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, July 25, 2005

Feeling at home

Hi everyone!

Sorry it's been forever since I have posted. Everytime I got online I'd think, I need to write to everyone but I want to make it good so I'll do it another time. So finally I decided just to write and see what comes out of my head, even though I don't have any stories that stand out.

I am settling into my house and love living there. I still wanna buy some things for it, furniture, shelves, etc, but it is looking cute. My garden is great, and already sweet corn, cucumber, lettuce, and green beans are sprouting. I am a regular little campesina now (i.e. farmer, hick, you get it). I also put in a lot of flowers. My mom send me a box full of seed packets - you should have seen the eyes of my friends who saw the immense pile of seeds she had sent. I gave a lot away and it was like a mini Christmas.

Work is going well, although seems a bit slow these days. My boss came into Dulce Nombre to check in with me last week and was actually worried I was doing too much. I said, don't worry, there are days when I do nothing but visit friends or clean the house or read a book, so I am not feeling stressed. I have started doing some charlas in the poor rural towns outside of Dulce Nombre, and still intend to start in the school here at some point. I am also waiting for money to come in (hopefully this week or next) so I can finally finish Pri's latrine project. I can't apply for my own money until that project is completed. I am making a few stoves here and there with extra supplies Pri left. What else - the kindergarten English classes still, and the aerobics class has been bumped up to two days a week, Wednesday and Friday nights. A lot of new people are coming which is cool. My friend Angela is coming in this Wed. to come to my class and help me with a stove the next morning. A new youth group is starting here in DNC also and I am going to the first meeting for that after I get off the computer here - I am going to see if they need help or if I can do some activities with them. A friend of mine and I also are thinking of doing a family garden project...raising some money for seeds (or getting more from mom:) ) and teaching families how to use the little space beside there house for a garden so they can supplement the daily diet of beans and tortillas.

My new social life here in DNC is still raging. I made an awesome lasagna a couple weeks ago and a friend made piƱa coladas and I invited about 5 or 6 people, while 10 or 11 people ended up coming. We had a good time though. People are always passing by, which is usually a good thing. Last week however I wasn't feeling well but still got a ton of visitors, so I went to Santa Rosa for a night to relax at the PC house and hang out with some other volunteers. I am feeling better now. I started going to this cool church in Santa Rosa on Sunday nights...a couple friends with cars go and so I go with them. It reminds me of a small version of WEAG - very upbeat, community feeling. Of course, it is in Spanish, which somewhat hinders my understanding and inspiration, but it is better than nothing.

Chris comes in one month, give or take, and I am very excited. I am planning to spend a few days here in Dulce Nombre with him, and then maybe going to Pico Bonito near the coast for a few days ( ) which is supposed to be awesome. Everyone is excited to meet him and my family when they come in December.

Well that is it for now I suppose. Remember you can always call my cell phone - it is almost always with me. I would love to hear some of your voices that I haven't heard for 6 months!
Talk to you soon! Lots of love :)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Birthday parties, paseando, vegging

Hey all,

Well last night I went to my first 15th birthday party here. They are a huge deal here, kinda like Sweet 16, but bigger scale. The girl dresses up in a frilly pink dress, everyone brings her presents, there is lots of food, dancing, a father/daughter dance, etc. I was surprised to know a few people there pretty well so I felt pretty comfortable, except for the one room filled with high school boys, not one girl, who all stared at me when I accidentally wandered in there. It's easy to get a big head here...everyone wants to be my best friend, everyone mail, young or old, wants to marry me or at least comment on my beauty, even when I am walking back sweaty and nasty from aerobics class. So to say the least I had several propositions last night. But one of my best friends was there, Maria Luisa, and a new good friend, Ephraime (spelling?) and when the father of the girl offered us coke with rum we didn't say no. So began the giggling and hilarity of the night. Some of the high school boys must have drunk some as well because they got very brave, coming over to dance with me and one even just wanted to hug me and say my name, but everyone was laughing at him, so I didn't mind too much. I took a videa with my camera so I could blackmail him into free internet today, since he runs the internet cafe that I am in right now. At one point I really wanted to dance, but when I looked around all the girls had left (this was about 10:30), so it was just me with 20 teenage boys. Bad idea. After one song I decided to sit out instead of being made a Lauren sandwich. But all it all it was a great time. At midnight we all got a ride home. I left the party with several new friends that I am looking forward to seeing again. Maria Luisa and Ephraime and I and a couple others in our new exclusive group are going to have a margarita/dinner party in my house sometime in the next week.

Speaking of Ephraime, he works at the bank, and I forgot to tell you all the big news that happened in Dulce Nombre a couple weeks ago. We had a bank robbery. It was covered by the national news and everyone that worked there was interviewed. But it was the bank robber who made the story. He was found to have taken about 130,000 Lempira (there are about 19 Lps to the dollar) over a certain period of time. The age of the bank robber was 4. A 4-year-old bank robber. He had fooled the ever present guards when the lines were long and he could reach under the counter and pull out money from the drawers and stuff his clothes with it, unnoticed because of his small stature. One assumes his mother taught him what to do. But the money was apparently arranged to be returned and because she has connections she isn't going to jail. So yeah, Dulce Nombre was in the news for a while, crazy huh? Maybe my 5-year-old nephew Connor could get into the business before it's too late and he grows up.

What else. I have really been enjoying my house. I have had so much help with the back yard too, which still lacks a lot of beauty but is MUCH improved from before. With the help of a new good friend, Octavio, we got more rich dirt from the mountain side to make several flower/vegetable beds with layers of brick. I put several potted plants outside and we neatened up the weeds and pathways. I have really been enjoying cooking too. I haven't cooked like this since college. I have visitors constantly and have gotten to know people much better now that I live alone. The only problem is that it is so nice in my house that it is hard to motivate myself to leave it. The work the past two weeks was much less, yes, but I could have left more to seek out stuff. Now I will be starting some charlas and some other activities, but really it's hard to self-motivate here. Especially since no one really has an idea of what you SHOULD be doing and therefore does not judge you, and cuz life here is so much more laidback.

One more humorous story before I leave. I went to check on an hornilla that was built this past week and walked in, not thinking much of the fact that there were lots of people seated around the living room. I said a loud "Buenas" and walked over to kiss the lady I was visiting on the cheek and ask her about her hornilla when I noticed that I had walked past a coffin. Yes, a dead body. I was mortified. I hadn't heard anything about a death and everyone was looking at me so I got out an embarrassed "I am so sorry for your loss, I didn't know, and I will come back to see your stove another time". Being my first death here I wasn't sure of the protocol. So yeah, kinda embarrassing. But also funny, because these kinds of experiences make the larger experience what it is.

Well that is all from me today. Lots of love to you all and write to me soon!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Happy 4th of July!

Hi friends and family :)

Well I definitely missed the traditions of America this weekend - Uncle Burt's huge annual party, fireworks in DC, hamburgers, ribs, crabs, pies, beer, hotdogs, family, friends, potato salad, baked beans...etc, etc. I had a few of those though. My training group made the trip up to Trujillo on the coast from all of our different towns. The trip for us in the West was a 10 hour bus ride - it was awesome there in Trujillo but I doubt I will be making the trip again since I can get to another beautiful but closer beach in 4 hours. Anyway, it was awesome seeing all my PC friends again. We stayed in this place called Casa Kiwi, which is a large house turned into a hotel. We had most of the place to ourselves. There was a good restaurant there where I could get shrimp and a good cheeseburger and banana pancakes, and the beach was beautiful. We had a big bonfire the first night there and gave the guys at the little bar there a lot of business. It was great catching up with everyone though, you have no idea! We are all having very different experiences here in Honduras, but most all of them are positive ones. The only kind of festive explosive we had were firecrackers, so I missed out on sparklers and firewords, but at least we had a huge fire. The second night we went into downtown Trujillo to go out to a seafood restaurant on the beach. It reminded me a little bit of a sleepy Negril. We pigged out on some good seafood and chatted up with the local Garifuna people, who are more African than Hispanic. The culture up on the coast is completely different from the rest of Honduras. All in all I spent maybe 1 and a half days there before we had to start the trip back on Monday, but we packed a lot into those days. On the way back we stopped in San Pedro Sula and went to the huge modern mall to go to the food court. I got a delicious burger from Wendy's and some other people chose Burger Kind or another chain, but at least we got out 4th of July burger! I also bought a little boom box at Radio Shack to use with my aerobics classes. Then we got back on the bus to Santa Rosa.

By the time I got back to Dulce Nombre yesterday, Tuesday, I had actually started missing it. The people here have been so great this past week and a half. People are always stopping by to give me fruit or vegetables or to see if they can help with my moving in activities. My 2 friends at the local cable station are lending me a pretty nice television and giving me free cable -yay! So it's kinda nice once in a while to watch a movie on TNT or Cinemax as I cook myself a nice meal. It's so nice to be cooking for myself again. But the showing of affecion is great. I only ate alone one time last week...friends kept coming over to cook for me or with me. One friend went to a ton of trouble to change a lightbulb for me which is like 20 feet up, and another friend brought a kid over with him to hack away all the weeds in the backyard and to look for snakes. One lady my age came over and insisted on helping me weed the garden and plucking my eyebrows - so I put my head in her lap and closed my eyes and got a steller eyebrow cleanup :) So I definitely do not feel alone if you can tell!

Well time for my aerobics class. I am trying to get back in shape again these days. I woke up at 5 am this morning to go running with a friend and have been giving training classes to a friend who will be starting giving aerobics classes in Santa Rosa in the gym there, so she has been coming over to my house for help with her aerobics routine. Everyone said I had lost the weight I put on during the first 3 months of training. It's nice to get back in shape...hopefully I can keep it up!

Lots of love!