Sunday, September 22, 2013

Copuita Manquilas

So for starters I am going to elaborate on my obviously awesome creative title. The title is a mix of all of the places we visited last week: Chiquita Banana farm and Union, Copan and Maquiladoras. The Chiquita and Maquiladora trips were filled with fun facts and information; Copan was more like History with a twist.
             During the Chiquita trip, I realized that my life is a lie. I mean how could I not know that banana trees aren't trees at all, but ginormous plants because they are composed of  at least 80% of water? Everyone knows that, right? I don't know if its just me, but my mind is blown. I haven't felt like this since the day I realized Arnold, From the television show Hey Arnold, did not wear a skirts, but that his shirt was just sticking out. My favorite part of the day was actually going to a banana plantation and seeing the harvesting process. Once a banana "tree" produces it is no longer valuable because It only produces once, so they cut it down. Daughter "trees" grow at the base of the mother tree, so when they hack the mother down the daughter is ready for duty. You could see the generations of the "trees" side by side. Banana "trees" need at least 6 leaves so that the bananas do not ripen too early due to sun exposure. Hurricane Mitch damaged a ton of crops, to the point where there are some areas that have stopped the production of bananas all together. The workers say this years harvest has been excellent and they are back on track. The banana union started in 1954, the workers are treated terribly; They have more work but still get the same amount of pay. When the union wants to do something good and make improvements, the company starts cutting everything.
              Copan was one of my favorite trips by far!!! We visited the Mayan ruins; my mind was blown away at how intelligent these people were. I mean yeah they were into witchcraft like sacrifices and worshiping gods, but there is a lot of solid history and culture wrapped into the ruins. One thing I found hilarious is that they carved stones into circular shapes, but they did not invent the wheel or ever use wheels. They carried all of this  weight on their backs, if they would have simply flipped these carvings vertically upright, their life would have been so much simpler. It amazes me that they created these monumental pyramids,tows homes, artworks, accurate calender, math, sewer system, etc., but not the wheel. We stopped by the independence day parade as we were returning to the hotel. The streets were packed, the band was playing, the baton twirlers were dancing, the foot smelled fantastic and a few dancers were in traditional dresses. The traditional dresses were beautiful and in every color! We also went horse back riding, that was an adventure for me. I am not around horses, never ridden a horse, barley even touched one and I found myself throw into horse culture. Even with my obvious lack of being a horse whisperer, I personally believe that I dominated the trails like a professional. I even galloped for awhile without falling off; overall I feel very accomplished. today I became a horse whisperer, who knows what tomorrow could bring, maybe learn how to surf or create clothing, regardless of what it is I am ready. The last activity we did i Copan was visit a bird sanctuary. We actually did not go to see the birds, but too swim i the river. Eventually, we attempted to view the birds on our way out and we even got to hold a few parrots!!!! They were actually heavy and gripped their claws  into you; It didn't hurt that much and you didn't bleed your life away or anything, but it felt like a very strong pinch. One of the things I did not like was that there were these huge spiders everywhere! It was kinda cool to look at them, from a distance, because they all had different colors, but it was still creepy because of there size ad how quick they can move. Their webs are ridiculously strong, it was able to support a decent size stick. Unlike the spider webs in the United States, these webs are yellow and about 3 times bigger.
                 The maquiladora's was our last visit. We visited a US owed maquila(Fruit of the Loom) and a Honduran owned maquila(Regency), Korea also owns the remainder maquila, but we were not allowed inside. For those of you who don't know what a maquiladora is, it is the factory where you can find cheap labor to make all of our clothing and other items. There are maqulidoras all over the world, for example China, Twain, Bangladesh, Ecuador, El Salvador, etc. The factories we visited does the same work as the factory that collapsed in Bangladesh. I had this image of a sweatshop with extremely bad conditions, child workers ad people working their heart out for next to nothing; It actually wasn't like that. At both maquils we saw how they create the fabric, transform the fabric into clothing ad ship the clothing to different ports. They have these super cool weaving machines that weaves multiple spools of string/yarn into fabric. When that process is complete, the finishing result is a huge roll of fabric at least three feet tall and wide. The roll of fabric is then fed into another machine that unfolds it. Once the fabric is unfolded  it is dyed to the desired color i these ginormous cylinders; you have to use salt and hot water so that the color wont fade when you wash it. The fabric is then unfolded and dried in these massive heaters; these heaters are the reason why the factory is ridiculously hot. We were all pouring sweat during the tour( at the Honduran factory), I don't know how anyone can work in there everyday for 12 hours. Fleece material is originally rough, in order to make it soft they have to comb the material about three times before it become fluffy. The best quote of the day is " we create the fluffy". After we left the factory, we went to a different factory where people were turning the fabric into clothing. Even tho both factories had basically the same set up, there were a few differences between the US and Honduran owned factories. The Honduran factories were hot, dirty ad cramped, they can not be working to the best of there ability with no air conditioning and not the best conditions. As a whole, the Honduran factory was not bad at all, which surprised me, but they weren't as good as the US factories. The US factories were much more organized, air conditioned, more efficient, looked nicer and had the best equipment. The workers didn't even seem stressed like the workers from the Honduran owned maquila; they were relaxed, had music playing and i even saw a bunch of people smiling. The atmosphere of the other maquila was intense and stressful. You could tell Fruit of the Loom was trying to sell their product to us, ad it worked, they treated us like we were about to buy the company. The workers make more the the Honduran minimal wage, but compared to the United States that still isn't a lot. Maquilas empower women, give a bunch of jobs, is good for the economy and people actually want these jobs.Over all I would say they aren't bad, but there is much room for improvement.I thought it was interesting to see the entire process of where our clothes come from.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Well this post is filled with fun-filled adventures that happened last week. I should have posted at the end of each day while it was fresh, but I kinda forgot. Now I am scrambling to remember all of the details; so hopefully this post wont be to crappy. If my memory is correct, we went to congress, a public hospital, a primary school, A blind school, AJS and la Mountanita, which is a very poor community. I am sorry in advance for a boring blog post, this one will be more informational and sound negative.

1. The visit to congress was actually cool. I had my doubts that it would be a interesting trip and that I wouldn't be able to stay awake during the presentation, but I made it through with the help of a few factors. First of all the air conditioner was on Blizzard and blowing right in my face. I Tried to act cool, like it wasn't bothering me, but my face probably had all sorts of nasty looks. At one point I started to fall asleep even though I was sitting right next to David, the speaker, which is super embarrassing, but I think I played it off well. David talked about the up coming election and said that everyone in politics is corrupt; corruptions is like a disease. I am surprised at how easily we could get around the building, like there was not a ton of security  or anything.

2. Visiting the hospital was interesting but depressing. The public hospital down here is terrible. A) the building it self needed major updates. B) patients don't have their own room. They separate patients by internal problems, like a heart attack, and external problems like if some one got shot and put them all in one huge room. Some patients were in the hallway on stretcher beds getting check out and many people had visible injuries. They have no boundaries for example, our tour guide asked us if we wanted to watch a surgery. The problem with this is that their surgical rooms aren't like Americas. The surgical room isnt guarded or in a different wing of the hospital, its in an open room with multiple patients and anyone can walk in. Some doctors were actually working on patients. For example they were pulling on this lady's arm/ wrist trying to pop in back in place. They were showing us the people like they were zoo animals on display; which is not cool. When I am in the hospital sick the last thing I want is people staring at me in my moment of weakness. C) all of their files are in manila folders; the record room just looks so chaotic, I don't know how they find anything in there. They need a good commuter system that will organize all of that witchcraft. People leave there houses at 5am or earlier just to arrive at the hospital early. When they do arrive it may be an hour or longer until they can actually see a doctor, if they can even see the doctor that day. Some days they come and wait all day for the chance to see a doctor, but It doesn't happen until the next day. On a fantastic day you could arrive, see the doctor in a few hours, get the medicine and go home; those days are rare. Once you have been checked out they give you a prescription and you are supposed to get the medicine for free, but most times they don't have the medicine so now you have to buy the medicine, which many Hondurans can not afford. The political system here is frustrating because it is so corrupt that nothing gets done right....but enough of that, ill get off my soap box.

3. The primary school was also an adventure. When you first walk in all you saw was kids running around playing instead of being in class. It was so loud that I could not hear myself think. The teachers union was on strike; none of the teachers left, but they all didn't want to be there, a few teachers didn't even show up. All the kids kept yelling GRINGO as we walked by. A majority of the children are poor, they don't have school materials, books or food. A majority of the money the government gives, goes to the teachers salaries (3.00$ per hr). The schools are dirty because there is no one there to clean it so parents come in after class to do what they can. World Vision gives students materials and helps the school by training the older kids(5th and 6th graders) to tutor the younger kids; which is awesome. It is crazy in the schools, I honestly don't understand how anyone learns; the noise alone is so distracting, the kids are jumping all over the place and they don't have any materials. Honduras has the worst education in Latin America even though they spend the most money on education. Even though the children were quite rowdy, they were adorable.

4. The blind school was awesome!!! It was awesome they teach adults how to function in everyday life, like how to read/ write braille, how to get dresses, cook, make art and music, use a walking stick, etc. They give these people crucial skill to function normally. It is a two year program and they can also achieve skills that will help them get a job, like giving messages. They gave our group free massages and the people are so sweet. This trip was one of my favorites by far, it was so happy!

5. AJS is the organization my professors founded. They are dedicated to  fighting the corruption in Honduras. Their mission statement is: brave Christians dedicated to making Honduras system of law and government work properly to do justice for the poor and inspire other Christians. They want to get rid of the root problem (corruption) and prevent violence. Some of the ways they prevent violence is by providing opportunities for at risk youth, mentors, getting kids back in school. There needs to be a structural change and individual changes in order to see a transformation. AJS is doing some awesome things in Honduras and I did not realize they had so much influence/ power in the government. That just completely blows my mind because they are making a difference

6. La Mountanita is a very poor community. They don't have running water, electricity, bathrooms inside of the house, etc. These people literally had nothing but they were so happy; they truly live simply. It hurts me to know that those kids will probably never leave their villages and experience life somewhere else. They don’t have to leave the country, but if they just walked a few miles down the road to Santa Lucia, they would see a completely different world. They have so many fruits and vegies around; if you want advocate  just go out side and hit the tree. I really wanted to milk a cow, but i did not wake up earlier enough, apparently 6:30am is too late. I played soccer and all types of other games with the kids; they say I am a good goalie, I have found my calling in life. I wiped out playing  a game similar to London bridges, I think I'm at that point where people laughing at me is as normal as talking. The kids were also impressed with my awesome dodge ball skills, I mean what can I say, I'm just naturally talented. These people have taught me to really enjoy the little things in life. The kids had a children's book, teaching them the basics in Spanish  THAT BOOK WAS PERFECT FOR ME, I LEARNED SO MUCH. I have the least amount of Spanish out of our whole group so for me that book was like heaven. The children helped me pronounce the words and giggled as I tried to form sentences. One of my new goals to buy a children's book so that I may learn Spanish and then continuously grow until I can carry a decent conversation in Spanish.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Week Of Awesomeness

There is so much to say; I don't even know where to start. I live in Santa Lucia with mi mama Lordes y hermana Paola. Paola is the next best thing to the Bible because she speaks English fluently; I don't know what I would without her! The struggle has been too real I can't read, write or speak Spanish besides the basics, but I can understand a decent amount of it verbally, so I'm not completely screwed. Everyone laughs when I try to speak Spanish, but they always help me afterwards. I am just glad that it is not a cruel laugh, but they think I am funny. I have the worst Spanish in my group but one my goals is to be the most improved by the end of the semester.

I don't know what it is, but the food here is Excellent. Everything just tastes so good, I hope I don't get fat because most of the food is fried. But they don't use the same kind of oil so it is slightly healthier. When I walk around the city or neighborhood all I smell is happiness and I just want to try EVERYTHING. So as a result, I just go down the menu and order something different everyday, just to make sure I don't miss anything on the menu. so far everything has been wonderful. The coffee here is also very good, I drink a cup every morning. I don't even have to put cream or a heck of sugar in it; it is naturally good. Two tablespoons of sugar is all you need.

Last weekend we went to a national park, I believe, in La Tigra. We hiked to a waterfall and I almost died! Actually, not really but I was really tired. The first 30 mins was straight uphill and it was very steep. By the time we got to a stopping point my calf muscles were burning, breathing was heavy and  I pouring sweat, but we had the most amazing view of the lush Green mountains. We didn't stop there it was a 2 hour hike and we only did about 30 Min's. The rest of the hike was not as bad because it wasn't as steep. There are so many different kinds of vegetation here, a lot of the leaves are HUGE. Some of the trees look like cool tree houses, some have vines and others are like skyscrapers. I fell like 20 times but when we got to the waterfall it was all worth it. We also, had a life story time. My group is so amazing and we bonded so quickly that it seemed like magic. Its amazing how God brought each and everyone of us to Honduras; I know that we are all here for a reason. God has shown up and shown out in all of our lives that we would talk all night about the goodness of Jesus and the holy spirit. I love my group so much, i would trade them for the world. we support each other while stretching each other. I know that my life will be changed forever, I am sad that it will be over in a few months. While I am here I will make the most of each day, step out of my comfort zone and see where the Lord takes me. and I almost died

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Counting Down The Days...

Only FIVE MORE days until takeoff!!!! I don't think it has hit me yet that ill be in another country for 3.5 months. I have only been in a plane once when my family and I vacationed at Disney World; that was when I was a child and I don't remember any of it. At this point I am actually more excited for the plane ride there, than the actual destination. I am ready for this trip, but I have a few fears. Now my fears aren't regular fears like normal people. For example, I am afraid that that the plane will crash,seriously injuring me like losing my legs, arm or eye, and I will have to live on an island with strangers in order to survive. I also have a fear that a spider will bite me and the area bit will grow to the size of a softball. Or a spider will lay eggs in my hair and a bunch of baby spiders will be crawling all over me. A normal person would be afraid of getting lost, not having the correct travel documents, missing their home or getting sick, but not me. I will take everything that comes my way in a positive light. Getting lost, BRING IT ON. Making a fool of myself, BRING IT ON. Going on adventures, BRING IT ON, because in the end those situations are the ones that make the best stories.