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, January 30, 2007

Meeting the Prez!

Hey all,

So I completely forgot to tell about meeting the President of Honduras. Yes! Although I seem to be the only PCV who hadn´t met him yet, it was still pretty cool. Presidente "Mel" came to Concepcion, Copan, which is only about 1.5 kilometers outside of Dulce Nombre. The big news, and this is big, even for me, is that they are planning to build the new airport right here! It will be the airport to feed Copan Ruins, and they will build a new highway between Santa Rosa to Copan Ruinas. The airport will be 8 km or so from Santa Rosa, and 22 km from Copan Ruinas. The place where the airport is going to be used to be a place where planes landed back in the 50s to pick up cigars and transport them, but stopped after a plane broke down and then they had to haul the thing through Dulce Nombre up the narrow streets, and it was a big ordeal...I saw some pretty amazing old pictures of a huge plane being dragged right by my house in 58. For those of you who don´t know Concepcion (Ian, that´s where we went and saw those massive lemons), I did a latrine and stove project there, and it´s one of the poorest municipalities in Honduras. There is NOTHING there. That´s why it´s so amazing to imagine a new highway and airport there. It will hopefully benefit the people of Concepcion and Dulce Nombre immensely. Land around there is already going up in price. The new highway will pass by Dulce Nombre as well.

Well Mel decided to come in his helicopter to announce the big decision to put the airport there. La Entrada had been competing for the airport as well. I find out the day before and the library decides to send a small committee of people to give the President one our Dulce Nombre books that the U of Maine helped us make, and a postcard of Dulce Nombre....signed and with a description of our library and our future plans and what we need (gotta love us, always trying to get more supporters!). It was so neat to see all the poor kids and parents waiting around to see the president, probably their only chance, since they never leave their aldeas, alongside the big town reporters, with even Telemundo represented by this snobby looking gorgeous blonde telenovela looking star lady. Very descriptive huh? So mel lands finally, in the middle of a huge field, and he is surrounded immediately. I have no idea how, but Misael, one of the library committee, gets in front of him, and one of the ministers who knows us introduces him to the President (I have all this on tape) and Misael gives the Dulce Nombre book to the president and explains who we are. It was so funny! But we did it. Later we all run to the nearest pickup to get a ride to the central park of Concepcion, where I go running to some mornings, because the president is gonna meet with the mayors there and talk to the press. The road between the area where the airport is going to be and the central park is hardly a road...just two ruts where tires are supposed to go and you have to pass through a small river. The prez drives his own car, which is impressive. When he got out of the car at the park, I got to shake his hand and follow him around some more with my camera. We hung around a few hours more, but I got tired before I ever heard the official announcement and went back to Dulce Nombre, but later on the radio it was all aired. So that´s the story! Maybe in 6 or 7 years I´ll get to fly into Dulce Nombre!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sounds of Honduras...

- 1:01 am, 2:33 am, 3:51 am, 4:19 am...A rooster´s dry throaty call, over and over again
- Dogs barking, competing with each other
- A turkey´s gobbly gobble
- Car with loudspeaker announcing products for sale, repeated every 24 seconds
- Someone playing with the ring tones of their cell phone
- The incredibly loud honking of the bus, and the earth shaking rumble it produces going by my house up the cobblestoned street
- Kids laughing and playing
- The sound of the water coming back to the pipes...WHOOSH...yay!
- The clip-clop on the cobblestone of a campesino riding by on his horse back to the aldea after a good day´s work
- A herd of cows mooing by
- More roosters
- The damned chicken getting into my backyard again, and then its squawking as I chase it out again...for the millionth time that day
- Everyone on the block´s television turned all the way up
- Everyone on the block´s radio turned all the way up, reggaeton music or the news
- Cheers for the soccer game on TV
- A text message on my cell - yay!
- A soft knocking on the door from a child, asking for water, again.
- The revving up of the engine of the pickup always parked in front of my house
- A firecracker (or gunshot?) going off right outside, shaking the place up...darn kids.
- My neighbor washing clothes next door at the pila
- My pila filling up with water
- The chop-chop of the man cutting back the weeds with his machete
- A car goes by, blasting ranchera, bom bom bom...
- My kitty meowing to be fed
- The water boiling in my pot, ready for a bath
- My computer, playing Nick Drake and Bela Fleck and Jack Johnson...
- An old lady calling "BUENAS" to me on the street
- Kids shouting "LAURITA", "LauREN", "GRINGITA" as I pass by

Monday, January 22, 2007

Awesome Navidad, and starting my last 6 months...

Hi everyone! I know many of you have been waiting for me to write an entry, and I´m sorry it´s taken me so long. Time flies and it´s easy to procrastinate. I just wanna say I had an amazing Christmas. It went by way too fast though. I had two weeks there, and I took Lester home with me and he loves his first experience in the states. My family was amazing as usual, mom made and bought all my favorite foods and stuffed me like a turkey, my brother Ian made sure that some of his latino friends were waiting for us at the airport to help Lester out and then we got together with them several times during our trip. My dad helped me with my grad school applications - I applied to 7 schools, and I am crossing my fingers for Johns Hopkins, but we will see. It was a big job though and took me almost two full days in front of the computer...blah, and not the way I wanted to spend my precious moments at home. But I know it was sooo much better to do all that stuff there than here, where everything takes ten times longer. We spend some good times in Richmond, sightseeing in DC (thanks to Aunt Marsha and Uncle Burt for letting us use the house in Arlington!), even made it to UVA and Wintergreen so that he could see "snow" and what a city-university is like. So it was a great trip. I think I am finally ready to go first year and a half I hardly thought of him except when I talked to my family and Chris and missed them. But now I think of home much more, and although I am extending 2 and a half months, I am ready to go home. Not to say that I hate it here now, I still love my work and my friends, just that I am tired of certain things and missing certain things from home, or maybe just the feeling of being home. Sorry - very long run-on sentence!

I got back January 4th and spent my first few days resting...I was pretty beat. I tried to start up work but didn´t get much done before our COS conference came around. Wow, COS (Close Of Service). For most of my training group (Hondo 5), March is their last month. So we all got to meet in Tela at Hotel Sherwood to learn about the process, talk about job searches and resume building, RCPV networks, medical stuff, the non-competition law that RCPVs enjoy for their first year after COS to get government jobs, and of course, to spend time with each other and socialize (the best part!). I had an awesome time. The hotel/conference room was right on the beach and a tantalizing view of the ocean was just out the window all day long. We got a little beach and pool time luckily. At night we went out. It was so much fun being with my group again. It´s hard to believe that 2 years have passed. Actually our COS conference was exactly two years after staging, when we first met each other in DC (January 17-19, 2005). We talked to each other and interacting as if we had just had training a few months before. I know I have some life-long friends in that group, and have already made some plans to see them back home and we have planned a reunion. Most are finishing on time and many plan to travel around central and south america with our readjustment allowance, which is a few thousand dollars. I am gonna miss out on the travelling, but maybe can do it in a couple years before I get into the work force. I will finish PC in June and probably go back to the states to get ready for classes in July. Some are extending for a whole year to work on projects. Others are gonna hang out in Utila and bartend for a few months, or hang out here in their towns because of girlfriends or boyfriends, even though they´re not gonna be PCVs anymore. Many are planning on grad school.

Now that COS is done I am gonna try to get into my stove project and finish that up in a month or two. Also we are getting ready for the University of Maine group to come back in March. I will probably travel a lot my last few months here...I want to make it out to some other PCVs´sites before they go, and wanna get to San Salvador. I am also planning to help out with training of the new Health group arriving in February.

Well I will try to stay on top of this thing more! Love you all and take care....