Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Library and the Museum Witch

Today's story starts a couple of weeks ago when I read that there is a library (a REAL library!) in San Pedro Sula, with a section full of children's books in English.  It's part of the Centro Cultural Sampedrano, located in el centro.

So, this morning Nicholas and I headed thataway... We found it easily, found parking right in front!, and didn't get mugged on the way I was already feeling confident as we walked through the front door.  The guard was very friendly.  Another small success!  He pointed us in the direction of the library, and when I turned around and saw it my heart skipped a beat.  A giant library (and by giant I mean a big room of books) behind a wall of glass with the words BIBLIOTECA printed above.  And I could just see it....Nicholas and I reading books on the floor, and oh, what's this?  Another mom and toddler also there reading books!  And, oh, you don't have any friends either?  Let's be best friends and have play dates and, OH, our husbands can be best friends too!
And then I heard records screeching and my dreams were crushed when the guard said, "Wait!  I don't think you can go in there with a baby!"

-"What do you mean?  He's seriously not allowed in?"
-"Well, you can go in and ask, but I don't think they'll accept you with a baby."

So in we went.  In the corner I spotted a shelf of children's books - in English! - PETER FREAKING RABBIT.  And then the librarian (who was not very librarian-like and much more witch-like) glared at my unwelcome toddler. 

-I whispered, "someone told me you have children's books here in English."
-"Yes, we do, but he can't come in.  Only children 6 and older are allowed,"  cackled the library witch.
-"Not ever?  You don't have story time or anything?"  And the library witch just shook her head.

And before I started crying, I turned around and walked out.  Tears were streaming down my face before I made it to the car.  I put Nicholas in his car seat and got in my own seat and cried and cried as I stared out the front window.  I was angry that I'd gotten my hopes up so much over a library, and angry that everyone in the building had looked at me so strangely entering a library with a toddler, and sad that whoever makes the library rules was so ignorant!  And sad, of course, that I don't know a single soul in this whole city!

I felt sorry for myself for a few minutes, wiped my face, and headed out of el centro.  We made our way out of the city towards a children's museum I had noticed a few days earlier.  We parked and walked towards the building.  The employees outside the "ticket office" glared at us and made us feel just as unwelcome as the library-witch.  We went in anyway. 

-"Good morning, I came to see what you have at the museum!" I said cheerfully.
-"We have a something-room and a something-exhibit and a something something something.  The entrance is so many lempiras.  But you can't come in.  We only accept groups of 10 people or more."

And I thought, "What is this?  An attempt to make me feel even worse that I know NO ONE here?!" 

-"Well, that's ok.  Do you have any workshops or classes that I could enroll my son in?"  "No," said the museum witch. 

And so I left.

And I got in the car and cried and cried again.  I drove home and called my husband and cried and cried some more.  Then I called my mom, crying, and she said, "well, I understand why you're upset.  But you know what?  Take charge of this, Hannah.  Start a group of moms.  Go out and find friends - just MAKE IT HAPPEN! Open your own darn library!" 

And that was all it took to empower me.  No more crying and feeling sorry for myself...I'm starting a group for expat/Honduran mommies in San Pedro Sula that want to make friends.  How will I find members if I don't know anyone?  I'm not sure yet.  hahaha  If you are my friend on Facebook, look for it soon. 

Oh, and no witches allowed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our first adventure

The other day Nicholas and I headed out in search of Cortitelas (fabric store).  Cortitelas has a nice website, and even offers a map to their 2 locations in San Pedro Sula.  We decided on the location that wasn't in el centro to make things easier.  I studied the maps and thought I had it figured it out, and off we went (with our iPhone of course - we would need that website and Google Maps!)

I bet you can guess that we got lost.  Really lost.  We drove around the entire downtown for 2 hours. 

(On the bright side, while we were "exploring" I found a Keymart and a Super Xtra (think Big Lots-type stores) as well as a ton of junk stores - all of which I pinned on my Google Maps for later.)

We drove and drove and drove.  At some point Nicholas fell asleep and then I didn't feel as rushed.  I started to just enjoy the adventure, and stopped paying attention to the street signs as much.  As I approached one stop light, I suddenly realized I needed to turn left, but because of the flow of traffic it seemed like it might be an illegal turn.  The light was about to turn red so I took advantage of the stop in traffic and went ahead and turned left anyway (I mean, that's what all the other Hondurans do, right?).  Immediately there was a motorcycle with 2 cops behind me honking for me to pull over.  GREAT, I thought.  I stopped right in the middle of the street and rolled down my window.

Officer 1, in Spanish: Do you know that turn you just made was illegal?
Me:  Yo no hablo español. (with the gringo accent way up!)
Officer 1: No habla español?
Me, in English:  What?
(Officer 1 looks at Officer 2 and smirks)
Officer 1, in very broken English:  Where are you from?
Me, in English:  OH you speak English!  I'm from Kentucky!  Can you help me find Cortitelas???
Officer 2, in Spanish: Do you have the papers for the vehicle??
Me, in English:  What??  My license?  Here's my license.
Officer 2, in Spanish to Officer 1: Just let her go, man.  She doesn't understand.
Officer 1: Looks at my license and says "cheque, que le vaya muy bien." (Ok, have a nice day!)

(I'm telling you, this works every time.  I will never speak Spanish to another police officer again!)

Afterwards I felt kind of guilty for lying - I really did break the law this time and they were just doing their jobs, never know when it could turn into a bribing situation (or something more dangerous!).  Also, I bumped into 2 cars on 2 different occasions and sped away (I was scared of having to get out of the car downtown!) so I guess I'm also guilty of hit and run.

After breaking the law 3 times (that I know of) I decided it was a sign to give up and go home.

The next day, we headed out to try again, and look what we found on the FIRST TRY...


The other day I *very randomly* decided I was going to make a pickled cabbage salad (the kind that goes on top of pupusas or Honduran enchiladas).  In Honduras we just call this repollo (cabbage). 

I couldn't find a decent recipe online, and no one posted any helpful replies to my request on Facebook, so I decided to wing it. (Warning...I'm just guessing on the amounts here, I didn't really measure when I made it)

1/2 small cabbage
1/2 large carrot
1/4 onion
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
2 teaspoons dried oregano
sprinkle of chili powder
salt and pepper

I don't have a food processor, so I cut the small head of cabbage into quarters, and then sliced it thin on my mandoline slicer.  I did the same with a white onion, then I shredded half of a large carrot.

I mixed it all in a bowl, and then added the other ingredients.

I put it in a plastic dish and left it in the fridge overnight.  We had it last night with homemade chicken enchiladas (not to be confused with Mexican enchiladas - these are more like tostadas).

My husband was hesitant to try it (I'm a good cook when I follow recipes, but not very good at making things up haha) but LOVED it and even asked for tacos with it for dinner tonight.  I call that SUCCESS!

It might not seem like a big deal, but I felt like I really accomplished something big with this recipe.  Maybe I'm even feeling brave enough to attempt homemade tortillas next....

Monday, August 13, 2012

From the last 2 weeks...

 helping mom pack

 adios casa 13!

 welcome to san pedro sula!

 the new home sweet home

 in the neighborhood park

 scorpions in sps are bigger :-/  oh joy

 109 freakin degree heat index. yuck

 i'm feelin ya brotha - it's the heat!

What I've learned so far...
-Google Maps, while often very helpful in navigating the city, is NOT a totally reliable means of finding places. Don't trust the Google location of the Copantl hotel, Emporio, or basically anywhere else downtown.
-It's. SO. Hot.  The A/C is a necessity 24 hours a day, and I am DREADING getting the electric bill.
-The heat has one advantage - who needs a dryer when your clothes dry on the line before the other load finishes washing?!