Lauren's Peace Corps Experience in Honduras

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed and experiences described in this travelogue are mine personally. Nothing written here should be interpreted as official or unofficial Peace Corps literature or as sanctioned by the Peace Corps or the U.S. government. I have chosen to write about my experience online in order to update family and friends; I am earning no money whatsoever from this endeavor. Please do not copy or forward any of these contents without my permission.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Great Packing List

Here's my massive packing list for Honduras; I might modify it a few times before actually leaving. Does this sound like 80 lbs worth? I think it may be more...

Clothes should be durable to hand-washing and not too revealing.
- Rain jacket
- Fleece pullover
- Several long-sleeved t-shirts
- 1 sweatshirt
- Several tank tops
- Several short sleeved shirts, different colors, nice enough to pass for work
- 2 sleeveless polo shirts
- A couple shirts for going out
- 1-2 pairs of jeans
- Several pairs of capri pants
- Several long pants - for both work and play
- A few t-shirts
- Several knee-length skirts
- One long denim skirt
- 2 nice short-sleeved button up collared shirts
- One or two comfy dresses
- Two pairs of long, quick dry, hiking shorts
- 2 pairs stretchy cropped pants to run in
- Bras (most without underwire for easier handwashing) and lots of underwear
- Swimsuits - 2 2-piece suits, 1 1-piece suit
- Rain hat
- 2 belts
- Sunglasses
- 1 pair LL Bean waterproof hiking boots
- 2 pairs running/walking shoes
- 1 pair hiking sandals (Tevas)
- 1 pair UVA flip flops :)
- 1 pair brown Doc Marten sandles
- 2 pair comfy, passably dressy, sandals (1 tan, 1 black)

- One week supply of toiletries (you can get rest in-country): extra toothbrush, 2 floss, travel tube toothpaste, small bottle of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and body wash, shower poof, one deoderant, razor and extra blades, brush, face/body wipes, tampons, hand sanitizer, nail file, extra hair ties.
- Umbrella
- Bug spray
- Money belt and around-the-neck thing for passport, valuable papers, money, etc.
- Earplugs (I'm such a light sleeper)
- Games: a football, Uno, cards, old maid, tetris game, roll-up magetic dart board
- Hand-crank short wave radio
- LED flashlight and LED book light
- Favorite recipes
- Address list
- Duct tape, scotch tape, wall adhesive
- Ziploc bags (qt. and gallon size)
- Tupperware (Ended up not bringing; may buy there or have sent to me)
- Leatherman multitool (with can opener, pliers, scissors, wine corkscrew, knife, etc.)
- A photo album and a couple frames of family and friends
- Honduras Moon Handbook (field guide)
- Cotton sleep sack for overnight stays with friends
- Sleeping pad
- Battery recharger
- Rechargeable batteries
- All weather 35 mm camera and film
- Digital camera with extra memory card
- CD player
- CDs
- Small speakers to hook up to CD player
- US and World map
- Travel alarm clock
- Gifts for host families (2 calendars of US scenes and 2 Virginia picture books)
- Adhesive hooks for wall
- Bandanas
- Quick dry towel, 2 regular towels
- My favorite sunscreen
- 2 waterbottles
- 2 pillowcases
- Startup supply of stationary, envelopes
- Small sewing kit
- Journal
- My student Bible
- Spanish language dictionary (pocket sized)
- My debit card and some cash
- Immunization card in the hopes it gets me out of some shots
- 6 month supply of prescriptions
- A few band-aids, inhaler, vitamins, hydrocortisone cream, and vaseline - they supply a larger first-aid kit when you get there.
- A hotpot (a luxury I'm having sent to me later)

The luggage I am planning to take includes a massive dufffle bag, a large backpack I used for the month in Italy, and a smaller but still large backpack for short trips (hopefully will be carry-on size).

Monday, December 20, 2004

It's becoming real! Staging and Contact info

I got my staging packet today! My crazy adventure now has times and locations added in.

I found out staging will actually be in Washington, D.C. instead of Miami like I thought before. "Staging" is a two-day orientation to the Peace Corps before leaving for Honduras. It simplifies things a bit for me, since I can just drive up to DC with Chris instead of taking a plane to staging in Miami. I might even be able to squeeze in a couple extra hours with Chris before I leave too :)
Staging begins Monday, January 17th at 2:00 pm at Washington Plaza. The first day is mainly introductions and an overview of the Peace Corps, as well as safety issues, anxieties and aspirations, and the logistics of training in Honduras. Day two is from 8:30 am - 6:00 pm and covers some cultural issues, policies, and expectations. Sounds like a ton of fun, doesn't it? What WILL be fun, or at least interesting, is meeting all my fellow trainees. The staging packet says there will be approximately 35 people in my training group.

Then, finally, on Wednesday, January 19, we check out of our hotel at 4:30 am (where we really see the true nature of everyone in my training group - and I'm not a big morning person, people) and leave for Reagan airport to leave for Tegucigalpa, Honduras! I'm sure my heart will be pounding. That is, if I'm even awake yet.

Just a reminder: I will be treasuring every letter I get while I'm there, and probably be a nerd and save them. You can even begin writing me now, then they might be waiting for me when I get there ;) My mailing address during training will be:

Lauren Mohlie
Voluntario del Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado Postal 3158
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
America Central

Some helpful hints for sending letters and packages:

1. Use padded envelopes instead of boxes when possible, especially the hard to open bubbly kind

2. Number letters and packages if you send more than one. Numbering the letter helps me to know if one is missing or I'm receiving one out-of-order.

3. Label packages "Feminine Hygiene Products Enclosed" or "Religious Artifacts Enclosed" (I guess to lessen the temptation to open it in transit).

If my mailing address turns out to be different, I'll let you know. It may change when I get my site assignment, so I'll keep you updated. If ever in doubt, you can send it to this address though, and I can pick up my mail when I'm in the capital. And of course, although I'm unsure how often I'll be able to check email, or if I'll have enough time online to read and reply to everyones' emails, my email address is . I'll be interested in every little mundane detail of your existence, so start writin'! I'll love pictures too.

I'll just put this in here in case it's needed - to reach me in an emergency, my family can contact the Office of Special Services in Washington, D.C. at 800-424-8580, extension 1470 during business hours, or (202) 638-2574 after hours and on weekends. The Office of Special Services will contact Peace Corps/Honduras immediately, which will help me contact you.

With just a few days before Christmas, I'm finding odd moments make me sad. I'm really going to miss my comfortable circle of family and friends and habits. I have, let's see...28 days! Wow.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Happy Holidays

As predicted, time is flying by!

I can't believe Thanksgiving is already over. I had a great time with family this year. We spent it in Midlothian this year with just the immediate family and Chris and some of Ian's friends from church. Since my mom was somewhat incapacitated due to her recent heart surgery, I had the chance to do most of the cooking this year with my mom nearby. I was in charge of the turkey, the sweet potato casserole, the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, the pumpkin and blueberry pies from scratch, the salad, the punch, the sesame green beans, and the ambrosia. Now I feel pretty comfortable making my favorite dishes when I'm on my own in Honduras! I hear that PC brings in turkeys and that volunteers often get together to cook big feasts. It won't be the same without family though, that's for sure.

Now that December is here it's becoming clear that I need to get off my butt and get some important things done. I only have a little more than a month to go! Scary...

I need to figure out this Power of Attorney thing, get my credit card situation figured out, collect everyone's email and mailing address, finish collecting various small items that I still need, buy Christmas presents at some point, organize my belongings that I'm going to store at my parents' house, figure out if I'll need to send myself any of my stuff, try not to spend much money since I want to have some left to bring with me, get some passport photos taken, and somehow absorb enough of Chris to last me 27 months. Just kidding babe.

When I'm in the final stages of packing I'm going to post the list of things I'm bringing so you can get a feel for it. I probably won't end up bringing everything on my current list because I think it would cause me to go over my weight limit of 80 lbs, and everyone assures me I can find most things in Honduras.

I did get my wisdom teeth taken out on Monday, so that's a big thing to cross off the list. I finally sent off my dental packet, so I should be all cleared in a matter of days! That means I will soon receive my plane tickets and travel arrangements for staging in Miami on January 17, 2005. They give you until 30 days before your departure date to finish any required dental procedures, which was nice since I wanted to wait until I finished with my job at VHDA.

Did I mention I stopped working on November 18? Yep, all done. It's weird considering I won't exactly be working the normal 9-5 job for the next couple years. I loved my time there and met some really great people (Holla back Leigh, Danielle, Reina, and Ira!). I hope that I can somehow keep in touch with everyone I met there.

This weekend I'm going up to see Chris and hang out up in Arlington. While I'm there I want to go over to LL Bean and pick out some hiking boots and a swiss army knife and a couple other things I asked for from my parents for Christmas. Good timing with Christmas coming right before I leave! It's a great time to cherish loved ones before saying goodbye for a while.

A few people from my training group - the 50 or so people leaving for Honduras on January 17 - have started a Yahoo! group so I've been able to get to know some of the people I'll be spending a lot of time with the first few months. There are about 6 people that have found each other so far so it's really exciting to have that to look forward to, getting to know a whole new group of people that at least have the desire to help others in common. I know you'd like to warn them about me, but please, just keep quiet ;)