Sunday, September 30, 2012

Retreat! Retreat!

Every year, each grade at IST gets maybe two or three "retreats." This is a time (either one day or an overnight schindig) when the students travel outside the city to hang out, play games, and hear a spiritual message.

Most of the time, we go to a camp called Converge. This is located outside of Tegus in the mountains. A baptist organization in the States owns and runs this camp, renting it out to groups who will use it to inspire kids and change lives. Last year, I helped lead a camp for blind children there. I never posted pictures, so here is a recap.

We first spent some time becoming blind ourselves. Elena is leading a blindfolded Laura around the camp. 

We hosted our own Olympic Games! This kid thought he was the MAN.

Our team won! Los grios gringos! (The white grasshoppers!)

On a side note, I forgot how thick the rain can get in Tegus. This is a pic from my apartment window last year. Yowza!

Anywhoo, back to Converge I went this past Tuesday, but with my new 9th-graders. Along the way, we marveled at Honduras' beautiful landscape.

Once we arrived,  the first thing to happen was the games. 

Water-balloon volleyball!

A bunch of my students just being cool:

Next, was the balloon relay. The student in the back of the line had to blow up a balloon, crawl under everyone's legs, and run to the designated area to sit on the balloon and pop it. 

Running with the balloon. 

I took a bunch of pictures of my students sitting on balloons, but to be honest, they looked too weird to post. One can't exactly tell what they are doing and I didn't want people guessing.

During the last game, each student from the two teams held a piece of paper with a number on it. Mr. G called out a long number (1, 543, 298, for example) and each team had to attempt to form the number as fast as possible.

We did have some free time to just chill. 

There are too many zany things happening in this picture (including Mr. Winkler counting (?) in the background).

Some of my lovely students.

A random, theatrical moment happened here. It can't be explained or quantified.

Had to make a little collage of these two. 


Hiding out.

The grounds.

The camp involuntarily hosts puppies from time to time when one of the strays gives birth. This puppy is absolutely precious and fiercely hungry.

His brother, too. We gave all of our leftovers to these little guys, but we had to lower the plates as close as we could to the ground and then we just dropped the plates. Otherwise, we might have lost some hands.

I love this picture: one of my students and the aforementioned hungry, hungry puppy.

This is the mama, I presume. She hung around her pups the whole time we were there, just staring at us like this. To me, she didn't seem angry, but desperate. As dramatic as it sounds, she seemed to say, "You can play with my babies all you want, just feed them too."

On the way home, I attempted to take pictures of the humongous wind turbines on the mountains. They seem to appear out of nowhere and they stand incredibly stark against the clear blue skies (and those happen quite a lot in Honduras). 

More of the countryside. 

Beautiful Honduras. 

Admittedly, this past week was a long one. That "new school year honeymoon" is over and we're realizing (and remembering, no doubt) how much work this sort of thing actually requires. 

This week, I'm anticipating another long, but enjoyable, couple of days. Tomorrow night, the Teacher Book Club is reuniting once more to eat delicious tacos and discuss the first half of 30 Pieces of Silver. Tuesday night, marks the North American community's first trivia night hosted by myself and Matt Winkler (the photo-bomber of Fiesta Catracha). We've come up with some quirky/crazy/hilarious questions this year and Estee and her team have been quizzing each other on random, useless facts for days. On Wednesday, my student book club, The Fellowship of the Book, meets to discuss the first couple chapters of Scott Westerfield's sci-fi dystopian thriller, Uglies. Then, this weekend, the North American community is heading to Lago de Yojoa (Remember in the last post when I mentioned the lake of Honduras? This is it. The one and only.) Apparently, while there, one can zipline (I made that a verb, see?), rent a horse, stay at a brewery, hike, stand under a waterfall, etc. Sounds like Honduras-fun and I'm game!

Despite all these amazing happenings, I must confess I'm somewhat sad to see all the fabulous art prize pictures, especially since Grand Rapids went all Tangled with the lanterns this year (I hope those were biodegradable, by the way). Plus, this is the first year that I will miss the entirety of autumn. The pumpkins, the sweaters, the boots, the apples, the pies, the sweet potato dishes, the Starbucks seasonal lattes, etc. I found this recipe for apple cider floats and nearly wept. This morning, I got all worked up about a great recipe for butternut squash soup until I remembered that I'm in a tropical country and cannot find such things. In fact, the translation for squash is calabaza: pumpkin. Not the same thing! Not at all! 

So, on my behalf, please enjoy all the wonderful things mentioned above, especially the apple cider floats. I will be posting again before you know it!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Last weekend, after the festivities of Fiesta Catracha, the whole of the IST community enjoyed a glorious three-day weekend. Some of us went to places like Amapala (a simple, but dreamy island off the southern coast of Honduras) and Lago de Yojoa (Honduras's famous lake, the lake), but many of us were tuckered out and chose to experience one of Tegus's many local charms: El Picacho

Picacho is actually the name of the mountain that sits in the northernmost point of the city. It is a ramal (or "branch") off la Montaña de la Tigra where La Tigra national park is and where Jorge and Monica run their (amazing/delicious/European) hostel. Picacho is known in Honduras for a.) boasting the best view of the city and for b.) housing the monument El Cristo del Picacho which is a 30-meter high statue of Christ.  Constructed in 1997, this statue is very similar to the statue Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro. 

Welcome to Picacho!

Picacho also gives life to some beautiful gardens. 

The inevitable flower picture.

This is a picture of a palm tree that turned out funky. Still pretty, I say.

"Honduras" spelled in delicate, groomed shrubbery.

A cool sign. It reads, I think, "Parks are tests of our culture." 

You can't find these things in Michigan. I believe these are called "paradise" flowers. 

Beautiful, green Honduras.

Jesus - that way! 


And this is what we're here for, folks.

Taking in the view.

Estee and Kristi.

To some, this is the most important structure in the city.

This is a picture of the runway, yes, the runway strip in Tegus. IST and my neighborhood are not pictured, but reside to the upper left of the picture.


I love how there's just a random green mountain road in the middle of the city.

Morgan, that stud. He's heading home on October 11 to get married. When he makes his triumphant return to the city, his beautiful bride will be at his side (sounds like a country tune, now don't it?).

Kaytie and Marisha.

Estee and I trying to take a serious picture once again.

Morgan, suffering for his art.

And there he is. 

Just below the statue.

Pedi's anyone?

The view.

A round soccer poli.

Luke 24: 50-51

Kinda looks like Jesus is insulting me.

This city is unreal!

Love this building.

The random mountain road again.

Basically, "The Lord can't help us take care of plants if we steal them and mistreat them!"


Random, but beautiful pyramid.

We saw some Honduran hotties at the top of that pyramid. This was the dialogue they shouted down to us.

We traveled to Valle de Angeles after Picacho. I love the colors of these houses! 

We saw Valle's official marching band.

This guy was legit. Check out those dolphin pants. I don't remember ever seeing a marching xylophone.

A professional.

Here's a short video of the band. Watch the kid pictured above on the bottom left. I don't think he was supposed to start dancing! haha

What a great weekend!

In other news, we now have internet at the high school. I can check my email without having to walk up two floors to get a signal. There goes my fitness routine. . .

Hope everyone is enjoying the beginnings of fall in the States. Have a Robinettes donut or two for me!