Archive for March, 2009

100 Degrees and Rising

Are you guys enjoying winter? Could you send some snow down here please? All you Denver-ites, I heard about your blizzard. Jealous. I have almost completed my first week in my new town, Pespire. Let’s just say that the heat has not brought out the best in me. I have had a few temper tantrums so far, but, so have my friends, so I am not too worried. We got dropped off last Sunday and had to navigate the cobble streets with our very large awkward luggage to find our new houses. After being harassed by a very drunk man the entire journey (who by the way drooled on my friend’s shoe) in 100 degree heat, I finally found my casa. My living situation here is very different from my fam up in Zarabana.

Mom is a local elementary school teacher, my Dad works for an NGO in Tegus, 2 sisters (10 and 14) and an employee, her son, and a nephew all living in a house. And a large guard dog names Duquesa that bites my ankles. No bucket showers. And a TV in every room. Sounds like the Real World, right?

This week was the first week of field-based training. I still have Spanish classes everday, but our training is a lot more tech oriented. This week, we had to give talks to members of the community explaining who we are, what we do, why we are here, etc. It went really well, considering our Spanish is less than perfect. And of course, the 17 gringos ARE the talk of the town. The past three days the group did a topographic study for a water system design on an adjacent mountain using Abney levels and GPS’s (yes I used my new GPS, thank you gentlemen!). Hotter than hell, but actually fun. We had a herd of cows following us for a bit, which added an element of excitement (see photos).

You could say Pespire is definitely more rural than Zarabanda. It is about 2 hours south of the Capital, but you can really see the difference in attitudes. Most every one here was born here, and the cultural roots run deep. Lots of folks are farmers or own their own little pulperias (really tiny 7-11’s). Mango trees are everywhere, and all you need is a rock to satisfy your hunger between breakfast and lunch. While I am here, I will learn how to milk cows at my abuelos farm. . . . and then I will make cheese! IF only the cheese down here tasted like cheese up there. The cheese here tastes and looks like feta, but it is cow-ier, and 10x saltier. There are no words in the English language to describe it. So, the first person to come visit, por favor bring some sharp cheddar, or a wheel of brie.

Pespire is also really conservative – that’s where the most of the frustrations come in. I had an eye-opener week and realized that I am a second-class citizen and a guest in their culture. Sure, I’ve been accepting of all cultures, no matter what. But to actually live in one is another story. No drinking, especially for women, curfew at 9, church (and it is Lent, by the way), gossip that runs like wildfire, and other things that I will filter out of my blog. If you want to know, I’ll send you an email. But, after thinking for a while, I have accepted that this situation is a little personal challenge, or perhaps a secret lesson god decided to give me. He/She/it is probably still mad at me for sleeping during church all of those years. Went to Stations of the Cross last night, partly to not insult my mom, and partly to see what was up. For all of you non-catholics, it is a ceremony that happens every Friday during the Lenten period. It tells the story of Jesus’s journey to execution and resurrection. There are 14 stations (I think?) and it takes about 3 HOURS. You stop at each station, explain it, read some bible verses, and say a few prayers. However, I must say I was pleasantly surprised. All of the stations were setup along the cobblestone streets in the town instead of the blazing hot church. The people walked through the streets singing happy guitar songs while visiting each station. What a cool way to see the town! I also entertained myself by counting my mosquito bites and by trying to calculate the volume sweat I produced today. Did I mention it was hot here?


March 28, 2009 at 4:39 pm 2 comments

More pics I tried to add last week. . .

March 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm 2 comments

Honduran Perogies n@

Honduras 5, Us o fA 2. No wonder US never makes it to the World Cup. This past Saturday, a bunch of us gringos got together to play a pick up game of futbol in a nearby town called Las Canadas. I guess word spread that we were on the field, so the boys of the town came to challenge us. To put it bluntly, we got our asses whooped. I mean, we did really put up a good fight, I think we played for an hour and a half. But our fastest player was the Hondurans slowest player. Hilarious, but a lot of fun! And, I of course, I have not played soccer since 9th grade, when I played indoor league to get out of going to church on Sunday (I had fun playing too)! I will probably have to invest in some cleats down here, as my sneakers are taking a beating.

Sunday, I traveled to the hot hot south, to a town called Nacaome for a volunteer visit, sort of like a sleep over for aspiring volunteers. My first time traveling alone in Honduras! So let me tell you a little bit about the bus system down here. There are about a million bus companies, and every friggin’ bus looks shady as hell. Many of the buses are recycled yellow school buses from the states, which proudly state on the front in flaming letters “Jehovah is my God” or “Thanks Jesus for Giving me life”. Many are also equipped with black lights and a sweet sound system, pumping either reggatone, Kenny Rogers, or Christian rock, depending on the driver (btw music/noise here is about 10 volume levels too high). Other busses appear to be leftover charter busses from the 80’s complete with the original curtains over the windows. But the amazing part is that my bus trip that took 2 and a half hours cost 2 bucks. Obviously this will differ, but Greyhound could take a lesson. And I digress . . .

So I made it south alright, although the one sad thing I must note in Honduras is the amount of litter/trash here is phenomenal. It is unbelievable how much is throw along the side of the road, and to see bus patrons chuck bottles and food cartons out the window is heartbreaking. I have asked my professors why this is happening. They say the public just isn’t educated enough and there are no recycling centers within the country. . . . I have a feeling this will be one of my projects here.

My volunteer was really awesome and laid back. She took me to my first Honduran rodeo. Holy crap, Texas move over. There are some serious cowboys here (with Texas belt buckles to boot). The toros here are a bit different, They have this hump behind it’s head, like camel, to store water. But they still are pretty mean.

Monday, we tagged alongside another volunteer doing a topographic study for a water system for a community of 200 people. It was quite inspiring to see the community involvement and enthusiasm. There area about 10 men complete with stakes, hammers, water, and machetes ready to clear the path. All of the women contributed by cooking us food. Very beautiful, if you ask me. I am still amazed and shocked by the poverty here. Another volunteer just finished a feasibility study for a pueblo that hasn’t had water for 10 years since Hurricane Mitch. The hurricane decimated their mountain village, and they had to move further up the mountain. But alas, there is no water source at that elevation. Not to mention the widespread corruption of politicians doing favors for towns with the most votes, leaving smaller towns behind, and and funding that magically disappears. . . . a whole other story.

I am back at my host family’s house, but I am leaving again the tomorrow for 7 weeks for field-based training. I am a bit sad to leave, I’ve become pretty close to my family. I will return for one more week at the end of training before I get sworn in.Today I will be teaching my abuela and my sister how to make chocolate chip cookies. It will be a nice crosscultural exchange in Spanish!

The other night, I helped my sister and my abuela make dinner. She said she was making “pastellitos”. She said “they are kind of like dumplings stuffed with potatoes, but you could stuff them with meat too You fry them in oil, and then put cabbage and salsa dulce (ketchup) on top. Putting the Spanish together in my head, it dawned on me what was goin’ dahn. . . “HOLY CRAP SHE’S MAKING HONDURAN PEROGIES N’AT!” My tears of joy flowed like the Mon’! I’ve never been so happy. Sure, it tasted a bit different. But if you’ve got something fried, with potatoes, with enough carbs to last you through the winter, cabbage, AND ketchup, it sure as shit from da ‘burgh. Go stillers

March 21, 2009 at 6:01 pm 1 comment

Some Sweet Pics

March 14, 2009 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

Snake on a Stick

Hello friends and family! Here is another weekly update from Honduras. Well, as some of you know by now, I am also connected via cellular, so if you feel the need to call please do. No offense, but I was kinda enjoying not being connected. One less thing to worry about and carry around, right? Still the same old routine going on, going to class everyday, hanging out with the same 48 gringos.

However, this past Saturday there was a break in the monotony. I got to do some of my favorite things, namely eating and dancing. The professors put on a culture day and taught us about the many different cultures and peoples of Honduras. Pretty much all the food was made with corn, milk, coconut, or yucca. We then attempted to dance the Punta, the national dance here. It was amazing no one got terribly ill because we had all eaten for 3 hours straight.

The other night my mom and I walked through her father’s cabbage fields behind our house. I have included some pictures. In addition to cabbage, he grows bananas, coffee, large lemons, oranges, lettuce, corn, and fruit called ciruela (I like to describe it as a cross between a plum and a mango). I still haven’t eaten anything too bizarre. Some of my friends get cow tongue in their lunch and I am actually kind of jealous. Last Sunday, I got to make cookies and sweet bread at my friend’s house across the street. Her family owns their own bakery (my dream). We made cookies called “galletas de pina” and something else (the name I forgot already. For every 20 new Spanish words I learn each day, I am pretty sure I remember only 4 or 5). After visiting the panaderia, some friends and I walked to a small town calles Santa Lucia. It used to be a mining town back in the day and now there is a man-made lake in the middle. There is also an 18th century Catholic church in the town. Inside the church, there are old Spanish paintings on the wall given to Santa Lucia by King Felipe II in 1572 (Yes dad, this does prove that I actually did go inside the church). I bought some flowers for my mom, and walked back home.

This week in a nutshell was long, and busy and full of homework. They let us go to a market in Tegix to practice our bargaining skills in spanish. Very interesting. Because I end up talking to anyone, some guy tried to sell me a dried snake on a stick for 50 lempiras, about $2.50 (he said it was for my bones and joints). It was cool, but he kept following me around the market. I learned a lesson that day.

I am still going on strong with the rice and beans and plantains and corn tortillas. Awesome. I also hung up mosquito net. I feel like a princess, but it is the color of vomit green . How pretty.

Sunday through Wednesday of next week I get to go to the hottest place in Honduras, Nacaome, for a volunteer sleepover visit (90 to 100 degrees). I think I´ll be going to the beach! 

I go If anyone wants to call, please do. Although, I advise everyone to look into your international rates before you call. It may be a bit expensive. So yes, now I am connected. My number is 011+504+9576+2406. I hope no weirdos look at my blog because I don’t want to get strange phone calls. Much love!

March 14, 2009 at 1:45 am Leave a comment

Rice and beans.

Hey folks. SO this will be short as I am at a neighbors house. So everything is great! I must say, it is nice living day to day and not having a cell phone or contstant access to internet. Did not go to the natl park on Sun. seeing as it takes 2 hrs to get there rom my house, and then it is an 8 hr trip. We were a little misinformed. Been schooling it everyday, with intense spanish, culture, safety, and tech training., but they make sure it is fun. I cannot stress how awesome the people are here! The other day I was talking to my abuela and told her how much I loked to bake. She said she used to own a bakery and went to school for it, but got pregnant and couldn´t finish. They next day, she told me she has a surprise for me. She slaves all day and made me the best damn cake I have evert tasted. It´s called Pan de Naranja (orange bread). I almost cried. And then I went to evangel church. I will say it is very different than anything I have ever seen! Oh by the way Amber, we have chickens! The roosters wake me up everyday at 5, and I wish Roxy was here. Will write more later. The cell phone is coming. . . slowly. As everything else does here. Peace.

March 6, 2009 at 2:47 am 2 comments

HEY I am here safe and sound!

Hey folks. So I do have internet! Maybe once a week Ill check it. So anyways, got here ok after a short flight. I absolutely love my family. I live with a 15 year old and her Mama and they are great. And, yes, she does watch Hannah Montana in spanish. Mi hermana, Margie, plays games with me everyday to help me learn the language. The people here a beautiful, so grateful to have us in their homes. They won´t stop feeding me. . . fried platanos, pupusas, catrachas (all are forms of corn tortillas, rice, and refried beans, plus other stuff). I also have the pleasure of taking cold bucket baths every morning, and will learn how to wash my clothes by hand today. Training is great, I am doing something all the time, all in spanish. Very intense, but very fun as well. I have met some amazing people down here, and I must say, I am feeling a bit inadequate. It´ll be ok. I will get a cell phone next week, so I´ll give you all my number. Miss you all and will be in touch soon.

March 1, 2009 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment

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