So, I may or may not have spelled and phrased everything correctly but I’m pretty sure the title of this post is “No more language school.” I welcome corrections from any bilingual amigos! Today is our last day in Copan and it has been a truly wonderful two weeks. Here are the high points (and one low)!
– The school we attended is fantastic. If anyone would like to have an educational vacation we recommend going to Guacamaya school in Copan. From 8-12 every morning we had class one on one with a teacher who speaks mostly in Spanish. Sean and I were paired perfectly with our teachers. Got along well, felt very comfortable and each teacher was able to teach to our strengths which we really appreciated. Then we had the rest of the day to study. Copan is a sleepy little town with lots of coffeeshops that are perfect for studying. And a fancy drink like a cappacino is roughly a dollar. =) I would say that we learned A LOT of the language these last two weeks, but we learned so many tenses that our heads are spinning with conjugations. As long as people are ok with waiting an entire minute for us to say a sentence and then they respond to us one word at a time then we should do pretty well! Unfortunately, as I mentioned in our last post – people tend to speak in longer full sentences once they realize you don’t understand what’s being said.
– The family we are staying with has provided us with a home away from home. We have been treated to authentic Honduran food (lots of homemade tortillas and beans!) every day. It’s been fun to get to know them and to figure out how best to communicate with each other. The other day we made the mistake of asking about the political situation in Honduras. People here are obviously very passionate about it. And when you’re passionate about something you tend to have a lot to say and you say it rapidly. We THINK that she is a supporter of Zelaya and think Michilleti is a liar, but who knows?
– Here is our one low point – The cost of the school also pays for one activity every week. Our first week was a horseback ride through the mountains to a Mayan village. We were so excited. One thing about Honduras is that the minimum standard of care for animals is at a significantly lower level than in the U.S. The horses arrived and the first thing I noticed was that the horses shoes were coming out the top of their hooves. I’m not a horse expert, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t normal. We set off on our horses and mine just didn’t have much oomph. (Did ‘oomph’ make sense? It’s a word my mom and I always used to describe ‘get up and go’, but it may be an Owensism.) As we were going up the mountain mine was out of breath and stumbled twice. Like significantly stumbled. I may be larger than the typical Honduran woman but I don’t think I should cause a horse to have to work that much harder! I was getting a little nervous that I was going to have to walk back to Copan! We arrived at the village and we instantly surrounded by about 10 kids that were dressed in dirty, holey clothing thrusting dolls and flowers made of corn husks at us saying “veinte, veinte”. (20 in Spanish.) They looked incredibly pitiful and followed us wherever we went. It was one of the creepiest things I’ve seen because these children were speaking so slowly and repetitively that they strongly reminded us of zombies. We figured out that there is a fair trade co-op for women in this village which gives the people an opportunity to gain a bit of profit from the once booming tourism industry in Copan. We watched a woman making the dolls and after a little while there was only one persistent child still trying to sell her doll to us. Thankfully the other kids starting being kids again and playing with each other and laughing. But the minute that we looked like we were considering buying something they surrounded us again. I think somewhere along the lines someone told them that most people coming to their village don’t speak Spanish so they need to talk slowly. And the sadder you look the more people would buy. It was awful. I was so overwhelmed by why poverty exists and why these kids have to suffer and why that horse was so badly shoed that I could think of little else. Then our guide, a very kind man, started telling us his views on the political situation. I couldn’t even begin to try and understand what he was saying. The one upside to our excursion was the way home. I think my horse knew that his day was nearly over and he FLEW down the mountain. I’ve never galloped so fast on a horse in my life. It was exhilerating. Unfortunately, Sean’s stir-ups were too long so he had no control over himself and had to flop around the whole way down. He didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I!
– Thankfully our activity the next week was much better. We went to the Parque de Aves (Bird Park). This is a sanctuary for rescued Macaws, Toucans, Parrots, etc. They were incredible. Have you ever looked closely at a Toucan’s beak? So much color. And the Macaw’s feather’s don’t just change from a row of red feather’s to a row of blue. The individual feather’s become two toned so that it gives the rows of color a blended look. I was so in awe of God at this park. What is the point of all this detailed beauty? There isn’t one. (Well, I’m sure there’s something about attracting a mate, etc. but they could’ve attracted a mate with a row of red, then a row of yellow.) It just reminds me that God cares about the small stuff. That He’s an artist. Breathtaking. The tickets to the park are good for 3 days so Sean and I went again the next day. We were the only ones there (the same as the day before) and we wondered if there has been a big decrease in the number of visitors since the presidential ‘coop’ in June. Well, it being a very small town we happened to meet the (American) owner of this park that evening and had quite a long chat with him. He said that there were zero paying customers at the park on that day. I asked if this is less than normal and he laughed out loud. Before the coup they averaged 90 paying visitors a day. Now they are down to zero. That night we talked to Corrie (the woman we’re staying with) about this and she said that at the language school they used to have around 20 students every week. We were 2 of 4 students each week we were there. Then we thought about it a little more and realized that every time we ate at a restaurant, we were the only customers. I end this post with a request for prayer for Honduras. This is an incredibly beautiful but incredibly poor country that relies heavily on tourism. The political upheavel has made people afraid to visit. No tourists means to work which means no food. No tourists means no visitors to the Mayan village to buy the dolls that cost $1 each. Our first week here we helped a team from the US help build a house. 4 men (3 of them over the age of 70) built a house in 3 days. This house was supposed to be built in July, but since this is the first team that hasn’t cancelled their trip since the ‘coop’ the 4 person family has had to live in a 100 square foot room with dirt floors and holes in the bottom of the walls that has allowed the rainwater to create deep ruts in the floor, insects, and animals for 3 months longer. And who knows when the homes will be built that all the other teams were planning on building? Thankfully, this crisis has been incredibly peaceful, but the country is suffering. And of course, the poor are suffering silently and the most. So here are 3 things to pray for:
1. Pray Zelaya (the ousted President) will bow out of this fight gracefully and that the world powers will recognize whoever is elected as President in November to be the true leader of this country.
2. Pray that travelers will feel safe enough to come to Honduras and that tourism will increase once again.
3. Pray that Heart to Honduras teams will be able to follow through with their missions trip plans. Also that donations to the organization would increase. We could potentially build some of these homes without a team if the funds were there. If 3 men over 70 can build a house in 3 days than we could get a lot done as well!
Thank you all for sticking with our super long post all the way til the end! We’d love to hear any little tidbits from the states as well. Love you guys!