Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One Last Post

So. I’m headed out tomorrow. Work is finished, bags are packed, and flights are arranged.

When I land in Louisville Saturday night, I have no plan for myself. No clue what I’ll be doing. Another January has arrived, and the funny thing is, I’m right back where I started one year ago: moving home from Central America, planless. :)

There’s a slight difference though. You might not see it, but I can feel it. Last January, being planless felt like falling into some dark abyss. I was bitter about coming back, options seemed nonexistent, and I felt like things were out of my control.

This time around, I’m energized about coming back. I have options -- very, very few (realistically, I'll be lucky if I get a paying job by June) -- but options nonetheless. I feel in control of the planless-ness. This time, it's less of an abyss and more of a....hmm...a wide open plain. :)

Oh, and there's one more thing.

I've decided this will be my last blog entry. At least for a while. At least here on You Only Live Once. Two years is a long time, and we've had a great run. In fact, I've had more site visitors this month than in the entire history of the blog -- thanks, everyone! It might seem counterintuitive to then stop the blogging now, but I think it's time. I promise that when I decide to start blogging again, wherever that may be, I'll let you know.

Until then, Happy New Year. Here's to new plans, new successes, new failures, new adventures, new ideas, new risks, new priorities, new fun, new memories, and new beginnings. I just have this feeling...that it's gonna be a great 2012. :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Upcoming Week

It seems that every day, something about this changes, but here's my plan for the upcoming week:

December 29 (this Thursday!): Leave Honduras and fly to Guatemala. Meet up with Cheryl at the airport, head straight to Lake Atitlan that night!

December 30: Spend the day at the lake. Eat delicious food. Witness beautiful vistas. Enjoy time with great people.

December 31: Catch a noon flight out of Guatemala, and if all goes as planned, land at the Louisville airport at 8 p.m. Change clothes, head out, and arrive just in time to ring in a new year and a new beginning. :)

That's the agenda!

P.S. Unfortunately, December 31 is where the agenda stops. This girl will be needing a phone, a car, and a job with the words marketing/communications/editorial in it, so let me know if you have any  tips!

Hope Christmases were merry!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just When You're Feeling Your Most Loserish

I've realized something this week.

Just when you're feeling your most loserish, you realize how many amazing people you have in your life.

All week long, just looking at my Gmail inbox and my Facebook account, I have just felt so loved. Loved by people I've always known have been there for me, but who've shown up in a big way at my big moment of loserness.

All week long, I've just been thinking, "Man, these people are awesome."

And man, I'm pretty lucky.

P.S. Important.

NPH will always always always always always hold a very special place in my heart. No change of plans could ever change that.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Screeeeech. Change of Plans.

Hello, lovely readers. It’s Carrie. Remember me? I’m sorry I deserted you so suddenly over the past few days. But today I have some news.

Well, I’m leaving. I’m leaving my job and I’m leaving Honduras.


Now before you accuse me, this wasn’t an impulsive decision. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. If you want the truth, I’ve not only been thinking, but I’ve also been pondering and analyzing and rationalizing and contemplating and weighing options and designing pro and con lists for quite a while now.

(Reader: But Carrie, I had no idea! I’m a devoted follower of your blog, and I had NO idea! How did I have NO idea?

Me: You see, that’s the funny thing about blogging. With time, we start to figure out what it is you want to hear.)

I’m not going to write about the nitty gritty reasons I decided to leave. It’s not what’s important. Here’s what is important:

You only live once.

Come onnnnnn. I say that all the time. You’re sick of it. But today, just listen.

You only live once. What I’m usually saying when I rattle off that mantra is to take adventures, visit new places, plan crazy trips, play hookie, live overseas, face fears, be a weirdo!

What I haven’t been saying are the things I’ve always just assumed went hand-in-hand with all that adventuring. Be energized and inspired, and laugh a freakin’ lot. Experience challenge and frustration in a good way. Feel exhilaratingly free and feel downright alive.

Did you catch that? “I always just assumed.” You know what they say about assuming.

Some day, one day, there may come a time when your plan goes slightly off course. Your adventure may leave you feeling all the complete opposites of energized, inspired, laughing, challenged, free, and alive. When that happens – if that happens – and you’ve exhausted all your “How can I change this?” arsenal, I think you have to stop and ask yourself:

What am I doing here? Is this what I should be doing right now?

If the answer isn’t what the adventure-planner-and-follow-through-er in you wants to hear, well then guess what? That’s okay. Does it suck to realize? Hell yes. But is it the end of the world? Nope. Breathe deep. It’s really not.

You get one life. Uno. You get to live it once. Whether you’re on your third round-the-world trip or still living in the house you were raised in, the point of each day should be exactly the same – seeking all that energy and inspiration and laughter and freedom and alive.  

And if those things aren’t where you thought they’d be, then, I don’t know. It might be time to look somewhere else.

So, folks, there’s been a change of plans.  :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Goodie Bag

Every year, the NPH Honduras administration passes out Christmas goodie bags to everyone who works or volunteers here on the Ranch. A Christmas drumroll please...


...we received our goodie bags last week!

So let's see what's inside!

And just as a side comment, there were different types of goodie bags for employees and for volunteers. I'm technically an NPH employee this time around, but my white skin lumps me into the volunteer group. It's okay though. I'm pretty sure I got the better deal. :)

Let's open this puppy up.

Captain Crunch?!?!?!?! THAT IS AWESOME. Where did they find that?

Sweet bread. Always a good holiday call. 

Fluffy new towel. Thank you very much. 

Cookies? Don't mind if I do.

 Granola! Woohoo! 
This plus Captain Crunch will add some nice variety to my mush-every-single-day routine.

Annnd toilet paper. Gotta hand it to 'em. They have truly figured out the way to a foreigner-on-the Ranch's heart. :)

Be honest. Are you jealous of my goodie bag?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Friday

Wednesday night, in celebration of Pete's despedida (going-away party) and Mark's birthday, we decided to hold "Man Night." Pete and Mark are the only two male volunteers right now, and they are constantly surrounded by about 15 lovely lady volunteers. Lucky boys.

So, to celebrate "Man Night" in pure man form, we built a bonfire, grilled steaks and baked potatoes, and did one more manly thing.

We all wore our best mustaches. 

Don't judge! It was a requirement for attending the party, and we take our party rules pretty seriously here on Rancho Santa Fe.

Enjoy the photo documentation, and Happy Friday!

Baked potatoes cooking in the bonfire. So many mustaches gathered 'round.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Up Goes the Christmas Tree

The Christmas countdown is in full swing! Employees leave for Christmas vacation this Friday, we foreigners have started planning our own Christmas feast menu (I think we're getting a HAM!), and decorations abound.

My favorite piece of decor so far is the Christmas tree out front of the Girls' House. There's a huge metal cone structure on the lawn outside Talita Kumi (Girls' House). A few weeks ago, the girls ran loose on the Ranch ripping leaves off trees, which they then used to cover the outside of the cone structure. It's actually pretty genius.

Throw on some ribbon and some spray paint, and voila! Cutest giant Christmas tree structure ever.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beans: Red vs. Black

In Guatemala, we ate a lot of beans. And by "a lot," I really mean "A LOT." I wish you could hear the all-caps-bolded-also-underlined exaggeration in my voice. Seriously, mucho beans.

At NPH Honduras, we eat beans too. Not nearly as much, but they're still a staple food. Except there is one huge difference.

Guatemalans eat black beans -- most commonly known as the beans you (I) probably order in your (my) Qdoba burrito. Yumm.

Hondurans eat red beans. Weirdos.

To the untrained eye, you may not be able to see much of a difference between the back beans and the red beans.

(You do, however, probably notice that plates from NPH Guatemala and NPH Honduras show a striking resemblance!)

I promise you though, the bean difference is a big deal. Celeste and I came across canned black beans the other week in the grocery store. We almost bought them, but I just couldn't bring myself to spend my fragile stipend on...beans.

Help. I'm spending my time blogging about cross-cultural bean issues. Someone mail me a Qdoba burrito STAT!

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Year's News!

I just planned a spontaneous New Year's trip, and I AM SO EXCITED.

Nearly two years ago (whoa -- scary to write that), I first met Cheryl when we both arrived in Guatemala in January of 2010. She was my first official Central American travel buddy, and she remains one of my all-time favorites. She's also the best Thanksgiving host ever.

While catching up this weekend, she invited me to spend New Year's with her back at our favorite Guatemalan destination, beautiful Lake Atitlan. I didn't even need to think about my answer. "Yes. When should I arrive? How long can we stay? When will the overeating at Guajimbo's begin?"

Within a few hours of her invite, I'd booked a flight (I got a good deal, and the bus takes like 14 hours; I'll consider it a Christmas present to myself) and started my mental countdown.

Gracias a Cheryl for her never-ending hospitality, and gracias a Dios for this much-much-much-needed vacation. In just a little over two weeks, I'll be here!

This will be my third New Year's in a row spent in Guatemala and my second spent at Lake Atitlan. Life may not be perfect, but I'd say things could be a whole lot worse. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Results Are In...

...and the winners of the 5th Annual NPH International Soccer Tournament are:

Girls -- Mexico (last year's winners -- the trophy is going right back where it came from)

Boys -- Honduras (home team wins!)

So the results were sad for Guatemala, but Honduras won on their own field! That was exciting! The final game even came down to a shootout that had to be rushed because it was getting dark. Pretty intense ending. :)

Happy weekend to everyone, and see you next week!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why Is There a Donkey Outside My Door?

Question of the day: Why is there a donkey outside my door?

So camera shy.

Sneak Peek: El Rancho

I know I still owe you an official tour of the Ranch, but here's a sneak peek to hold you over.

It's my daily walk this week to and from the soccer fields. Pretty, huh?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The NPH International Soccer Tournament

Mexico v. Guatemala

The tournament -- or torneo -- is in town. I've mentioned it to you about a million different times, but what does it mean?

For starters, NPH (if you didn't know) is an international nonprofit operating children's homes in nine different countries. Our homes in Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Bolivia may each do things slightly differently, but they are all part of the much larger Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos family. Together, right this second, 3,800 kids are being cared for by these nine homes. In the past 50 years, NPH has raised a total of nearly 17,500 children.

In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on intra-NPH work. Kids from each home meet up for leadership workshops. House directors hold annual conferences. Last year, I even attended a Home Correspondent workshop in Nicaragua, where representatives from each NPH house came together to better define and standardize our job role across all nine countries.

NPH is shifting to a more global focus, and a focus that strives to drive home the idea of brothers and sisters around the globe.

In 2007, with this idea in mind, a beloved tradition was born: the NPH International Soccer Tournament.

For one week every December, one NPH home hosts teams from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. (Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru, and Bolivia are left out at the moment. Sorry -- you're just too far away!) Each house brings a girls' team and a boys' team, and being selected for your home's team is both an honor and an amazing travel opportunity.

The weeklong tournament is jam packed. Games go from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Community meals, nightly activities, time for new friends, and an end-of-week excursion fill in the rest of the schedule. (Using their impressive time-management skills, these teenage players also find time to pick up boyfriends and girlfriends from other NPH homes. Who's impressed, haha?) The most anticipated moment (of course) is watching the week's champions receive their gigantic trophies.

I'm a lucky girl to be at NPH Honduras the year we host the tournament. The torneo is a big big deal -- and a healthy reminder that the NPH community exists far beyond my office walls.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Guate Wins Both Games Today!

Call me a traitor. It's okay. Wouldn't be the first time it happened this week. :)

The NPH International Soccer Tournament is in town (I swear to give a little background on it in an upcoming post), pitting NPH houses against one another. Sure, we usually like to say we're all "one big family," but, um, this is futbol. It's different -- everyone knows that. You pick your team, and you stay loyal.

As far as my loyalty goes, I've been in Honduras about a month and a half, and I spent 13 entire months in Guatemala. I may be employed by this house right now, but can you guess who I'm rooting for?


Today was an awesome day for Guate, too! The girls won their game in the morning, 4-1 over Nicaragua, and the boys won this afternoon, 4-0 over Mexico! The teams from Guatemala play four games tomorrow (whoa), so it's going to be a big day.

¡Vamos Guate!

 Girls win!

Boys win!

11 Things to Know at 25(ish)

I saw this on a friend's blog today. It's a little more religious than I tend to post here, but it's a great article. For anyone who's 25...ish, go read!

11 Things to Know at 25(ish)

Or, if you don't feel like reading, a few of my favorite lines from the article:

  • "You can work for almost nothing, or live in another country or volunteer long hours for something that moves you. There will be a time when finances and schedules make this a little trickier, so do it now. Try it, apply for it, get up and do it."
  • "...he told me I couldn’t complain to him about finding the right job until I was 32. In his opinion, it takes about 10 years after college to find the right fit, and anyone who finds it earlier than that is just plain lucky. So use every bit of your 10 years: try things, take classes, start over. "
  • "Some of the most life-shaping decisions you’ll make during this time will be about walking away from good-enough, in search of can’t-live-without."
  • "Lots of people move around in their 20s, but even across the distance, make an effort to invest in the friendships that are important to you. Loyalty is no small thing, especially in a season during which so many other things are shifting."
  • "The act of feeding oneself is a skill every person can benefit from, and some of the most sacred moments in life happen when we gather around the table. The time we spend around the table, sharing meals and sharing stories, is significant, transforming time. Learn to cook. Invite new and old friends to dinner. Practice hospitality and generosity. No one cares if they have to sit on lawn furniture, bring their own forks or drink out of a Mayor McCheese glass from 1982. What people want is to be heard and fed and nourished, physically and otherwise—to stop for just a little bit and have someone look them in the eye and listen to their stories and dreams. Make time for the table, and you’ll find it to be more than worth it every time."
  • "There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either." 

Now, go read the entire thing! :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stayed Tuned! The Torneo is Here!

This week is going to be crazy...

...because the 5th Annual NPH International Soccer Tournament is in town!

Honduras is extremely proud to be hosting this year's tournament, and the teams from Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador all arrived this weekend. Four games per day from now through Thursday is going to make this one busy semana -- full of sunburns, cheering, and hopefully lots of goals.

Stay tuned for updates!

Spontaneous Tegus Trip!

Hello everyone! We're back from the weekend! Hope yours was lovely, and here's the rundown on mine:

This weekend, I had my first spontaneous overnight trip to Tegus!

Tegus (the shortened form of Tegucigalpa) is the capital of Honduras. It's the country's largest city, and like most international capitals in this area, it's considered to be crowded, dirty, and dangerous. It's also our only tie to civilization out here, and at an hour away, it's the closest place we can access grocery stores, post offices, banks...real life.

It's also the place volunteers and staff sometimes make a quick escape to! Not because the city is particularly beautiful (you remember I described it as crowded, dirty, and dangerous, right?), but because it's a change of pace! And a much needed one. :)

Well, Friday morning I got a call from a few other girls here saying they were heading into Tegus for the night for some good food and errand running. They let me tag along, and we were off that afternoon!

We spent the remainder of Friday afternoon and night -- eating. That's always a great vacation in my book. We grabbed a late lunch at Wendy's, discovered caramel lattes and carrot cake cupcakes at Espresso Americano, and then stocked up on beer. We headed back to our hotel, brought the cervezas up to the roof, and enjoyed our drinks over gossip, venting, girl talk, and a sunset that actually made Tegus look picturesque.

Later, we ate a super fancy, super delicious Italian dinner of bruschetta, grilled vegetables (do you know how big of a deal it is for us to get grilled, seasoned veggies???), and pizza with ricotta cheese and arugula. We completed the night with a drink at Chili's -- yes, the U.S. chain restaurant -- because apparently, that's where Hondurans go on Friday nights. The place was bumpin. Seriously, Chili's really is the party spot. Daiquiris may have only been $1.50, but the experience was still weird.

Saturday morning we continued the eating binge with Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast, and then we ran errands, explored, and did some grocery shopping before heading back to the Ranch that afternoon.

All in all, such a fun Tegus trip! I was definitely ready for a night off the Ranch, and a trip spent with good company and good food always puts me in a good mood. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lightning Bugs

Lightning bug = Luciérnaga

Every single night, without fail, the lightning bugs make me really happy.

Every night, at about 5:50, I walk from my room over to the kitchen to get dinner. Every single time, as soon as I cross the little bridge that leads into the dirt path that winds through the grass, I see 'em. The lightning bugs!

Every single time, it catches me by surprise. I'm thinking about how I'm starving or how I should have brought my flashlight (crap), and then I notice the little glowing pinpricks hovering right above the grass. Nearly every time, even when walking alone (yes, I'm awkward), I squeak out loud, "Ah! Lightning bugs!"

I guess I didn't expect to find lightning bugs in Honduras. Or I didn't expect to find them out and about in December. I can't remember the last place/time I consistently saw lightning bugs, but they're here -- every single night.

I believe it's a good-ol'-USA fact that lightning bugs conjure up images of summer and freedom and youth and barefoot-ness (word?) Well, it holds true here too, even in the middle of rural Honduras.

I hope the lightning bugs stick around through the cooler months. Because for one millisecond every single night, those little glowing butts make me so freakin' happy. :)

Hey There December

I can’t believe it’s December already! Christmas decorations are breaking out (two Christmas trees have gone up in the past four days), and it seems like the entire Ranch is mentally preparing for all real work to stop…until about mid-January. :)

With all that’s coming up (Honduras is hosting the NPH International Soccer Tournament next week, then there’s Christmas, then New Year’s), December is shaping up to be a crazy, but great, month.

In the words of the new month’s calendar page:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Month

Today marks one month. One whole month in Honduras. That's crazy!

On the one hand, the weeks seem to fly by on the Ranch. On the other hand, it feels like I've been here forever -- not just one measly little month.

Sorry for the less-than-exciting blog update, but it's been a busy past few days. I just felt like saying: Happy One Month Anniversary to me. :)

Nos vemos!

P.S. Ranch weather update: All of a sudden, it is freezing and crazy windy this week! I was wearing tank tops last week. Where did this come from? Good thing I stocked up on cardigans before I left. (Cardigans = Crucial. Isn't that right, Emily?)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rainbow in 4 Takes

Rainy season is technically over in Honduras, but the last two weeks have still seen quite a few showers.

The downside? The rain, the mud, the element of surprise.

The upside? The rainbows.

Pretty awesome, huh?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Carrie Daut Is Not A Baker (Part 2)


Thanksgiving dinner WAS AWESOME. I think it turned out better than any of us expected. We had a delicious turkey, delicious gravy, delicious mashed potatoes, delicious green bean casserole, delicious yams, delicious stuffing, delicious salad, delicious cranberry sauce, and delicious homemade pies.

And it all tasted just like Thanksgiving is supposed to. You would have never known we were in Honduras. Seriously. It was that good.

And yes, you spotted them -- those homemade crescent rolls. Here's how that turned out:

The dough does not start out looking very good. 
I'm smiling to stop the oncoming I-can't-cook breakdown. 

Still very unsure. 

Nervous and thinking, "This better freaking work." 

After a stressful experience getting the dough to flatten into a circle, divide into triangles, and roll into crescent shapes, I finally force these suckers onto a cookie sheet.  

Actually not looking tooooo bad. 

We all made it to the dinner table in one piece, so I guess that's the most important part. 

Now, after slaving away up to my elbows in dough all afternoon (not exaggerating), I was pretty upset with the final result. I didn't think they actually tasted that good. The volunteers, however, ate 'em up!

Giant sigh of relief. I made about 60, and we probably ate half during dinner. Word on the street is that the other half were devoured by breakfast this morning. :)

This year, I am thankful that the volunteers' crescent roll standards have sunk so low. Happy Thanksgiving!