more stories

October 31, 2006 at 7:11 pm (October)

There is one hogar that has a microwave and sells microwave popcorn to people on the ranch.  After a
chico buys and eats the bag of popcorn he or she puts the rest of the paper bag in his mouth piece by piece to chew and suck the salty and butter off.  It’s a little disconcerting to watch someone eating the bag. Similarly, last night I brought some deep fried tortilla chips to the hogar. After I cooked them I put them on a paper towel to soak up the oil.  When the boys finished eating the chips, one boy put all of the paper towel in his mouth.  He chewed it and sucked it clean.  Lovely. I guess its better than the chicken feet soup.


Another sad story…

A young man arrived at out door step with a huge boa constrictor.  This thing was scarey but also incredibly beautiful. It was probably 3-4 inches thick and 6 feet long. Carl bravely removed it from the disgusting pail it was in (the pail included a giant, decaying rat), washed it and put it in a pillow case. We brought it to the lab at the school to add it to my animal collection. It died after one day.  I was so bummed.  This was an incredible animal. I can’t seem to keep the snakes alive in my lab.  I can’t figure it out.


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What makes me feel happy

October 25, 2006 at 6:00 pm (October)

I wanted to practice writing with some of the students I tutor.  I gave three of them this writing prompt:  What makes you feel happy? 

These are pieces of their responses: 

Luis: “Sometimes I am happy because when I haven’t eaten, NPH gives me food.” 

Chico X:  “There are some people that make me feel happy.  First, my sister because she is my only family. I like to share with her and the others who have never abandoned me. My best friends Henrique, Lucas, Elicabet and Carlos also make me feel happy.” 

(our family knows this boy very well.  Lucas and Heny call him their best friend too.  Both of his parents were murdered.  His mother was a prostitute and the father was her pimp.  After the mother’s death he went to live with his Aunt who disciplined him and his sister by holding their heads under water. Gosh, it is going to be awful to say goodbye to this boy next summer. He is a sweetheart…always smiling and laughing with us.) 

Emerson:  “When I was with my mother she made me feel very happy because she counseled me and taught me to read.  Then one day she said she was going to the market and never came home. For months and months she did not call.  One day she called from the
United States and I talked to her.  I felt very happy that she was well.”

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Lucas swimming in Posa

October 16, 2006 at 3:38 pm (October)


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Our boys

October 16, 2006 at 3:36 pm (October)


                                   Our hogar sitting in front of our house

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Comments and Stories from the Ingeniero

October 8, 2006 at 4:42 pm (October)

I crossed paths the other day with Freddy, a cute 8 year old who is in Lucas’ 1st grade class.  Freddy asked,

“when can I borrow your cat?”

“Well, you don’t usually loan cats, but you could come and visit him.”

“Will you take him with you when you leave (back to the

“No, probably not, we’ll find him a new home here.”

“You could give him to me…we have 4 cats in our house (Casa Suyapa, where the youngest kids live).”

“Good, are your cats just kittens?”

“We had 4 kittens, but one died.”

“I’m sorry, what happened to him?”

“A dog got him…a dog got him and ripped his guts out.”

Cute little Freddy. 

 I’m regularly impressed with the developing world population’s capacity for hard work.  Soon after we arrived, the maintenance crew – all 6 of us – installed two telephone poles by hand.  I doubted we could carry the poles all that far let alone stand them up.  But, we all took our places and up they went.  It was a job I wouldn’t have even considered doing at home.  We maintain the Rancho’s’ water system sand filters by hand.  It is an on-going job that involves hauling out bucket after bucket of dirty sand, washing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of sand, and then dumping pail after pail of clean sand back into the filter.  In the
USA a single water treatment plant operator does the job in a few minutes by opening and closing a series of valves.  Now we are planning the construction of a Rancho sewer line.  No one even flinches at the prospect of hand-digging the kilometer of pipe trench needed to connect the septic tanks with the new treatment “lagoons.”  Once you have worked alongside these people or seen the results, you no longer wonder how the Egyptians built the pyramids.  With enough of us and enough time, there really isn’t anything that we can’t do. 

I asked Merlin – one of the first Rancho kids, now a 28 year old who is about to finish medical school (a real success story) – if the kids knew about and/or celebrated Halloween.  He said they like the holiday, but there aren’t any costumes or “Trick or Treating.”  Last year a group put together a “haunted” house for the kids to walk through.  He said he really wasn’t too happy about the haunted house.  Why?  He said that the “house” was complete with real toads (and some of them are enormous) dangling from the ceiling on strings.  Furthermore, it had live vultures that bit the kids as they walked by! Try working those details into this year’s Halloween event.  Note:  The Turkey vultures here are like seagulls on the
New England coast.  They are everywhere.  At first I thought it was very eerie to have vultures hanging around the “poor, starving orphans,” but it soon became clear that the Rancho wasn’t over-run.  There are always several outside our door in the morning…they’ve been through our mulch pile and are looking for more…and you find a great crowd of them hanging around the kitchen.

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October 8, 2006 at 4:37 pm (October)


                Mariano and Bryan having dinner with us

For a number of the boys in our hogar, I think the first time they have come to our house for dinner may be the first time EVER eating at a person’s home.  You can tell they are very nervous, but on the whole they do okay except for a few interesting mistakes.  For example, when they don’t like say an onion, they throw it on the floor like they do in the hogar.  Spitting on the floor is another problem.  At one point a kid offered to wipe off the table and just wiped everything onto the floor to be swept up later. The floor is the wastebasket in their culture. 

Walking into a person’s house is another issue. Having never lived in a house or with any privacy  “knocking” to enter is not in their realm of things to do.  They simply walk in.  On several occasions I have awoken during an afternoon nap to a boy standing in my bedroom looking at me.  I ask “what is the problem?”  “ Nada” he responds.  What are you doing?  “Nada” he responds.  “I just wanted to see what you were doing.”  (ahhhhhhh!  I’m sleeping, can’t you see!) 

When a child sees something he wants, he says, ”Regalame!”  which means “Give it to me as a gift.”  “Prestame!” is another term I learned quickly which means “Let me borrow it.”  These terms are never used with “Please,” just shouted at you, constantly.

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October 4, 2006 at 6:20 pm (October)


                      Carl comforts boy who is very sick with AIDS

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What we miss and don’t miss

October 4, 2006 at 6:07 pm (October)

What Lucas misses most:

1. Friends

2. Gamecube (I’m so happy we don’t have it here)

3. Kielbasa

4. Hot shower

5. 2 story house

6. Legos

7. Bionicles

8. Baseball

9. Mini (our cat)

10. Walmart (oh, where did I go wrong?)

What Lucas likes about

  1. Watermelon everyday
  2. Making things out of cardboard
  3. his friend Yefri
  4. Tommy when he is nice(our cat)
  5. the cookies here
  6. machetes
  7. bike rides around the ranch

What Henry misses most

  1. friends
  2. people who speak English
  3. GameCube
  4. travel soccer
  5. indoor soccer
  6. bunk bed
  7. hot shower
  8. Mini
  9. Target
  10. Annie’s macaroni and cheese, corndogs

What Henry likes most:

1.      Yefri

2.      soccer everyday

3.      short school day

4.      quesadillas

5.      galletas (cookies)

6.      Charamuska (frozen yoghurt)

7.      Machetes

8.      warm weather

9.      Drinking from bags

What daddy misses most

1.      washer and dryer 

2.      lack of pollution

3.      nice mattresses and pillows

4.      easy grocery shopping

5.      car

6.      his tools (tools here are missing or broken)

7.      root beer

8.      don’t have to go to Mass

9.      not having to wait in long lines

What daddy doesn’t miss about home

            1. Cleaning house (mama does now)

            2. absence of tajaditas(plantain chips) in daily diet

Exeter:stay-at-home dad   Hondura: Ingenero!

            4.  wife is around more here (to do more housework!)

What mama misses most about

1.      friends

2.      Mini

3.      hot shower

4.      drinkable, clear tap water

5.      teaching in English

6.      the absence of scurrying of 2 inch cockroaches when I turn on the light

7.      not having to check clothes for scorpions

8.      cleanliness

9.      the salad bar

10.  dependable electricity and water

What mama doesn’t miss about

1.      faculty meeting

2.      department meeting

3.      Dorm head’s meeting

4.      meetings

5.      classes until 6pm

6.      January, February, March

7.      Saturday classes

8.      Saturday classes

9.      Saturday classes

10.  Saturday classes

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