Brian’s first month in El Pital by Brian Goetz

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Each morning, waking to the sound of the roosters of El Pital crowing even before dawn blesses the valley, I must be thankful for finding myself so fortunate (as we all must, as we see each new day).  I have spent my first month in the cuenca cangrejal spending time in three different homes, the hosts in which have all been incredibly gracious.  Rob and Elly have been very helpful in sharing their thoughts, time, and living space with me (not to mention food) as I become acclimated to my new environment.  Waking up one day in the middle of a Wisconsin winter, and waking the next day breathing tropical air can be funky for the body and mind.  After the first few days and nights just getting to know the area a bit, I spent two weeks with a wonderful family who taught me many Hondureñismos, the art of tortilla making, and a plethora of things about daily life in the cuenca.  Living with this family was truly a heartwarming experience.
During the days here, I’ve been focusing my energy on developing a curriculum for teaching twice-weekly English classes in the mountain village of La Muralla, establishing relationships with people of all ages in El Pital and neighboring aldeas, and brainstorming, writing down ideas, planning for the year.  The latter mental activity has been primarily directed towards:  the “Biblioburro” program we are developing which will bring books and magazines, as well as a book- making workshop, to some of the more remote villages in the area via burro, or donkey; a potential music program, most likely centered on learning about different musical cultures around the world as a vehicle to increased awareness of different people, places and sounds; and developing a questionnaire/survey to take with me to all of the schools in the cuenca so that we may gain a better understanding of the educational opportunities offered in all of the communities here.  On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I make the hike up to the village of La Muralla to give English lessons to the twenty or so elementary school kids there.  It’s a multilevel classroom, with a handful of kids in each grade, first through fifth, so I have my work cut out for me. Nevertheless, it is a blast working with these children, as well as learning from the teacher there on how to accommodate such a wide age range of learners.
I was also invited to play guitar at the wedding of a newly made friend the second week I was here, which was a great opportunity to meet many people and “break the ice” so to speak.   The church was packed and I think people enjoyed my rendition of “Is this Love?” by Bob Marley.  Also in the music vein, I’ve been organizing a couple of music fundraisers for this summer, as well as a small book drive (both back in the U.S.) to raise awareness of this area of the world in the case of the former, and to get a start on building a library for the Biblioburro program.
But, of course, much of this first month has been simply soaking in the new, and listening.  More to come soon…

Each morning, waking to the sound of the roosters of El Pital crowing even before dawn blesses the valley, I must be thankful for finding myself so fortunate (as we all must, as we see each new day).  I have spent my first month in the cuenca cangrejal spending time in three different homes, the hosts in which have all been incredibly gracious.  Rob and Elly have been very helpful in sharing their thoughts, time, and living space with me (not to mention food) as I become acclimated to my new environment.  Waking up one day in the middle of a Wisconsin winter, and waking the next day breathing tropical air can be funky for the body and mind.  After the first few days and nights just getting to know the area a bit, I spent two weeks with a wonderful family who taught me many Hondureñismos, the art of tortilla making, and a plethora of things about daily life in the cuenca.  Living with this family was truly a heartwarming experience.

During the days here, I’ve been focusing my energy on developing a curriculum for teaching twice-weekly English classes in the mountain village of La Muralla, establishing relationships with people of all ages in El Pital and neighboring aldeas, and brainstorming, writing down ideas, planning for the year.  The latter mental activity has been primarily directed towards:  the “Biblioburro” program we are developing which will bring books and magazines, as well as a book- making workshop, to some of the more remote villages in the area via burro, or donkey; a potential music program, most likely centered on learning about different musical cultures around the world as a vehicle to increased awareness of different people, places and sounds; and developing a questionnaire/survey to take with me to all of the schools in the cuenca so that we may gain a better understanding of the educational opportunities offered in all of the communities here.  On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I make the hike up to the village of La Muralla to give English lessons to the twenty or so elementary school kids there.  It’s a multilevel classroom, with a handful of kids in each grade, first through fifth, so I have my work cut out for me. Nevertheless, it is a blast working with these children, as well as learning from the teacher there on how to accommodate such a wide age range of learners.

I was also invited to play guitar at the wedding of a newly made friend the second week I was here, which was a great opportunity to meet many people and “break the ice” so to speak.   The church was packed and I think people enjoyed my rendition of “Is this Love?” by Bob Marley.  Also in the music vein, I’ve been organizing a couple of music fundraisers for this summer, as well as a small book drive (both back in the U.S.) to raise awareness of this area of the world in the case of the former, and to get a start on building a library for the Biblioburro program.
But, of course, much of this first month has been simply soaking in the new, and listening.  More to come soon…

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