This delicious little bun delights and confuses me. Depending on who is baking it, it is a small roll or a large bun. But no matter who the baker is, it is always fluffy yet kind of crunchy, with a really interesting powdery-sugary glaze. They are pretty much amazing with coffee, although you want to eat something else with them because they do not provide much sustenance because they are so airy. Therein lies the confusion (for me)...

Semita is a Spanish word that is literally translated as Semite, but is used (at least here in Honduras) to refer specifically to people of the Jewish persuasion. There is apparently a fairly large Jewish population in Mexico, where a semita (food, not person) is a roll of unsweetened, unleavened bread. Which makes sense, because unleavened bread is one of the things Jewish people are known for.

The semitas in Honduras are most definitely sweet. And they are most definitely leavened. Yeast is listed as an ingredient on every package I have found with an ingredient list on it (which actually doesn't happen too much here, but they're always yummy. And don't worry, mom, I am sure they are totally legit still). They also have a very different flavor and texture than challah. Now, I love Jewish people, so please do not take this as a slight against them or their culture. I just do not understand why these rolls are named after them, because there really does not seem to be any apparent connection between the two. They could just as easily be called "Little Catholic" rolls, or perhaps even "Little Islam" buns.

I asked some of my students why they were called semitas, and they ALL told me it was because they look like Jewish people. That perplexed me, but I only received exasperated "ay, miss, they just look like them" when I asked for a more detailed explanation. Perhaps they are referring to skin tone? I just know that I have known many Jewish people over the years, and NONE of them bear a resemblence to this tiny pastry.

If any of you know of a doppleganger website that is specifically for Jewish people, let me know. I am curious to see how many look-alikes this roll gets.

For a land filled with people who do not know how to read, Honduras really loves to put signs up. Most of their signs are pictoral. One would assume that they use pictures so that those who do not know how to read can understand the signs. If that was the original intention, all I have to say is: EPIC FAIL. These signs are incredibly cryptic and many people have no idea what they mean. For your viewing pleasure, I am including some of these insane signs, as well as some signs that struck me as downright hilarious. Enjoy.

1: An oldie but goodie...

I know that I included this picture on my post about my trip to Tela. But I have yet to figure out what the monkey is doing on this sign. And no one has been able to give a logical explanation.

2: Call the locksmith! Call the locksmith?

If this sign were near an auto shop of some sort, or even someone's house who does mechanical type things with cars, it might make sense. Maybe even a stand that makes keys. Perhaps even a parking lot where there is an attendant who takes your keys for you. Alas, none of these scenarios are the reality. This sign is in Copan Ruinas, at the bottom of a hill, surrounded by tomato fields and cow pastures.

3. You are here...and here.

The town of Rio Dulce, Guatemala helps you defy the laws of physics. As you can see, according to this sign, I am in two places at once. For those of you who have always said it can't be done...Guatemala makes it possible.

4. The Honduran Narwhal

This sign is by far my favorite. What the mess?!?! You can find it all along the Honduran coast, as well as random places further inland.

5. Have you found Jesus?

One argument that I have heard against street signs from some Honduran friends is that they aren't helpful. I did not understand that comment fully until I saw this sign. It is helpfully pointing you in the wrong direction to a major city park. I would like to make the motion that street signs can be helpful. The ones down here just don't happen to fall into that category.

I am going to stop here because it takes FOREVER to load pictures. But more will be added as time and internet allows. Because I have plenty more where these came from.
A while ago, I posted about the highly ineffective fort the Spanish built in Omoa. In case you don't remember, it was so ineffective that the English captured it and promptly abandoned it within two weeks. Right before Semana Santa I ventured to Guatemala (legally this proud of me) and have come to two conclusions:
1. Life in Central America NEVER gives you what you expect.
b. If you are counting effectiveness and not asthetics, the Spanish were the worst fort builders in history.

The following account is how I happened to arrive at these conclusions. Let me know if you think I am off...

Like most of Latin America, Honduras is an incredibly Catholic country, which means that we get a HUGE break for Easter. The entire week before Easter is Holy Week, or Semana Santa. Due to some scheduling conflicts, our school did not have classes the Friday before Semana Santa (w00t!). Gabrielle was going to Copan with a visiting friend for the weekend. In order to give them some quality friend time, I decided to hop up to Guatemala for the day on Friday and then spend the rest of the weekend doing laundry and other grown-up stuff. My goal was to visit the Mayan ruins at Quirigua, which is a mere 3 hours by car from San Pedro Sula. Since I would be relying on the Honduran/Guatemalan public transport, I asked around to see if that was possible to do in one day. I was assured by many that it was. So Friday morning, I hit the bus terminal.

First surprise. The company whose schedule I had looked up the night before no longer existed. A series of smaller buses would get me to the Guatemalan border, and I could figure out a new plan from there. Three and a half hours later, I arrive at the Guatemalan border. After getting ripped off by my first Guatemalan minibus driver, I am on my way to Quirigua. Or am I...?

I see a sign for the city I want and ask to get off. The guy says "You don't want to get off now. We'll be going up there in just a few minutes." I should have argued with him, but foolishly, I believe him and sit back down. An hour later we arrive at the super sketchy town of Morales (where I do NOT want to be). An hour after that, we leave again for Rio Dulce. I ask how long it will take to get there and was told it was less than an hour away. It is only less than an hour away if the bus driver doesn't stop every five feet, and then spend 30 minutes flirting with the lady near the tree he stopped to pee at (gross!!!). If that happens, the trip takes two hours. By the time we finally pull into Rio Dulce, I have missed the last bus to Quirigua AND the last bus to Honduras. Guess I'm staying the night...

I find a pretty sketch hotel near a restuarant where I hunker down for the night. I met some really interesting people there. By interesting I mean super drunk and/or high. One man told me about something horrible that happened to him at the Miami airport in angry, rapid, slurred Spanish. I had no idea what he was saying. When he finished, he asked me if that was legal to do in the United States. I told him I had no idea what he said. So he repeated the story, more angrily and much faster. This cycle repeated itself about two more times (it was kind of fun) before I finally just said "yes. It is totally legal." He shook his head sadly, and then asked me to come home with him. I politely declined. A hooker who had just walked in congratulated me for sticking to my values. She proceeded to get very drunk and tell me crazy stories involving turkeys and I don't know what else. The more she drank, the more she congratulated me for respecting my body. If you have never had your morals appluaded by a drunk hooker, I don't know what to tell you. As she left, a crew of fairly drunk Americans and Swedes walked in. We played darts for a little while, and then I called it a night.

The next morning I discovered that there are no buses to Quirigua on Saturday from Rio Dulce (why would there be? It's just the weekend...) Fortunately there is a fort near the town, so I head out there. This fort was another one that was captured quickly by the British, and then abandoned within two weeks. I don't know if the Spanish built very crappy, non-strategic forts on purpose (Hey...if we make it crappy, they'll give it back to us!) or if they were legitimately just bad at it. But thus far I have not seen the Spanish having a good fort building record. But, as seems to be the Latin American motto: If it don't work good, at least make it look good. It was a really beautiful fort. Fun side note...the original fort was destroyed in a hurricane or earthquake a few decades ago. When the Guatemalan government rebuilt it, they wired it for electricity, but they did not put any lights in. So there are electrical plugs and wires all over the place, but no lights. If you ever visit this fort, bring a flashlight, because there are many dark tunnels and basement rooms that could use the light.

So I leave the fort and decide to head back home. The bus leaves town and turns to go back to Morales, and I ask to get off. The guy says that if I stay on, I can catch a bus to Quirigua. Foolishly I believe him. An hour later, I am at the same crossroad. The guy says to get off (at the same spot I asked to get off previously) and a bus will come along within an hour. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I will say it...foolishly, I believed him. I waited and waited and no bus of any sort appeared. So now I'm wondering how the mess I am going to get home. If you are my mom, or if you are going to tell my mom any of the following, stop reading now and just know that I got home safely. For the rest of you...

Fortunately at that moment, a bread vendor came by and tried to peddle me his wares. My refusal did not damper his spirits, and he struck a conversation with me. Turns out, he was heading to Puerto Barrios, which is where I needed to go, and he offered me a ride. It took forever, because he stopped and sold bread every five minutes. And he had this huge speaker on top of his car that blared out accordion music and advertised his merchandise at an incredible volume. But it was a free ride, and he was a nice man. Right before he let me off, he asked if I would mind if he got some gas. He pulled into this gas station, where all of his buddies came over to the truck and asked if I was his girlfriend. It was kind of hilarious, but I didn't really laugh about it until we pulled out of the station.

Several hours later, I made it back home. I still have not seen Quirigua, but I did get to see a cool/ineffectual fort. Plus I totally have an in with the Guatemalan bread underground, and at the end of the day, isn't that really what it's all about?