September!

October 6, 2009 at 11:15 pm 2 comments

The month of September flew by! Holy crap I can’t believe I have been here for almost 8 months. I am getting old. . .

The month started off with me traveling to a local municipality to help out Hannah (the friend that helped me in my current study) with one of her topo studies. I decided to travel on Honduran independence day (not a smart idea) seeing that the buses stopped running between the desvio, Cucuyagua, and her site, Corquin. I hitched a ride between the two towns, no big deal, it happens all the time. I was sharing the bed of the truck with a younh lad that was continuing on the Belen Gualcho, another town on the other side of Parque Nacional Celaque. It was all fine and dandy until we pulled off the highway into a town right before my destination. We parked in front of a humble house with a pretty garden and smells of tamales emanating from the windows. The driver got out, introduced himself as Rene, and insisted I got inside, meet his mother, and have lunch with them. “What the F***” I thought. Just Honduran hospitality I suppose. I got out of the back, and the young lad informed me that he was a family friend, that the driver also lived in Belen Gualcho, and was picking up some more family member to accompany him on the trip. Weird, but ok. I ate some tamales, and a nice chat with Rene and his mom (who demanded I come back), and we went on your merry way to Corquin. However, Rene INSISTED I get in the front seat of the truck, so he could chat. His little nieces sat in the back part of the cab (children shouldn’t be in the back of a pickup truck, you know). So what chatted for the rest of the way, fortunately for me it was only 10 minutes. After small talk, out came the big whammy. “Do you have a boyfriend? Do you want a Honduran lover? Puedo salir contigo? (rough translation, can I sleep with you). I get this crap all the time. I actually laughed out loud, told him I found NO Honduran man attractive, and asked if he has a wife and kids (sure conversation stopper). He then shutup, and feebly added “Can we be friends then?” Thank the lord I arrived at my destination, hopped out of the car, relieved to see Hannah waiting for me in the plazito. Men here are ridiculous. Really, it is funny.

So to Hannahs study. I’ll make this short. We went up into the mountains to the community’s water source (not much, right?), and immediately were attacked my mosquitoes. Of course, I was cussing up a storm (in English) and prayed to be out into the open fields soon. Boy was I wrong. Hannah had warned about these things called moscos, which I thought was a Honduran myth (there are a lot of them, like mangoes that cure cancer). Once in the field, we were bombarded with an army of blood sucking, black, tiny gnats that attacked mercilessly. They did not stop biting until they were so full they couldn’t fly anymore. I actually started to cry because they hurt so badly. I tucked my arms into my tshirt like a little kid and prayed to be teleported into to the America immediately. The day finally ended, with multiples, I’m talking 40+ bites on out faces, arms, necks, anything that was exposed. Those jerks even tried to get us through our pants. Later that night, out arms were double their normal size, hot, and throbbing with pain. My cold shower felt hot. The next day we had a break from the study and gave charlas to local campesinos on sanitation. I pretty much was useless because I was hopped up on Benedryl and instead of paying attention to the charla, the Hondurans kept on commenting on my arms “que paso con sus brazo? Que rojo! Pobrecita gringita!” Moral of the story, don’t do topo studies in Honduras. Hannah had fleas or some equivalent last time. Needless to say, we laughed about it later.

I have also continued to work on the topo study out in Quebraditas with Tito’s family. And, alas, I am still not finished thought. But remember, it is all about the journey, right? So my third visit out to site was planned to be a whole week of nonstop work to get the study finished so I could start the design. Of course this didn’t happen, I am in Honduras, remember? Two of my co-workers were tasked to drive me out there on Monday, one of which was to be dropped off at a neighboring community. After leaving the office at 10:30, we were off. En route, one of my coworkers received a phone call from here screaming father that there had been another coup, that Mel was back in country, and down with the golpistas! And then all hell broke loose in the car. They were honking their horn, swerving all over the road, and were trying get radio reception on their high-tech cellphones. “Great”, I thought to myself. Here we go again. I made a quick call to one of my sitemates, and she confirmed that NO, there wasn’t another coup, but YES, Mel had indeed snuck back into the country.This was going to be a fun week, I thought to myself. I looked at my watch, it was now 11:30. Of course, we had to eat lunch, because eating is perhaps the greatest Honduran tradition. We end up navigating to the other community my co-worker was supposed to go to (we were invited for lunch). El Cumbre, meaning “the peak”. The community is perched atop a moutain and has spectacular 360 views of the green rolling mountains that seem to go on forever and the valley tucked below them. We pulled into a little house with about 8 or 9 women packed into the kitch busily making pan, rolas de canela, and dulce de leche. Turns out they are an extended family that have a microimpresa (small business) that makes and sells bread and sweets. Monday was bake day! I was taught how to make dulce de leche, which a soft candy basically made out of milk and molasses-like sugar. About an hour later, lunch was served (about 1 now). I tried very hard not to think of Tito and how badly I wanted to get to work. Well, I really didn’t want to work, I had just told Tito I would be at his house around noon. It came to the point where the man of the house, Neptal, physically blocked my exit so I could wait and try their cinnamon rolls and fresh breads. Who needs to work , he said, when you can just eat? I couldn’t say no to that, although I was still pretty perturbed. So after many hours of distractions, I ended up at Tito’s house at about 2:30. Tito informed me it was too late to work, he was glad that I met his friends, and that it was time for a garden lesson! Man I love my job. I learned about yucca, and weird veggie called gargacha (a tuber like a potato), helped water and spray (with jalapeno water, of course), and turned his compost pile. Sometimes I love my life, when my arms aren’t swollen.

Day 2: We worked! From morning til dinner, of course with a 2 hour lunch break. I was almost done with the distribution line. So amazing. And we could work because there is no curfew in the stix. I mean I guess there “officially” is curfew, but there are no police anywhere. Helped mom in the kitchen (now expecting here 8th child) making tortillas and moliendo beans and corn on her mortal and pestle-looking stone. Fun!

Day 3: Woke up a little worried. Was bombarded the night before with text messages from the Peace Corp informing of us of all day curfews and riots in the capital. However, the gracious government lifted the ban that day from 10am to 5pm so people could go food shopping. Called my duty officer and they informed me I should probably just get back into site just incase I get stranded out there. Ok, I thought, no big deal, I’ll just pump the rest of the study out, no prob. Well, of course, after a productive morning (starting at 9), lunch break started at 11:30. What? Lunch wasn’t even ready until 12:30. We ate, and then Tito disappeared. I could not find him anywhere! I have to get this damn thing done, I thought to myself. So, I gathered some of Tito’s kids and some other neighborhood children (who says child labor is bad?) and put ‘em to work. One held the estadia, one held the palo, and the others lugged my stuff around. Tito emerged out of the wood work around 2 and laughed at the site. He told me he took a little nap. Ha! What a Peters comment. Fortunately, I finished the study right when my coworker pulled up to take me back to site (it was now 3:30, curfew starts at 5, trip takes roughly an hour to get back to Santa Rosa). He started honking the horn obnoxiously to signal that we were leaving. I frantically packed up my stuff, threw it in the truck, only to have him inform me that he was staying for café y pan. THIS COUNTRY DOESN’T STOP EATING! Wow I was frustrated. I called my sitemate Kristina in a hysterical rage on the verge of tears. She calmed me down, told me to be mean, and that she would gladly go to the store for my to buy food before it closes at 5. I mean, these situations I find myself in keep on getting more ridiculous. However, I finally finished the “official” study with the equipment, and am planning on going back tomorrow to walk and survey all 90 houses of the community. Keep your fingers crossed.

So let’s move on to a place that is NOT Honduras: Utila, Bay Islands. Just got back from a fabulous, week-long, relaxing, and exciting vacation from Utila. This sleepy little island to the north of Honduras is a mecca for all scuba divers (who pretty much have the same mentality as snowboarders: all play and no work, and participate in a sport that requires next to no energy). A group of us decided to aprovechar of the fact that this island offers the cheapest deals for scuba diving anywhere (and I’m pretty sure there are no tourists here right now). The scuba class was a 5 day, some class room, mostly in-water education. Aside from hyperventilating a little bit on my first dive, I finally got the hang of it. It is so relaxing. You literally just coast along looking at cool shit. You maybe kick a few times a minute, and once you find your “neutral buoyancy” you do nothing. The first dives were a little hectic. We were required to do all sorts of crazy skills under water, like removing your mask, breathing out of your buddy’s air tank, and practicing safety ascents. The last dive was by far the best. (aside from my slight hangover). We swam past a sail boat wreck, saw a green moray eel, sea turtle, and some crazy looking lobsters. I am definitely planning on going back and I suggest that any of my adventurous friends come join me! For the record, I did not take the underwater pics, a fella named Marcos that works at the dive center can take credit for that.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Utila Vacation! Buseo! (more pics to come, but they take forever to upload)

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gringo viejo  |  October 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    What great adventures, moscos y lo demas.

    Guineo translates as banana, but couldn’t find definition of nance in either Spanish or English dictionary.

    You’re only missing a chilly autumn, leaves whipping around in strong winds. Next up, winter’s cold. Would trade you locales any day. Wouldn’t protest all those meals and siestas.

    Reply
  • 2. Leslie  |  November 22, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Had a great dinner with your Mom last night – heard about your adventures – if I could leave tomorrow to come visit you, I would! I’m off to Moonbeams for Thanksgiving. Big hugs from all of us.

    Reply

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