Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day that my group of 49 (only 30 remain) wide-eyed volunteers landed in Tegucigalpa, Honduras to begin our 27 month stint as Peace Corps Volunteers. It seems as if it were just yesterday but when I think about all that I have experienced in the last year, it starts to feel like I have been here for a while. I have lived through three months of exhaustive training, three different Honduran host families, infectious bug-bites, a military coup, national curfews and road blocks, an election and innauguration of a new president, hours and hours spent on buses, made lots of new friends (Honduran and American), and many new and different jobs and tasks. This is just a small sample of some of the things I have done and I continue to live new experiences everyday.

I do miss many things about the United States but I am really trying to take advantage of the time that I have down here in Honduras. I am happy here and know that the rest of my time will continue to fly by and, before you know it, it will be over. As my journey continues, I remain optomistic that I have and will make some sort of difference during my service and I look forward to everything that remains to happen during the next 15 months.

Congratulations to all my fellow H14 volunteers for all of our successes over the last year and for staying with it through all the ups-and-downs. Truly a great accomplishment!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Year Update

Hello again friends, family, acquaintances, and people that happen to stumble upon this blog. I know it has been a LONG while since I have written anything on here and I know you all are itching (I am making an assumption here) for a little update on what’s going on in my life here in Honduras. So here it is. Even though I am a little late, I want to start by wishing you all a very happy new year. I wish I could have been home to celebrate the holidays with you all but I was able to make the most of it here in Honduras with some great new friends that I have made. More on that later.

Since it has been so long since you all have heard anything from me, I am going to start where I left off and bring you all up to speed. I am going to leave out the minor details so that this blog doesn’t bore you all too much and because I have probably forgotten a lot of them. So here it goes in rapid-fire chronological order:

  • Spent most of October working on a report on the apiaries (bee farms) that are part of the cooperative that I work at. This included visits to eight apiaries, two each Saturday, at times having to walk more than two hours to arrive because they are located way out in the campo. But I was usually rewarded with a nice piece of honeycomb to suck on and make the walk back a little easier.
    • The one-piece beekeeping suits that the cooperative has don’t fit me too well and on one occasion I didn’t secure the suit down around my ankles very well and those clever bees figured out that I had about a half of inch of leg exposed and attacked with gusto. I was bitten about 10-15 times and swelling and fever ensued. I have since acquired a pair of rubber boots to keep them out. Thanks Austin.

  • Halloween brings a Peace Corps wide party to the Copan Ruins. I attended along with about 120 other Peace Corps Honduras volunteers. My costume was designed by another business volunteer to make light of the political situation that was going on in the country at the time. It was a puzzle with former President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya’s picture on it, moustache, cowboy hat and all. It was a lot of fun and we were all quite the spectacle. Imagine 120 costumed gringos running through a small Honduran pueblo! The people were out with their cell phone cameras documenting the action.

  • At the beginning of November, after a business volunteer workshop in Gracias, Lempira, I returned home to Arizona for the wedding of my little sister and her fiancé, now husband, Coby Hiatt. The wedding was beautiful and the couple seemed extremely happy. I was a proud older brother. Congratulations guys!

  • While home I was able to spend some much needed quality time with friends, family and girlfriend. It was great seeing everybody and I want to thank you all for your hospitality. I look forward to seeing you all again when I return home or maybe sooner as some have expressed desires to come visit me here. All are welcome.
  • After another difficult goodbye, I left Arizona and returned to Honduras just in time for Thanksgiving. Obviously Hondurans do not celebrate the holiday but I needed my fix of football, turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes and gravy so I headed to a friend’s house in Marcala, La Paz. About 12 volunteers from my group crammed into a small one-bedroom house for a couple of nights. It was nothing like being home with family for the holiday but a delicious spread was put on the table by some very talented cooks that managed to serve an ample amount of food to all in attendance using only a two-burner electric stove and a toaster oven. I was very impressed.
  • At the beginning of December I was summoned to Tegucigalpa by the Peace Corps doctors to receive an inoculation for H1N1. While in route, one of my porcelain teeth fell out while biting into a sandwich and broke into little pieces. So a visit that was only supposed to be two days lasted a little over a week because of numerous complications with the dentist. A silver lining was that I got to watch the Cardinals lose to the 49’s on Monday Night Football while shoving my face with a large Pizza Hut supreme.
  • When I returned home and tried to work a few days before Christmas, I found that not much happens here during the month of December. School is out, employees are granted long two-week vacations, and people generally stay home and enjoy time with family. When in Rome…I thought, so I joined some friends and neighbors at their celebrations.
  • For the actual Christmas holiday, I went to Santa Rosa de Copan and spent a few days with volunteer friends. Once again I was amazed by the food and treats that we were able to enjoy that were cooked in our meager kitchens. Hondurans celebrate the holiday a little different than we do in the states. On Christmas Eve, they typically attend a ten o’clock mass and then come home at around midnight and shot of firecrackers for an hour and then have a feast and stay up talking until they pass out. Christmas is usually spent sleeping and recovering from the night before. We had more of a traditional American Christmas and enjoyed our meal on Christmas Day after a jaunt through the city in the morning.

  • After a week back in my site it was time to celebrate New Years. My friends and I weren’t too keen on a big party so we decided to do something a little more tranquilo and booked a few beds in a jungle hostel in the Pico Bonito National Park up near the north coast. For those of you who have seen Avatar, the landscape in the park reminded me of the movie. It was gorgeous. We spent our time relaxing and reading in hammocks, whitewater rafting, and kayaking. We were woken up every morning by exotic birds singing and howler monkeys barking as opposed to motorcycle fumes and roosters as has become the norm for me.

  • In January I spent time working and planning activities for 2010, fixing things up around my house, and hanging out with neighborhood kids. I also had to return to Tegucigalpa for another week to try to get my tooth figured out. The porcelain tooth the dentist made me did not match the other teeth (third world dentistry for you) so I complained and had him make me another one, that I have still yet to receive. So another trip to the capital (12 hour trip each way) is planned for February.

I guess that about brings everybody back up to speed on what has been happening in my life. One of my New Years resolutions was to do a better job updating my blog. As you can see I have already failed on that as it took me a month to post anything but I am going to continue to try and post things more regularly. If you all have any questions about life here that you would like me to answer, let me know. Some of the weird and unordinary things that happen here have become normal for me so I do not think to write about them anymore. Again, I hope 2010 finds you all happy and a healthy. Keep in touch. Until next time…adios.