like I have been gone about 17 years. And to be completely honest, I do not know which group I fall into!

Anyway, so despite the fact that I have been here for 3 months and have definitely grown accustom to some of the weirdest things imaginable (i.e, not being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet, all of the symbols on the keyboard being in different places, the list goes on...), there have been some very simple pleasures I have missed dearly...and today I got to enjoy some of those favorite things!

Let´s not forget people...this is a girl who´s favorite restaurant is Manny´s, who loves spa treatments and who spends more money on hair treatments than on groceries. I may be far away but I have not forgotten that girl...

So today I took the 5am shuttle from Honduras back to Antigua. It was strange but it almost felt like returning home! The town felt huge...not exactly sure what Mpls will feel like once I get there.

Anyway, I took full advantage of my afternoon and indulged two of my weaknesses...a manicure-pedicure and SUSHI!

Yes...it has actualy been 3 plus months since I have had ANY Asian cuisine and for a Jewish girl...let´s just say I was getting the shakes. I think the waiter thought I was crazy as I was moaning after every edemame pod and each sushi piece....it was definitely a When Harry Met Sally moment.

After sushi...it was off to the manicure. Now just to be clear, this is no Twin Cities Nails. You sit on a little futon and stick your feet into a pail of water while another girl does your finger nails on a fold out TV tray in a cereal bowl...all the while getting eaten alive by mosquitos but you know what? It still felt AMAZING!

So needless to say, it was an awesome day...so where to next you ask?

Ok blog fans...a little bit of sad news...I am heading on another backpacking adventure! (sorry mom and dad...I´ll be careful I promise!) So I´m leaving tomorrow morning for Belize for about a week before heading to the next project in Ecuador. It´s so crazy but I´m really excited.

Anyway...don´t forget about the blog and I´ll do my best to post either next Friday or Saturday to tell you all about my adventures! (I promise, no novels this time...)

Three months down, three to go...

Sometimes the days of vegging on my couch, watching TiVoed episodes of American Idol drinking water that is actually cold and out of the tap feels like an absolute lifetime ago. And other times, I just cannot believe that half of my adventure is already over. Time is flying...and I´m just doing my best to enjoy every moment rather than worry about how fast the next 3 months will go and then will only exist in pictures and blog entires.

Signing off for a bit...

xoxo,
Debra

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A picture is worth 1000 words...

A little background...

So I have a father who has never once seen a dance recital, a tennis match, a USY play or even a trip to the grocery store with his naked eye. He has only seen these MAJOR life events through the viewfinder of his camera or camcorder.

On the other hand, I have a mother who gets bored VERY easily looking at other people's pictures and hearing "travel logs." (this is some serious pressure to make this blog fun and interesting people...)

So the moral of the story is that I take a TON of pictures but struggle not to put too many up for fear that I will bore you all (ok...actually, just bore my mom).

Also, I have been travelling with another volunteer whose dream job is to be a photographer for National Geographic and came with some pretty serious camera equipment...and happens to be fascinated by bugs and plants (and has even managed to rub off on me a little bit!)

Anyway...combine a snap happy dad, en easily bored mom and a new found photographer friend and I have a bunch of really cool pictures and videos that I haven't posted. So with that, here are just some of those amazing things I've seen...


Last weekend, we went to the naturally occurring hot springs here in Honduras...other than the fact that we smalled like hard boiled eggs after is was over (LOTS of sulfer...) we had a great time and even had a picnic in the hot springs!(this pool was half hot and half cold...i hope our acting skills can tell you who was in which side)



The next day, Logan went on some crazy nature hike (while I found a shady place to read my book....c'mon people, I'm still ME) and came backwith some crazy fruit. Despite MANY attempts, he never convinced me to eat it...
After the hot springs it was off to do some ziplining. 2 of the cables were longer than 1 km long! Other than pretty much breaking my toe on a tree, it was incredible...
And here are just some AMAZING pictures from Logan's camera...

(these are catepillars...and they are EVERYWHERE!)



Another crazy caterpillar:
Logan also happened to find these crazy plants that when you touch them, they close up. I became quickly obsessed with finding these plants...ok, I'm officially losing my mom here...this is just more flora than she can handle...
video

In case some of you didn't follow the link to the CRAZY rain here in Honduras, this is a shot outside my window and this is the story 9 nights out of ten. Welcome to Copan's rainy season!

video

And here is a good video of the school that gives a really good iea of what it's like!
video
And when I'm not teaching, I'm usually just goofing around with the kids...

Well...that is probably the last post from Copan, Honduras...another incredible, unbelievable, amazing place that I will never forget..and if I do, I have these pictures to remind me of every amazing moment.

xoxo, Debra

Monday, July 14, 2008

And the winner is...

Ok...the time has come to announce the big winner of the Price is Right: Backpacker’s Edition. So I have to say that I was actually very disappointed with the guesses. Now I understand that I stayed in cheap hostels and didn’t exactly eat at Manny’s...but c’mon people...I didn’t sleep on the street and eat rice and beans out of the garbage either!

Ok...so without further ado...here’s the breakdown (all in US$)

  • Bus to Tegucigalpa: $24.50
  • Subway Sandwich (that I risked my life to eat): $4.25
  • Bus to Esteli: $20
  • Border crossing into Nicaragua: $11.30
  • Taxi: $4.70
  • Hostel: $6.50
  • Food: $9
  • Internet: $1
  • Hostel night 2: $.650
  • Food: $11.12
  • Random busses: $2
  • Food: $8.20
  • Lunch: $4.21 (why these two things were on two line items I cannot remember)
  • Dinner: $10.30 (I did a lot of eating in Granada apparently)
  • Bus: $2.30
  • Taxis: $11.76
  • Border crossing that nearly killed me: $5
  • Bus after we narrowly escaped death at said border: $3.50
  • Supermarket run in Costa Rica: $3.50
  • Hotel for two nights in Costa Rica (we splurged...): $30
  • Meal: $6
  • Smoothie: $2.40
  • Beach chair: $4
  • Snacks: $5
  • Supermarket trip #2: $6
  • Meal: $10
  • Transport: $16
  • Border from hell crossover #2: $8
  • Hostel complete with swarm of mosquitoes and pillow of potatoes: $7
  • Ice Cream (very needed): $1.50
  • Meal: $10
  • Bus back to Tegucigalpa: $36
  • Coffee (again...needed): $1.58
  • Mickie D’s (mmmm...): $3.79
  • Subway (good way to bookend the trip): $3.68
  • Taxi: $0.80
  • Border back into Honduras: $6
  • Bus back “home”: $19.75

GRAND TOTAL: $329.21

Yep...that’s 10 days, 9 nights...about $33 a day...not bad in my book. But apparently many of you guys think otherwise!

Anyway...playing by the “real” Price is Right rules...the BIG winner is
MR. SAM ROSEN!! (although closest was actually Ms. Stephanie Culp with a VERY close guess as well...) I suppose it’s good that the winner’s actual job is to make big financial decisions for a company that I happen to care a bit about....

Ok...well thus ends this blogs first (and hopefully not last!) interactive guessing game!

I’ll blog again soon and again, if there is anything else you guys want to know about Honduras, let me know...this is my last week!

Congrats to the winner and as for the rest of you, you will have to come to Honduras yourself to get some priceless souvenir...

xoxo,
Debra

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More amazing kids...

Where is the time going? I don’t know how this happened but I only have one more week here in Honduras and I just realized that I still haven’t written about “my kids” here. Do not think for even a second it is because they are any less amazing...because let me tell you, it’s possible that I’ve fallen even harder for these kids than the first.

When I first got here to Honduras I was sure that I would never love a group of 8, 9 and 10 year olds as much as I loved them. It took a total of about 3 days for me to realize that these new 20 2nd graders were able to steal my heart even faster than the first group.

Unlike Guatemala, I only have one group of kids a day for the whole day. That means I spend twice as much time with this class, twice as much lesson planning and twice as much room to be amazed by each and every one of them.

The two projects are really different and as much as I try not to compare them, it really is impossible not to. This school, even though it is MUCH more rural (for many of these kids, our pick up truck is probably one of the only vehicles they see), it is definitel more of a “real” school. The classrooms are brightly painted with bug dioramas on the shelves, alphabets painted on the board, birthday calendars plastering the walls and solar systems on the ceiling. But the kids are of course, remarkably similar (how many times will I have to rediscover this before I realize it’s a universal truth?)

So rather than just telling you about my kids like last time, I am going to tell you “what kind of kid they would be” if they weren’t at San Raphael school. This is one of our favorite games up at the school...who is the jock? Who si the nerd? Who is president of the National Honor’s Society?

So with that...meet my kids:

Kevin: Homecoming King (much to the teacher’s dismay)
Kevin and I have a bit of a love hate relationship. Actually, I really just love him but sometimes I WANT to hate him. First off, this kid could seriously use a giant dose of Ritalin. He is constantly drumming on his desk and just cannot help himself from grabbing the kid’s hat in front of him.

But despite some “extra energy”, Kevin is truly awesome. He’s just one of those really cool kids that clearly has mesmerized the entire class. And just when his incessant drumming gets on my last nerve, he flashes me a deep dimpled smile from under his frayed baseball hat and he’s got me mesmerized too.

Freddy: Homecoming King Runner-Up
It is a wide known fact that the runner up for Homecoming King is usually far more liked than the actual king himself. Usually this person is some pretty cool band kid...enter Freddy. Everyone just plain likes Freddy. He goes with the flow, gets excited about every activity, pretty smart but not too smart, pretty cute but not too cute, outgoing but not annoying...just overall a great kid.

Aura: Brownnoser Extraordinaire
So Aura is my little suck up. Seriously, that girl would honestly sell her soul for a little star sticker in her notebook. This child tries so desperately for just a little smile or “muy bien” from me that it is hard not to just melt when her eyes light up when I draw a smiley face on her paper in red pen.

She is always the first to volunteer to help and you can almost see the eyes rolling (although kids here have not discovered this gesture yet. Good thing since I’m sure there would be a lot of that going on with my Spanish...) But I still love her...because what is a teacher without a pet?

Manuel: Druggy
Manuel sits in the back corner of my class and 50% of the time looks genuinely confused and the other 50% just looks stoned. He moseys up to me to show me his work and it’s just not done. It’s like he started walking up to show me something but by the time he got there, he completely forgot what he was even supposed to be showing me.

Seriously though, this kid is adorable. And actually, when his “high” wears off, every now and then, he shows signs of pure brilliance (again...just like all druggies) This is probably the kid who would show up at the high school reunion and completely shock everyone with the fact that he is some really successful businessman. Either that or he’d be there to sell some weed in the sports equipment shed.

Elsa Maribel: The super quiet genius
Of course I could not get this girl to smile for a picture. Elsa sits in the back near to Manuel but don’t let that fool you...this girl has got brains. You know the one. That girl who never really opens her mouth but then when the teacher finally calls on her, she says something brilliant that makes even the teacher drop their jaw in awe? That is Elsa Maribel. Every time she opens her tiny mouth out of her even tinier body (she is about half the size of everyone else), I am always surprised. This is the girl that will be some chief advisor to some president...never in the spotlight but definitely the brains of the operation.

Vilma: The Girl that everyone thinks is her best friend
Vilma is freaking awesome. She is smart, fun, funny, sweet, edgy, stylish, independent...this girl has it going on. She’d definitely be the girl who was the the captain of the cross-country team, the star of the school play, a peer tutor and best friend to 80% of the class. She is part tomboy and part irresistible cutie.

Her options would be endless...and you know what? I still think they are.

Dilcia: The Really Hot Dumb Chick
I think the title explains it all with this girl. It’s unbelievable how there is one of these in every school. This girl is seriously pretty and even in 2nd grade, the boys have learned that this one is cootie free. She is elegant and sweet. A little shy and pretty mysterious. But get her up to that board for her multiplication tables and she is not the brightest bulb...good thing is that a) she doesn’t know and b) the boys could care less if she knows what 7x9 is!

Orlin: The “Good” Guy
First thing I have to tell you is that Orlin is my favorite. Yeah, yeah...you aren’t supposed to pick a favorite but with this kid front and center in the class, it is impossible not to. Orlin is that kid that every girl would have a crush on and he would genuinely have no idea. He is so adorable, really smart, super hard worker, easy to laugh, easy to tear up and just plain sweet.

Every time he flashed me one of his gap toothed smiles that is always accompanied by an irresistible giggle, I can’t help but just mirror his expression exactly. Orlin has something about him. Like the world is just a perfect place in his mind...and I can only hope that will never, ever change.

I can’t even start to think about saying goodbye again but as hard as it is to believe, there will be 20 something more kids to meet in Ecuador. But for now, I’m just going to enjoy every minute I have with these ones!

xoxo,
Debra

P.S...I added photos to the "fashion" and "food" report and finally added the pictures of the crazy hostel from my backpacking trip so check 'em out. Next entry...the winner will be announced!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

E! News...reporting live from Copan, Honduras

So I was Skyping with my friend Rachel the other day and just started telling her a couple things about Copan. After I mentioned a couple things about very strange fashion, bizarre music and “unique” cuisine, I realized that even though all of these things really do feel like the “norm” around here for me, there really are some strange “trends” here in Copan that I thought I should report on...

So..in light of Rachel’s request and in an effort to remind myself that I am living in the twilight zone, here is a quick report on the fashion, the music and the food!

FASHION REPORT

So I have to split this part into 2 parts because let’s just say that men and women have very different senses of fashion around here.

Ok..the guys. In short, guys do not like to wear clothing. Yep that’s right. Men are everywhere walking in the street with no shirts on and many of them sitting on their front step with only their (very small) towels wrapped very low around their waists. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen my host “dad” with a shirt on. Every dinner is me and shirtless Jesus (that is his name).

When the men DO bother to put a shirt on, it is almost always a wife beater and it is ALWAYS rolled up to show off the midriff area. See picture...

Ok...now for any of you ladies out there who have fantasies of walking among gorgeous, shirtless, latin lovers, don’t book your plane ticket just yet. Not exactly sure where this hot Hispanic guy stereotype came from but it definitely was NOT Copan. Pretty much everyone here could afford to lose about 30 pounds. Let’s just say if any of you out there are looking to open a Weight Watchers franchise, this would be an excellent market.

Onto the women...so I have never been a history buff but bear with me. Apparently, there was a big civil war here throughout the 80s (and maybe 90s??) Anyway...we all have a theory that because of this, there are many 80s trends that the Hondurans are just now discovering and enjoying (more on this in the Music Report). But let’s just say, neon is alive and well down here in Copan with the young folk. So I have tried to discreetly take some pictures of this trend VERY unsuccessfully (I need the paparazzi down here...). I managed to catch my waitress one time from the back...seriously, the things I do for this blog...

Anyway, the BIG trend is very bright colored shirts with EXACTLY matching earrings. Also, I think I mentioned this before but all of Copan is cobblestones and very hilly. So how these chicks walk around in stilettos is beyond me but anything in the name of fashion, huh?

Another resounding fashion trend is people wearing shirts in English that they clearly have no idea what they mean. So far, I have seen the following:
  • A Hispanic woman wearing a shirt that said “Boys Prefer Blondes”
  • A very cool student of mind (a boy) wearing a “Beauty School Graduate” shirt
  • A 1st grade girl who is so sweet wearing a shirt that said “Sex Goddess”
Just for the record, I am definitely in no position to be critiquing anyone’s fashion at this point considering I’ve been wearing one of 8 t-shirts for the last 3 months. Truthfully, I could probably learn a thing or two from these people...

MUSIC REPORT

Like I mentioned before, music here is very 80s inspired. But somehow, a few current hits have managed to slip in. So basically, every time you go to a restaurant, it is like someone took the Saved by the Bell soundtrack, Enrique Inglesia’s Greatest Hits, Top 40 from like 2 years ago and WLTE radio station play list and put it on shuffle.

I seriously find myself laughing out loud every time I spend any length of time in a restaurant or a coffee shop. The play list goes like this:

Eye of the Tiger (always on), Enrique Inglesia, Dust in the Wind, Like a Prayer, Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy, Enrique Inglesia, Bryan Adams (LOVE him around here), Dancin’ on the Ceilin’, Ricky Martin, Eye of the Tiger (at least twice in an hour), Enrique Inglesia

Stay tuned...apparently there is a Karaoke place in town that I may check out this weekend.

FOOD REPORT

Any of you out there who have ideas that a person would come to a third world country for 6 months and lose weight, throw them out the window. If my Weight Watcher leader is reading this right now, please stop.

Last week, my house mom asked me if I wanted a cooking lesson to learn how to make the traditional Hondurean dish Baleadas. YES! I love them. Basically a tortilla filled with beans and eggs and cheese...oh and as it turns out...OIL!! Learning this was a very bad idea. Now I am fully aware of exactly just how bad these things are for you.
Basically this is an average day in the life of eating in Honduras:
  • Breakfast...pancakes fried in lard (sooooo good)
  • Lunch...Fried chicken, beans covered in cheese, tortilla fried in oil, rice (I’m sure made in oil of some kind...)
  • Dinner...Baleadas (or something equally as terrible for you and delicious tasting), more beans with cheese, and yes...plantains. FRIED plantains...so good.

So basically I’m going to have to have a triple bypass when I get home. Either that or just roll my shirt up like the rest of the people here...and be proud of my new Honduran belly. So long as my earrings match my shirt (that says something completely inappropriate) and I’m rockin’ out to Enrique, I’m sure no one will notice!

xoxo,
Debra

P.S...check back soon! I already have the next post ready to go because I have had some serious internet issues...that's right, two blogs two days in a row!