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!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Carrie Daut Is Not A Baker (Part 1)

Alright people, it's Thanksgiving. And we're trying to do it right from our little corner of Honduras.

Tonight, the gringos are getting together for a huge Thanksgiving feast. The menu will supposedly include turkey (!), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, homemade pies, and more. It sounds so legit, doesn't it???

Since tonight's cena is a group effort, each person signed up to bring a plate. Celeste and I are teaming up, and we signed our names next to mashed potatoes and rolls. Simple enough, right?

We managed to purchase both real potatoes AND snag a box of instant ones at the grocery store (great find!), but the rolls have been a little trickier. The refrigerated Pillsbury type are nowhere to be found (we should have known better), and dragging back bags and bags of possibly-stale bread from Tegus just doesn't sound fun.

Our solution? Homemade crescent rolls from scratch. Can it really be that hard?

Can we really be that clueless?

(Note: If you know me at all, you know I am allergic to the kitchen.)

Anyway, blind to my own ineptitude, I did a trial run last night. It turned out...hmm, let's just say that it could have been worse and it could have been better. (At least we got one thing straight: instant yeast and active dry yeast are not the same thing. Katie Dowd, I can hear you laughing from here.)

This afternoon, we'll pick up the challenge where we left off. Wish me luck, and remind me to never attempt anything, from scratch, ever, ever, ever, again.

After a few adjustments, the dough finally rose!

Dough, I really really hate you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"It's like I'm at the planetarium."

On the Ranch, the stars are something else. They're bigger than big and brighter than bright, and they actually twinkle. They make me understand the term "blanket of stars," because it's like there isn't a single square of empty sky to be found. They're everywhere. They're gorgeous.

Saturday night was the first time I really noticed the stars here, but boy did I notice them.

I stood for a long time in the courtyard outside our room, head thrown back.

And all I could say was, "It's like I'm at the planetarium."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Line Drying Therapy

You know what's kind of therapeutic?

Line drying your clothes.

In Guatemala, I was spoiled. I had real washing machines and real dryers. Laundry felt the same as it always had: go as long as possible without washing clothes, do six loads one Sunday, complain that everyone else was trying to do laundry that day too. Took me right back to college.

In Honduras, things are slightly different. I don't have a washing machine, and I definitely don't have a dryer. I'm supposed to be hand-washing all my clothes in the pila -- the big stone basin outside. (For a great pila how-to, see Thayer's post about it! She's currently in Guatemala, and the girls just taught her how to hand wash like a pro.)

Instead of supposedly washing all my clothes in the pila, I've actually found a washing machine loophole. (Shh! Don't tell!) The volunteers of NPH Honduras have one washing machine in their house here, and they let me use it! God bless you, volunteers.

Still -- no dryers though, which means we line dry everything. It also means I can't go weeks without doing laundry. For one, you'll run out of clothesline space for all those clothes. Two, line drying takes time, so you have to account for that when you realize you're almost out of clean pants.

I've decided line drying isn't actually that bad. I even find it kind of...therapeutic. Borderline enjoyable. Not as enjoyable, I realize, as if I'd had to wash all those clothes by hand and then hang them up to dry, but you get the idea.

Not. Half. Bad.

Hint: When you run out of clothesline space, 
you can always use the bamboo that divides up parts of the garden. 

That's the door to our room right there!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let's Talk About Fear

Let's talk about fear. Is that okay with everyone? Because I've been wanting to for a while. But I haven't. Due, well, fear...I guess. So let's talk about it.

Sometimes people tell me I'm fearless. I can recall exact moments and places I've been told I'm brave: engraved on a graduation present, over shish kabobs in a guy friend's kitchen, written on a card from my best friend.

Those weird, seemingly insignificant moments stuck with me. They stuck with me because each time, in my head, I was thinking, "Whattt? I am?"

Gradually, after hearing it a few times, I started to believe. You're right, I'm not afraid to live in unknown cities, unknown countries. I'm not afraid to make new friends or learn new languages. I'm not afraid to take adventures. I'm not afraid to live far away from the people most important to me; I'm not afraid to miss them. 

Maybe I am fearless. Hah, look at that!

Cue the engasada chorus. Really, Carrie? Get over yourself.

I believed it though, I really did. And I was pretty darn proud of myself.

But since moving to Honduras, I'm starting to think differently.

It's not what you're thinking. It's not suddenly dawning on me that I am, in fact, afraid of scary capital cities and communicating in Spanish and starting over with friendships and learning a new job and missing people. Those things may frustrate me sometimes, but they don't scare me. I don't fear them.

Maybe though, just maybe, I am starting to realize that I fear other things. Plenty of people go gallivanting around the globe, taking risks and making stories, but does it make us fearless? I'm not sure I believe that anymore. I think people like us fear mortgages and leases and car payments. We fear being entrenched in our life; we fear commitment. We're absolutely terrified of the word regret and the phrase what if? And we are scared to death of looking back and thinking we settled for even a millisecond.

Just like others' fear may keep them anchored in one town their entire life, our fear keeps us moving. It keeps us trying everything to make sure we don't miss anything. It has us creating blogs based on our mantra -- that you only live once. :)

My favorite definition of fearless is actually this one: "Fearless is not the absence of fear. It's not being completely unafraid. It's having fears. It's having doubts. Lots of them. Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death."

Call it a quarter-life crisis. Call it what you want. But if that's what it takes to truly be fearless, then what does that mean for me?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Huipil Pillows!

Now if you were paying close attention to that last post, you might have spotted these.

That's to say, if you weren't too distracted by the sheets doubling as "curtains" or the giant jug of potable water we keep around for drinking and teeth brushing, you just might have seen the one decorative element of the room that really is flippin' gorgeous.


Huipil (pronounced wee-peel) is a textile worn as a blouse by indigenous Mayan women. The Maya culture was (and still is) alive and thriving in Guatemala, so women everywhere -- on the bus, in the market, walking down the street -- don these beautiful tops. The designs often tell a story, or denote the wearer's home village.

My last week in Guatemala, I saw these pillow covers in Antigua's artisan market and couldn't get over how pretty they were!

(If you're having trouble figuring out how these once resembled blouses, picture this: a huipil is like an embroidered poncho sewn up on the sides. The round circle in the middle of the pillow was originally the neck hole. Got it?)

I was really excited to break these out in Honduras. I bought a cheap pillow in Tegus (about $3, I think?), ripped it open, divided the stuffing in two, and fluffed these puppies up. And I love how they look!

My huipil pillows make me so happy. :)

Wanna See My Room?

It's no Taj Mahal, but wanna see my room in Honduras?

I figure it's only fair. I mean, if you want to properly stalk someone, you should be able to envision where they sleep. Creepy (but true), huh?

Here's the quick spin around the fabulously furnished, tastefully decorated, spotlessly clean, super chic dorm room Celeste and I currently live in:

 My side. Can you spot yourself in any photos??

 Heading over towards Celeste's side

Back wall. We bought those Christmas lights a couple weekends ago. 
They're purple, and they're awesome.

Bathroom and closet. In the closet, the messy shelves belong to Celeste. 
The meticulously organized ones are mine. :)

Fascinating, I know! :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thought of the Month

Mehhhh. Today has been a crazy day in Honduras.

It's November though, which means this is what my calendar says all month:

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Good food for thought.

Honduras Smells Like Pine Trees

I've blogged about the smells of Central America before. Apparently, that's what sticks with me in this part of the world. Who'da thought?

And while I only have about two weeks under my belt here at Rancho Santa Fe in Honduras, I already associate this place with a smell.

Pine trees. Pine needles. Lots of 'em.

The weird part isn't that this place smells like pine trees. They're everywhere on the property, so any idiot with a nose would agree with me. The funny part is what else I associate with pine needles, and as a result, what else I am now randomly associating with the Ranch.

Walking along pine-covered paths reminds me of Callaway Gardens. It's a place I used to go for family reunions every summer as a kid. I haven't been there in...shoot, at least 10 years...but I swear, the smell of pine trees takes me right back. It was the first thing I thought of my first day on the Ranch.

Wanna know the only other time I've had this same pine-tree-Callaway-Gardens flashback?

The first time I ever visited William & Mary's campus. My dad and I drove 10 hours for a campus tour, I took two steps along those pine-covered old brick pathways, and I immediately thought,  "Hmm, smells like Callaway Gardens."

Ranch. Pine. Callaway. College. (I feel like there's a "What has search overload done to us?" commercial on loop in my brain.)

That sense of smell -- sure is a weird one. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whoa. Avocado!

I can't believe it! Saturday night for dinner, they served us avocado halves. WHOA. I was so excited!

I think the avocado just increased the total price of this meal by thousand percent or so.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The DataCHO

Weird title, I know. Here's the deal: 

Around the Ranch, people use projectors for various activities -- movies, presentations, whatever. For some reason, everyone chooses to refer to the projector by its English name. But not the name you and I would use, a.k.a. "projector." (That just makes too much sense.)

For some weird reason, the English name they choose to bestow upon the projector is "data show." (Really, who says that?) 

And for the weirdest reason of all, in their Honduran Spanish it comes out sounding like DA-TA-CHO. It. Is. Hilarious. 

Hondurans are walking around left and right asking to borrow dataCHOs, and we gringos are forced to do everything we can to not burst out laughing. Seriously, it sounds way more like Chinese than it does any mix of Spanish-English. 

Datacho. DataCHO. So good, right?

Yet despite its ridiculous Honduran name, Celeste and I currently love the datacho. Because now, instead of having to watch Fringe (our new TV series of choice) on a laptop propped on a chair, we get to do this:


Ooh, look!


Nos gusta. And yeah, we know we're cool. :) 

These Days, I Live on a Ranch.

Before coming to Honduras, I knew I'd be living on a ranch, but somehow, I don't think I really got it. 

Yeah, a ranch. Cool. But Spanish-speaking people throw around the word "rancho" all the time, don't they? I mean, I know everyone at NPH Honduras refers to it as "the Ranch," but that's just an abbreviation of its name -- Ranch Santa Fe --- right? (In Guatemala, we called it "the Casa" -- short for Casa San Andrés.) No big deal. And yeah, the website says it's a 2,000-acre piece of land, but that just makes it sound fancy in print. Right?


Apparently, my brain had a problem fathoming 2,000-acre ranch until I was actually smack in the middle of it. Surrounded by cows. And horses. And bunnies. And chickens. And snakes (haven't actually seen one yet, but others have!) And fields of corn, cucumbers, peppers, watermelon, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, limes, and a million other fruits and veggies. And a pond. And a reservoir. And a dam where kids go swimming. And forest -- tons of forest!

(Note: As a write this entry, a cow is circling my office. Yes, a cow. I've been warned to stay away from the cows -- they like to charge people. I kid you not.)

It takes the kids about 15 minutes to walk from their dorms to the on-site school, and it would take me at least 20 to walk from my room to the Ranch's front entrance. A school bus shuttles employees to and from the offices (tucked way back here in the far corner of the Ranch) every morning and every afternoon.

This place is massive.

So there you go! A better idea of this crazy place I'm now calling home. Maybe you'll picture it better from now on when I use the term "the Ranch." And maybe you won't be as surprised when I blog from bed rest after having been charged by a cow. (Kidding. But seriously, keep fingers crossed for me.)

Love from El Rancho,


Sunday, November 13, 2011

You Know You're Living in Honduras When...

You know you're living in Honduras (or at least on NPH Honduras' massive ranch) when you walk out your office door and see this:

No, there's not a horse in the front yard every single day. But most days. Definitely the vast majority of days. I'm not sure exactly who this guy belongs to either, but he  loves to wander. He gets spotted all over the Ranch. :)

You've All Been Asking

Lots of people have been asking me about this, so let me just address this pressing issue publicly:

"What time is it where you are, Carrie?"

Well. Now that you folks have finished with Daylight Savings Time, Honduras is on the exact same time as the U.S. Central Time Zone. So rest easy, East Coast people. I'm only an hour behind you.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Final Thoughts on Guate

Being my first trip back there since leaving, Guatemala was great. It was great to reunite with friends. It was great to revisit old stomping grounds. It was great to look up and see volcanoes again. It was great to be back acting as my girls' full-time translator of Teen Bop articles. 

In a lot of ways, it was easy (maybe too easy) to fall back into normalcy. Katie, Leeah, Celeste, and I "lived" together again. The kids, though maybe taller, looked the same. The campus looked the same. The  chicken buses were the same. Lord knows the tiny town outside NPH Guatemala was exactly the same. Oftentimes, we caught ourselves feeling like we'd never even left. 

Did those nine months in Louisville even exist? Were they real?

But then other times, the difference was all too real. Oh wait, that second house down the hill isn't mine anymore. I don't live there. I don't live here. I don't have a phone, and I'm having trouble functioning. I'm blanking out on the name of that restaurant I use to love. Oh my God, I'm blanking out on the name of so-and-so's brother. What is his name?

I'm not a volunteer anymore. I'm a visitor. A visitor. 

I don't want to make it sound like the week was a depressing one. It wasn't. It was laughing and Zumba-ing and getting sunburned and playing soccer (well, I don't exactly play soccer, but I watch) and remembering how ridiculous these kids are, hah.

But it was weird. It's just a strange sensation to feel so comfortable in a place and with its people, yet all the while know that it's not really "yours." At least, it's not yours the way it used to be yours. 

That being said, Guatemala's trip made me even more excited for Honduras. Guatemala isn't exactly "mine" anymore, but Honduras is about to be. And if there's a chance I could feel for Honduras what I felt for Guatemala, well, then this girl should definitely be excited. :)

Congrats, grads!

The school year in Guatemala runs from January to October, so we arrived right in time to watch another class of our young'ns graduate. Just like last year, several of my girls were graduating from 6th grade (the last year of elementary school) and moving on to middle school. Awwww.

There weren't enough cap and gown sets to go around this year (womp womp), so the kids wore their uniforms instead. While disappointed at how this seriously downgraded our photos ops, we still snapped plenty of pics like the proud parents we were.

 In the crowd with Marta. She graduated last year. 

 Juana! So excited for graduation!

 Juana and Celeste

Esme and Lupe

Siblings Maria and José 

A bunch of the lovely graduates. 

Leeah and me -- rocking out the model elbow. 


Esme and Teresa 

Leeah, Katie, me 

Leeah, Celeste, me

Congrats, Guatemala class of 2011!

Zumba Obsessed


You do know what Zumba is, right? Come on, don't make me educate you on this one. Maybe you've seen a flyer about it at the gym. Or flipped past the crazy infomercial about it. Or maybe you secretly attend classes three times a week.

Regardless, it's Zumba -- the "Latin music fitness party" (their words, not mine). It made its way to the States a few years back, and apparently, it's made its way to NPH Guatemala too. At least to my group of preteen girls.

Approximately every single night I visited the section in October, the girls couldn't wait to pop in the Zumba DVD. (They only have one DVD, so they essentially do the same routines over and over and over and over again.)

And they also couldn't wait (should we really be surprised here?) to shove me onto my feet, push me in front of la tele, and coax me into my best Latin dance fitness moves.

The following is what resulted. Enjoy the laughs! (You're welcome.)

I'm exhausted just looking back on these photos. :)