(December 7 email)
Hello family and friends!
It's been a while since I've written you all an email, but I have been updating my blog regularly (www.pcvlauren.blogspot.com
). There are pictures up there too to check out my work, my town, and that I am still alive and well :)
I hope everyone's December is going well. Although it may be hard to believe, I get nostalgic every time I see a Christmas commercial here, instead of annoyed like I was in the states with all the advertising. But since there are few and far between here, and always have Christmas music in the background and smiling happy families around a Christmas tree or shopping together, they remind me of home! Here in Honduras, most families put up a plastic tree and put up some decorations...so far, no outside Christmas lights. The Christmas music we know is the same here, but in Spanish. They celebrate Christmas on the 24th all night with fireworks and firecrackers (although firecrackers seem to be an all-year thing here, much to my constant dismay), food, family, and I believe they share gifts. As I understand it though, it isn't quite as much food or presents as we are used to, probably owing to the fact they can't buy their kids 600$ of presents or their husbands a new digital camera or tool set, as we are used to.
Well in an effort to keep up my own Christmas spirit, as it is my favorite time of year, I decided to find a tree and decorate the house. The plastic trees cost about $25 dollars, which I don't have, so I decided to go hunting for a pine tree outside of town. It was a funny few hours for me. I couldn't help making cultural comparisons. Instead of going to a Christmas tree lot where most are nice and regular looking and within close proximity, I hiked out with a Honduran couple, the husband with his machete, and we started looking. Now there were a lot of pine trees but most were kinda sad looking or too tall to cut down the pretty top part of it so as not to kill the tree. That's another thing here, if you cut a tree down here, you know it won't be replaced with a new crop of trees...deforestation is a huge problem here. Well we hiked deeper and deeper into the wilderness for more than 2 hours. Everytime I was satisfied with a tree, Jorge and Reina would shake their heads and say it was ugly, and every time they liked one, it didn't suit me. Finally, finally, we find one everyone likes and cut off the top 4 feet so I have a nice little tree. Jorge hauls it home over his shoulder for me and I find a bucket, fill it with dirt and water, and stick the tree in, covering the bucket with a black sheet so it looks nice. Well I spent all afternoon putting up white lights, and little plastic silver balls, and making ornaments and tying little red bows to the branches. No star or angel, but it's looking great at this point, it has that Christmas magic about it. So many people passed by to compliment me on it, as I put the tree in front of my front window so you can see the lights from the street. I tried to make a wreath for the front door out of pine needles and branches, but I couldn't quite hack it. I bought silver paper and cut out snowflakes (remember 2nd grade?) and put them on my walls (children and adults alike here are loving learning to make snowflakes), and on the window ledges I put pine branches and pinecones and plastic red flowers. All in all my house is looking pretty Christmasy. I don't have any Christmas music to listen to but believe me, Oh Christmas Tree was running in my head and I kept thinking of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special where they decorate that straggly looking pine tree to make it look nice.
Well this morning, I get up, yawn, pad out of my bedroom, and look at my beautiful tree----and find that my angelic kitty, Piropo, has completely demolished the tree. I wanted to cry. Actually I did cry. It may have been my lowest moment while in the Peace Corps, funnily enough. He had managed to get down every single ornament and bow, the lights, and some of the branches were broken and half the pine needles had fallen off. It looked like he had climbed up the tree, thinking it was one big toy for his enjoyment. Of course he didn't know why his owner was screaming and ranting and shaking him around, or why she threw him in the back yard, not wanting to look at him. Well, after taking a few deep breaths, I decided to rescue the tree (I couldn't very well ask my friends to help me find another one). After about an hour of work and some creativeness and careful turning the tree started looking better, but had lost much of its former glory. Oh well, I suppose a Christmas tree in the Peace Corps isn't meant to be catalogue quality anyway. Charlie Brown would have been proud. So, I took a picture this time in case the cat gets it again (although it won't be left alone with the tree again if I can help it). I just hope it lasts the 9 days until my parents get here!
Well that's my not-so-normal Christmas story. So appreciate your nice normalcy as you are with your family getting out those Christmas decorations :) I am looking forward to having my parents and brother here the last couple weeks of December (they get here the 16th). On the 25th we'll be on one of the bay islands called Roatan (in hopefully nice 80 degree weather, hehe),and we're spending New Years in my town.
Well much love to all of you! Happy Holidays and I hope to get a greeting from most of you over the next few weeks!