Q // What's the best food you've eaten so far?
A // HONDURAN ICED TEA --it must have lemon in it here! It's almost an Arnold Palmer; PLANTAINS made into fries (in some magical way that Lesley hasn't figured out yet); PINEAPPLE JUICE; and definitely, definitely BALEADAS! (They are thick flour tortillas with mashed beans, cheese & butter inside, and we take ours with chicken and chismol inside too.) Our friend Miguel, who is a deacon at the church in Danli, and his wife make really amazing baleadas at their own store!
Q // Are you driving yet? How are you adjusting to the fumes of the vehicles?
A // Yes! Jamey has been driving a few days a week since just a couple weeks in. Lesley hasn't given it a try yet -- it's pretty intimidating! Drivers here follow few road rules, pass frequently even on dangerous roads, and use their horns for every kind of road communication. We actually are very pleasantly surprised when we see a turn signal being used. Also, roundabouts are common, with usually six different roads/lanes coming into the roundabout, but no one really knows how to use them! Tricky stuff. And with the fumes of the vehicles (since routine maintenance on vehicles is not done here) are honestly what Honduras smells like to us -- as funny as that sounds! We smelt it all getting right off the plane, and we could've known we were back in Honduras being blindfolded.
Jamey getting driving experience in Honduras.
Q // What is the hardest thing to adjust to?
A // Everything that you try to do is just harder or a much longer process here. Now that's a big statement, but let us explain: after living in a world full of modern conveniences and efficiency, we are amazed at how much time is taken doing things that were menial to us before. There are significantly less conveniences in even daily things like cooking or cleaning -- now we don't even have things as simple as chicken broth, canned tomatoes, or the ability to cook with water from the tap. Every single step must be made from scratch and one meal alone could take hours of preparation. We also only have a one-sided tiny basin of a kitchen sink, where we can barely wash a pot by itself. Things that in the States we would only normally clean once a week, suddenly have to be done every other day and in some cases daily. Think about your normal "spring cleaning" chores, like giving the windows a good wash. If we go too long without doing that here, we wouldn't be able to see through them! It's still hard for us to adjust to things taking much more of our time, and reevaluating what we actually might be able to accomplish in just one day. That's a tough one for us! Even with business related tasks, things tend to take longer to accomplish simply because Hondurans are more relational people and the relationship takes precedence over the task almost always.Not to say that being more relational is a bad thing, but it is different in the U.S. where efficiency is
Also, we are learning Spanish as quickly as we can manage, but there is still both some language and cultural barriers for us. It's hard for us to adjust to not being completely self-sufficient. It all is not something we'd ever really had to be concerned with so, so much before moving here.
(And something funny that we're still getting used to: it being very difficult to hang anything on cinder block walls.)
Q // Do you get strange looks?
A // Yes, most definitely. But at least at our church, nearby grocery store, and areas we go often, the more people see us, the more they get used to us.
Q // What is the exchange rate to US dollars?
A // Honduran currency is called lempiras. When we first moved here, the exchange rate was roughly 20.5 lempiras to one U.S. dollar. Today, the exchange rate is roughly 20 lempiras to one U.S. dollar. Pictured below is an example of a Honduran bill.
One L100 limpera is almost exactly $5 U.S. Dollars.
Q // Have you compared the prices of food and other shopping to U.S. prices?
A // The prices of foods vary some even across the U.S., but to give you some comparison, we'll list some of our food prices!
THE PRODUCE ROUNDUP:
Tomatoes (only roma variety is available) are L8.7 ($0.44) per pound. Cucumbers are L4.4 ($0.22) each -- which is good because they are Lesley's favorite! Onions are L16.3 ($0.82) a pound. Apples are L26.9 ($1.35) per pound.
Takeaway: produce is inexpensive in Honduras, which is good. However, many people do not have the means to preserve or save these fresh ingredients for very long, and they go to waste even more quickly in the hot 95 degree weather.
THINK ABOUT THIS:
One liter of milk is L26 ($1.30) -- so that's roughly $5.20 a gallon. But a 3 liter of Coca Cola is L32 ($1.60). The cheapest loaf of bread is L33 ($1.65).Prepackaged flour tortillas are L24.2 ($1.21) for a pack of 5. Vegetable oil is L41.58 ($2.08) for 25 ounces. Lard is L32.2 ($1.61) for 35 ounces.
Takeaway: Soda costs dramatically less (as in for 3 liters of each, it's $2.50 more for milk) than milk, so parents purchase soda (or just plain sugar and water) to try to fill up their childrens bellies. They believe that it is sustaining them, but in reality it only causes them to be both malnourished and have their baby teeth rotting out. Also, in the southern part of Honduras, where we live, most everyone eats corn tortillas (made of only cornmeal and water) because cornmeal costs so much less than flour to make this very important part of Honduran meals. And, as you can imagine, a lot of people cook solely with lard instead of oil because it too is less expensive.
OUR FAVORITES FROM BACK HOME:
Ground beef is L52.7 ($2.64) per pound. Butter is L78.7 ($3.94) for a regular pack of 4 sticks (2 cups) of butter. Mozzarella cheese is L70 ($3.51) for 8 ounces. Peanut butter is L79.4 ($3.98) for a 12 oz jar. Canned goods (like a can of mixed veggies) are L26.8 ($1.34).
Takeaway:With our "normals" & favorites from back home, we're having to either give them up or buy and use them very sparingly. This is hard for us in a lot of ways -- automatically tossing out every recipe we had before that used any amount of cheese, butter, or cream (which you can't find here or is imported so it's expensive) is a lot of recipes gone!! We're also having to figure out how to stretch out any meat that we buy between meals. Now, as the head chef of the family, Lesley feels the burden/loss of most of these changes, but for Jamey is biggest struggle is the peanut butter... he used to go through a jar of peanut butter in a week! Can't do that now.
Q // Where do you go grocery shopping?
A // We've tried a few places, but for cost and because we don't have a car, we've found it best to regularly shop at the grocery store just two doors down from our apartment building. It's called Maxi Despensa, and it's owned by the Walmart Cooperation. It's usually pretty crowded and a basic style store, but once we learned when to go there(b) personal space is not something you're allowed at the supermarket -- it's best to get one of the little baskets that roll (instead of a cart) so you can even maneuver around the store because people will not let you by!
Our grocery store just steps away from our apartment!
Q // Can you receive care packages? What would you like to receive in them?
A // Yes we can, and thank you for asking! It does take anywhere from two weeks to one month, depending, for a package to arrive here. We always welcome care packages of items we either can't find here (like spices) or that are very expensive here (like deodorant). For specific (and important) mailing instructions or an updated items list, please contact us personally!
Q // What's it feel like right now to be learning a new language?
A // Language learning is such a unique new experience for us! It's a wonderful feeling to be able to use what you are learning immediately; it certainly gives you a lot more incentive to learn it when you know it will be immediately applicable to your everyday life. (And it's way more fun to have our own personal class with an awesome teacher than the way we first tried to learn in it back in high school!). There is also a great, great joy that comes over someone's face when being able to use their native language when speaking with them. Even if they are bilingual friends who know English, we can still tell that words in Spanish still hold more real meaning for them. And we understand that vice versa. We've had time to really experience the words we use first hand over our entire lives. We automatically understand meaning when it is said in our native tongue.
The sometimes frustrating part for us is consistently finding instances where things don't translate or there just isn't a word for what we are describing. We have over a million words in the English language and sometimes that doesn't even feel like enough to fully express ourselves. So we're disappointed when words we use often don't have a Spanish equivalent -- especially for storytellers like us! Sometimes the same ol' simple words just don't cut it. Hopefully our body language helps get the point across when words can't. :)
On the flip side, we now have some words that have been permanently adopted to our vocabulary, even when speaking in English just because we feel like they are the best word in that instance! For example, "limon" is the Spanish word for "lemon" but all of the lemons in Central America are green... and their taste is legitimately a cross between a lemon and a lime. Therefore, we consider no other name to be appropriate for this cross-breed of a fruit! Also, the word for "white person" or "North American" is "gringo". It's become such a heavily used word for us here, and the word implies so much more understanding than just the literal translation, that we'll also probably always keep this word, too!
Q // Do you have bugs or other critters in your house?
A // Yes, we sure do, but thankfully by the grace of God we are being eased into that transition by currently living on the second floor of an apartment building! So, in our second floor apartment, we have hundreds of little ants that we fight with every day (that are behind the cabinets, in the shower, in the sinks, on the counters, coming in from the roofwe also have spiders who make so many webs constantly, which draw in these little bitty black bagworms that feed off spiderwebs & fabric fibers and make cocoons all over the walls, corners, and crannies. There have also been scary giant Latin American sized cockroaches living under our stove at times, and bats that live in the roof above all of the apartments. Our neighbors have also had one gecko, but we haven't seen (key word: seen) any in our apartment yet. We've also been prepared that once we move into a single level house in a few months, there are great chances that we'll still have all of those same things, but also many more geckos and maybe even scorpions and more. Oh happy day!
Q // Can you show us some more pictures of kids that you've fallen in love with already?*
A // Of course we can!! Sometimes all the pictures we take are of all of the adorable kiddos. Whoops, probably should start aiming the camera other directions pretty soon. We know there are so many other things you all are itching to get a glimpse at! But for now, please enjoy meeting some of Lesley's little friends:
(1) On the left are the little climbers -- especially the girl on the right, Melisa, who is seriously a monkey. She can climb absolutely anything in 2 seconds flat!
(2) In the middle picture is the always adorable, snaggle-toothed Bryan who was chowing down on a little early morning white guava. (3) On the right is Lesley's little permanent shadow from the CDI, Fernando. He's absolutely attached to Lesley, and his favorite thing to do is to play tickle monster chasing games. (Of course Lesley is always the tickle monster because he just wants to be tickled!). He also tried to get away with sitting on Lesley's lap during a church service, but eventually got sent to go be with his mom. :)
*disclaimer: the person who actually submitted that question was Lesley. She just wanted to put some adorable little faces on the blog. But can you really blame her?!