Wednesday, May 13, 2009


This is going to be a quick post. I had to come to Tegucigalpa today to see the dentist because one of my teeth fell off but I got it glued back on and am back to normal.

We had our site anouncements a week ago and I found out that I will be going to Ocotepeque, Ocotepeque. The city is in the far west of the country about 15 minutes from the borders of both Guatemala and El Salvador. I will be working with a small savings and loan that deals with agriculture producers. These kind of businesses have a tough time obtaining financing and the cooperation that I will be working with makes things a little easier for them. I am pretty happy about my site but we will see if all my dreams come to fruition when I travel there this Saturday. The trip takes 10-12 hours because I have to take a roundabout way of getting there.

We are now in our last week of training. I found out yesterday that I made it to the advanced level of Spanish which was pretty exciting. We swear in as official Peace Corps Volunteers on Friday at the U.S. Embassy here in Tegucigalpa. The U.S. Ambassodor will swear us in so it is pretty prestigious stuff. ha. Anyway, I have to get a ride back up to Zarabanda now. My next blog will be from my site once I find a place to use the internet. I hope everyone is doing well. I miss you all.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Semana Santa and Mud Baths

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. I missed being there for the festivities but I can definitely say that Easter here was different than any that I have had before. The whole country has the whole week leading up to Easter off of work and most of the people in the bigger cities head to the beach or small colonial towns like the one I am living in. Although we didn’t have the whole week off, we were given Thursday and Friday off of classes so we were able to participate in some of the things going on around town.

It is traditional here in Honduras to build rugs out of sawdust on the street so that the processions can pass over them and ruin them just a few hours later. This tradition started more than a hundred years ago in a city called Comayagua. The city was the capital of Honduras before Tegucigalpa. The tradition has spread to other cities around Honduras and Central America. Here in Ojojona the rugs are made but on a smaller scale. The rugs are started early in the morning on Good Friday and are finished mid-afternoon and the procession begins late in the afternoon.

While a couple of us were walking around and checking out the rugs Friday afternoon, we met a man who started talking to us in English and asked us if we would like to help him finish building some of the rugs. We hesitantly said that we would help and, from there, the relationship has turned out to be quite profitable. At first, we noticed that he didn’t look like a typical Honduran and it turns out that his father was Italian and his mother was Estonian. They met while attending the University of Michigan and then were sent here to help set up the Bank of Honduras in the 1950’s. The man’s name is Richard (we affectionately call him Dick) and he was born here. I say that meeting him has turned out to be profitable because, since we met him, he has invited us up to hang out at his house a several times. His house is a mansion by Honduras standards. He has running water, a nicely constructed roof, loads of real furniture and three macaws. He is also the owner of an Italian restaurant in Tegucigalpa and two weekends ago he offered to bring some pizza and wine up to his house and we gladly took him up on his offer. It was an extremely entertaining night and it was nice to have some comfort food that reminded us of home.

The day after Easter our business group headed down south to spend a couple of days learning about tourism in Honduras as a few of us will be working in that area. It was nice to get away from the classroom for a few days and spend a night camping on the beach, roasting wieners on the campfire, and getting to know each other a little better. We camped at a beach called Guayaba Dorada and, except for the loads of trash on the beach, it was beautiful. The beach was located in a small bay and when the tide went out at night, you could literally walk a quarter of a mile out from where the water had been during the day until you reached the water line during the night. The next day we packed up the tents and took a boat to an island called Isla de la Exposción. The island was uninhabited and the beach was clean. The sand was volcanic sand which meant it was black and we spent a few hours swimming and knocking a volleyball around on the beach. I swam out a little ways and went down to the bottom to find that it was covered in a very muddy mixture that I could almost stick my whole leg into. I pulled some mud up from the bottom and it was very fine, soft, and it smelled like sulfur. I took a handful of the mud in to show some of the others and they were pretty disinterested. I started rubbing some on my face and making the joke that I was exfoliating and everyone thought I was stupid. When I washed it off my face it made my skin feel extremely soft. I went back out for some more mud and convinced a couple people to try it. Everyone was quite impressed and by the end of our time on the beach, I think that almost everybody had rubbed the stuff all over their bodies and kept asking me to swim out for more. One of the older ladies in our group kept thanking me and telling me that that was the kind of thing that she and other ladies her age would pay a couple hundred bucks for in the States. We then hoped back in the boat and cruised over to a bigger island called Amapala for a tour of the city and a lunch (one of us will be placed on the island and since we have been there, a few people have had their eye on the site). After we toured the city we headed to a restaurant that a Peace Corps volunteer had help start about 8 years ago for lunch. The had a delicious spread ready for us that included ceviche, salad, fried fish, pollo asado, garlic shrimp, carne asada, and a seafood paella. It was incredible and a good way to end the trip.

Since the trip we have been back here in Ojojona finishing up classes and getting ready to head out on our own. Next week we are doing a business simulation with some kids from the local high school. We will be teaching them about marketing, production, and accounting and then they are expected to come up with their own business, create a business plan and then produce and sell their product. We are giving them 350 Lempiras as seed capital and they will have to pay that back at the end of the week. There will be 50 kids split into 5 groups and at the end of the week, the group with the biggest profit wins.

A couple other happenings are that we are now all official residents of Honduras (essentially equivalent to having a green card in the U.S.). Feels good to finally be official. Also, on Monday the 4th, we will find out where we will be going for the next two years. We have had three interviews since we arrived in Honduras and they will be trying to match up our business and Spanish skills and our wants and desires for the next two years with sites that they have developed over the past year. We are all quite nervous, to say the least, about what we will find out. Guess that’s it for now. I hope you all are doing well and I will let you know what I find out about me future site. Lastly, I wanted to say thanks to Miss Blumling´s class at Tonalea for sending me the picture and to Mrs. Valenzuela´s class at Balsz for thinking of me. I miss all you guys.

Below are a few pictures from the last few weeks.

My friend Dave and I working on the sawdust rug.

Kissing the fish that I was about to eat.

My host mom and her mom and sisters make bread to sell to the community once a week. Here we are standing in front of the bread oven. No I am not standing on a stool.

This is the son of one of my host brothers. I put this bandana on him and he wanted to take a picture.

Business boys signing ¨My Girl¨acapela at cultural day.

Me and my host mom at cultural day.

A church in Ojojona.

In front of a church in Amapala