Archive for June, 2009

Operation Hunker Down

Hey friends and family. Just wanted to let everyone know that I am alive and well. I was advised not to mention much on my blog about the political situation here, so I will spare most details. I am sure you can find an abundance of articles online! Peace Corps has quarentined us to our own sites, and yesterday we were ordered to stay in our own apartments. My friends and I got so bored we made our own version of “Honduran Risk” complete with a game board and little pieces. Fun times! The whole country is on a curfew at night too. But no worries. Apparently this is normal down here, according to my coworkers.

Let’s see, what else is new and grand other than this exciting political news? I’ve been working on some new projects which have been keeping me busy. Another volunteer and I are training Juntas de Agua (waterboards) in admin, organization, operation and maintence of their new water systems. Juntas are offical groups that are supposed to take care of their communitiy water systems, which include a president, secretary, and treasure. What happens a lot is that these Juntas are never formed, or are poorly trained, so their water system goes to crap very quickly, when they are really designed for a 20 year life span. So my friend and I were informed that we would be helped with the training by another Honduran, so we would only be resonsible for half of the presentation. So we showed up on a Friday with half of the material ready to ride our horses into the campo to ensenar the gente. The Honduran that was helping is showed up too, without his materials. Que paso? I asked, a little worried. He replied ‘Fijese que . . . I didn’t prepare anything. I’ve never done this. I am just going to watch”. . . . . . So my friend and I had to wing the second half of our training for 2 hours.

Let me tell you something about fijese que or fijete que. . . It literally means “notice” or pay attention”. All Hondurans say this when they are about to feed you a line of bull or give you a great excuse.  They say it straight faced too, and it almost makes me think that they believe their own crap. Like why my host mom here covers her mirrors when it is lightning out. Fijese que the lightning can come through the windows, bounce off the mirrors, and strike her children. Or fijese que I can’t take you to the aldea on Thurday even though I promised you because the car is  disponible. Very frustrating to say the least.

On the same subject, I went out to a very poor aldea last Friday to do a community encuesta (survey) for my latrine project. My job was to go around to each family that needed a latrine and take down house information. I also had to explain to them their own compromisos of the project. For instance, they must provide their own rock, water, and unskilled worker to build the latrine. Not an easy task when each house is about a half a mile apart, uphill, and the campesino that is toothless and wearing rubber boots is kicking your ass on this hike. Not to mention the campesino spanish language is almost like mandarin chinese. So throughout the day, I noticed families asking for latrines that already had ones.

“Why do you need a new one?” I asked.

Fijese que, esta no sirve (meaning it doesn’t work)”.

“Really? How old is it”

Ya esta llena. Tiene 2 anos. Quiero nueva. (It’s already full, it’s 2 years old. I want a new one).

At this point, I was getting a pretty annoyed. I realized the campesino that was taking me around was purposely showing me houses that already had latrines and that they were his friends who wanted new onesjust for the heck of it. I mean, I guess I can’t blame them. When you are that poor, of course you would want new things. I was the kid who always opened the new cereal box when the old one wasn’t finished yet. It’s a whole different world. This is what it is like to work with the gente. And this is why Honduras is going through all of this politcal mess right now.


June 29, 2009 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

En el Campo

June 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment

Mountains, water system visits, n’at

June 8, 2009 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

A Lesson Learned

A good friend turned to me last week and said “Living in Honduras is all about choosing your battles”.  And boy was she right. After my first 3 weeks in site, I have had a laundry list of occurrences that have either A) threw me into a downward spiral of anger/tears OR B) had me laugh and say such is life. It’s really a crapshoot, but it is amazing to see that it’s the smaller things really bother me.

Ejemplo numero uno. My electra ducha (hot water shower heater) has not worked since I moved in. Well, actually I have had 2 hot showers. Then the system short-circuited. The thing is is that my host dad thinks he can fix anything without any help/prior knowledge of the subject matter (apparently this is a universal concept with men). All 7 apartments upstairs have electra duchas, and all are connected with the same exposed, half-assed wiring. I’m no electrician, but I am pretty sure that when my shower head sparks and the lights dim when I turn on the valve, something is very wrong. This past week, he even went so far as to buy 7 new electra duchas and install them all. But amazingly, my electra ducha still didn’t work. I tried to explain to him, without insulting his manliness, that I thought it was the wiring. He was pretty adamant that it had to so with the ducha. So what does he do? He goes and buys second new one. And alas, it still doesn’t work. And so, I go on taking cold showers every morning. At least it makes me wake up and go running in the morning some I am actually hot when I shower. No big deal.

Ejemplo numero dos. The steps to the second floor of my apartment building are uneven. What I mean is that they are different heights. I trip EVERY damn time going up or down the steps and I curse heaven and hell in voz alta EVERY time. The neighbors must think I am crazy because I curse in English. I am always hoping that they don’t watch enough American TV to know what I am saying. But how hard is it to measure steps? Measure twice, cut once, right? And the thing of it is, they are all different heights. I have measured. It goes something like this “half step, half step, quarter step, one step, one and a half step” and so on. And at night, there are no lights. I know I sound crazy for even typing this and I cannot convey in words how annoying it is. I feel like a lot of Honduras is like this. Nothing is done/built right the first time, so they spend the rest of their time trying to fix it with crappy patch work. I guess I can see a trend. Foreign aid workers coming in for brief periods of time, throwing something together, not teaching them what they did or how to maintain it, then leaving, so the Hondurans have figure out how to fix it. I feel like this is how a lot of development work is. As for my stairs, I don’t think they are going to try to fix them anytime soon.

Ejemplo numero tres. Insects. I have mixed feelings in this category. I have a military sized brigade of tiny sugar ants that like to hang out in my room searching for food. I learned the hard way when I left my food on the floor, only to come back to my bag of granola “moving”. Ants filled to the top. They also had taken interest in my toothbrush and toothpaste. I still use that toothbrush today. Gross, I know. And for some reason, they like my bar of soap. I have to periodically pick off the ants to take a shower. Maybe I’m not threatened because they are so small. I kinda feel bad for the fellas.

However, what makes me loose my mind is the ONE mosquito stuck in my room at night. The mosquitoes here are really tiny, so you’re lucky even to see it, but you can HEAR it. Every morning, I wake up to at least 4 or 5 new bites. My ankles and feet look like I have a bad case of the chicken pox. In addition, I ravenously scratch them at night while I am sleeping, so now I look like bloody mess. And Hondurans LOVE to point out all of your flaws/blemishes. “Que paso con sus piernas? Pobrecita gringa!” or when I get a sunburn “Que quemada! Que feo su piel!” Great for the good ol’ self esteem. Let’s just be glad that know one here has called me gordita yet.

Ejemplo numero cuatro. Lack of details or punctuality in anything. I am desperately trying to get a water system project off the ground for a new community being built for landslide vicitims. The construction has started, but has already hit many bumps in the road with funds and manpower. And then comes the water system. They are all eager for me to start my topo study, but of what, I ask? No water source, no project. And getting through to the alcalde (mayor) is like pulling teeth. But I have been assured by all of the veteran volunteers this is the way of life own here. Lower the expectations a bit and you won’t be disappointed.

Ejemplo numero cinco. Honduran men’s never-ending effort to try to get me to go on dates. Despite the lies of gringo boyfriends, explanations of me trying to be professional in my job, or just the plain fact of cultural differences, it won’t stop. I’ve tried so hard to be an ice queen, but it just doesn’t work. Until, however, you come up with a list. Not just any list. A list of demands that surely NO Honduran will ever meet or want to meet. A fellow volunteer let me in on this secret. The other day, when the conversation was going sour, I whipped out my list of pre-recs for my dream man. In my Spanish (I practiced for this moment) My dream esposo must: be taller than me (many do not fufill this requirement), stay at home to raise the kids, cook, clean, bake, wash clothes, and iron, among many other things. The look I got from the men was priceless. My secretary was laughing hysterically saying I would never find a man like that here. Case in point.

I feel like this list will get longer and more complicated as my time here progresses. But it really has been an important lesson. You just can’t care about everything. You sure can’t change it, so why bitch about it. Whether it’s shotty construction, insects, or a different culture, deal with it. Choose your battles. And when it comes to Honduras, choose wisely because you have to be more selective.

June 8, 2009 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

Some new pics of Santa Rosa!

June 2, 2009 at 9:47 pm Leave a comment

June 2009
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