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.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Awesome birthday weekend :)

(Email out to email list, 5/30/05)

Hi friends and family!

I hope you are all doing well are having a happy Memorial Day. I am thinking fondly of all the cookouts you are all enjoying right now....mmmm, the simply joys of a good hamburger or hotdog, beer, and veggie trays. Enjoy them people.

I had a great birthday weekend. Thanks for all the well wishes and birthday emails and cards I got. On Friday I went out shopping in the nearby city of Santa Rosa with two of best PCV girl friends - I don't spend much money in my town so I have accumulated enough over the past two months to buy some clothes which I needed. I think I spent about 40 bucks maybe and got 2 pairs of jeans, one old for work and one new, and 6 cute shirts. Not bad huh? Then my friends convinced me to stay the night to celebrate my birthday and celebrate we did, ending up at the disco dancing. Saturday I was going to leave in the morning to go back to Dulce Nombre and my two friends were goingto come into town to go to a birthday party my counterpart/adoptive mom was throwing for me and her hubby, but again I was convinced to stay a few extra hours and we watched chick flicks in the PC crash house and made french toast (a treat, believe me).

Around 2 pm my friend Angela came up the stairs and said, "Lauren, I don't think you'll be able to go back to Dulce Nombre as soon as you'd planned, come quick"...and all these awful thoughts passed through my head, like my friend Sarah is deathly ill, or their was a bus crash, or something, when up the stairs come one of my best friends Michael and another volunteer, Ely, who came the7 hours from the North Coast to come surprise me for my birthday. I squealed and jumped and was so excited and happy. I had missed Michael a lot and he had had a rough month with parasites and a knee injury, yay. So it was a wonderful birthday present. Angela and Sarah had totally been manipulating me the whole weekend to keep me in Santa Rosa to wait for Michael and Ely's arrival, those sneaky girls. We showed them a bit of Santa Rosa, which they loved and also thought it seemed rather European and surrounded by absolutely gorgeous mountains. Then I took all my gringo friends into Dulce Nombre. They thought my town was adorable and peaceful, the people were friendly, and that the house I'll be moving into in a month was very nice, complete with the new garden I planted this week. We ate dinner in the little diner and then I took them to the birthday party at my counterpart's house. They were immediately welcomed and pulled onto the "dance floor". They had a keyboard and mikes and it seems as if many people in my "family" here are very talented and can sing and play the guitar very well. It was a great party, complete with cake and blowing of candles and cake in the face, a tradition here. Then after the party most of them caught a ride back to Santa Rosa to go to a party there but Michael and I stayed to catch up. I was already tired from the night before and really just wanted to talk and see how Mike was doing. We played dominoes and stayed up til about 2 or 3 a.m. talking about our new sites and worries and funny moments. It was a great time. Friends here are so important because we are away from our loved ones from home, and we kinda form a PC family here. The next morning I showed him a bit more of the town and some beautiful views and he helped me in the garden for a while, and then I sent him back to Santa Rosa to spend the day with Angela. All in all an awesome birthday, which would have been perfect if I had had my friends, boyfriend, and family from home with me. But I know you were all sending me love from the states :)

This week is a busy one: publicizing a meeting for a women's microbusiness project we are starting here with the help of an organization, publicizing a meeting for the new latrine project Pri and I are starting, English class at the kindergarten and at the high school, the aerobics class, supervision on the improved stoves that were built over the past few weeks, meeting with the mayor and some other people to organize the materials for the latrine project, and on and on. This coming weekend I am going to a film festival in another volunteer's site about an hour and a half away, so I am excited about that. I am so happy to have internet in my town now, so keep emailing because I should be better able to respond now.

Well that's it from here...write so I know what's going on in each of your lives. Miss you all!

Lots of love,

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Woo Hoo! Internet has come to town...

Hi all!

So the big news of the day is that I now have internet in my town! I am very very excited, if you can't tell. It was so odd, no one had any idea that a place was going to open up here, no rumors or anything. Yesterday: "Hey, there's internet here now"....(long pause)...."Here, what do you mean?"..."Here in Dulce Nombre"...."WHAT??!" yeah, that's the basic gist of it though. So now I will be able to check email more frequently and post on here more...there is even an internet phone here, but I don't know how well it works yet. The place is right next to my counterpart's house, across from the health center, so about a 5-10 min walk from the house I will be living in in a month. I really am happy about how things are shaping up though :)

This week was good though. Pri has been in Teguc and won't return until Saturday, even though originally she was going to come back on Wednesday in time to give the aerobics class. So since she was gone and I hadn't scheduled anything on Monday or Tuesday because I was going to be at that workshop out of town, I had a lot of time to work with. Monday, I decided to tackle the wilderness that is Pri's backyard. Angela came into Dulce Nombre in the morning and I borrowed 2 machetes, a hoe, a shovel, and a rake from the post office lady. We got to work and immediately realized what a big job it was. We spent about 4 or more hours just hacking the grass and weeds away from a small area. I had my straw hat on and a tank top, and we were sweating a river. Carmen, the lady I am living with, gifted me with several small plants of flowers as well as strawberries, spinach, and cherry tomatoes to put in in addition to the seeds my mom sent me - cilantro, basil, onion, chives, and oregano. It was kinda fun though...really hot, blue skies, music blaring as we worked. We finally got all the plants in and the seed beds made and covered, and were pretty much ready to drop. The day left me with a bad sunburn on my back (oops) which is still bothering me today, Thursday, messed up hands since we didn't have gloves, and some dirty clothes. But it was fun to see the difference we had made.

Tuesday I didn't do much...rested, read, visited my counterpart, cleaned up Pri's house a little. Wednesday was more busy however. Pri had called me Tuesday night to tell me she wouldn't be coming in the next day after all, and could I please give the aerobics class Wednesday night? (Groan). So Wednesday I went to the kindergarten and gave a little English class. Then at the last minute I was told that the English teacher at the high school wanted me to come in and help with her class. So I went and helped them with some little skits/conversations they had prepared in small groups - the English class format is not the best here and they don't get much practice actually hearing or speaking English, it is mostly grammar. So I enjoyed that...I had some time to give them a sample conversation that was more natural. Then I spent the afternoon going over the stupid aerobics routine...ok it's not stupid but my heart wasn't in it. I had to go through each song, read Pri's notes, write my own so they made sense, fill in gaps where I couldn't remember what we were supposed to do. It is an hour long routine and pretty thorough. So by the time I finished that I barely had time to walk home and eat dinner before actually going to my counterpart's house, where the class is held. Only about 6 ladies showed up but it went pretty well for my first ever aerobics class. Afterwards, I was ready to crash...I must have gone through that routine about 3 times in total in one day. Walking home, I looked up and saw that the stars were extra bright that night, and right above me was the big dipper. It was kind of comforting to see something so familiar that I could look up and see at home in the states.

Today I didn't have anything planned so I did some more gardening, cleaning another piece full of tall grass and putting in a palm tree, some other fruit tree that I don't remember the name of, and two different kinds of flowers. I stopped midday because the sun was so strong and my legs are sore from yesterday. I think that the rainy season is starting because the last week we have had regular thunder storms in the evening or late afternoon. I like them because they cool things down. The mornings and early afternoons are always sunny and bright though.

Tomorrow I am going into Santa Rosa to do some shopping with Angela and Sarah. For any of my friends that are reading this, shirts, tank tops (M) , socks, knee length skirts, jeans (Size 8 or 10) -- all of these would be welcome gifts at any point in time. I managed to ruin several of my shirts and a pair of jeans because apparently black clothes here run when you wash them in cold water, so yeah, there goes half my wardrobe. The other half I am just sick of. So I am going to see what I can find tomorrow. Then Saturday is my birthday! Angela and Sarah are coming into Dulce Nombre and my counterpart is throwing me a dual party for me and her husband, since we share the same weekend. It should be fun.

Well lots of hugs and kisses to you, and I hope that I will be able to keep in better touch with you now that I will have regular access to internet. Take care!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

False alarms all around

Hey all,

Well it's Sunday afternoon and I am in Santa Rosa. Because of the "storm" my taller on the coast was cancelled, unfortunately. So I came into Santa Rosa last night and hung out with Angela and about 12 other PCVs that were in town...we had a fun, chill night, had a cookout with awesome burgers, hotdogs, fresh salsa and chips, this amazing mango-avocado-tomato salsa, french bread, banana bread, and lots of other foods that were don't get enough of :) Then we rented some movies - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (love it love it love it) and a classic movie starring the Rock...yeah. But it was a fun night. The hurricane...well it never came. It got cloudy and breezy for a while, but it never even rained. So I don't know what happened but a lot of stuff got, my workshop in La Ceiba, the schools didn't even open.

So Pri left for a few days - it was a good time since I was going to be out of town as well - but now I have lots of time. I think tomorrow I am going to try to garden out back of my future house, currently where Pri lives. Angela said she might come into Dulce Nombre and help me plant some seeds and machetear the grass. It'll be fun I think. The weather here has been beautiful. But until Thursday I have hardly anything planned. Breaktime for me :) I'll try to catch up on my letters during this down time.

It was cool seeing some other people from my training group in town this weekend. It sounds like I have been busier than average, thanks to Pri. I feel like together we have gotten a lot accomplished these past 5 or 6 weeks and I have made progress in my community. But still, every now and then comes a day where you can't speak Spanish for some reason, or you make a hundred social blunders...but such is life here in Honduras. Last night as I was talking to Angela before bed (I stayed at her apartment) we talked about our experiences so far here, and we had a lot of funny stories and interesting observations we have made so far. Every day is food for thought, a learning experience.

Well love you all and I'm glad I got in an extra post this week. Back soon!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Earthquakes, hurricanes....what next!

Hi all!

Well the title was just meant to scare you a bit. A tiny tiny earthquake happened the other day and I didn't know that it was actually one until later, that´s how small it was. When I asked someone where the epicenter was, they Guatemala and El apparently there were TWO centers to this earthquake :) And then their's Tropical storm, formally Hurricane Adrian coming to play. It's starting to get pretty windy and cloudy here so Pri and I are going to walk home in a bit. I thought it hit last night, because we had rain all night, but apparently that wasn't it. PC Emergency Zones were activated and every volunteer got a phone call telling us to expect heavy rains and to try not to travel if possible. It's funny, in the states I would be glued to the television, know the exact location of a storm coming and the mph of the wind, already seen pictures of it in other all you can do is look at the sky and wait and see. I am just expecting a lot of rain and mud, nothing serious.

So today I did my first hornilla demonstration! Up til know I have been watching Pri give the demonstrations. But today she had me do it and she helped me hear and there if I left something out in my explanation or didn't know a word in Spanish. I showed them how to lay the bricks, put them together with the mud and other materials, explained why this type of stove guards the heat better and thus allows one to save firewood, and how the smoke leaves through the chimney. It took about 3 and a half hours with all the explaining and construction put together. I had a few roadblocks but overall it went pretty well for my first one! I was glad Pri was there to back me up. Some of the women in the group didn't have much "animo" or motivation/energy, so we had to really work to get them participating and learning. After we do the demonstration, we form the women into small groups of 4 or so and then they help each other make each other's stove. Pri got the funding and provides the materials to the women (chimney, iron stove top, metal sticks, bricks), and they provide the mud, ash to fill inside, water, some tin cans, and ceramic tiling...basically all the cheap stuff. We wait a couple weeks to give them time to make each other's stoves, and then we come back and look at each one to make sure it's working properly and to repeat how to maintain and clean them. This supervision is probably the most important part of the project. As I said before, this stove project is very important to the health of the community. Many houses are filled with smoke, and many many small children come into the health center every week with serious respiratory problems. So it is a great project, which also empowers the women in this community as they construct their own stoves...not many Americans can say they made their own oven/stove that they use every day with their own hands, now can they?

I should have done this a lot sooner, but I sent my mom photos a while back and she put them online. It occurred to me that some people aren't on her email list so if you'd like to see the pictures from my first three months, click on these links. Sorry I don't have descriptions of each picture...they more or less go along with my blog entries from the first months though. Enjoy! Browse Photos1 (Honduras Training 1) Browse Photo2 (Honduras Training 2)

This weekend will be pretty chill, no traveling this time. Tomorrow I am doing some yoga with Pri...she is like my personal trainer, and I am considering planting some seeds in her back yard...some cilantro, basil, onion and some other things my mom sent me. We'll see though...the grass is pretty much my height back there and I have no experience cutting grass with a machete yet :) Sunday if things go as planned I am traveling to the coast to the city of La Ceiba to go to a 2 day workshop with my counterpart, La Profe Mirian. We are either staying with her sister there or in a hotel. I wanted to take the opportunity to see my friend Michael up there, who lives down the coast an hour or two away, but I don't think it will work out since he is injured and can't really travel to meet up with me - I'd go out to see him after the workshop but I have to be back Wednesday and Thursday for some important meetings. We are hoping to start a latrine project in the next couple weeks because Pri finally received the funds she applied for a long time ago. So we will have meetings to organize the community members who need latrines and set the project up.

Well time to you all and I hope to hear from you all soon! Seriously...keep sending me letters. Thanks for all the birthday cards mom and the rest of the family, and the seeds as well! One week til I am the old age of 23 :) Or in Honduras, almost 17 years old....haha.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Cheque Leque

I decided I am sick of thinking of titles for my blog entries so from now on they might just be random words or slang I have learned here and have no relation to the content of the posting. Cheque means cool or alright. Just for your information :)

I hope you are all doing well in the states. I have started hearing from a few people for the first time in emails and letters which I love. So don't worry if you haven't sent me any notes up til this can still start! Hehe.

This week was busy but fun. I am feeling good about life. On Wednesday I went to a workshop for the morning in Santa Rosa to learn about how to cook rice and beans in a healthy way. It was put on for teachers and mothers that prepare snacks and meals at the school in the hopes they will use two of the most common foods in Honduras by feeding them to the kids in a healthy manner. It was intersting...I learned all the nutritional content and some good recipes I plan to try. The idea is that I can incorporate the information I learned in some nutrition talks one day. That afternoon I went around Santa Rosa looking to buy a refridgerator since I had a pickup truck at my disposal. I finally found a place that sold them much cheaper but I have to wait til next week to get it as they were all out for the recent Mother's Day. It will cost me about $125 since they come in from the states and other countries. After the fridge on my list is a toaster oven and a sofa and paint for the inside of my house.

Thursday it was Nurse's Day. Pri and I made little gifts for the nurses at the health center and then went to a lunchtime party for the nurses and also to welcome the new doctor in Dulce Nombre. The doctors here have to do a year of social service before they graduate from medical school by working in a small town or aldea for a year. So we will have this guy for the next year. At the parties here they often cover the floor with pine needles so that the room is filled with a fresh piney is cool to dance on too. We had a nice lunch of soup, chicken, tortillas of course, horchata to drink, and salad...then the furniture was cleared away and we started to dance. Everyone can dance here...they are amazing. It's sort of natural somehow...but if you try to teach them a new step, it is very hard to teach them. So they were pretty impressed that I could pick up the merengue and other steps after a few seconds. I had a good time and they were laughing with me and we got quite sweaty. It's always good to bond with the health staff. I even got a charla out of it...I plan to go to the colegio (high school) with 2 of the nurses in a couple weeks to talk to the kids about teen pregnancy.

Friday I left my house at 6 am and met up with Pri and we walked out to a faraway town of Orimillaca. It's about a 2-3 hour walk from Dulce Nombre, up and down hills and mountains, across a river ravine over a hanging wooden plank bridge (when I told Pri I was worried about falling through she said don't worry, if it breaks you'll hear a cracking noise and you can grap onto the sides...gee, thanks, how comforting), then up the other side of the ravine to finally reach the isolated town. Once there though I was impressed by the niceness and neatness of the people. We did another hornilla demonstration from about 9:30 to past 3, when we finally started back. Getting home at 6 I was exhausted, but content. It really is a beautiful walk and I plan to take my dad along when he comes because I think he'll enjoy getting way out there with me. So when Pri suggested we go to Santa Rosa this weekend and relax, I said of course. It's hard to pass up internet, the PC crash house with cable and videos and dvds, grocery stores, friends, great food, and speaking English for hours on end. Ahhhh, this is the life.

Well that's the facts of the last week, and as far as the more inside stuff, I am feeling good these days. I still pine away for the comforts of home and my boyfriend and my family and friends at times, I am feeling like I am slowly getting used to the life here. Every day is fodder for new discussions, new things to ponder, reevaluating assumptions you previously had. I still periodically get frustrated with my Spanish but every day I improve, even though I may still not understand people when they talk rapidly to each other or get people's jokes. I get tired of stares on the streets from men, but I try to remember in this culture staring isn't rude. I just call out my, "Adios", "Buenos Dias", or "Hola", and continue on my way. I am enjoying the opportunity to read lots of good keep sending me magazines, newspaper articles, and books please...I really enjoy them. I am out of the loop though...I hardly ever get news or current events or about new music or let me know if anything big happens :) I like the pace of life here you can just walk down to the corner to buy your vegetables for the evening meal, or spend an afternoon "paseando" or just chatting with neighbors or people you pass on the street. There are high expectations of me but I hope I am up to'll be interesting to see how things go after Pri goes on her way in a month and I am on my own. I like cultivating new friendships using another language...there are roadblocks along the way but is rewarding when you finally make a connection.

Well Pri is done with internet so I need to wrap up. Please keep in touch people...I still feel far away sometimes and need that contact from you guys. I love you all and hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, May 06, 2005

One month down, 23 to go

Hi all,

Just thought I'd post my first monthly report to my boss so you all could see a summary of the work I have been doing:

I have been pretty busy. I have gone to 3 hornilla demonstrations to groups of women, 2 of them out in the aldeas, and one in Dulce Nombre. I have also walked out to the aldeas 1-2 times a week with Pritham to do hornilla (improved stove) supervision, where we drop in on homes to see how the hornillas are functioning and to check up on progress with the project. I am learning a lot about the hornilla project and how it evolved for Pri. I have gone with her to the people who provide her with her materials and learned how to order and transport the materials. I have been with her as she troubleshooted problems which was interesting. Soon we will start the latrine project and I may have to finish it for her, but we will see about that. I participated with the Health Center with some of the vaccination campaign activities in the aldeas, and have gotten to know some of the nurses and other staff at the health center. I went today to give a health charla with Pri at the Health Center today but there weren't enough patients since they are between doctors, but I will start doing that when the doctor arrives.

I have been over to my counterpart's house most days. She has helped me meet a ton of community leaders and members. I recently helped her find women to start a micro empresa project, so went house to house looking for women for form groups of 15 to start these small businesses. I may be going with her to La Ceiba for a workshop this month, that we were supposed to go to last month in Santa Rosa but it filled up. I also started going to meetings and am now part of the organization to build the library and organize the logistics of that project. They are talking with the Riekin foundation and we hope to have them come out to Dulce Nombre soon. I have been helping Pri with her aerobics classes at my counterpart's house and plan to continue them with the community women when she leaves.

I have gone over to the kindergarten with Pri several times to do English classes. I went over to the 1-6 grade school on my own and met the director and several teachers, and got dragged into a school-wide awards ceremony, but now many kids know me and call me "Profe"...haha. I discussed starting Como Planear Mi Vida (which for my readers is the self-esteem, sexuality, life planning skills, communication, leadership, HIV/AIDS prevention manual we use) soon with the director of the school, probably with the 5th and 6th grades. Pri and I met with the English teacher from the colegio and are planning to go out to her class next Tuesday to observe her class and I will possibly help her with some conversation activities. Next week I am going out to an aldea of Dulce Nombre to do a Self Esteem charla at the invitation of a community member. I have been exploring the idea of a youth group in Dulce Nombre as a few youth have mentioned to me they would like such a group and have nothing constructive or fun to do in the community. At the awards ceremony at the school I met a youth kindgarten teacher who has been thinking about starting a youth group as well. We are going to meet and talk about it, so she could be a possible counterpart. Pri said Plan (a large NGO) might be willing to fund one in Dulce Nombre since they used to have one a while back so I already spoke to the Plan promoter that lives in Dulce Nombre and asked to meet with him soon.

That is all I can think of. I have been very busy though and am thankful to have Pri around to cut out a lot of the question marks. So far I really like my community and have started making some good friends. I even have been horseback riding around Dulce Nombre a few times...haha. Let me know if I left out anything that you need to know.

Thanks a lot!
Lauren M.

Well that's my report, you guys. Hope you enjoyed reading it. Last night, Thursday night, I came into Santa Rosa with Pri to spend a tranquilo night at the Santa Rosa house with a PCV who left today for home. She has finished her 2 years and is one of the last people in Pri's training group to leave - Pri extended for 2 extra months. So it was fun but a bit poignant this morning. We stayed in and watched a lot of Sex and the City and a chick flick late night. It was nice to stay at the house when there weren't a lot of people there...we all pretty much got our own room and I slept very well. I have to go to Banco Atlantida to withdraw some money to pay Carmen for staying at her house and to pay for my part of the May rent of the Santa Rosa house....I have been paying Carmen only 1000 Lps. a month for rent and food...that's about 50$. Cheap even by Honduran standards! When I move into my own house in about a month and a half I will have to spend more on food and also water, electricity, and gas, so I am enjoying my cheap lifestyle at the moment. My good friends that live in Santa Rosa have a more expensive cost of living due to the easy availability of such good food, higher rent, tempting pizza and sandwich cafes, clothing there is a price to pay with living in a place that is very convenient and lovely and modern. I think I have a good balance of small town living with relatively easy access to shopping and splurging in a big city. I will go back into Dulce Nombre in a couple hours. A few other PCVs are coming into DN tonight to observe an hornilla demonstration there tomorrow, so it'll be fun having some other volunteers in town.

Well I hope everyone has a great weekend. I think about you all lots and miss you as always!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Catching up...

Hi all!

Sorry it's been a while. I was going to write this weekend when I went to Santa Rosa, but Sunday I was way too tired to make myself go to the internet cafe. I went into town for a party on Saturday night that a bunch of people from my training group came to. Most of them were from the Western region but some came from farther away. I had an awesome time. We partied at the house for a while, then went out to see a rock band that sang English songs (head banging and all) and then went out dancing at one of the night clubs in town. I probably danced for about 4 hours straight, until about 3:30 am. So since I woke up around 7 am from various noise and the fact I was sleeping at my friend Angela's place and there were a few people there too, I was pretty tired Sunday. Luckily everyone was dead tired too so we all lazed around the PC house and watched movies. I became a member of the PC house this weekend too. I have to pay so much every month and I get a key to the house and can stay there whenever I want. It is one of only a few PC crash houses in the world - they usually don't give permission for these types of houses. There are a few bedroom stuffed with beds and a big library, games, a nice new television with DVD player and VCR (so mom you can send me those tapes of LOST anytime now :) ), lots of couches to bum around on, and a fully stocked kitchen. So whenever I need to get away from my town and relax a bit I can go over to the house.

My last week before this crazy weekend was busy. I walked out to more aldeas with Pri to do some supervision with her on the stove project, helped with a vaccination campaign in another aldea (they seriously find every kid under the age of 5 in each town to give them their vaccines - in my case there were 80 kids under 5 in the town and we spent close to all day going down these tiny hidden roads to find these isolated houses - crazy stuff), I helped my counterpart Mirian find women to start micro-businesses in Dulce Nombre and some of the surrounding aldeas - they have to be groups of 15, and the Honduran government is going to lend them start up money and capacitate them on how to market their product outside of Dulce Nombre, possibly for export. So far we have a group of cigar makers, shirt makers to sell to tourists, pinata makers, and maybe lemon growers. It is an awesome opportunity for these women and I can't wait to see how it works. I am also busy with this library project. An organization wants to give Dulce Nombre money to construct a library, 1000 books, computers with internet, audio visual equipment, a small museum of Dulce Nombre, and a room for workshops and cultural activities. The only problem is that the municipality and the library organization (of which I was elected to a position) have different ideas of where the library should go, so that's the problem right now. Hopefully everything will work out. I have also continued with the English classes with Pri in the kindergarten classes, which is very fun, and continued to meet lots of people.

I am starting to make some good friendships. Last night on the way home from a library meeting this guy walked me home named Hugo. He has a very good reputation in the town and is very involved in projects and goes out to rural schools to teach about HIV AIDS and other youth topics. I probably talked with him for over an hour - a REAL conversation, not some b.s. about the weather. We talked about my goals and dreams, shared some funny words in our respective languages (I taught him "hey dude" which sounds very funny with a Honduran accent), talked about some of the cultural differences, and some of the problems of both Honduras and the U.S. I was very excited. I might go out with him next week to do a talk and some activities around Self-Esteem with some rural kids. Then when I went in the house I spent another hour chatting with my family, and somehow I felt the need to explain plate tectonics to them in great detail and how the state of Hawaii was formed. Since I didn't know the words in Spanish for continental drift, magma chamber, hot spot, subverting plates...I used pictures and analogies, and I think they got it :) Anyway, it was fun. I also told them about different places in the U.S. using the map I brought and showed them my picture book of Virginia and explained a bit about the Civil War. Anyway all of these little details are given to share my excitement at actually having real conversations with people, in Spanish, that mean something to me, and people I hope are actually getting to know me and me them. It's progress, let me tell you.

Today I am in Concepcion again and very happy that the internet is working. We are going to be walking a ton, which I am not exactly looking forward to, but at least my friends said this weekend that I had lost weight over the past 3 weeks, which is always a nice thing to hear :) Bye bye, Pre-Service Training weight. Tomorrow I am hoping Angela and Sarah will come in from Santa Rosa to Dulce Nombre to participate in a stove demonstration to a group of women. Angela is hoping to work with me and give me money from her wealthy NGO to do some projects in the future. I might do some health charlas in the Health Center this week with Pri also. So it is another busy week. I can't believe that in a few days I will have already been in my site a month. Time flies so fast here. But I can tell this whole community entry thing takes a while, and I am trying to stay motivated by all my little successes that happen throughout the week, even if it is only successfully remembering someone's name.

Well I love you all and miss you and hope to hear from you soon. Sarah and Rachel I am so excited to hear you might visit next January or March - that is a great time to visit! I am already looking forward to it. Ok people, que le vaya bien!