As some of you may remember from a previous blog post, this year I will be taking part in a programme called Language Linking, Global Thinking that links me in my classroom in Honduras to a class in Scotland. This is the first LLGT specific post that I’ve written, though there will be more throughout the year, but I hope everyone else will still find it interesting. Any LLGT specific blog posts will be headlined as such to let you know what you’re getting yourself into!
The link between myself and my school in Scotland, Grantown Grammar is going to be a cultural one between the S1s there and my current fifth grade class. At the minute, to get started, the pupils from Grantown have sent me a list of questions that they want to know the answers to about Honduras and about my project.
- Is Honduras a wealthy country?
Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America, after Nicaragua. This is due to the lack of natural resources and land that is suitable for crops as the country is dominated by mountains and marshland. 50% of the population lives below the poverty line and unemployment is at 27.9%. There is also a massive wealth inequality in Honduras – the top fifth in Honduras earn 30 times more than the bottom fifth. Despite this, Honduras’ economic growth has averaged 7% in the last few years, one of the highest rates in Central America
- What is the currency?
The currency in Honduras is called Lempira, which also happens to be the name of the region that I’m living in! There is roughly 20 Lempira to £1 or 30 lemps to $1. Dollars are also widely accepted in all the larger cities in Central America.
- What’s the landscape like?
The landscape in Honduras varies greatly depending on where you are in the country. Obviously there are gorgeous beaches along the coast but there is also rainforest and desert. The area where I am living, the Lempira region, is very mountainous and dramatic with the hills all covered in forests. It is absolutely stunning but makes getting anywhere more difficult as the roads around here are bumpy dirt tracks that have to wind through the mountains.
- What is the climate?
The climate in Honduras is very hot! At least for me anyway! In general, the temperature in Honduras is late 20s or early 30s but in areas where there is a lot of humidity, like on the coast, it can feel like up to 40º! In Candelaria, the town that I’m living in, there’s quite a lot of humidity even though we’re surrounded by mountains. Honduras has two season, the dry season from November to April and the wet season for the rest of the year! The coolest month is December and the hottest is May.
- What’s the wildlife like?
In Honduras the national animal is the white tailed deer and the national bird is the much more memorable scarlet macaw. There are lots of insects and more butterflies here than at home, in lots of different colours. So far the wildlife that I have encountered the most has been mosquitos! Something that is very different from in Scotland though is the number of dogs on the streets. They are allowed to roam around freely and many are actually strays.
- What is the crime rate?
Crime is big problem in Honduras. It has the highest homicide rate in the world and a large gang presence, though this is mostly in the main cities, Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula. However where I am I haven’t noticed much crime. Candelaria is a very safe town and even in Gracias, a city nearby, I still feel very safe.
- What are the main crops?
The traditional crops grown in Honduras are bananas, coffee and sugar. In the time that I’ve been here it has also been the harvest time for elotes, or corn on the cob (different from sweetcorn). There are many different ways you can eat it and so far I’ve tried most of them! It can be eaten normally, cooked over a flame and then rubbed with salt and lime, or the corn can be used to make fritas, like sweet, corn pancakes, tamales, or atol which is a hot drink that tastes sweet and a bit like vanilla.
- What kind of food do they eat?
Refried bean, or frijoles, and tortillas are staples in the Honduran diet. For me, a typical breakfast is composed of frijoles, some kind of egg, a slice of avocado, some cheese and usually some kind of vegetable, with a tortilla. Lunch is meat and rice with salad or sometimes pasta or soup, and a tortilla. Dinner is a bit more varied. It could be frijoles with vegetables and, of course, a tortilla, it could be enchiladas or, my favourite, baleadas which are a thinner tortilla folded over and filled with frijoles and cheese, and either scrambled egg or mantequilla, which is a little like sour cream. ¡Qué rico! We also have a lot of fresh fruit juice, like watermelon (sandía), pineapple (piña) or passion fruit (maracuya) and lots of coffee. I don’t like coffee at home but here it tastes much nicer (though I have to admit that I do add quite a lot of sugar to it!).
- What is Candelaria like?
Candelaria is what is known as a municipio. It basically means that there is the main barrio of Candelaria, where about 800-1000 people live, but it also encompasses the surrounding aldeas, which are almost other towns but still a part of the municipio of Candelaria. I live right on the parque central and only about a five minute walk from la escuela, the primary school, not that anywhere is very far! All of the houses in Honduras are very different from in Scotland. Most are painted vibrant colours which really brightens up the town. It’s not a very big town, so there’s not as much to do here as we would be used to at home but there’s several football fields and pitches. If you don’t play football when you come to Honduras, you will by the time you leave!
- What is the school like? (size, pupils etc.)
I work in la escuela, the primary school, though there is also un colegio, a high school, that we might start teaching in next year. We don’t have our own classrooms in la escuela but it’s pretty small so moving around doesn’t really make that much of a difference. Overall there are around 250 pupils – there is one 1st grade class, one 2nd grade class, one 6th and then two each for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.
- What is your daily timetable at school?
Three mornings a week I start at 8am teaching pre-kinder at the Kindergarten before going to la escuela. At la escuela we usually have between three or four classes, depending on what day it is, that last 45 minutes each. At 10.15 we have recreo (break) for around 30 minutes where we get una merienda (a snack). This could be anything from a baleada to tamales, to just a tortilla and rice, or frijoles and some vegetables!
I hope that has answered all of your questions! If you have anymore questions, even if you’re not a pupil from Grantown Grammar, please feel free to leave them in a comment and I’ll answer them in the next blog post.