It has been a long week in the school. Sometime last week, the classroom teachers had a meeting and decided that students could not be pulled for individual attention from most classes. This turned my schedule from completely booked to nearly empty. This means that as we wait for some sort of compromise between my department and the teachers, most of my day is spent alone in my classroom reading or mopping.
Hondurans love to mop. People here mop a given space at least 2 times a day and sometimes as many as half a dozen. And there is a special technique to Honduran mopping which I am slowly perfecting. First, you don’t use a bucket. You make a mix of Aziztin (a perfumey cleaning solution that comes bottled like Gatorade in scents like apple and potpourri) and water, preferably in a discarded Aziztin bottle. You splash this mix on your swept floor and then, in long sweeps, mop the floor using a dry or slightly damp mop like a giant paintbrush. Then you clean your mop underneath an outside spigot and wring it dry using your hands. This is where I fail Honduran mopping. I refuse to use my hands to wring out a mop that has recently cleaned up lime green worm guts from my floor. Instead, I twist most of the water out using the handle and run quickly back to my room before anyone can see my dripping trail or try to give me mopping consejo, or advice. Then I hang the mop out my window to dry.
Somehow, I have come to like mopping and the bubble bath smell of Aziztin. There is comfort in seeing the rapidly-drying, artistically-shaped figure 8s on my floor. There is comfort in the routine, the ceremony of mopping. Plus, it is something to do!
When I am not mopping my classroom, I am reading or studying Spanish. My Spanish is okay, but I want it to be better. I am frustrated that I can’t say what I want to, how I want to, and when I want to. I realized yesterday that I haven’t studied Spanish for nearly 8 years and that allowed me to ease up and not be so hard on myself. I am practicing verb forms, testing myself, and swearing that one of these days I will go to the school library, pick out a novel, and read it. Or try to read it. When I read in English, I think in English and that is a problem, especially when someone interrupts me in my classroom. I can hardly talk to them and stammer a bit until they get give up on my company and leave.
Exams are in two weeks and I feel like I have given up on some of my kids passing these exams, much less their grade. I feel terrible about this, but I am not sure what to do. They are all capable of passing, just not willing to put forth the effort in my classroom, their regular classroom, or at home. What can I do to inspire them? I have tried being a cheerleader, a friend, a dictator, a mother, and a fool and used every attempt to encourage them to pay attention, do their homework, study for their tests and some of them just don’t do it. These are the ones I feel like I am letting slip through the cracks. And now with this battle to pull them out of class . . .
On a happier note, this Friday marks my 6 month anniversary here at NPH. Hannah, Jen, and I are planning a night out in Tegus. We have decided to look for a hotel nicer than Hotel Iberia where we usually stay. Hotel Iberia is a wonderfully character-building hotel featuring shared bathrooms with cold showers, windowless rooms, and an owner who insists every time on complaining about foreigners and all the beer they drink and how late they come in and how noisy they are. Still, Hotel Iberia serves its purpose. For less than $5 a night, you get a safe and relatively clean place to stay. Still, it is no place to celebrate something as important as reaching the 6 month milestone. For that we deserve hot water and a window!
We are planning a nice dinner somewhere (sushi?) and nice drinks somewhere else after that. While we´re not even half-way through our 13 months (that will fall 2 weeks later), is a big deal for us. Half a year. The older volunteers tell us it is all downhill from here. The next time we will celebrate like this we will have been here a whole year. Then we party for a month, say our goodbyes, and, ya, we are done. How strange to think about time going any faster than it has gone. It is time I suppose to think about what is next. What is next?