Aqui estoy en el Rancho!
A spanish rap song is blaring in my head. It is called "Gasolina." You don´t want to know the words. You really don´t. Estan muy sucias.
It is my head because I spent the last 2 hours with 20 + chicas (in their early teens) here on The Ranch. They were doing some serious dancing and, of course, persuaded me to get in on the action.
Yes, El Rancho Santa Fe is truly a special place. It is about 22 miles outside of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Teguc is a big city (1 million people, I think) full of big city things like noise and dirt and crime--the ranch is the complete opposite. It is a spacious home in the countryside, surrounded by mountains. It is an immense place safe from the perils of the big city.
We are pleasantly isolated. It is about a 15 minute walk from Casa Personal (where I live with the other volunteers) to the front gate of The Ranch. From the front gate, it is a 45 minute bus ride to Cerro Grande (outside of Teguc´s downtown) and from there, a 15 minute ride in a "colectivo" (kind of a taxi) to the city center. The bus ride can certainly be rough. The buses are retired school buses from the United States, often in bad condition, and run on erratic schedules. The drivers assistant´s job is to pack the people on, so often, we end up standing pressed up against strange men and women in a rickety school bus racing on crumbling roads. It is bearable, but not fun. In theory, the second half of the bus ride from Teguc to the Ranch is quite beautiful: green fields, mountains, small shops and homes along the way.
The first half is the most difficult. The bus passes by the dump (el crematorio) which smells so terrible I have to breathe through my mouth. The dump nearly overfills its lot, spilling garbage down the hills onto the road. The most sickening thing is that lives are lived out in the crematorio--men and women and children work there every day, digging through the garbage, looking for things to recycle and sell. It is horrific beyond words.
The Ranch could not be more starkly different than Teguc and the outerlying areas. It is filled with pine trees, banana trees, and all sorts of green. Paved paths run from building to building. The buildings are often built around a central courtyard and are tidy (mostly) and homey. The Ranch exists on a plot of 2000 acres. Yep, it is a HUGE place. I had no idea.
Hannah and I are currently living in Casa Personal where many of the volunteers live. The volunteers who have been here longer (some will be leaving in February) share double rooms complete with a private bathroom (nice!). The new volunteers (us) are in dorms. We have 8 girls in one room. Si, es la verdad! Can you believe it? What a challenge.
We share a bathroom with several sinks, toilets, and showers. There is no hot water. It is icy cold. This doesn´t seem so bad seeing as Honduras is a hot place, right? Well, es una mentira (it´s a lie). It has been COLD. Probably in the 50s! Very cold for the skirts, t-shirts, and flip flops I brought with me. Very cold for COLD showers. The plumbing is altogether interesting. The dirty water from the sinks drains into the toilets and, in order, to flush you must do a pretty complicated operation involving sticking your hand in the tank and pulling the lever up.
I could go on and on about everything and I want to. But today was a long day. Our first day of orientation. I am completely exhausted. I will write more later and respond to my accumulating collection of emails. Until then . . . buenas noches.