Thursday, December 11, 2008

here's your post, Megan

One of my friends kindly pointed out yesterday that I had not posted since Nov 19. I'm super sorry. :)

Life has been crazy for the last month. I was busy planning 2 weddings (still in the process of planning one!), finishing our apartment, moving in, getting married, hosting my parents in Tegucigalpa for a weekend, and packing to come to KY for our US wedding. *sigh* I'm tired, and just now getting a little down time to update everyone.

Jose and I got married in Tegucigalpa on November 29. It was just a civil ceremony, but it was so much fun. It was nice to finally meet all of Jose's extended family (and there are A LOT of them) and I loved having my parents there to share the special evening with us as well. The evening started with us standing at the door to the room greeting all of our guests. After everyone arrived, we had the ceremony on the dance floor in front of everyone. Our parents and our witnesses were with us. Jose's uncle is a lawyer and performed the ceremony. After the ceremony we had dinner, drinks, and dancing. :)

We also finally moved into the apartment...3 days before the wedding. My parents and I stayed at the apartment until the wedding, and after they left, Jose moved in. I'd say we're about 60% done with everything. We are just lacking artwork on the walls, curtains, and new bedding for our bed.

Now I'm in KY, and planning our religious wedding for December 20th. Even though it's been very stressful to make these plans so last minute, I am THRILLED that I get to have the Christmas wedding that I've been dreaming about since I was a little girl. :)

I hope all of you can make it to the wedding. If not, we'll miss you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

didn't i tell you i was indecisive?

So I've been making plans and changing them, again. Jose is getting very tired of this. :)

We had to change the wedding plans. Instead of having a destination wedding in the Bay Islands here in Honduras, we are having 2 weddings: one in Honduras, and one in KY. Why are we changing the plans? It's a reallllly long story. But in the end, this is better because now ALL of our friends and family will be able to share in our special day(s). :)

The Honduras wedding is a civil ceremony only, on 11/29/08. Here in Honduras couples often have two weddings (a civil and a religious) so it's not too strange for us to do a civil wedding here. It's going to be in what I call the "hotel district" in a charming part of downtown Tegucigalpa, in the Hotel Plaza San Martin. There will be a short ceremony with the lawyer, dinner, and dancing.

The KY wedding is the religious wedding on 12/20/08 in the KY Building on WKU's campus (Jose and I met on campus 4 years ago!). Ever since I was a little girl I've been dreaming of a Christmas wedding, and now I get to have one! However, since Jose is Catholic and I am Baptist, we aren't getting married in a church. :) Being married outside of the church is going to allow us to combine our favorite traditions from both religions for our ceremony. We are also combining 2 languages with a translator. This should be a very different and very interesting wedding ceremony. :)

And remember a while back when I announced that I was working as the Coordinator for the Academia Europea? Umm, that changed too. :) To make a long story short, I didn't get the job because I decided to stay in KY a week longer than originally planned. I know it wasn't responsible, but I think it happened for a reason. Since I've been unemployed for several weeks now, I have had time to plan 2 weddings (which, trust me, is a full time job). And while planning those weddings, I came across an excellent business idea. I've decided to open a store designing/creating/selling invitations. While planning my own weddings, I realized how much I enjoy it and that I'm not that bad at creating the invitations. :) And everyone that has seen my work says the same thing. Soo, HB Designs will be opening in January when Jose and I come back from our wedding/Christmas vacation in KY.

Hopefully, these plans won't change! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

we finally found an apartment!

It hasn't been easy. Rent here is more expensive than rent in Bowling Green, KY. I really don't know how families afford to live in safe neighborhoods here when the minimum wage is $150/month!!!

We were driving around my favorite neighborhood in the city and stumbled upon an apartment building that was still under construction. It turns out that Jose's dad knows the owner, and he was willing to give us a fantastic deal on a 2 bedroom apartment...with a view!!

It's not completely finished yet, so we have to wait a couple of weeks. But the owner is letting us paint and letting Jose's dad rearrange the very awkward layout of the kitchen.
Finally...our own place!! :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This gringa needs a ....

pharmacist that knows more about medicine than me!!

This is the way the pharmacies here work:
You don't need a prescription for most medications here.
You get sick. You go to the pharmacy, not the doctor, and tell them what your symptoms are. (Unless it's something serious, of course, then you go to the doctor. If it's just a cold, sinus infection, etc, you go straight to the pharmacy.) They then sell you the medicine that they think you need.

For the last couple of days I've been experiencing runny nose, headache, and cough. This morning I self-diagnosed myself as having allergic rhinitis. I took some pseudophedrine, but also needed an expectorant for my annoying dry cough. I walked to the pharmacy down the street to buy some. According to Jose's parents, it's the best pharmacy in the city. I went prepared. I wrote down the name of what I wanted, the ingredients, possible brand names, and even looked up the names of the ingredients in Spanish before I went.
When I told them what I wanted, they didn't know what I was talking about. I had to walk behind the counters and pick out what I needed myself.
I also had to correct them twice:
1. At one point they told me I should be taking X medicine. I asked them if it could interact with anything else that I might be taking, and they said NO. This was just a test because I knew before asking that it CAN interact with my anxiety medicine and I shouldn't take any medicines with that particular ingredient.
2. I thought while I was there I would check on the price of my anxiety medication (before my supply runs out in a couple of weeks). I argued with the pharmacist over this as well. He wouldn't believe what I was saying about it until I asked for his "drug book," as he called it. I had to look up the medicines and show him what I was talking about.
After I corrected him the second time, he said, "Oh you are very smart, you should come work here!"
This is the second time a pharmacist in Tegucigalpa has told me this. I'm thinking about opening up a pharmacy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

embassy experience

Today I had my first experience at the US Embassy in Honduras. I had to go to get notarized paperwork so Jose and I can get married in November. First of all, I felt like a rockstar going inside. There were probably almost 100 Hondurans lined up outside waiting to get in, but I got to pass the line. All I had to do was wave my US passport and they let me in!! I think the Hondurans waiting for their visa appointments kind of resented that. :)

Once inside, I checked my cell phone (you aren't allowed to take your phone in, for some reason) and made my way to the US citizen services department. I told the woman at the window what I needed, and I was shocked at how nice she was to me! Most Hondurans don't know the meaning of customer service and act annoyed and bothered by customers. But these people in the embassy, they are polite and very helpful. :)

My only complaint was that they didn't post on their website that there is a fee for this notarized paperwork. AND they don't accept credit cards. So, I had to walk 2 blocks away to the closest ATM and get cash. When I got back to the window, I paid, waited about 15 minutes, got my paper, and I was outta there!!

Now, all we have to do is get our medical exams and we're set to get married! Hooray!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

15 de septiembre

(This is an old post I never finished...whoops!)

The Honduran Independence Day is September 15. I was shocked to learn that people here don't celebrate like we celebrate July 4th in the US. No one buys sparklers and there are no cookouts. There is a parade...but no one seemed to know where it started or who/what marched in it.
So, being the little party planner that I am, I announced that we (meaning Jose and I and our friends) would be celebrating Sept 15 MY way. :) I planned a cookout at the country house in Valle de Angeles.
I planned on having a strawberry/feta salad, burgers, corn on the cob, apple pie, and a flag cake (of the Honduran flag, of course). The day before, Jose and I made a trip to the supermarket to buy our supplies. They didn't have any of the supplies that we needed. They did have hamburger meat and buns, and sweet corn. And I should I have know this was going to happen. I have been able to avoid a lot of mistakes here in Honduras so far by learning from my fellow ex-pat bloggers. They always write about how they can never find what they need here. And so far, this has been true for me. If I'm craving bagels, Pais won't be selling them that week. What I consider a good find one week (like whipped Philly cream cheese!), they will probably never sell again. So, like I said, I should have known and planned for this.

There was no feta, no raspberry vineaggrete, no pre-made frozen pie shells (and I mean, really, who knows how to make homemade pie crust??), and the biggest disappointment...no blueberries (for the flag cake). I decided to drop the salad off the "menu," attempt a homemade pie crust, and get creative with the cake. I bought regular cake mix, white frosting, and after searching for 30 minutes, found food coloring. I should mention quickly, just so you understand my frustration, that none of these things were where they "should be" in a normal grocery. The cake mix was not with the frosting. In fact, I think it was with the canned goods. The food coloring was hidden behind boxes of other things (not baking supplies!). And they did not have blue coloring. All they had were green and yellow. Me being the genius that I am, remembered that green and yellow make blue, so we bought both bottles (at 100 lempiras each...like $5 each!!!)

We took our groceries and packed up the car and headed to Valle. That night, we prepared all of the food. And I made my cake....with green icing...because yellow and green don't make blue...blue and yellow make green!
Are you laughing? It gets better. :)

The next day, our guests arrived, and we decided it was time to get the grill ready and cook the burgers up. We waited until they got there because, as you know, it only takes like 15 minutes to cook burgers on a grill. Well, not this grill! It uses wood, not charcoal. And evidently, I'm not very good at starting fires in these types of grills. We had to get the guard's wife to come and help us. She taught us to fan the flames. It turns out she cooks on a stove like this for every meal. HELLO - this is 2008. I want to buy this woman an electric stove. I mean, this is obviously why women here in rural areas don't work. They spend all day fanning the fire so they can cook 3 meals...they don't have time to work!
So we all took turns fanning the fire...for FOUR HOURS! After about 20 minutes, it would go out, and we'd have to call her back to help us again.


After suffering from burns on our hands, burning eyes from the smoke, and very tired arms, we decided to let the "men" take over. They did, after a little begging, and they got it going and cooked up all the food. They said they had more skills than us. I'm pretty sure it was so easy for them because we spent so much time getting the fire going before they got there!
In the end, the food was good. And even if it wasn't, no one noticed because we were all so hungry from waiting so long to eat! :) Haha!

Monday, October 27, 2008

tropical depression #16

These are the "official" numbers of people affected by tropical depression 16, released by the Honduran government on Friday, Oct 24.

Affected: 257,023
Evacuated: 41,215
Homeless: 53,709
in shelters: 19,505
Homes affected: 9,870
Deaths: 25
Missing: 8

227 roads and 106 bridges damaged
222,300 acres of crops destroyed

I found out last week that the Honduran government created temporary shelters in the city and through out the rest of the country. They are set up in high school gyms, etc.

When I saw in the paper how many shelters there were in the city, I wanted to help. I called my friend Mandy who works at the Casa Presidencial, and she told me I could help at the receiving center for donations at the Casa Presidencial. I spent a few hours on Friday sorting through clothes with Mandy and other volunteers. Maybe this week I'll find something a little more exciting to do. ;)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

it´s raining it´s pouring...

When they told me there were really only 2 seasons here, hot season and rainy season, I wasn´t sure what that meant. Well, when they said rainy season, they literally meant it rains. All. Of. The. Time. And It doesn´t just rain a little bit. It´s raining all day, and all night. And not just light showers, but downpours! I can´t believe the house hasn´t washed away. Because this is exactly what´s happening in the rest of the country...



There are massive landslides happening everywhere. Peoples homes have been destroyed, and the roads are covered.

The parts that aren't covered with mud are under water....





This one is in my city, Tegucigalpa...



A LOT of people have been evacuated...
(picture below from Valle de Angeles, about 30 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa)


I'm curious as to where they are being evacuated to...because I know there aren't enough shelters for all of the people that have been evacuated. Hmm...I'll do some research and let you know. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

the future is no place to place your better days

I have been such a bad blogger. But I have to admit, I've been avoiding you on purpose. You see, I keep making all of these plans, and blogging about them, and then the plans change and I hate to have to write another blog about the plans changing. For example, I posted that Jose and I were going to open a restaurant. Then the plans changed. Then they changed back. Now, I can say this 100% positively now, there is not going to be a restaurant. And this is why I've been avoiding my blog...because with every post I announce that my life is incredibly indecisive.


But I'm starting to learn that I probably shouldn't be blogging about plans, or even making them. Nothing ever ends up the way we plan...and that's okay (or at least that's what I keep telling myself)....so why waste time making them? I think it's probably because of our very future-oriented culture in the US that teaches us that we should always be preparing for something... for high school, for college, for a job, for marriage, for retirement....we are always preparing for something in the future. Think about it...I bet before you make decisions about ANYTHING, you think about how it will affect the future. Now, this isn't a bad thing...it's always better to be prepared. BUT - is that really the most important thing? Here in Honduras (a present-oriented culture) there is more focus on enjoying the present. This explains why Hondurans (and most latinos) don't feel the need to have schedules and make plans for the weekend on a Monday. It also explains why most people here are late everywhere they go...why does it matter if you're 30 minutes late? ;)

I have found this culture affecting me in a good way. When I was visiting in KY, my mom was always spazzing about something, like being late or not being able to find something she was looking for (it's okay Mom, I was like this too just a few months ago). I found myself saying to her a million times a day..."Calm down! Why are you freaking out?" Now, I have to be honest and tell you that my newfound "calmness" is probably a combination of this new culture AND my anti-anxiety medication. :) But I like to think that Honduras is having at least a small positive effect on me. :)

So what have I been up to for the last 2 weeks? I have been making plans, and changing them, and then making new ones, and then changing those too. But at least someone I know is accomplishing something! Jose got a fantastic job! He is the new Jefe de Recursos Humanos or HR Manager for Gutierrez Logistics (http://www.gutierrezlogistics.com/index.html). It's basically his dream job, and I am so proud of him. :) You see, he didn't feel the need to be constantly making plans for the last 3 months, and his patience ended up being worth it!

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift - that is why we call it the present."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

catching up

Sorry that I haven't posted for a while. I'm at home in KY!

I arrived on Tuesday, 9/16. I helped my mom with wedding things that week, and then Saturday was my brother's wedding. I have a new sister-in-law :), Sara.

The next week, I spent painting at my brother's house. I painted the living room and hallway walls, and caulked and painted the trim while they were on their honeymoon. It took 3 days!!!

Then the BG International Festival was on Saturday. I had a wonderful "helper" this year. Monique recruited and scheduled all of the volunteers for me, and all I had to do was show up. In fact, when I showed up, she was doing such a great job managing everyone that I was able to walk around and enjoy the festival for the first time EVER! :) I was even able to leave early. Thank you, Monique....you made this trip back to KY much more enjoyable and much less stressful!!:)

On Sunday my mom and her friend hosted a bridal shower for me at our church. It was a "journey" themed shower, with decorations and food from Honduras, and pictures around from the places that Jose and I have traveled. It was fun, and it was soo great to see all of my friends/family! Plus, I got a lot of really nice things for our house in Honduras. :)

This week, I am working on cleaning out my old bedroom at my parents house, and I'm planning to have a yard sale this weekend. I'm anxious to get rid of a lot of old junk, and to make some extra dolares $$.

For those of you back in Honduras, I'll be back next week!

And I have a lot of pictures to post, but I'm using my mom's new Mac and I still haven't completely figured it out yet. I'll post them as soon as I learn how. :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

volunteering at Casa Presidencial

Today was the celebration of "Dia del Niño" at the Casa Presidencial in Tegucigalpa. It's an open event and free to the public...so there were A LOT of kids there! My friend Mandy works in the Casa Presidencial, and talked me into spending my Saturday helping out at the event. We arrived around 8:30 am, and didn't actually start any work until about 11 am. So for the first couple of hours, I got a tour of the Casa Presidencial.


Mandy used her really important and super cool security badge to get us in. They didn't even ask for my ID at the gate...just glanced inside my purse to check for weapons (I guess that's what they were looking for).




It turns out that the President doesn't actually live in the "Presidential House"...he just works there. Mandy works in an office that organizes donations/events for the poor children in Honduras. We got to see her office, and walk around inside the building.


The five flags below represent the five stars on the Honduran flag.


The "oval office" is upstairs, along with the First Lady's office. Mandy's office is cool, but not cool enough to be upstairs. Haha.


Afters hours of wandering around and doing nothing, the carnival finally started. We recruited some of the volunteers to help us with the piñatas, and moved 50 of them from the storage container to the poles. We hung the piñatas, and then waited forever again before we could let the kids hit them. We had to guard the extras laying around on the ground...they were so anxious to bust them open!! Watch the video below to see how crazy they went when the candy went flying!



video


There were a lot of cool performances scheduled throughout the day. Since I didn't stay the entire day, I only got to see a few. One really cool one was these guys dancing on stilts.



video

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mayan myth of creation

I was bored tonight and started searching for sites on the indigenous people of Honduras. I came across several interesting tales/folkfore, and thought I would share the Mayan story of creation that I found. (FYI - The Mayans inhabited several countries in Central America...not just Honduras.)

There were four gods in heaven and each of them sat on his chair, observing the world below.

Then the yellow lord suggested that they make a man to enjoy the earth and offer praise to the gods. The other three agreed.

So the yellow god took a lump of yellow clay and made a man from it. But his creation was weak; it dissolved in water and could not stand upright.

Then the red god suggested that they make a man out of wood, and the others agreed. So the red god took a branch from a tree and carved it into a human shape. When they tested it in water, it floated; it stood upright without any problem whatsoever. However, when they tested it with fire, it burned.

The four lords decided to try again. This time the black god suggested making a man out of gold.

The gold man was beautiful and shone like the sun. He survived the tests of fire and water, looking even more handsome after these tests. However, the gold man was cold to the touch; he was unable to speak, feel, move, or worship the gods. But they left him on earth anyway.

The fourth god, the colorless lord, decided to make humans out of his own flesh. He cut the fingers off his left hand and they jumped and fell to earth. The four gods could hardly see what the men of flesh looked like as they were so far away. From the seat of the four lords, they looked like busy little ants.

But the men of flesh worshipped the gods and made offerings to them. They filled the hearts of the four lords with joy. One day the men of flesh found the man of gold. When they touched him, he was as cold as a stone. When they spoke to him, he was silent. But the kindness of the men of flesh warmed the heart of the man of gold and he came to life, offering praise to the gods for the kindness of the men of flesh.

The word of praise from the previously silent creature woke the four gods from their sleep and they looked down on earth in delight. They called the man of gold "rich" and the men of flesh "poor," ordaining that the rich should look after the poor. The rich man will be judged at his death on the basis of how he cared for the poor. From that day onward, no rich man can enter heaven unless he is brought there by a poor man.

(http://www.amherst.k12.wi.us/USERWEBS/faculty/faculty/gorddebr/myths/Mayacrea.html)

Monday, August 25, 2008

*almost* ROBBED!

Before I explain the story, you have to understand the layout of the house we live in.

After Jose and his brother went off to college, his parents decided to downsize and built an apartment over the office of their business (a rent a car and travel agency). It's a large "apartment" with a kitchen, living room, dining area, 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, and a studio...all on the second floor. However, the fact that there is a business run below us makes it a lot different from most homes here in the city. You can see in the picture below that there is a small parking lot on the left, and the entrance to the office is the smaller red door on the right. The windows you see on the second floor are in the living room. The whole apartment goes straight back from the front view of the house.


There is another large building to the left of our house. Jose's parents are entrepeneurs :), and built another commercial spot there several years ago. Therefore, the backs of four or five stores back up into our "concrete yard."

Okay, now I can tell the story. :)

On Saturday night, around 9 pm, I was sitting in the studio on the computer, when Jose's mother comes running down the hallway yelling that there is a man on the roof of the commercial spot next door (the one that connects to our yard!). He was trying to break in. As you can see from the last picture, he could have jumped onto our "balcony" from the other roof.

Jose's dad ran downstairs and out the gate, with his gun, yelling for the man to get down. A few moments later, we hear a gunshot. YES a gunshot! (Sara, it was a scene straight out of Law & Order or something!!!). Next, he comes back into the gate, screaming for someone to bring him the keys to the car. He had only shot the gun to scare the man, and then the man had started running away down the street. Rosie, the maid, took him the keys, and he left chasing after the man.

Meanwhile, Jose's mom is trying to call 199 (like 911 in the states). Can you believe that no one was answering??!?!? Finally, they picked up, and said they would be right over.

About 10 minutes later, Jose's dad pulls up with the police behind him. They had caught the robber and had him handcuffed in the back of the police pick up truck.

The police told us that we need to be careful. When he gets out of jail, he might come back for revenge.

Fantastic.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

what a fun week :)

This past week has been very eventful. :)

Wednesday night was the big soccer game between Mexico and Honduras (it was in Mexico, unfortunately). We went to a bar called Loca Luna to watch it with friends. Practically the whole city shut down for the game (except the bars of course). And I have never seen fans like the ones here in Honduras! When Honduras made their first (and only) goal, I thought the floors of the bar were going to fall in from all the people jumping. They were all jumping, and hugging, and kissing. My friend Mandy said she almost cried. Haha! The night was fun, but Honduras lost to Mexico, 2-1.


We were extra-patriotic...we had a Honduran flag on the car.

Our friends Juan Carlos and Kurt at Loca Luna.

Mandy and I in our jersey's. :)

Before the end of the game... WHO'S GOING TO WIN????

After the game...sad faces. :(



On Thursday night, Jose and I went to the Museo para la Identidad Nacional. Our friend Juan Carlos (Mandy's boyfriend) works there, and invited us to a special event for the opening of the Francisco Goya exhibit. I love art, and there was a nice reception afterwards. :) Even better....the photographers from La Tribuna were there. I've been trying to make it into the society section, haha!!...maybe I'll be in there in a couple of days. :)

me with friends (left to right) Mandy, Patty, and Michelle at the reception
And last night (Friday), we had a cookout for Gustavo (Jose's brother) because he left to go back to the states today. We went to Jose's family's "country house" in Valle de Angeles. We cooked burgers, ate corn on the cob, and played cards and pool. It was a fun, relaxing night. :)
This week was fun, but I'm looking forward to the next because Jose had an interview yesterday, and got called for another interview at another place too. I'm anxious for Monday to get here so we can find out the status on both of his prospective jobs (and mine too!). :)
I'm also counting down the days until I get to go back to KY for Drew and Sara's wedding! I'll be in town on Sept 16. I hope I'll get to visit you all! :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Off! my new perfume

Every morning I wake up, shower, put on my make up, and cover myself with my Deep Woods Off. It's become a part of my routine. After my first couple of days here, I learned that there really is no other way to keep the bugs away. And there are A LOT of mosquitos in Tegucigalpa. This is because of several reasons (a poor drainage system, for example), but mostly because people don't understand that standing water provides a breeding ground for mosquitos. Take the pila for example.

This is the concrete basin that was used originally for handwashing clothes. I'm sure some families still use it for that. In our house, the maid uses it for filling up buckets of water to mop the floor. I've used it once...to wash the dogs. It does come in handy for things like that. BUT, why does it need to be filled with water all the time? It's breeding mosquitos...that are biting me!! Helllooo!

The thing is...I'm not trying to keep the bugs away simply because the bites itch. In Honduras, there's more to worry about, of course. The types of mosquitos here just happen to be the type that can carry dengue. "Dengue is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue viruses...Symptoms range from a mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash...Dengue haemorrhagic fever (fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding) is a potentially lethal complication, affecting mainly children."

You would think that this type of disease can only be contracted in the deep jungle...but it is actually more prevalent in over-populated urban areas just like Tegucigalpa. And in 2007, 76 people contracted the haemorrhagic fever (the fatal type of dengue!) in Tegucigalpa alone! (and the numbers are even higher for 2008, read here: http://www.latribuna.hn/news/45/ARTICLE/40409/2008-08-09.html)

So now, everytime I get even the slightest bit of a symptom (headache, muscle or joint pains)...I announce to everyone in the house that I have dengue and I am going to die. (dramatic, no?)

And we all know that deet isn't the safest product to apply to our bodies 24/7...but it's either risking cancer from deet...or itchy mosquito bites that might give me dengue. What would you do??

Friday, August 15, 2008

dedicated to Mandy

One of my friends in Honduras responded to my blog with this message:

Hi Hannah it's Mandy. I finally saw your blog and I like it. Just one thing...my house does have a yard and grass, not all houses are like Jose´s. And this is for Hannah´s friends back in BG - it's not as bad as you think!!!!!!! Honduras is beautiful, it´s just a culture shock. Don't be scared to come visit us, I know you´ll like it, I can bet on it!!!!!!!! Byeeeeeeeeeeeee, Mandy

I'm sorry Mandy...you are right! Honduras is beautiful, and I'm really loving it here so far.

So, because of Mandy's message, I feel the need to set a few things straight...
-A lot of people DO have yards here! After visiting other people's houses/apartments, I've learned that not everyone lives like Jose's parents. And while the yards are not even close to being as large as the ones in KY, they do have them, and they are a treat from the ugly pavement in the rest of the city. :)
-People DO use dryers! Jose's mom told me no one used them because the dirty water makes your clothes stink (what? I can't believe I believed her). But the truth is, she's stubborn :) and likes drying her clothes the old fashioned way...on a clothes line! And she's not alone...a lot of houses have clothes lines. However, a lot of them have dryers too. :)
-While it IS very dangerous here, and I'm being very careful, so far I haven't even been "cat called" at since I've been here. (Although people DO stare...but that's another story.)
-I brush my teeth with the tap water *GASP*, and I still haven't gotten sick. :)

I have been here exactly one month today. While I do miss my family (VERY MUCH) and friends, and Charlie of course, I haven't been very home sick! At first, I was very critical of everything here. But now, I'm starting to appreciate the things that used to frustrate me. (Example: Lack of organization/structure at my job is actually a relief...it's much more relaxing!) And you'll never believe this....instead of Spirit Master time (15 minutes early) I've begun to operate on Honduran time (at least 15 minutes late). Haha, I'll be a catracha (girl from Honduras) before you know it. :)

So you see, it's not that bad. :) It is very different from KY, but I'm absolutely loving every second of living here. I hope you'll come visit!! :)

http://www.letsgohonduras.com/index.php

"Unpackaged. Unfiltered. Unspoiled. This is the majesty of Honduras. From the breathtaking sunsets in Roatan, to the misty green mountains of Pico Bonito, Honduras is a vibrant wonderland, full of adventure and breathtaking beauty. It is the centerpiece of Central America. And you will be as awed by the splendor of it’s land as the warmth of it’s people. Discover all the reasons Honduras is the Central America you know in the country you’ll love."

Monday, August 11, 2008

el restaurante

For those of you that don't already know this, Jose and I are going to be opening a restaurant here in Honduras, in one of the available retail spots that his parents just built. Why a restaurant?? I have no idea...but it's been fun learning about how to do it. Who knows, maybe it will become famous and we can franchise it...then we'll be famous!! :)

We have decided to open a sandwich shop, offering specialty sandwiches (it won't be a "make your own" place like Subway), wraps, salads, daily soups, and smoothies. The location is right across the street from one of the biggest gyms in the city...so we want to make our options natural, healthy, and for the diet-conscious.

I came up with some ideas for names last night, and he and I have narrowed them down to 3. We need your help!

1. Agovago - (say AH go VAH go) it's another word for avocado...but it's not Spanish. (from a website: "Over several centuries it's been called by many names: ahuacate, avocaat, agovago, albecatta and alligator pear.") By not being a Spanish word, we offer what I call the "gringo appeal." For some reason, the people here are drawn to products/services from gringos (north americans) more than products from their own people. The word is different, funky sounding, and relates to a vegetable...therefore saying that we offer healthy foods. Also, it starts with the letter A...therefore putting our name at the beginning of alphabetical listings (ie, yellow pages).
2. Sin Culpa - ( say SEEN cool PAH) this is Spanish and the literal translation is "without guilt." Get it? You can eat here without feeling guilty because we offer healthy selections.
3. Very Verde - ( say very vEHrDAY) verde means green in Spanish. We offer the "gringo" appeal by using the English word VERY, and we let our customers know that we offer healthy (green) products and services.

What do you think??? Please post comments...I really need help. I can't decide between the 3!!! :) Also, any other restaurant advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dear Charlie,

I miss you very much! I heard that you are having a lot of fun while you stay with uncle Drew, aunt Sara, and cousin Max in Kentucky.

The cargo office at Continental Airlines says that you should be able to come in mid-August when the high travel season is over, and I can't wait! I've already been to the supermarket to make sure that they have your favorite food, and I checked the pet store to make sure they have all of the medicine you might need if you get sick (don't worry, a lot of people get sick from the food the first time they come to Honduras!).

And guess what else? Your abuela (grandmother) Marlene and abuelo (grandfather) Gustavo have three dogs for you to play with when you get here! There is a guard dog, and her name is Osa. She is a good guard dog. She barks at all of the people walking by on the street that she doesn't know, so she keeps us safe! She might sound mean, but she is very sweet and playful with the people she knows. I think you are going to have fun with her the most. The other two dogs are still puppies. Sneaker is a poodle, and Muneca is a chow. They are both very playful, and since they are puppies, they chew on everything! I think you will enjoy chewing things up with them. :)

I've already told them all about you, and they can't wait to meet you! The only thing we are all worried about is that you are going to be very confused about where to go potty! There is no grass here! In Tegucigalpa, people don't have yards. They build their houses to fill the whole lot, and then whatever is left, they cover with concrete for a driveway. The other dogs go to the bathroom on the driveway, and then we just clean it up. Since you are trained to potty in the grass at home, you are going to be confused. But don't worry! The other dogs said they would teach you. :)



Charlie-puppy-dog, I can't wait for you to get here! I hope you are being good for Sara and Drew, and that you and Max are staying out of trouble. :) I love you!!!!!!

PS - The Miskito Indians (an indigenous group of people that live in the area of Honduras on the map below) have a story to explain why dogs are man's best friend. Ask your aunt Sara to read it to you, because if you ask your uncle Drew he will say "No, that's stupid." :)




THE DOG AND THE ALLIGATOR
Long ago men and women lived apart. The men lived together and were separated from the women by a great river. In the river, there was a fierce alligator who ate anyone who tried to cross it.

However, one man was determined to cross the river. He looked at the situation from all angles and decided that the only way he could cross the river was to get the alligator to take him. So he went down to wait for the reptile.

Soon enough the alligator came. "It is forbidden to cross the river," it said.

"I know," said the man. "I was thinking that, in fact, the only one who can cross the river is you. You are so strong. You could probably cross the river with me on your back and be back so quickly that no one would notice it."

"Well perhaps," said the alligator who was a little vain about his strength.

"But then again, maybe you can't do it. Maybe it is too much for you."

All this time the alligator was thinking. He could take the man part way across, toss him in the water and eat him. "No, no, I can take you. Just get on my back and I will show you."

The man rode on the alligator's back almost to the other side. Then he jumped in the water and swam to the beach. When he got to the beach on the women's island, he said, "While I am here I might as well stay until tomorrow. Come back and get me tomorrow."

The man spent the night with the women, but all the time he was worried about the alligator. He knew the alligator would be upset. When he got to the shore, it was worse than he expected. Many other animals were there to see the alligator's vengeance on the man who had tricked him.
But when the alligator was about half-way across, a dog started barking. "Come closer. I can't see you clearly. I want to see you when you take vengeance on this man." So the alligator came closer to shore. But the dog barked again. "I still can't see you clearly. Come closer." The alligator came in so close, the man was able to jump off his back and run to freedom.

Ever since that day, men and dogs have been best friends.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

(FYI - You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge)



Since the majority of you have never traveled to Honduras, I thought I should give you an idea of what my new city is like. I think most of you will be shocked at how developed it is here...it's not dirt roads and huts like you might be thinking!

Tegucigalpa is the capital city of Honduras, is 290 square miles, at approximately 3200 ft in elevation, and is populated by over 1.25 million people. Tegucigalpa sets on a lot of hills, and is surrounded by a ring of mountains that causes pollution to be trapped in the city.


Most of Honduras has a tropical climate, but Tegus has less humidity and lower temperatures than most other cities because of the higher altitude. Temperatures average from 60's to low 80's most of the year, with December-January being the coldest, and March-April being the hottest. It rains unevenly throughout the year, but during hurricane season (June-Nov) it can rain up to 36 inches a day.


Honduras is made up of barrios and colonias (neighborhoods). The colonias are throughout the center of the city and are occupied by middle- and upper-classes. The barrios are mostly shanty towns surrounding the outskirts of the city, and reflect some of the poorest living conditions in Honduras.

example of a barrio

The wealthiest and most elite live in the colonias of Lomas del Guijarro, El Hatillo, Loma Linda, Miramontes, Palmira, and El Molino. A lot of these colonias also house the best schools, hotels, and all of the embassies. We live in Colonia Ruben Dario, which is, when compared to these colonias, more of a middle class neighborhood.



View of the building Jose's dad is currently building (it's next door to our house)


Barbed wire surrounding our house (every house/building in Honduras has this!)

View of our colonia from the roof of the new building

Something else important to note about the city is the way the streets are organized. Unlike most capital cities in Latin America, the streets are not set up in a system of squares (where one block forms an actual square....just like most cities in the US). They could not be built the correct way when the city was founded because of the hills. Therefore, the streets curve every which way, making it incredibly confusing. To make matters worse, there are no street signs. I bought a city map, thinking it would come in handy if I ever got lost, and there are no street names on it! So basically, the streets don't really have names, and houses/buildings have no numbers.

Stuck in traffic....notice the absence of painted lines on the street




We have almost all of the same fast food restaurants (McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway, Baskin Robbins, KFC, Burger King, Campero, Church's Chicken, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars). The McDonald's and KFC here are HUGE...I've never seen such nice ones!

See all those power lines? I'm pretty sure this is why we lose power so often...there has to be a better way to string all those lines. :)


There are 3 malls in this city: Multiplaza, Las Cascadas, and Metromall. Multiplaza (the closest mall to our house) has a movie theater. You can see each movie either dubbed in Spanish, or just with Spanish subtitles. It only cost 60 lempiras for each movie (about $3 USD)!!! We usually get the same ones here that you do in the US...but I'm still waiting for Mamma Mia to come out here. :(

In Multiplaza there are also some very nice stores, like Lacoste, Nine West, and Benetton. The only department stores there are ones that I've never heard of, like Lady Lee.


So far, my favorite thing is the supermarkets. (I have no idea why!) There are big ones like La Colonia (kind of like Kroger) and then Price Smart (like Sam's Club).




my bank - HSBC

If you want to know more about the city, click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tegucigalpa.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the first day...not so great

I arrived at training yesterday morning at 11 am. The trainer was, as expected from any Honduran, running late. While we waited, the academy coordinator approached me and asked me if I was available as soon as this morning. I said yes, and she told me I would be teaching a level 8 (they are decent in conversational Spanish already) private class this morning at 7 am.

We waited around for 30 minutes for the trainer, and when he arrived, he took us (Jose and I) into a classroom. He spoke very fast, chain smoked, and told us the following:
-Always stand. If you sit down, the energy level goes down with you.
-Never speak in any language other than the one you are teaching.
-80% of the class should be spoken by the students, and only 20% the teacher.
-50% of the class should be explaining grammar, and 50% should be activities.

He handed us a packet (illegally photocopied pages from one of the few text books that the academy owns), and told me to stand up and teach. That was it as far as training.

After only 45 minutes of this unorganized training yesterday morning, I went to teach my first class at 7 AM this morning. It was a private class for the management level employees of a security company called Wackenhut. Before I left for work this morning, I asked Jose if I really needed to be on time (knowing that most Hondurans are never on time for anything). He said that I should since it was the first class. I arrived at Wackenhut at 6:55 am.

When I got there and explained to the guard in my broken Spanish that I was there for English class, he told me he didn't know what I was talking about and they didn't open till 8 am. I waited around until 7:15 when an employee arrived for the class. (Don't worry mom, I was waiting inside with the guard). We went into the board room and made small talk while we waited for everyone else.

His English is decent, but he has difficulty pronouncing a lot of sounds from English. A couple of mispronunciations were so funny I had to write them down to share with you. We were talking about his childhood in Honduras, and he kept saying "When I was a john boy." I was so confused, and surprised that he knew this term "john boy" which I take to mean as a country boy or something similar. After almost 10 minutes of him using this term, I finally realized he was trying to say "young boy" and was mispronouncing young. Another time he was talking about the crime in Tegus, and he said "people tell me that on the bus the deaf, with a gun, and rob them" in his broken English. I thought he was trying to tell me that disabled people were targets for crime, like the deaf and blind. After several minutes, I realized he was mispronouncing the words "thief" and "theft" as deaf. It took a long time to explain the difference between thief and theft, and even after that, he could not pronounce the "th" correctly. Surprisingly, I wasn't frustrated with him at all. It was actually very entertaining. :)

After making small talk for an hour, we gave up on the others and I left. So my first class, my first day on the job, no one showed! Pretty easy. :) Maybe the Friday class will be better.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Consegui un trabajo (I got a job!)

I got a job today! It was easier than I thought...but that's only because one of Jose's good friends used to work there. The people didn't even want to see my resume, they just told me to come back tomorrow for training!

It is called the Academia Europea (European Academy...see their website here: http://www.academia-europea.com/ingles/home.html) and it is one of the most elite of the language schools in Tegucigalpa. And since I'm a gringa (from the US) and a native English speaker, I will make more than the Hondurans working there. I will negotiate my salary tomorrow, but I think I will probably be able to make $80 HNL an hour (that's a little over $4 USD an hour). Also, they will be able to provide free Spanish lessons if I want them. :)

It almost seems too good to be true, that I found a job that easily. I guess we'll find out tomorrow how good it is when I go to training!! :)

Estoy aqui!

I made it! Sorry I have been neglecting my blog...but I was taking a "vacation."

I'll try to sum up the last week in one blog, and I'll try my best to make it as short as possible. :)

Both of my flights (Nashville to Miami, and Miami to San Pedro Sula (SPS)) were fine. On the flight to SPS I sat next to an archeology student from Boston traveling to Copan to dig at a site of ruins for a month. She told me that she was supposed to have been on an early morning flight, and after it was delayed because of weather, she hadn't been able to reach anyone from Copan. No one knew that she had missed her flight, and when we arrived, there was no one there to pick her up.

Jose let her use his cell phone, and her professors in Copan told her to take a taxi to a hotel, and then travel by bus the next morning to Copan. SPS is one of the most dangerous cities in Honduras...and I was shocked that her professors had recommended taking a taxi by herself at night. I volunteered Jose and I to ride in the taxi with her, while Jose's friends followed us in his car. When we got to the hotel her prof's had recommended, there were no available rooms. We all piled into Jose's car (all 6 of us, plus 5 large suitcases) and drove to our hotel. She got the last room available, and was very grateful for our hospitality. She left us a note the next morning thanking us, and offering a free tour of the Mayan ruins in Copan.
Jose, his two friends, and I traveled back to Tegucigalpa the next morning. It was a surprisingly good drive...better than most of the roads I have traveled on in Central America. We got to stop at a road side vendor for some fresh pineapple (I looooove pineapple!).





So we arrived in Tegucigalpa last Wednesday. I spent most of the week unpacking, organizing, and cleaning. Jose's mom has horrible taste (shh don't tell her I said that) and so I brought all of my own bedding, etc. I think I did a pretty good job of transforming it into my own room...but there's only so much I can do. I should have taken before/after pictures, ha!

Now that I'm finally unpacked and settled, and I've finally visited/greeted all of Jose's friends and family....it's time to get down to business. :) This week I am going to find a job. Some of Jose's friends have worked at the European Academy before, and say that I can make decent money there teaching English. As a norteamericana (North American), I can probably make 75 lempiras an hour ($1 USD = $18.8969 HNL) or $3.96 USD an hour. It's a lot different from the US, right? :) And that's a GOOD job...I hate to think how the uneducated people of Honduras make a living.
Comments, questions? Let me know you're reading, please!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

what is meant to be will always find a way

Getting Charlie to Honduras has just gotten more difficult. I called Continental airlines yesterday to make the reservation for Charlie (you can only make a live animal reservation as far as 3 days in advance), and they informed me that this was high season and they could not accomodate him. I was furious! I have been speaking with the cargo office for weeks now planning Charlie's trip, and they were all aware of his departure and arrival cities, and failed to mention anything about a high season. And it's not like I just spoke to one person...multiple people discussed flight schedules and times, and none of them said anything about him not being able to fly. They told me that because it's a peak travel season, and because of weight restrictions, there isn't any room for him....on any flights until August. :( After hysterically crying and yelling at the poor supervisor in the cargo office, he told me to call on Monday to speak with a manager. I'm going to try it out...but if he can't help, Charlie will have to stay in BG until August or September.

After spending my entire Saturday very depressed about the possibility of not having Charlie on my initial trip, I went to church this morning for the first time in too long. I feel like God sent me there for a reason...the sermon was about prayer and trusting God. And one particular scripture that the pastor mentioned was, I think, directed right towards me: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." - Philippians 4:6-8.

Planning this trip has been very stressful, and adjusting to my new home is going to be even harder. All of this is made worse because I suffer from anxiety disorder. Although it is controlled by medication, I am very worried about my emotional state for the first few months while I'm in Honduras. I felt that taking Charlie with me would help me through my adjustments since he comforts me. After hearing from the airline yesterday that he might not be able to go, and then hearing the sermon this morning, I feel like maybe God is telling me to put my faith in Him instead of relying on a dog for comfort. Who knows, I may be reading into it too much, like most women do; but I also believe that everything happens for a reason. :)

I'll post an update about Charlie as soon as I hear something tomorrow.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Countdown....5 days

It's almost time! I can't believe that I'm moving to Honduras in 5 days!

For the most part, things are going smoothly. I have a fabulous replacement at work, and I am confident that she is going to do great...even better than me! ;) It's a little easier to walk away from work knowing that my "baby" is going to be well taken care of!

The only problem that I've had so far with moving is with Charlie. It's harder to get a dog into Honduras than it is me! And no one seems to know anything about the requirements for import...not even the Honduran consulate. I finally figured out the paperwork issue. Next, my problem is with the airlines. Charlie cannot fly with American because it's too hot at our arrival destination. So he will be flying with Continental (everything with them is temperature controlled so it doesn't matter what the temperature is)...and Continental Cargo doesn't depart from Nashville. So I have to drive Charlie to Louisville on Monday morning, and he will fly to Houston by himself. He has to stay overnight in Houston, and then he will fly from there to San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Tuesday. I will arrive in Honduras on Tuesday also, so at least we'll arrive on the same day!

I'm starting to learn (even though Jose has told me a million times) that things are going to be VERY different in Honduras. It's a hard pill to swallow. Even though I've been very aware of the cultural differences there, I'm just now completely understanding how difficult it is going to be for me to adjust. Yesterday, I called the USDA KY office several times and was able to demand that they rush my paperwork for Charlie. I can't do that in Honduras! I won't be able to be my very forward, pushy self...that won't get me anywhere in Honduras like it does here. I am going to a dangerous country, and a very dangerous city. My fair skinned, blond haired self is going to be a target for crime, and I'm starting to get scared! Last night I called my mom crying because I'm starting to become very aware of the obstacles I'm about to face. I'm also already homesick...and I haven't even left yet!!!

Everyone, please pray for me. Please pray that I will stay calm and collected, and have the strength to handle these difficult challenges. And pray that Charlie doesn't hate me for making him fly on an airplane. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cannon Grand Opening!

It's finally over! Although, I have to admit that I'm a little sad. I really enjoyed planning everything. Maybe I've found my calling! :)

Here is a link to the WBKO coverage of our event: http://www.wbko.com/news/headlines/20842484.html

Hopefully it will be downhill from here to finish up my work at Cannon. Now I just have to worry about getting Charlie, my stuff, and ME! to Honduras! :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Charlie's Introduction

I've been so carried away making our plans, that I forgot to introduce you to Charlie. :)

This is Charlie. He is a strange mix of Border Collie-Terrier, and he is about 1 year old. He is the absolute sweetest dog in the world. He is very playful. When he gets really excited, he acts crazy and does flips and jumps around. He's also very skiddish.....he's scared of everything. He doesn't even like to walk by the HVAC return register in the hallway when it's on!
I already voiced my concerns to the vet about him being scared on the plane....and she assured me that it is VERY unlikely for a dog to have a heart attack from fear. ;)
He also doesn't understand a word of Spanish (or English, really) so hopefully he won't be too confused in Honduras! :)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Stressed out about to-do's

When I get stressed, I freak out. About everything. And I'm very moody. I was talking to Jose on the phone the other day, and I was not being very nice to him (sorry amor!). I realized that I was just way too stressed, and so I explained that he hadn't done anything wrong, I was just really stressed. "Stressed about what?" he asked.

Stressed about what???? My to-do list is what's got me stressed out. I realize that you probably don't care what my to-do list is, but somehow, it makes me feel better to type it out and share it with the world. :)

Work:
-type detailed explanations of everything that I do (so whoever takes my place will know what to do)...and I do a lot! HR, A/P, filing, answering the phone, directing visitors to the proper location, keeping the plant manager organized...it goes on and on.
-I need to catch up on all invoicing...all of the really hard invoices that I have trouble entering, or that have the paper work done incorrectly. They all have to be fixed in just a few weeks.
-the grand opening! Our facility grand opening (even though we've been here since October 07) is June 24. I'm planning just about the entire event.
-reorganize my files so the system is understandable to someone else

Plans for trip:
-plan a BIG yard sale and sell everything that Jose left behind, plus all of my stuff that I can't fit into 2 suitcases
-sell my car, or get someone to take over my lease (any takers?)
-find a telecommuting job
-figure out the requirements for Honduran residency/work visas (remember, I don't speak a lot of Spanish, and the Honduran government websites are useless)
-catch up on all of my doctor's visits before my insurance coverage ends
-ship the big/heavy items to Honduras (computer, favorite paintings/pictures, etc)

Charlie's list:
-find an airline approved carrier for him to fly in
-go to the vet and get his vaccinations up to date
-go to Frankfort to get the USDA certificate signed and approved that he is not a rabid, disease carrying animal :)
-teach him Spanish
-find a vet in Tegucigalpa willing to meet me at the airport and verify that he can enter the country
*sigh* Back to work!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Engaged!

It's official! Jose proposed on Friday night. :)

For those of you that don't know yet, Jose moved back to Honduras on Sunday (5/25). Charlie and I will be joining him in July (depending on when my last day at work will be). There is so much to do before we leave! Aside from preparing to leave my job and train someone to take my place, I am planning the grand opening of our plant. It's getting close, so I'm starting to really stress out!