Monday, June 27, 2011

The Magical Fruit

Growing up, my family didn't eat a lot of beans. In fact, my idea of beans were only in Minestrone soup. And we never, ever fried them. Our protein consisted of what 'normal' Americans eat: chicken, beef, pork. But these little red things? Never.

I knew I liked beans and was willing to get used to them because I was well aware of the fact that typical Hondurans eat beans every day. For the first week or so, I religiously ate beans -- in the grain, mashed, blended and fried... any way possible. I ate a lot, I ate a little, I just ate what was served to me.

But one or two weeks later, my stomach had had enough beans. It was simply rejecting all the goodness from the frijoles and decided to make me as sick as a dog. So I didn't eat the beans that I so much enjoyed and had to slowly recover from feeling sick almost the entire time I was awake. I drank a lot of Alka-Seltzer water (gross) and laid around, pain shooting through my stomach and body like I had been torturing it.

It took me a while to recover from the sickness, taking medicine and drinking so much water I think I almost exploded. Now, I eat beans daily. It's weird not to eat beans. Actually my typical diet has changed so much that if I eat a heavy dinner consisting of meat, potatoes, etc. I feel sick. My body has adjusted to beans, tortillas, cheese and maybe hot dogs/chorizo/bologna for dinner. It's a strange concept to have changed your dietary habits after 25 years of eating the same things, but it doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would.

Hondurans have a typical food called the Baleada, which is a freakin' joy to eat and one day soon, I'll describe in depth this amazing, simple, easy food.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Learning Spanish and Why It Haunts Me

When I first arrived in Honduras, I didn't know much Spanish. My vocabulary consisted of simple words: hola, adios, gracias. I made a promise to myself that I would learn as much as possible, but for me, that required studying.

My first couple of days, I was overwhelmed. Every sign was in Spanish. Everyone spoke Spanish. I was completely lost, relying strictly direct translation to English. From February to April, I didn't try to learn much. But I found my Spanish book and started to religiously study it daily. I did the grammar exercises, learning new vocabulary words and began to understand how to read and write in basic Spanish.

The problem was -- and still continues to be -- that I have a super big fear of speaking! I know exactly what I want to say, I can understand what people say to me (if they speak slowly, of course) but I can't seem to jump the wall and produce the words from my mouth.

I'm not sure exactly what my problem is but I think it stems from two things:
1. Some people pulled a joke on me when I was first learning that made my confidence drop; and
2. I'm a teacher so I think WAY too much.

I want to overcome my fear but it takes a lot of guts for me to speak. I don't want people to laugh or make comments, I don't want to have the wrong accent or forget to roll my R's. I don't want to make a mistake. But learning only comes from mistakes.

If I can give advice to my students to take risks when they learn English, why can't I take my own advice?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Don't Think I Can Rough It

About two months ago when I was Skyping with Mom, I asked her if she was going to come visit me here in San Pedro. Her immediate response was, "Kate, you know me, I don't want to rough it." To be honest, I was kind of shocked that she said that because -- and let's be completely clear here -- I don't "rough" it! I live in a normal house (although it's made completely of concrete but let's ignore that fact) with all the normal things. I have running water, electricity, a real shower (not a bucket - where do people get this idea?!), cable television, internet, all of the normal things that US people have!

This encounter made me ponder deeply about the myths that people who have never traveled to a Central American country think about the lifestyle here (traveling to a resort in Costa Rica or Mexico doesn't count, people!). And it made me want to attempt to debunk those comments and suggestions that people assume about the way I live. I may not live in a huge house with 1000 objects, big rooms and a yard, but I live comfortably and within reason.

Trust me, I've had to adapt to living in this city -- in this country -- for the past four months. And the adaptation is continuing because sometimes things happen that just bug me to no end but it's all about dealing with the culture and learning to understand that people live differently but in the end, we are all the same.

And living here is beginning to help me discover what I can do and how much I can push myself.