As many of you know, I have been fortunate enough to embark upon a wonderful experience for the next three weeks: I get to study abroad in Honduras!!! In my last post, I said I would do my best to give updates about what’s been going on here. Well, today was my first day in the country, and already so much has happened! So, here’s what I’m going to try to do. (Key word, TRY. No promises!) Part of my assignments for my classes here are to keep daily journals about my thoughts/experiences. So I figured, why not kill two birds with one stone? After I write my journal, I’ll just post it on here and try to add pictures so you can see what’s been happening. Kapeesh? So, without further ado, Journal Entry numero uno:
Journal Day 1: May 13, 2013
An annoying alarm urging you to wake up at 3:15 am is not a pleasant way to start the day. That is, until you remember that you’ll be in Honduras in a matter of hours. After staying the night in Indianapolis with my parents and sleeping a grand total of 3 hours, we left for the airport. I met up with 7 others from the group and said goodbye to my parents. Despite the 6:27 am flight time, I was ecstatic! Not everyone gets the opportunity to study abroad, but here I was, on my way to Honduras for 3 weeks.
We flew for 2 hours from Indy to Houston, TX, where we met up with the rest of the group. There are 13 students in all…and only one boy. And naturally, I have to share my embarrassing moment on that flight. I found my row on the plane, and beings that it was a window seat, the two people already sitting in that row had to vacate so I could climb in. We all got settled in and were all ready to go, until a man came up and told me that I was in his seat. Oops. So, the two people in my row had to get up, as well as the two people in the row I was supposed to be in, so there was a huge hold up in the aisle while some silly little college girl found her real seat. Other than that, the flight went great. I napped, and the time flew by.
We stayed in Houston for a short period of time (woohoo, first time in Texas!) before we had to board our flight to Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. This time I sat in an aisle seat, so no troubles with making people get up! I sat next to 2 guys, who both began chatting immediately. I felt like I was third-wheeling it a little bit and accidentally-on-purpose listened in on their conversation. Mr. Window Seat said he’s been doing research in Honduras for the past year, and Mr. Middle Seat, who I later found out was named Max, was a student at a small school in Louisiana, but was a Honduran native. After Mr. Window Seat dozed off, mouth wide open an everything (there’s something so intimate about riding in a plane with complete strangers), Max turned to me and asked me what my business was in Honduras. Naturally, like all others who have previously asked me, they jumped to mission trip. I corrected him, telling him about our study abroad program and how we were all education majors from Purdue. He seemed pretty impressed with that, and we began chatting. He told me about his school and how he technically just graduated in electrical engineering and was going home for the summer. He even pulled out his college yearbook and showed me all the people he knew. (Hey, what else was I going to do for 3 hours?) He told me about the gap year program he did in London a few years ago, and I pulled out my itinerary for Honduras so he could tell me about everything I would be experiencing the next few weeks. He seemed extremely excited with all that we are going to do, and raved about Zamorano, the campus we’d be staying at.
Then, after filling out some paperwork, a little nausea, and some napping, Mr. Window Seat woke me up to tell me I should watch the landing into Tegucigalpa airport. I learned that it’s one of the most dangerous airports in the world to land in because the pilot has to maneuver between two mountains to get to the runway. Apparently, the pilots have to have special training to fly there, and according to Mr. Window Seat, everyone on board the plane claps when the plane lands safely because it’s so dangerous. For some reason, that didn’t happen this time, which I was a little disappointed about.
We all filed of the plane, got our luggage, and met Dr. Eloisa Rodriguez, the woman who we would be working with while here in Honduras. She has been working with this program for many years and lives in Honduras, so she acts as our guide, our translator, and basically our life-line while here! After stepping out of the airport and taking our first glimpse of Honduras, we were faced with…fast food restaurants?? Pizza Hut, Burger King, and even a Little Caesar’s Pizza were staring back at us. Nothing like a little familiarity to welcome you to a foreign country! We all boarded a small bus (it was a tight squeeze) and we exchanged our American dollars for lempira. We all felt a little sketchy just handing wads of cash over and getting a stack of lempira back, but it was pretty interesting.
And then, we were off. It was a thirty minute drive to the Zamorano campus, but it was absolutely wonderful. I was reminded a little of New York and the crazy driving I experienced while on vacation there. The roads were narrow, and the cars zipped in and around each other, sometimes narrowly missing another car. It was frightening and exhilarating at the same time. Dr. Rodriguez told us that the highway we were on was expanding to three lanes, which was a big deal!
As we drove, everyone had their cameras out. It was absolutely breath-taking. After living my whole life surrounded by cornfields, the hills and mountains of Honduras were a nice change. We saw so many things on the drive: houses upon colorful houses stacked up on top of each other and near each other. Street vendors selling fruit and other items. Children in uniforms walking home from school on the side of the busy road. Stray animals roaming the street. It was so neat seeing this glimpse of the Honduran culture, and I couldn’t wait to see more.
We finally arrived to beautiful Zamorano, the agricultural college where we were staying. We were staying in the Kellogg Center on campus, which is a hotel, not a cereal manufacturer. We got our roommates too: I’m staying with a girl named Lindsey. She’s really nice and cool! We had about 5 minutes to put our stuff in our rooms before we had to go to lunch. And by had to, I mean we were running to get to the food because we were all so hungry. We met in a conference room that would serve as a dining room and a classroom for our stay at Zamorano, and plates of food were already waiting for us. Our first meal in Honduras consisted of chicken, rice, vegetables, and tortillas, which are served at every meal. One bizarre thing we encountered was that there was a plastic bag filled with juice at each of our seats. It brought a whole new meaning to juice pouch. The trick is to rip off a tiny corner of the bag and pour it slowly in your cup. Unfortunately, we have yet to master this, and almost everyone made a complete mess at the table. The food was really good (hey, when have I been picky?), and afterwards, Dr. Rodriguez took us on a tour of campus.
I don’t know if I’ll ever stop raving about how beautiful it is here. All of the buildings are so unique and interesting, and the foliage is so different from what we know from back home. It feels like paradise. We walked around to the pool, a library, a c convenience store, and a Catholic church that was simply gorgeous. Many of us are really hoping to be able to attend mass one day. We saw a lot of college students walking around. What’s interesting is that they have to wear uniforms! Many of the people we passed on our walk seemed curious about our presence on their campus, but they were friendly and some even said hello to us.
We had a couple hours to ourselves before dinner after hanging out by the pool for a little (wait, we haven’t had dinner yet? It feels so late!). Lindsey and I came back to the room and unpacked our stuff and got online. I was able to say hello to my family and to a couple friends via Facebook, but then Lindsey and I succumbed to the pull of sleep and napped. We were simply exhausted. We woke up for dinner at 6 and feasted on some meat, beans, a boiled egg with a white yolk, a bag of red juice called mora which was really delicious, and of course, tortillas. So far so good with the food!
After dinner, some of us gathered to watch a movie on my laptop in the lobby for a little while. There were some Zamorano students also sitting there working on a project. I really wanted to approach them and talk, but I was too timid! I hope I will muster up some courage to be able to do that before our time is up. Tomorrow we meet at 7:30 am for breakfast and are off to Alison Bixby Stone School, the elementary school we will be teaching in for the next couple weeks. Can’t wait for the rest of this adventure to unfold!
The whole group on the bus! (Except for a couple girls who sat up front)
My new friend, Max
The view from the bus
The Kellogg Center
A nifty tree right outside of where we’re staying…looks like the tree of life!
The Hangover in Spanish
Despicable Me in Spanish
Our first meal