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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

Hi everyone! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and that your pants aren't too tight after the traditional bout of national gluttony. We Peace Corps volunteers kept true to our roots and spent the day before cooking up a storm in the pcv house in Santa Rosa. I myself made with my friend Sarah 5 pumpkin pies, a cherry pie, a blueberry pie, a pecan pie, 2 pie crusts for friend Aaron's peanut butter cream pie and Eric's wild rice quiche, and I made mom's famous sweet potato casserole also. We got two butterball turkeys from San Pedro Sula, ordered 2 cases of wine (that's 24 bottles, although I sadly didn't partake, everyone else did), had 5 or 6 kinds of potatoes, veggie dishes, layer dips, veggie trays, baked bread, cheesy biscuits, stuffing, gravy, salad, chili, broccoli casserole, and a ton other stuff. About 35 people showed up to eat, mostly volunteers but also some Hondurans and a couple local Americans and English teachers (here I'll say hi to Allison's mom!). It was pretty crowded but very fun. It was good there were so many warm bodies because it was super cold. I had on a hat, scarf, and gloves on almost the entire week, and dreaded washing a dish because the water was so freezing cold that my fingers would go numb. I took the space heater mom brought me last year but the main room at the Peace Corps house is so open that it doesn't do much except for the lucky person sitting directly in front of it, but it was better than nothing. The local massage therapist from my town who also works in Santa Rosa did massages all morning for the equivalent of 6$ an hour, and she is as good as any massage giver in the states, I'll tell you that. I didn't get one on turkey day though because I get one in my house in Dulce Nombre every two weeks or so...ah, the Peace Corps life is so hard sometimes ;) I ate so much at dinner that I seriously couldn't move afterwards. Everyone else started drinking the wine and our invented "hot toddies" (cheap rum, apple cider mix or other fruit mixes, cloves and cinnamon...mainly the hotness being the desired thing) and generally got pretty tipsy, but I was lame and get under the best sleeping bag and hung out in my bed for a few hours talking to people and went to bed early. The day after I was gonna make turkey soup for everyone but there was no power all day, and I wanted to get back to Dulce Nombre, so I left the recipe for the people staying and went back.

Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way I am ready to go home for Christmas! I am so excited to be in my house again and enjoy the awesome holiday atmosphere that mom and the rest of the fam always create. I'm also gonna try to make some progress on my grad school applications while I'm home with access to internet 24/7....can't wait. Also for those of you who don't know Lester, the guy I have been seeing down here, has gotten a 6-month visa to go to the states over the holidays and will be with me. We had to go to the embassy in Tegucigalpa, which was a terrifying experience, even though I am a citizen. Very intimidating, all those serious people down there with the power to say "yes" or "no" to people's dreams and plans. He only knows a little English but is learning more every day so it should be interesting. It'll be his first time on a plane, let alone the states, so I am very excited to see his reactions to everything. I would like to take him to see UVa and DC, but other than that, we will mostly be around the Richmond area.

Until then I am gonna be busy. Since my stove project got fully funded I have made little progress, but am planning to buy the materials this week with the mayor and then get them all welded as needed. The ladies in the project are raring to go and I feel bad with every delay. Also I am going to Siguat all next week for the Youth Without Borders project, which is a youth directed HIV/AIDS prevention program in my community. By the way, Thursday, December 1st, is World AIDS Day, people. This year's theme is "Renew your promise". Basically we should all make a resolution to help with education and prevention, even if it's talking to our best friend about practicing safe sex or waiting, or talking to sons and daughters and even parents, or reaching out to love and support people living with HIV/AIDS. Take a moment to think about the millions suffering from this epidemic and families of or orphans of victims, often in our own backyards or down the block or families.

Ok gotta go, it's late. Love you all and can't wait to be in my own country for Christmas, as silly as that sounds.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Baby shower, Teguc and GREs, and Much Flu

Hi everyone!

Well this is exciting...I am writing to you from my new laptop that I bought in San Pedro Sula. I am currently connected in a friend's house here in Dulce Nombre, who "borrows" internet using his University password. Oh well, it's very convenient, although I still have to pay for it when their phone bill comes at the end of the month. My first laptop is an HP Pavilion dv1000. It's pretty.

So I realized last night talking to my mom on the phone that I had forgotten to mention that I threw my first baby shower. My friend Mary (Honduran, age 20) got pregnant in January and well, just had a beautiful baby girl three weeks ago. And almost at the last moment, I threw her a baby shower in her last week of pregnancy at my house. It went well, and she was totally surprised, or so she claims :) She definitely cried though. My house was all decorated with pink, yellow and white with baby adornments and we had lots of food, which everyone brought. About 20 people came I'd say, and we played some fun games, which I looked up on the internet before hand. I gave out as prizes the samples Dottie gave me, fancy samples of facial products. Also lollypops. And the most important thing, Mary got a ton of cute things for her baby. Not much more than a week later, I got a call at 3:30 in the morning that they were going to the hospital, and there she had the baby, practically at the door of the hospital. She is doing well, I went to see her last night, and her baby is precious. She thinks she will name her Genesis Elizabeth (Genisis pronounced Heneesees, and Elizabeth for her mom who was killed).

Also in the news is my trip to Teguc. I had several purposes for to go to the dentist to get fitted for my mouth guard, yay. I seem to be one of the only people that Peace Corps has approved paying for a night guard, so that's lucky. Also, to take the GREs. Several PCVs were in Teguc to take the GREs, which are given three times a year at the American School in Teguc. Third, to see my friend Lauren Dickson, who was in my training group but now teaches at the American School, and lives across the street, which was super convenient. I got there Wednesday night and stayed at the PC hotel, Guadalupe 2, which is somewhat depressing when you don't know other volunteers there. I ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut and ate alone in my room and read a book. Thursday I went to the dentist in the morning, cheque. In the evening Lauren picked me up with her roommate's car (you have know idea how liberating it feels to know someone with a car! PCVs can't have one.) We were going to go to her gym but we got there too late to make the class she wanted so we went to her place. She has a really nice room and bathroom in this ritzy house across from the American School. Two other American teachers rent there, and they were very cool. We ended up going out that night, dinner at The Patio, a huge lit up restaurant serving huge quantities of delicious food at a high price, but since they give you so much food Lauren and I split one dinner and had enough to spare. Then we went to a favorite bar hangout of theirs til about 1:30 am. On Friday I had to go back to the PC office and then went with Lauren to school to observe her two Friday English classes. She teaches middle school, and it was really interesting to observe her class. She lives in a completely different world than I do now, even though we are in the same country. She teaches very rich upperclass students with perfect English who all have designer clothes and carry expensive cell phones. It blew my mind. But her class was very cute, and they all call her "Miss". She is obviously popular, although she definitely keeps them in line, as I sensed they are used to getting their way a lot with teachers or parents. Friday night we went to a body sculpting class at her gym, which kicked my butt since I am so out of shape, but it was good. Again, another world. We stayed in that night since I had my GREs the next morning. Saturday I walked across the street to take the test and to my surprise most of the test takers were Hondurans, planning to go to grad school in the states. But geez, it's hard enough for me, a native English speaker, and I couldn't imagine what it would be like to take the GREs in your second language. Blah. Two essays, two math sections, and two verbal sections...more than 5 hours with only one 10 minute brain was fried. It was a pencil and paper test since they didn't have the computer version, so I won't find out my scores for 5 more weeks. Saturday night, the 28th, we decided to dress up for Halloween with all of Lauren's friends. A group of us went as Revenge of the Nerds/Nerdy Chess Team. It was fun putting together our costumes and intentionally trying to look as un-sexy as possible. I had a lot of fun going out but was beat by midnight and so they took me home and I crashed. The next day, Sunday, I had a wonderful 8 hour bus trip home.

My first day back in site I started feeling bad. The flu hit me full force and I had a temperature off and on for about 4 days and cough and stuffy nose, the works. It was my first cold/flu in Honduras in almost 2 years, but man, it is the worst one I can ever remember. I looked like Death on Wednesday, my eyes all sunken in and me very pale. I went to the doctor but he couldn't do anything for me that I wasn't already doing. Not until this Saturday did I feel truly better, and I still have a cough and stuffy nose today, 8 days after it all started. But the awesome thing about Honduras is how the people take care of you here. Everyone heard that I was sick, even people I hadn't seen or talked to, and people sent me already-made teas and other remedies and refused to let me go outside in the rain or cold and even came and cleaned my house for me. You can't tell me things are commonly like that in the States....if I say I'm sick there, someone responds, oh geez, I feel TERRIBLE also, so stressed, coughing, blah blah blah, telling how they deserve sympathy too. Here people are genuinely concerned and try to help out. It's great.

Well peeps, other than that things are ok. Still working on those applications. My dad is helping me send out a package to the people writing me recommendations. Also, my stove project was fully funded! Thanks to everyone who helped out and donated! I will be thinking of more projects for those of you who wanted to donate but couldn't because the stove project was funded so fast.

Well I gotta go eat lunch. Love to all, and I will be in the states in a little over a month!! Yay, I can't WAIT for Christmas.