The girls and I left Portland the night January 2nd after a wonderful visit with family and friends in Oregon. We were blessed (again) by the hospitality of Ira’s family. Olivia enjoyed her princess room overflowing with baby dolls and books and Ira, Sicily and I enjoyed a cozy bed with no mosquito nets to struggle through during middle of the night feedings/wake-ups. We also loved that my parents were able to come visit and spend Christmas with us! We enjoyed good company, good food, and lots of swimming at their hotel :)
We left Houston at about 9am the next morning and arrived in Tegucigalpa around noon. Despite the rough landing in which we hit the runway, took off again, and then entered the “bowl” where the Teguc airport is to try again…we did make it safe and sound. As my hands went numb (probably due to the extreme adrenaline rush that enters one’s body when one realizes that death, I mean heaven could be closer than expected) the Honduran girl next to me assured me it was perfectly normal for the pilot to make several tries before actually landing the airplane. Anyways, by about 2pm we were on our way to Zambrano with Glen. After a few errands and a balleata (traditional Honduran street food) we were happy to meet Ira (who arrived a day earlier) at our home: the place farther than Los Valles is how we describe it when people ask… “despues de Zambrano, mas larga de Los Valles.”
It feels different coming back, maybe because some things are more new again, maybe because the dynamic is so different with only us, one other volunteer and 11 students on campus. Also, Sicily’s mobility and development have changed so much in the last month. She can walk very well now and the rocks and cement are not as intimidating as we thought they might be, yay! She loves going for walks to see the cows and horses and she is always “mooing” at the cows :) Spending the days exploring the outdoors and Honduran culture with my two little girls is a gift I know I will look back
upon with awe.
The first few nights were so cold but since then, the weather has been hot during the day and comfortable at night. The good thing about cold nights is that there are no mosquitos, I think because they can’t survive. Ira is enjoying the responsibility and purpose demanded by the job of managing everything at Leadership Center. The girls and I love helping him, working on other projects around campus and visiting neighbors. Olivia, Sicily and I have been taking care of the gardens….watering the vegetables always turns into sprinkler and water play time and I usually end up with two, wet, muddy, giggly girls. Sometimes the girls play in the sandbox and tree fort while I clear land of prickly brambles and collect firewood for burning garbage and cooking. We do a lot of walking…often to the neighbor’s to buy beans and quajada (sp?) (sort of like cheese, but different).
Since we returned, we have been visiting the family I wrote about earlier, the one with three little girls. It is about a 20 minute walk across the river and up the side of a mountain. Currently the mom is working picking coffee up on the mountain so she is only home to care for the kids on Saturdays. The father cares for the girls some but often he is out planting in the fields or running errands. The oldest, Nelly, is 11 and she cooks and cares for her little sisters a lot. She is looking forward to returning to the elementary school in February, it seems like her childhood has been pushed aside by the expectations of her in the home. She says she likes helping her family but she would like to go to high school someday and does not wish to have any children of her own. We will try to help her and play with the three of them as much as we can at least until their mother finishes her job at the end of January and is home more. It will be fun for us to go back to helping at the elementary school when it starts up again too. Thank you to everyone who has sent materials for the elementary school and for the college!
On a completely different note, our neighbor Erlinda and her daughter, Margarita, taught Olivia and I how to make quajada (sp?) today. We put our hands in this huge bucket of cows milk and pulled out the cheese-like substance and squeezed most of the liquid out then mixed it with salt and squished it around. It felt so gross but I really wanted to help so I sucked it up, haha. It was worth it because we had quite a few laughs and Erlinda let us bring some of the quajada home for dinner. While we were there, Olivia and Sicily danced to the music on her radio and they discovered four baby kittens in their corn storage house! They were sooo cute, I really wanted to take one home but they are not old enough to leave their mama yet. I wonder if I can get a flea and tick collar somewhere here so we can bring one home…hint hint Erlinda :) Olivia is wondering how much they cost hehe
Overall our first week and a half back has been reallygood. The improvements in relationships between the students show their growth in character and have continued to make our community more tight-knit and happy as a whole. There has also been a noticeable leap in their academic abilities. Ira and I have been greatly encouraged by all the positive changes we see among the students.