Week 8

Study Buddy soccer game part II
It's hard for me to believe that my time here is almost halfway over. As much as I try to live in the moment, I can't help but look forward. Thinking about leaving the kids and leaving this amazing little town that I've come to call my home breaks my heart. I guess it's good I realize how much I love it here because it will help me to embrace the present and enjoy each day as much as possible.

This week has been a full one. We've had volunteers leaving, volunteers arriving, huge storms, and cancelled classes among many other things. It's been a roller coaster but, then again, I feel like I say that almost every week.

Our weekend began with us saying goodbye to one of the two medical volunteers, Keegan. This farewell was particularly hard for me and Yamit because we'd become very attached. During his six weeks here, Keegan had become the older brother we'd never had. He is a Wisconsin native who enjoys both ice cream and skiing, so we made him promise to come visit us in Vermont where we will take him to the Ben and Jerry's factory.

On Saturday morning, Yamit and I woke up earlier than either of us would have liked and went with my study buddy, Taber, into La Ceiba to watch a marching band competition. I may have mentioned this in an earlier post, but Taber is in the El Porvenir marching band. Earlier that week in Study Buddies, he'd been telling me about the band competition and how excited he was for it. However, not enough El Porvenir musicians showed up for practice in the days leading up to the event, so his group had to pull out at the last minute. Luckily for me and Yamit, this meant that we got to go watch AND spend time with a local.

The bands paraded through the streets before arriving at the arena
Let me take a minute to clarify something: when I say marching band, I don't mean the typical marching band that would play at high school football games. Instead, I'm talking about a marching band with different instruments than we have in the States. The bands here have choreography and use instruments called guiros and liras along with many kinds of drums, and cymbals. Their main purpose is to compete. It's essentially a sports team for musicians.

Although the competition took up the entire morning and much of the early afternoon, I enjoyed watching the bands perform. Sitting there next to my study buddy, I felt as close to being Honduran as I have since I've been here. It was also nice to travel to Ceiba and walk around with someone who actually knows the city.

The red marks the Dept. of Atlantida 
I know I've mentioned before that it's rainy season here and that it rains pretty much every afternoon and evening. This week, however, was a bit different. The rain began on Tuesday afternoon, I think, (it's hard to keep track because it just rains so darn much) and continued all night. By the next morning, the streets were flooded and we were told that there was a Red Alert over the entire area of Atlantida. A Red Alert signifies the potential for severe weather and the citizens of El P were advised against leaving their houses until the storm subsided. Schools were closed and we had to cancel our classes as well. It was essentially a snow day, except for the fact that it was caused by rain.

Even though we weren't teaching classes, we kept ourselves busy organizing the house and posting on social media. By Wednesday afternoon, the rain had slowed to a drizzle, so Yamit and I ventured out into the streets. We walked around for a while, not even trying to stay dry. On the way back home, we stopped by the field where earlier, we'd seen a pick-up soccer game. It was still going on, so we sat at the side of the field and watched the young men try to play in the mud and puddles.

The Red Alert stayed on through Friday, though the rain had stopped and the puddles had begun to dry by Thursday afternoon. Because we were going stir-crazy, a few of us decided to go on a walk. We walked around the town for almost two hours, exploring parts we'd never been to, and returning to sections some of us wanted to explore again. Our outing made me realize how little of El Porvenir I actually know. While I could tell you about almost any house on the main road, and recognize any place on the walk to PEP2, I know zip about the rest. So, after two months here, I finally felt as though I were getting a sense of the places in town that are off the main drag, peeling back yet another layer of the onion.

The water reaches our ankles
Even in these unfamiliar places, we were still greeted by kids from our classes and this immediately made wherever we were feel friendlier. It's funny because in a recent email exchange with a family friend, I was asked whether I felt like the kids were less willing to give themselves fully to us because most of the volunteers who come here don't stay for very long. Though that would make sense, it appears as though the constant turnover among volunteers has little to no effect on these kids. They are still willing to give their whole hearts to each and every one of us, even if it means that it will hurt more when we leave. I find this fascinating and it makes me wonder what in this culture makes it so easy for children to be so warm and open with us even when it could make our departure significantly more difficult for them.

Speaking of letting go, on Thursday, in the midst of the storm, we said goodbye to our other medical volunteer, Angela. She'd only been here for a month, but during her time had become like a mom to me and Yamit. She was always there when we were sick or needed someone to talk to and she had a calming, yet fiery presence. We will all miss her dearly. As excited as Yamit and I are about the new volunteers, it's still quite hard to say goodbye to people who have become a part of our tiny HCA family. Leaving in December is going to be rough.

Dar el puño (fist bump) + chócolas (high five) = pavo (turkey)

In one of my posts a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I took on the role of Co-Snack Coordinator. One of the most important parts of our program is to provide the kids in El P with healthy snacks filled with protein and other nutrients they need but may not be getting at home. We're fundraising for next year so we'll have enough money to be able to buy all of the food we need in order to give these kids the best healthy snacks possible. Our goal is to raise $3,000 which should cover our snack expenses for the entirety of 2018. It doesn't seem like much, does it? This cause is one that is very important to me and I'm hoping that, through reading my blogs, it has become important to you, too. It would mean the world to me if you could donate to help fund healthy snacks for next year. Even $5 will make a difference and will put a smile on these kids' faces. Here's the link to the  gofundme:  https://www.gofundme.com/hunger-relief-in-honduras 
Thank you in advance!

Word of the week:
Charco: puddle. I learned this while walking through a nice big one.

Yamit quote of the week:
"WHAT...? I was listening to my podcast." said after beginning the Serial podcast series