English and hamburgers. That kind of sums up my day. They don’t really have anything to do with each other. I guess people from the US speak English and eat a lot of hamburgers. And kids in my English classes think that all we eat in the US are hamburgers. But those are about the only things English and hamburgers have in common.
As I was walking to school I saw a guy whose shirt said something kind of profane in English. I’m sure he had no clue as to the meaning of the shirt. I smiled to myself as I walked past him. There are a lot of people here who wear shirts that have English on them and most of the time they have no idea what it means. One of my favorites was the woman in Colón whose shirt said, “Please go away.” Kathy got a picture of that one. I’m really going to start looking at people’s clothes a lot closer to see what things their shirts say in English.
My students are so sweet. Today before my 2nd grade class I was sitting outside the classroom with the kids and a little boy came up to me and gave me his tiny plastic toy. He told me that it was a gift for me. My heart just melted. I couldn’t say no and return his gift. I thanked him and gave him a hug. As I was leaving the class after I was finished teaching another little boy handed me a small, wrapped snack. It was some sort of cookie with a marshmallow. And I remember that on my first day of school another little boy gave me a small playing card that had a picture of a stegosaurus on it. He told me it was a gift for me. When another little kid took it to look at it the other one gave it back to me. I have in on the wall in my room.
It’s hard because I feel bad that kids are spending the little money they have to get me a treat or give me one of their toys. Sure, the treat was probably 10¢ and the toy wasn’t expensive either, but to these kids it’s a big deal. But I know it would be an insult to not accept the small gifts when they are given to me, and they mean so much to me. I ate the treat and thanked the boy who gave it to me. I put the toy up on my desk at home. It’s a nice reminder of how loved I am by the kids at school. I only hope I can give back to them as much as they’ve given to me. Their gifts of kindness, love, and friendship are worth more than all the money in the world.
Tito stopped by the house in the evening with some questions about expressions in English. He’s one of the technical school students who is able to go to a 2-year university because of donations from people in Iowa. He’s studying English. Some of the expressions he asked me about were, “It’s a piece of cake,” “She let the cat out of the bag,” and “He was hot under the collar.” I explained what they meant and gave him some examples. We chatted for quite a while about English and other things. It’s fun talking to him because it means that I get to hear English and he gets to practice his English skills.
Exciting event of the day: Cecilia and I went out to get hamburgers. Of course, this isn’t like getting hamburgers in the US. I wasn’t even sure what these hamburgers were going to look like. When I’ve had hamburger at the house before it’s basically just a hamburger with some onions and green peppers mixed in. It’s not served on a bun or anything like that. So when I saw what we were eating tonight I was excited: it had a bun! Woohoo! I’m not sure why I was so excited. I really don’t eat hamburgers much when I’m in the US. But this seemed special to me.
I opened up the hamburger to see what was inside. Aside from the hamburger meat itself, there was some sort of mystery meat inside. I smelled it and it didn’t smell like anything. I asked Blanca what it was and she told me it was ham. That was a first for me. I looked underneath and saw a mixture of cucumbers, cilantro, tomatoes, and onions. That was also a first. It reminded me of something I’d find on a taco here. But I didn’t expect to see that combination on a hamburger. I admit that I picked out the tomatoes because I don’t like raw tomatoes. And I tried the ham but I really don’t like ham. So it put it outside for the cats. On the bun was a sauce made from tomato sauce and mayonnaise. This is the sauce you’ll usually find on salads here.
I quickly devoured the hamburger. Sure, it wasn’t the bleu cheese burger with onion strings that I like in the US, but it was pretty darn good. Plus it was my first ever hamburger on a bun here. Shortly after I finished eating I realized how late it was. I finished eating dinner at 8:45pm. Wow! We usually don’t eat that late. I guess Cecilia and I left to go get dinner around 8pm and got back just before 8:30pm. I think it’s bedtime now. I asked the ladies if we had any plans tomorrow and was told that Cecilia is going to Usulután to Alejandro’s school to have a meeting of some kind. I agreed to go with her and we’re leaving at 7:00am. No sleeping in for me!
Here you can see the red, circular mystery meat which I
learned was ham as well as the mixture of cucumbers,
onions, cilantro, and tomatoes on top of the lettcue