Disclaimer

The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.




Sunday, December 16, 2012

Spanish Poem About Love (With Translation)


Beautiful Spanish Poem (Translation Below):
Erase una vez una isla donde habitaban todos los sentimientos:
La alegría, la tristeza y muchos más, incluyendo el Amor.
Un día les fue avisado a los moradores que la isla se iba a hundir.
Todos los sentimientos se apresuraron a salir de la isla,
se metieron en sus barcos y se prepararon a partir,
pero el Amor se quedó,
porque se quería quedar un rato más con la isla que tanto amaba antes de que se hundiese.
Cuando por fin ya estaba casi ahogado, el Amor comenzó a pedir ayuda.
En eso venía la Riqueza y el Amor le dijo: Riqueza llévame contigo.
No puedo – le contestó – hay mucho oro y plata en mi barco,
No tengo espacio para tí.
Entonces el Amor le pidió ayuda a la Vanidad: por favor ayúdame.
La vanidad le dijo: no te puedo llevar tu estás todo mojado,
Vas a arruinar mi barco nuevo.
El Amor le pidió ayuda a la Tristeza: Tristeza me dejas ir contigo?.
Ella le respondió: Ay !! Amor estoy tan triste que prefiero estar solita.
También paso la Alegría, pero ella estaba tan alegre,
que no oyó el Amor llamar.
Allí fue cuando una voz le llamó; ven Amor yo te llevo, era un viejito, pero el Amor estaba tan feliz que se le olvidó preguntarle su nombre.
Al llegar a tierra firme le pregunto a la sabiduría:
Sabiduría, ¿ quién era el viejito que me trajo aquí ?
Ella respondió: era el Tiempo.
¿ El Tiempo ? preguntó el Amor,
pero, ¿ porqué solo el Tiempo me quiso traer ?.
La Sabiduría le respondió:
Porque solo el tiempo es capaz de ayudar a entender un gran Amor...

Duele amar a alguien y no ser correspondidos, pero lo que es más doloroso es amar a alguien y nunca encontrar el valor para decirle a esa persona lo que sientes.
Tal vez Dios quiere que nosotros conozcamos a unas cuantas personas equivocadas antes de conocer a la persona correcta, para que al fin cuando la conozcamos, sepamos ser agradecidos por ese maravilloso regalo.
Una de las cosas más tristes de la vida es cuando conoces a alguien que significa todo, solo para darte cuenta que al final no era para tí, y lo tienes que dejar ir.
Cuando la puerta de la felicidad se cierra, otra puerta se abre, pero algunas veces miramos tanto tiempo a aquella puerta que se cerró, que no vemos la que se ha abierto frente a nosotros.
Es cierto que no sabemos lo que tenemos hasta que lo perdemos, pero también es cierto que no sabemos lo que nos hemos estado perdiendo hasta que lo encontramos.
Darle a alguien todo tu amor nunca es un seguro de que te amarán de regreso, pero no esperes que te amen de regreso, sólo espero que el amor crezca en el corazón de la otra persona, pero si no crece, sé feliz porque creció en el tuyo.
Hay cosa que te encantaría oír que nunca escucharás de la persona que te gustaría que te las dijera pero no seas tan sorda(o) para no oírlas de aquel que las dice desde su corazón.
Nunca digas adiós si todavía quieres tratar.
Nunca te des por vencida(o) si sientes que puedes seguir luchando.
Nunca le digas a una persona que ya no la amas si no puedes dejarla ir.
El amor llega a aquel que espera, aunque lo hayan decepcionado, a aquel que aún cree, aunque haya sido traicionado, a aquel que todavía necesite amar, aunque antes haya sido lastimado, y aquel que tiene el coraje y la fe para construir la confianza de nuevo.
El principio del amor es dejar que aquellos que conocemos sean ellos mismos,
y no tratarlos de voltear con nuestra propia imagen,
porque entonces sólo amaremos el reflejo de nosotros mismos en ellos.
No vayas por el exterior, este te puede engañar.
No vayas por las riquezas, porque aún eso se pierde.
Ve por alguien que te haga sonreír, porque toma tan solo una sonrisa para hacer que un día oscuro brille.
Espero que encuentres aquella persona que te haga sonreír.
Hay momentos en los que se extraña a una persona tanto que quieres sacarla de tus sueños y abrazarla con todas tus fuerzas.
Espero que sueñes con alguien especial.
Sueña lo que quieras soñar, ve adonde quieras ir, sé lo que quieras ser, porque tienes tan sólo una vida y una oportunidad para hacer todo lo que quieras hacer.
Espero que tengas:
Suficiente felicidad para hacerte dulce.
Suficientes pruebas para hacerte fuerte.
Suficiente dolor para mantenerte humana(o).
Suficiente esperanza para ser feliz.
Las personas más felices no siempre tienen lo mejor de todo, sólo sacan lo mejor de todo lo que encuentran en su camino.
La felicidad espera por aquellos que lloran, aquellos que han sido lastimados, aquellos que buscan, aquellos que tratan, porque sólo ellos pueden apreciar la importancia de las personas que han tocado sus vidas.
El Amor comienza con una sonrisa, crece con un beso y muere con una lágrima.
La brillantez del futuro siempre será basada en un pasado olvidado.
No puedes ir feliz por la vida hasta que dejes ir tus fracasos pasados y los dolores de tu corazón.
Cuando naciste, tú llorabas y todos alrededor sonreían;
Vive tu vida de forma tal que cuando mueras tú, sonrías, y todos alrededor te lloren.




English Translation:
Once upon a time there was an island where all the feelings lived:
Joy, Sadness and many more, including Love
One day they were told that the island was going to sink.
All the feelings rushed to leave the island,
got into their boats and prepared to leave,
But Love remained,
because it wanted to stay a little longer with the island that it loved so much before it sank.
When at last it was almost drowned, Love began to ask for help.
Over came Wealth and Love said “Wealth, take me with you.”
“I can not” - it said – “there is a lot of gold and silver in my boat, I have no room for you.”
Then Love asked for help from Vanity: “Please help me.”
Vanity said, “I can not take you, you're all wet, you’re going to ruin my new boat.”
Love asked Sadness for help: “Sadness, will you let me go with you?”
It said, “Alas! Love, I'm so sad that I'd rather be alone.”
Joy also passed by, but it was so happy, it did not hear Love call.
That's when a voice called, “come I'll take you Love”.  It was an old man, but Love was so happy that it forgot to ask his name.
Upon reaching land, Love asked Wisdom,
“Wisdom, who was the old man who brought me here?”
She responded, “It was Time.”
“Time?” Love asked, “But why was Time the only one that wanted to bring me?”
Wisdom replied: “Because only Time is capable of helping us understand a great love..

It hurts to love someone and not have that be reciprocated, but what is more painful is to love someone and never find the courage to tell that person how you feel.
Maybe God wants us to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right person, so that at the end when we meet that person, we know how to be grateful for that wonderful gift.
One of the saddest things in life is when you meet someone who means everything, only to realize that in the end, that person was not the one for you and you have to let them go.
When the door of happiness closes, another door opens, but sometimes we look so long at that closed door, we do not see that another has opened before us.
It is true that we don’t know what we have until we lose it, but it is also true that we do not know what we've been missing until it arrives.
Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they will love you back, but do not expect them to love you back, just hope that the love will grow in the heart of the other person, but if it does not grow, be happy because it grew in yours.
There are things that you'd love to hear that you never will hear from the person you want to say them the most, but do not be so deaf not to hear from the person that speaks from the heart.
Never say goodbye if you still want to try.
Never give up if you feel you can keep fighting.
Never tell a person that you don’t love them if you can’t let them go.
Love comes to those who wait, even though they have been disappointed; to those who still believe, even though they have been betrayed; to those who still need to love, even though they have been hurt before; and to those who have the courage and faith to build trust again.
The beginning of love is to let those we know be themselves, and not try to turn them into our own image, because then we will love only the reflection of ourselves in them.
Do not go for the exterior, this can fool you.
Do not go for wealth, because even that can be lost.
Go for someone who makes you smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day shine.  I hope you find that person that makes you smile.
There are moments when you miss a person so much that you want to bring them out of your dreams and hug them with all your strength.  Hope you dream of that special someone.
Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all that you want to do.
Hope you have:
Enough happiness to make you sweet.
Enough challenges to make you strong.
Enough pain to keep you human .
Enough hope to be happy.
The happiest people do not always have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything in their path.
Happiness waits for those who cry, those who have been hurt, those who seek, those who try, for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.
Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss and ends with a tear.
The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past.
You can not go on happy in life until you let go of your past failures and the pain in your heart.
When you were born, you were crying and everyone around smiled;
Live your life so that when you die, you smile, and everyone around you will cry.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Donate to Javier's Bakery!


NO FURTHER DONATIONS ARE NEEDED, THANK YOU TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU WHO CONTRIBUTED! We reached our goal in less than 3 days thanks to your generous help! All updates will be posted on this blog :)

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I received a desperate message from one of my host dads in Honduras from when I served in the Peace Corps.

Now just some background info:  He and his family are some of THE most humble, selfless, kindest people I have ever met in my life.  With two little mouths to feed, they also took me in as one of their own and treated me as one of their other daughters, patiently helping with my Spanish and adjustment to the Honduran lifestyle for 5 entire weeks.   They had so little yet gave so much and never once asked for anything in return.

My host dad, Javier, was a baker and showed me his little bakery behind the house with a traditional clay oven and all his tools of the trade.  He would create these delicious butter cookies, perfect for dipping into your morning or afternoon coffee.  Whenever there was an opportunity to sell his product, he would take the crowded “chicken bus” (standing room only) an hour or so to the nearest city.  My host mom Pati worked in a hospital, but is now out of the job since she recently gave birth to a third child. 

Resources are scarce, and Javier contacted me with a desperate plea for help.  He needs $200 as start-up capital to get his bakery running again.  I realize that just the money won’t be enough and he will need to be trained on how to better manage his bakery so that it doesn’t go under again.  To resolve this issue, one of my best friends who is still in Honduras has offered to train him in business and financial management so he can be successful.

What I am hoping to accomplish with this page is a contribution of just $1 from 200 people.  Once we reach our goal, the money will be sent to Javier, and I will make a note of every single person who donated and send it down to Honduras and try to do a little special something with everyone’s names.

To donate, please click the button below:



Thank you to everyone who makes a contribution!  :)



We have raised $301 total!!  I spoke with Javier and am sending the money to him, which he should receive by the end of next week!


Monday, May 28, 2012

My Culinary Adventures: Spaghetti & Meatball "Cupcakes"

Back in April, one of my cousins turned 20 and her parents threw her a backyard barbecue party at their house.  I had come across an interesting recipe earlier that week which combined my obsession of cupcakes with my love of Italian food, and figured these would be a perfect bite-size contribution to the food table.  Turns out they were a huge hit!







Spaghetti & Meatball "Cupcakes"
Recipe taken from Emily Bites

Ingredients:
1 lb 95% lean ground beef (I may have used 70% or 80% lean and they still came out super tasty, but in the future will try it with the 95%)
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs (I used the Italian Seasoning Panko bread crumbs)
1 large egg
1 tbsp skim milk
8 oz thin wheat spaghetti, broken into 2-3” pieces (I used regular spaghetti)
3 egg whites
1 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup 2% shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cups + 3 tbsp marinara sauce, divided
Parsley or fresh basil (optional garnish) (I used basil.. it adds a nicer flavor I think!)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil then lightly mist it with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, egg and skim milk and stir until mixed. Add the ground beef and stir in until thoroughly combined (I used my hands! So much easier for mixing and forming the balls). Split the meat mixture into 12 equal pieces and roll them into balls. Set the balls on the prepared baking sheet and put them in the oven to bake for 25 minutes at 350.
  3. While the meatballs bake, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the broken spaghetti pieces according to package directions. Drain the spaghetti and set it aside to cool (or put in the fridge for a bit so that the noodles aren't too hot to touch).
  4. When the meatballs are done, remove them from the oven and place them in a saucepot with 1 ½ cups of marinara sauce. Bring the meatballs and sauce over low heat on the stovetop, just to keep it all warm. Stir occasionally. Turn the heat on the oven up to 400 degrees.
  5. When the pasta is cooled enough to handle, whisk the egg whites together in a large bowl and then add the pasta. Stir to combine and then add the Parmesan, Mozzarella, and 3 tablespoons of the marinara sauce. Mix together until thoroughly combined. 
  6. Lightly mist a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Place about 1/3 cup of the spaghetti mixture into each cup in the muffin tin. Using your fingers, press down on the center and up the sides of the spaghetti, forming cups. Slide the tin into the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes at 400.
  7. When the spaghetti cups are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a moment before removing them from the tin. When ready to serve, pour a tablespoon of marinara sauce from the pot into the center of a spaghetti cup, top it with a meatball, and follow it with another tablespoon of marinara. 
  8. Garnish with a fresh sprig of basil!

*If you are planning to have leftovers, store the sauce & meatballs in one container and the spaghetti cups in another and assemble them right before eating. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Culinary Adventures: Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins with Walnut Streusel Topping

I bought some bananas for my aunt a couple weeks ago, but she hasn't been able to eat them because of a stomachache.  They started getting really ripe, and since I don't like wasting or throwing things away, I promised her I'd make some banana bread to salvage them.  After removing the trays from the oven to preheat it, I spotted some muffin pans and thought that muffins would be a much more fun alternative, plus they're so much cuter ^_^.  I had a recipe saved for banana bread that I hadn't used yet, and decided to combine it with another recipe which includes a cinnamon-sugar swirl in the middle.  They turned out so moist, with the perfect blend of spices!  They would make the perfect pairing with coffee :)

[I apologize for the quality of the photos.  I couldn't find good lighting anywhere and my camera has been giving me problems =/.]






Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins with Walnut Streusel Topping
Recipe adapted from Lovin' From the Oven I and II (go here for my blog post on her Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread)
Makes 18 muffins

Muffin Ingredients:
3 whole bananas
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon-Sugar Swirl:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Walnut Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Muffin Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In one bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well mixed. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas, cinnamon and nutmeg with a fork. Stir in the milk.
  4. Add the mashed banana mixture to the creamed butter/sugar mixture and mix with a hand-mixer on low speed until combined. 
  5. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together well.
  6. Add in the dry ingredients to wet mixture only until incorporated.
Cinnamon-Sugar Swirl Directions:
  1. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl and stir together until combined.
Walnut Streusel Topping Directions:
  1. Combine the butter, flour, and dark brown sugar until well mixed. 
  2. Add the cinnamon, pinch of salt and the chopped walnuts.
Muffin Preparation:
  1. Line muffin pans with muffin cups.
  2. Using a large spoon, pour a spoonful of batter into each muffin cup until 1/3 full.
  3. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mix over the batter, making sure to layer it kind of thick.
  4. Fill the rest of the muffin cup about 1/2 to 3/4 full with batter using the spoon.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, then remove from oven and sprinkle walnut streusel topping evenly over muffin tops.
  6. Place pan back into oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. When finished, set aside and let the muffins cool on a rack for about 15 minutes before enjoying.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Culinary Adventures: Irish Carbomb Cupcakes

Peace Corps pulled us out of Honduras, for my group, about 9 months earlier than we had planned: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/18/honduras-peace-corp-withdrawal_n_1212544.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false  

I'll keep this blog as a food journal from now on :)

A couple friends are throwing a Super Bowl party today, and while I'm not a fan of football, I am a fan of parties and meeting new people.  One of the requests is to bring something to eat, and I saw this as an opportunity to finally make something!  I haven't cooked or baked since being in my house in Honduras, so I decided to try something new for me - in the form of Irish Carbomb Cupcakes.  I guess I should have waited until St. Patrick's Day, but I have other plans for that weekend and this recipe looked too delicious to pass up.  This was my first time attempting to make my own cupcake frosting and filling, and they turned out pretty good!  I will warn though, there are 3 types of alcohol in this recipe, so kiddos - go light ;)





Irish Carbomb Cupcakes
Recipe from See Brooke Cook
Makes 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness (or other stout beer)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
2/3 cup half and half or heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tsp Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Icing:
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
6-8 Tbsp Baileys, I would suggest use 6  first, and then add more to taste.

Directions:Cupcakes:
Preheat your oven to 350°, line cupcake pans and set aside. In a large saucepan over medium heat bring the beer and butter to a simmer. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream until combined. Slowly add the stout-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat slowly until just combined. Divide the batter in the prepared cupcake pan, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. In the preheated oven bake the cupcakes for about 17 minutes (or until tester inserted into center comes out clean). Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack. Meanwhile, make the ganache.

Ganache:
Put chocolate in medium heat safe bowl and set aside. Over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, heat the cream/half-and-half until simmering then pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If the chocolate has not completely melted you can place in the microwave for 20 seconds, but watch carefully so you don’t burn it). Add the butter and whiskey (if using) and stir until combined.

Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to work with (you can refrigerate the mixture to speed up, but you will need to stir it every 10 minutes or so). Meanwhile cut the centers out of the completely cooled cupcakes, about 2/3 of the way deep. When all cupcakes are ready, fill them with the ganache. You can do so with a spoon and your finger, or by using a piping bag with a wide tip.

Icing:
To prepare the icing, beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). While on medium speed add the powdered sugar a few tablespoons at a time. When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, slowly add the Baileys beat until combined. If the icing has thinned too much add a couple more tablespoons of powdered sugar. Frost ganache filled cupcakes and enjoy!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Computer Donation Project

**UPDATE**
Since I am not in Honduras anymore and cannot work directly with this project or the schools (it has to be person-to-person contact), it has been canceled.
*****

Hello blog readers! 

I am working with 7 other Peace Corps Volunteers in Honduras to get computers for 12 schools and libraries from the nonprofit World Computer Exchange to connect 4,700 youth per year to the skills, opportunities and understanding of the internet. They have shipped to PCVs in Honduras before.

Each school community is also raising matching funds to show the priority they place on these computers for their children and to give them a real sense of ownership after we have come home.

The container of 200 computers will be shipped in late March or early April from Chicago.

I am raising $80 per delivered computer loaded with software in Spanish.

You can read more about our project at this url:

and at our Facebook Cause page:

Please "Like" and "Share" the page with your friends even if you are unable to contribute.

If you are interested, please click the "Donate" button and under "Program Designation", choose "Peace Corps Honduras Project".

This is not limited to only the people invited. If you would like to invite others to contribute, please feel free - every dollar counts.

Those of you who work at schools or other organizations that may be able to start up a collection or fund raise for this, please ask for the support of your coworkers.

This money will not go to waste and will help advance the education of bright, dedicated students who are not fortunate enough to have the resources that students have in the states. Allowing them to expand their education and connect to the world through internet is something so simple that we think about in the states, yet such a foreign idea here. Your donation will make a substantial difference, and help open the eyes and raise awareness for these people. I will be sure to include your name in the list of donors that will go to the recipient school.

Thank you to all who choose to play an important role in these children's lives!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Art of Surfing Couches during the El Negrito Feria

The joys of owning a couch are innumerable.  Not only does it make the house look more like a home, give your guests a soft place to sit their bottoms down after a long day, or serve as a midday napping spot, it also allows you to be part of the CouchSurfing program!  Well, okay, so you don't necessarily need to own a couch to participate, but it doesn't hurt :)  I owe so much to that website.  I've hosted 8 people so far, met up with a group of guys I was supposed to host in La Ceiba during Carnaval, and helped another person with planning his trip down here.  My experiences with everyone have been nothing short of inspirational.  I've already written about a couple from earlier this year, I believe.  In July I received 3 different groups of people: one guy from Germany who was living and traveling around Central/South America, one guy from Japan who had decided to travel the world starting with Central America, and 4 guys from Argentina who were doing the whole South/Central American run.  They all came at the perfect time - during our annual feria!  

We had tons of events going on in the park, in the Club, and in the Centro Social.  Every town's feria, or annual fair, is done in honor of some religious figure or Saint.  In El Negrito's case, our feria honored La Virgen del Carmen.  It lasted from July 2nd to 23rd and is really one of the rare times of the year when the central park area is completely teeming with people.  We inaugurated the fair with a float parade, horses, marching band, and firecrackers, then gave out prizes to the best floats at our large bullring.  


Global Warming Float
Another event during the feria was the Carrera de Cintas, a contest in which men ride horseback at full speed towards a rope hung across the road that has small loops hanging from it that the men have to spear with a small stick.  The guy that has the most wins.




There were bull-riding competitions in the smaller bullrings,


Small fair rides and various vendors and game booths scattered around the park, plus fireworks,



Pic by Fede
Music concerts of popular music, ranchera music, merengue, bachata, punta, and a Miss Yoro pageant,


Pic by Fede
Pic by Fede


Oh yeah. And a band that passed by every morning at 4 am playing very loud music.


My site-mate had mentioned to me that El Negrito had a small swimming hole that was a small hike away, so the first CSer I hosted in July and I went with my site-mate to see it, since he knew where it was.  The hike was about 40 minutes down a dirt road and a small trail in the woods and we had to cross several small creeks but we finally reached it.  There was a small waterfall, a big boulder, and the swimming hole actually was super tiny, but very refreshing after walking in the sun for so long!  


My second guest stayed a few days and was a big hit with my friends because he brought his guitar and played and sang for us on several occasions.  Even though he was Japanese, he knew several songs in Spanish and we sat for probably an hour in my house enjoying our own private little concert.  


The other guests I had were from Argentina.  Two guys stayed with me for a while, waiting for their other two friends to get here from Nicaragua and we all became fast friends.  We somehow managed to get into most of the feria events for free, which I attribute to their luck.  One guy was a maker of beautiful threaded bracelets of all sorts of designs and colors, another was a professional salsa dancer, there was a juggler, and then a guy who played the guitar and sang and was just generally high in spirits and fun.  We actually ended up meeting in Utila (one of the Bay Islands) after they left to continue the adventures!  There was one day that we went to a World Vision event at the pool for Dia del Niño and we met this kid who has the most beautiful eyes and perfect smile!  We were all saying that he could be a model someday :)  


Pic by Alan
In Utila
Before the other two joined us, the first two guys (on either side of me in the photo) and I tried to find the swimming hole that I went to before but without my site-mate as our guide, we got lost and ended up walking for hours up the mountain past the point we were supposed to turn off.  I'm kind of glad we did honestly because the places we walked by were absolutely stunning.  It then started to rain super hard but we found shelter in an abandoned building and waited out the storm before heading back.


We did finally make it to the swimming hole another day after asking around, and it ended up being super easy to get to!  I've gone back two or three times after to show other people, and every time it's been an adventure.

Every person I meet has touched me in some way and it's incredibly motivating to see what others are doing with their lives when it comes to traveling.  The last guys are traveling without a schedule, taking the time to stay in a place for however long they want to if they like it, and that way they are able to form meaningful friendships with people and get to know cultures and smaller, non-touristy sites better than your average traveler.  For me, that's the ideal way to travel and know the world.  Because of all these people, I may just have to pack up my bags and go around Central and South America after I finish with Peace Corps.  If I head straight into work and grad school, I feel like I'll miss out on the opportunity to do so forever!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Culinary Adventures: Lemon Blueberry Bread

It is nearly impossible to find blueberries in Honduras because they are very difficult to grow in a tropical climate; however, I found them and bought 5 pounds frozen for about $10 (L200).  They've been in my freezer for quite a while because I couldn't think of anything to make, but I found this recipe for lemon blueberry bread that looked delicious!  One of the fruit/veg street vendors gifted me a bag of lemons too, so it was perfect timing.  Also, I was growing sick of banana bread.  :)



Recipe
Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients
Bread:
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, I chose not to put them in)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen)

Glaze (I didn't make the glaze):
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/8 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease and flour an 8x4 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, 1 cup sugar, juice and eggs. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk. Fold in lemon zest, and blueberries*. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Remove bread from pan and drizzle with glaze. Cool on a wire rack.
*Tip: Roll blueberries in flour before adding to mixture so that they don't all sink too much to the bottom.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

Honduras is home to the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a region of 5,250 sq. km. (about 1,300,000 acres),  and host to the highest level of tropical biodiversity in Central America, as well as the indigenous Pech and Miskito Indians and largely unexplored archaeological sites.  It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, but unfortunately this "protected" land is being threatened by illegal activities such as logging and land clearing for cattle grazing, hunting and poaching endangered wildlife and fish, the use of dynamite in rivers for fishing, narcotrafficking, and the forcing of indigenous peoples off their lands.  Not only are these activities gradually and significantly harming the land and its species, but they are also contributing to the illnesses and displacement of its people whose main source of water is from the rivers contaminated with dynamite debris.  

This insightful, eye-opening and poignant 30 minute documentary takes an in-depth look at the RPBR, how the land and its peoples are being affected, and takes you on a journey to explore a beautiful region of the world where much has gone undocumented.  I urge you to take the time to watch and share the information with others to raise awareness in support of this conservation movement which I feel is extremely important.

Taken from the UNESCO website:

39 species of mammal, 377 species of bird and 126 reptiles and amphibians have been recorded. Threatened species include giant anteater, Baird's (Central American) tapir, jaguar, ocelot, puma, margay, jaguarondi, Central American otter, Caribbean manatee, American crocodile, brown caiman, red brocket deer, harpy eagle, scarlet macaw, green macaw, military macaw, king vulture, great curassow and crested guan. Reptiles include green turtle, loggerhead turtle and leatherback turtle.
The site of Ciudad Blanca (White City) within the protected area constitutes one of the most important archaeological sites of Mayan civilization. Archaeological remains include the Piedras Pintadas petroglyphs on the bed of the Plátano River, believed to belong to an unknown pre-Columbian culture. The reserve also contains the site where Christopher Colombus first landed in the Americas in 1492. There are some 200 sites of archaeological importance.