I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s always easy living in Honduras. It’s not. During my two years here, there have been days where I would’ve paid an obscene amount of money to just be in the United States for 12 hours- to take a hot shower, sleep on a nice bed with the AC on, order some good American food to my front door. I daydream about it sometimes on days when it feels like 145 degrees Fahrenheit and we haven’t had water in the house for a week. Everything in the US just comes so easy. You turn on the tap, and immediately there’s water coming out of it. The first thing I do every morning in Honduras is turn on the tap and give it a minute. I wait to see if there’s any trickling of water or even the sound of air that could mean water’s coming. Usually there’s not.
This past school year, Honduras started to beat me down a little. I had taken on a lot of new responsibilities with the role of Volunteer Coordinator and Vice Principal all rolled into one. On top of that, due to various different factors, we were short a few teachers and I ended up teaching Kinder and 4th grade. I love teaching and I love working at the school, but with the stress from my administrative responsibilities and planning classes and translating for non-spanish speaking volunteers and trying to recruit new volunteers and looking for scholarships and, and, and…. You get the picture. And then the summer came. We were living in this beautiful apartment that was on the second floor. It was great because we had an amazing view of the mountains. It was not so great because for the water to get up to the second floor, the pressure had to be really good, which it rarely was. This meant typically we had water in the house once or twice a week- enough to fill up buckets to shower with, wash dishes, and keep everyone in the house reasonably sane. Then the summer came.
Summer in Honduras means that from about 8am until 11pm it feels like you’re walking through hot, melted butter. Over 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity, and you’re sweating from everywhere on your body constantly. But usually the worst of the summer heat is only a few weeks long and you get through it. You look back and think, “Yeah, that really wasn’t that bad.” This year it was that bad. It was two and a half months with no rain. No rain means no water. In those two and a half months, I think we had water in our apartment a total of five times for about an hour or so each time. One time it was at 1am, but a volunteer actually woke up and started doing dishes, if that gives you any sense of the state our kitchen was in. And we were lucky- we usually had some water about the house, whether downstairs in a trashcan that we cleaned out to store water in or in the very, very dirty pila belonging to the salon downstairs. Many people in town had no access to water at all and were taking their clothes and dishes to the river to wash them.
When the rain finally came, I was on a bus coming back from San Pedro. We all waited, staring out the window, watching the big, gray storm clouds teasing us. The first couple drops came down and there was hushed excitement on the bus. Once it really got going outside, it was like a full out party. People had their hands out the windows. Everyone was talking and laughing. I honestly don’t think I can describe the pure joy I felt at this rain. Something as simple as rain.
I’m not a very emotional person or at least I wasn’t before I came here. This may sound clichéd but Honduras has a way of making you emotional. There are days when it beats you down a little, but the highs are so high. There are simple joys, like hugs from the kids, turning the tap and water coming out, or rain. There are also times where I’m looking at the mountains, there are birds chirping, and I can hear kids running around and laughing and the only thought running through my head is that life is beautiful and I feel so lucky to experience it here. I know how sappy this sounds. Trust me. Before I came here if you told me I’d be sitting on a bus almost crying happy tears about some rain, I’d say you must be talking about the wrong girl. But it’s the truth. I feel so lucky to live here and know all the people here who I have grown to love. This isn’t the easiest place I’ve ever lived, but I’m happier here, without all the comforts, than I have ever been anywhere else.
Kinder Teacher and Volunteer Coordinator