Tonight I was hit with a wave of homesickness. Not for the places, because I love it here, but for the people. I did laundry after school today, but I got distracted by supper and forgot my last load out in the washer. Old habits die hard holding on, I suppose. It isn't inconvenient for anyone else, because I am the only person in the building who uses the pila. But I didn't want my clothes to sit out all night in case it rained.

When I walked out the front gate, there were families everywhere. People on their patios across the street. Kids playing soccer in the street. Some people sitting around their dinner fire, eating and playing guitar. I felt so lonely.

As I was rinsing out my clothes, I happened to look up at the sky. San Pedro Sula is a pretty gross town when it comes to garbage and pollution. The sky is usually so dirty, there are no visible stars at all. Not even the 3 that you can see in Dallas. But tonight the sky was so clear, and there were stars everywhere. It was so beautiful. A few minutes later, clouds covered up pretty much everything again...I think it might rain tonight. But it was the perfect reminder that I'm never alone, even though I miss you guys. Just thought I'd share. Thanks for listening.


Hello, hello, and welcome to my home! :)

This is my apartment building. It is brand new and very melon colored. There are eight apartments in the building, four downstairs and four upstairs.

If you turn either left or right at this gate, it will take you down a walkway to a patio area at the rear of the building. The walkways are gated, so you have to have a key to get in them. The main hallway is also gated, as you can see here. You have to use a key to enter and exit the building. Walking through this gate will get you to...

...this hallway. My apartment is #4, the second door on the left.

As you walk in the front door, you see the kitchen on the left.

The kitchen comes complete with a lovely view of the cinderblock wall with barbed wire topping. In the states, it would look like a prison. Here it looks like safety. And also a prison.

If you walk straight through the front door instead of turning left, you walk into the bathroom. It's pretty standard...although it didn't come with any hardware, such as a towel rack or toilet paper holder, which just seemed odd. Little things like that, that I assumed would be here.

A right turn at the front door takes you to my boudoir. The windows in my bedroom look out onto the patio I mentioned at the very beginning.

The patio really isn't a patio so much as it is the laundry area. Yes, my apartment did come complete with a washer and dryer. And yes, that is a picture of me standing at the washer, holding the dryer. There is a laundromat down the street that I can take my bigger pieces of laundry to, but this is where most of my stuff gets done. By me. While I work on my tan.

So there you have it. There is a guard post outside of my building, where a man with a machete sits all day and keeps an eye on our street. There will be a picture of him when I put up pictures of my neighborhood. He has terrible taste in cheese, but other than that he is a good person. As you can see, there it isn't very big. To those of you who were promised couch space, my apologies. There is room for an air mattress, though. In the air conditioned part of the apartment, even. So don't let the lack of couch discourage you from visiting!
Just a quick public service announcement while I am on break at school. I was unable to write this yesterday because I was really angry, and I didn't want to write anything that would be inappropriate for mixed audiences. Now that I have calmed a little and written a strongly worded letter...just so you are aware, Spirit Airline is the WORST airline in the history of flight. Unless their target demographic is people who don't like knowing that their flight schedule has been changed or canceled. Or people who like sleeping on airport floors. Or people who like crappy customer service. Then I guess they are doing really well for themselves.

As my Uncle Jamie wisely reminded me...I haven't fallen off God's radar. :) A Delta pilot and a Southwest pilot were able to book me a flight on American Airlines, where I sat next to a TACA pilot. All of these airlines at their worst are better than Spirit Airlines at their best. So next time you take to the skies, remember: don't fly Spirit Airlines, unless you really don't care about getting where you want to go.
So we've reached the 2.5 week mark. I have settled into things pretty well (I think...) and apart from the occassional difficulties that come with not being fluent in the local language, it's going really well. A girl from North Carolina came down the week after me. She has moved into the apartment down the hall, and she is teaching the science courses I was going to be doing before I got bumped up to chemistry. Not only is it nice to have a neighbor who is fluent in English and in a similar situation as myself (she doesn't speak much Spanish, nor does she know anyone down here), her arrival helped me see how much I had adjusted to life down in the Honduras thus far.

This weekend I was blessed enough to be able to come to Georgia for a cousin's wedding (CONGRATULATIONS CHRISTIE AND REID!!!!!!) Not only was this a wonderful opportunity for me to soak up time with my family, I was able to relish in some of the simple pleasures that one doesn't get to partake of in a third world country:

Although this may sound like a bold claim, I am willing to state that heaven probably feels like a lukewarm shower after running around all day in 90+ degree temperatures. It is more refreshing than a cool breeze through the open window of your un-air-conditioned car during 5:00 rush hour on Central Expressway. Those of you who were able to experience that joy with me may find this impossible, but believe it. As a person who normally enjoys turning her bathroom into a sauna during shower time, I never thought I would say that I would enjoy a lukewarm shower. But although it has become a very enjoyable part of my daily routine, there is still something to be said about a ridiculously steaming hot shower. I don't think there are hot water heaters in Honduras, even in very wealthy homes. In order to get hot water to do my dishes, I have to boil water on the stove. And in order to heat my shower water from cold to lukewarm, I have a state-of-the-art electric shower head.

I don't think it is quite as glorious as the one Anne got to experience in Guatemala. But something about bathing in water that is shooting past exposed wires really gets me going each morning. At the top of the shower head is a switch that allows you to choose the water temperature. The choices are cold, sort of cold, and lukewarm. In a moment of daring, I messed with the switch one day. The result was really cold water and a sizzling sound that has discouraged me from any further water temperature experimentation. I am still curious about what the little tail thingy at the bottom of the shower head is, but I haven't quite picked up the courage to mess with it...yet. I will keep you posted.


This picture, along with many like it (why must you love milk, Chris?!) have been a stumbling block for me these past couple weeks. I casually browse pictures of family and friends, and I am repeatedly bombarded with pictures of Chris chugging milk. Cold, delicious milk. Electricity is very expensive, and refrigerators are an additional expensive luxury down here. So there are many people who have neither. In order to provide milk to the entire population, something is done to this marvelous liquid that allows it to be stored unrefrigerated. I don't know exactly what this process is called, or what all it entails. What I do know is that the end result is a nasty, putrid beverage in a blue cardboard box. I have had a difficult time finding uses for it. It can be used in cooking without compromising the integrity of the dish. At least in pancakes and mashed potatoes. Not that those dishes have a whole lot of complexity. And it gives an interesting, kind of nutty after taste if you use just a little in your coffee. My dad insists that it doesn't taste too bad if you get it cold enough, but I don't think I'm willing to experiment enough to find the appropriate level of cold that will negate the grossness. PriceSmart sells cases of soymilk, which is a tasty milk alternative. However, at the end of the day, sometimes a girl just wants some lactose. And looking at pictures of friends guzzling it down makes me feel a burning, jealous sensation I never thought I would feel about an animal by-product.

Yes, folks. This weekend, every time I brushed my teeth I rinsed my toothbrush off with tap water. When I went out to restaurants I ordered water, knowing it came from a tap, and I was able to boldly consume it without fearing severe gastrointestinal consequences. Ice isn't bad here. At least the ice that I have tried. Our first full day here I unwittingly turned Dad and I into guinea pigs to test the effects of ice from PriceSmart on the American bowel. It was sheerly out of force of habit that I filled our cups with ice at the soda fountain. He didn't look super excited when he took a sip of his drink and discovered ice from unknown origins in his cup. But I haven't gotten sick yet, and I don't think he did, least we know that ice from PriceSmart is made from filtered water. And knowing is half the battle.

Tomorrow I will take you on a photo tour of my apartment building. And I will bring my camera to school, too, so there will soon be pictures of what my room looks like, and the campus for those who haven't seen pictures of it yet. Tomorrow is the first day with students, but not the first day of classes. There are a lot of changes at the school this year, so we are spending the first two days with our homeroom class discussing all the changes and giving them a chance to adjust before jumping into academia. We'll see how it goes. :)

To address some questions and comments:

There is a taxi that takes two other teachers and myself to and from school. The driver's name is John, and he is really nice. I like to refer to him as my driver, because it makes me feel fancy and important. If I need to go someplace outside of work that is too far to walk to, I give him a call. There are many taxi companies, but something I learned pretty quickly is...addresses don't mean much here. Everything is done by landmarks. There are very few street signs, and the majority of the ones I have seen are too covered in graffiti to be legible. So...if I were to call a taxi, I have to give them directions using landmarks (which I'm not very familiar with yet) instead of street names (which I'm not very familiar with yet, anyhow, so it doesn't really matter). The major landmark that I use is called El Palenque. It doesn't exist anymore, but it used to be an arena for cock fights before they became less popular. And I think illegal. If I call a cab, the first thing I ask is if they know where El Palenque is. If they say yes, I give them directions. If they say no, I stutter a little before I hang up the phone, because I don't know what to say to them yet. It is really just easier to call John. There are a couple mini-supermarkets, a laundromat, pool hall, restaurant, gym, some pulperias (convenience stores, kind of, minus gas pumps) and a drug store within walking distance of my apartment. Anything else requires use of a taxi. I will take you guys on a tour of my neighborhood soon as well.

Mama- Yo sólo compro pollo sin zapatos, porque tiene mejor sabor. :)

John- I'm sorry...I don't speak Spanish. I LOVE THAT MOVIE! Are you copying down subtitles?

JJ (and anyone else curious)- My mom asked me if I buy my chicken without the shoes. She and my dad used to live in Spain, and every time she bought chicken at the butcher he would take a whole chicken, chop off the head and feet, and then wrap it up in a little package. This didn't do much to encourage her appetite, but she didn't speak Spanish, so she asked a friend how to get just the body. Her friend told her to order "pollo sin cabeza y sin pies". Mom got mixed up, and ordered her chicken "sin zapatos", which means without shoes. I find that chicken without the shoes has better flavor...
Obviously a lot has happened since the last post, and conveniently, none of it happened around internet access. After an 8 hour date with Miami Interntional Airport, Dad and I made it to San Pedro Sula Wednesday evening. The next couple days were spent setting up the apartment. Dad did get to meet my bosses (science department head, secondary school principal, and superintendent) as well as our friend from Michigan. Since I have already been hired and signed a contract, we figured it would be a good time for me to fill out an application for my file. (I also filled out an application for the apartment after living in it for two days. So backwards. I love Honduras.)

Our first stop of many deserves its own special paragraph, because it holds a very special place in my heart. I knew that many things would be very different here, and I had braced myself for this as much as possible. One thing that I did not anticipate being the same is a wholesale supplier. Within 24 hours of being in the country, I was a member of the Honduran version of Costco...PriceSmart. It is amazing, and even though it may sound ridiculous to a lot of you, many of you can appreciate how much easier this makes the transition for me. Their tubs of minced garlic are not as gloriously large as the ones at Costco...but they have Dr Pepper. They also had a lot of the furniture/storage stuff that we got to augment the furniture supplied by the school. Now my stuff doesn't have to sit in a huge pile on the kitchen floor! (Mom...not a word...)

The apartment that I live in is very nice. It is a brand new building, and I am the first person to live in my unit. It is a gated apartment, which means there is a big cast-iron gate at the end of my hallway that I have to unlock to get in and out. A lot different from what I envisioned when I first heard about the place. I have three big windows in the apartment that give a full view of the cinderblock security wall and barbed wire across the top...but my landlord said I can put flowers outside, so that will hopefully improve the view a little. There is also a security guard in front of the gate during the day. So I feel very safe at home, which is definitely a plus. There are a couple other houses on the street that are very nice as well. In very stark contrast, however, a couple of the neighbors live in lean-tos that are made from scrap metal and wood, and the church on the street does not have a roof. It is kind of mind boggling to see all of that in one street as I walk down it. All of the neighbors (building and street) are so nice, though, and the kids are the CUTEST!

Dad and I spent Saturday setting up furniture and running some last minute errands. There was a big political demonstration downtown that day, so we avoided that area and traffic was backed up all over. Apart from that, though, the political climate has been really calm, and everyone is hoping that it will settle down internationally soon as well. A lot of government employees (not officials, but city workers) have been severely affected by the political stuff, and haven't received a paycheck since the craziness first went down. In an already poor country, that definitely doesn't help. I don't know how widespread this problem is, but in San Pedro Sula it seems to be because the mayor (a Zelaya supporter of sorts) has been MIA with Mel. I haven't had internet/news access in nearly a week, so please forgive any vagueness or inaccuracies with the situation.

Right now I am at the school library, soaking in the internet and air conditioning. hahaha. Electricity is very expensive down here, so most places use open windows and fans as a cooling system. By most places, I am including my apartment, although I have a window AC unit I can run if it gets ridiculously hot. Tomorrow I start new teacher orientation. I thought it started today, so I got to sit through part of the admin orientation today. So as a new teacher, I got to help plan my orientation, hahaha.

My boss is about to take me to the grocery store. If I have internet at home tonight I'll put some pictures up. Otherwise I will get more out as soon as I can. Probably tomorrow. If there's anything you are wondering about, let me know...there are a lot of things I can say, but I don't want to just splat a 20 chapter novel out everyday.