Sunday, March 23, 2014

Marketplace Beauty

My friend, Gaby, loves to shop at the open-air market here in Tegucigalpa because the prices are so much cheaper than at the supermarket. But I love the market because it's just like the third-world marketplaces you see on t.v. In fact, every time we're there I half-expect to see a gaggle of Amazing Race contestants breathlessly rushing between stalls with their oversized backpacks standing out among the sweaty young men pulling carts and the little old ladies peddling strings of garlic.

Gaby took Nick and I along for her weekly shopping trip yesterday. This isn't your everyday farmer's market, folks. There aren't words to describe the vibrancy of the colors, the richness of the smells wafting through the air or the sound of the vendors calling out their best deals as we passed by. But Nick did snap a few pictures that managed to capture some the beauty of the marketplace.

The tables are a rainbow of every kind of vegetable imaginable.

Citrus fruits are stacked high on tables and in crates.

Nick and I were a little dubious when Gaby explained that colorful peppers were actually how cashews are grown. But, as usual, she knows what she's talking about. Look close at the ends and you'll see the familiar shape of a cashew nut.
Beans are staple of the Honduran diet and there's no shortage of them in the market.

Melons cut in fancy designs are meant to entice customers to the fresh produce.

I love this photo of me and my best friend in Honduras!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Field Trip Day

Every kid looks forward to a field trip. And we are no exception! On Friday, our Spanish teacher took us on an outing to a tourist area known as Valle de Angeles. We had extraordinary views, mild weather and plenty to space to walk around and do a little shopping. But by the time we got home, our brains were exhausted from the day of Spanish-only interactions. Still, it was a beautiful day and a wonderful vacation from our normal study routine. Below are some photos we took of our first field trip.

Steve and I with our Spanish teacher, Rosario.

A little tourist restaurant lures in customers with its assortment of pets, including this guy who snuck up on us!

And here are his little friends!

This little one was on a short leash and pretty scared of us when we approached.

Poinsettias aren't just for Christmas here in Honduras. They grow everywhere!

For some reason every tourist shop in Honduras has these roosters (and a lot of them!).

We've only ever seen two squirrels in Honduras and both of them have been pets! This one was in a cage outside a leather shop in the Valle.

Steve and I in the center square of Valle de Angeles.

On the way home, we stopped at one of the many stands along the road so Rosario could buy some flowers for her home.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Laundry Detergent with Your Breakfast Cereal?

Now this is something I had really missed about living in Honduras. Sometimes for a special promotion, grocery stores will use packing tape to package together two products. Ideally, you get two products for one low price.

Laundry detergent with your breakfast cereal? Yes, please!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

God Works When the Garbage Man Doesn't

I needed to get to the grocery store. It seemed like I was missing one ingredient from every dinner recipe in my admittedly tiny arsenal. But we don't have a car yet. So we have to wait until after 4:00 when the office closes to walk the block and a half to pick up the office car. The problem was that yesterday was garbage day. And on garbage day, you have to wait for the garbage truck to come by so you can put out your garbage. If you put it out too soon, it will end up strewn all over the sidewalk by the stray dogs and people searching for anything of value. The garbage truck was late. 4:00 came and went with no sign of the truck. If we left before it arrived it would be several more days before we could get rid of the growing pile of garbage. But if we waited too long, the office would be locked up tight with the keys to the car safely inside. And we'd risk being out after dark. The garbage truck was late and I was annoyed. I just wanted to get to the store and get home to make dinner. Finally, I was fed up. We decided to risk the mess and put the garbage out and made our way to the office.

We made it just in time to get the keys just as the last employee was leaving for the day and about to lock the door behind her. We jumped in the car and pressed the button to open the automatic gate that would allow the car access to the street outside. Nothing. Steve pushed it again. Nothing happened. He got out and investigated the sensors. He didn't see anything wrong. I sat in the car growing more irritable by the second. After about 15 minutes, Steve was finally able to call someone who was able to identify the problem and the door slid open. By this time, I was tired, hungry and downright cranky at all the delays.

Finally, we pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store and Steve found a spot close to the door but facing out toward the busy street and sidewalks. As I gathered my purse, I noticed two young men passing in front the car on the sidewalk. I don't know why I noticed them out of all the people passing by at that moment but I did. And my eyes met with one of the men as he turned and awkwardly stared at the gringos sitting in the car. His eyes lit up. My jaw dropped. A smile spread across his face as I fumbled to open my door and greet him. Milton, one of the students we ministered to when we were here in 2010, met us with big hugs, saying "I never thought I'd see you again. I missed you!" Of the over one million people living in Tegucigalpa, God brought us face to face with the one I needed to see!

Milton was one of our younger students and one of Nick's closest friends at El Sembrador. Now, he's all grown up and attending the university here in Tegucigalpa. He told us he was attending church and making good grades. Most importantly, he told us he loved us.

I can't help but think about all those delays in getting to the grocery store. If we had left even one minute sooner, we'd have missed seeing and reconnecting with Milton. And I would have missed what God was trying to do. I'm so glad the garbage truck was late and that God allowed us to be a tiny part of Milton's life again.

Little Milton with Little Nick and Little Omar at El Sembrador in 2010

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The New Car Challenge

Buying a car in the US can be quite a challenge. There are so many options and variables that it is almost impossible to tell if you are getting a good deal or not. Add in the factor of buying a used car and it is even more of a challenge. Now, try it in a different language, in a different country and in a different culture.

That’s what we’re facing.

Today I went out with a co-worker, Saul, to go look at cars. He said that he had a neighbor that had a car for sale and offered to take us there. So, I went with him to go look at the car, while Kelly waited at home for Nick. Apparently, the neighbor is a dealer and has a lot of about 15 cars along the side of the road. So, I looked over the car and made a mental list of everything that was wrong with it. I also took it out for a test drive and checked the acceleration, handling and ability to climb hills. I added to the long list of issues that the suspension probably has some issues. I also noted that the gas gauge was well below the “E” line. I guess they don’t want you to go far if you decide not to return the car. When we got back, we “talked” some more about the issues with the car and the dealer assured me that everything could be fixed in about 20 minutes. Yeah, right! Nothing is done in 20 minutes in Honduras. The one thing the car does have going for it is that it is well within our price range.

Then we went to another “dealership” about 200 feet away. This guy also had about 15 cars and actually had a small shack for an “office”. After looking around at a couple, I picked a car that I wanted to test drive. As I was checking it out, I inquired about the blinkers. He said they were like “bomberos” (firemen). I guess they flicker back and forth like those on a fire truck. I wonder if it comes with a siren, too? A little skeptical now, I decided to ask if I could take it out for a test drive. For some reason, they seemed very reluctant to let me take it (They must have seen me out the road before!). After some convincing from my friends, we were able to go for a test drive with the dealer’s brother in tow. This car also had no gas in it, so my chaperone had me pull into a gas station so he could put about a quart of gas in it. After driving it around for a bit in the heavy Tegucigalpa traffic, we returned to the lot and I inquired about the “check engine light” being on. He said that all the cars on the lot have the “check engine light” on. Despite that, this car was in much better condition, but it also came with a price tag that is slightly higher than my budget. 

Tomorrow Saul and I will visit a few more dealerships. I’m hoping for some better luck (and maybe someone that speaks English!).

Saturday, March 08, 2014

We're different, but the same

Yesterday afternoon, my Honduran friend, Gaby, took me to a market near our apartment to shop for fruits and vegetables. It was a completely different experience than the supermarket I visited last week! And it's times like these that it really hits me that, despite the McDonald's and Wal-Mart in the city, we're living a culture very different from our own.

Gaby had hired a taxi to take us to the market and, apparently, she knows him quite well because the engaged in a lengthy conversation along the way. And what did they talk about you ask? Never-ending road construction and traffic jams, of course! We may be in a very different culture, but as I listened to Gaby and her friend chat, I was also reminded that we are all the same. We all want to find the best deal on tomatoes. We all complain about the traffic. We all want better for our children than we had. And we all need the hope that comes from a personal relationship with our merciful Heavenly Father. It's that similarity that has brought us on this journey and God continues to implant it in my heart.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

New Routines

There are lots of different household routines involved in living in Honduras. One of them involves making sure our food is safe to eat. So every time we come home from the grocery store, I pull out my big "bleaching bowl". We fill it with water and add a cap-full of bleach. Then I drop in all the fresh vegetables and fruit and leave them to soak in their bath for about 30 minutes before drying them and putting them in the fridge. This "spa treatment" will kill any bacteria that might make us sick and washes off any unwanted pesticides or other chemicals that may have been used on the plants.

Bob the Tomato and his buddies enjoying their spa treatment.