27 March 2008

Four Months in one Blog Entry, Que Barbaridad!

Hey Folks!

Once again, it’s been a really loooooong time since my last online journal entry. I imagine you all are use to it by now. My apologies.

And once again, LOTS has occurred since my last entry. I can’t even remember the last time I wrote for this blog. And as I am here in my house without internet typing this, I cannot check to see what I wrote last.

In December I went to the Dominican Republic with my girlfriend Alba. The D.R. was a very cool experience. We danced a lot, and ate more. Both Alba and I haven’t felt the same in the stomach since eating so much in the D.R. We stayed a few nights in an “All Inclusive” resort, where the buffet was plentiful. In the D.R. we stopped in a small village to see if we could eat some REAL Dominican cuisine, so we asked a group of kids if there was a nice lady around who’d be willing to cook us breakfast in her kitchen. One of the kids was like “yeah, my Mom will cook for you!” So we followed him to his house where his very lovely mother cooked us a very tipico Dominican breakfast. Eggs fried in an inch or two of oil, boiled green bananas, and a tiny cup of strong coffee. We ate in her living room with one of her sons, and she shared photos of her children in college. It was by far our favorite Dominican experience.

Another one of our favorite experiences was more comical. The night before my birthday we went out to find a good place to go dancing. We heard some good merengue and bachata blasting out of an interesting looking bar, so we peaked in and decided to stay and dance a while. It was a well kept bar, very clean and modern. Well into the second song dancing with Alba, she looked at me and said something to the effect of “dang, look how sexy all the girls are here.” At which point I looked around the room and noted some very very sexy girls dancing with various old and often overweight men. I said to Alba, “and check out the old fogies their dancing with!” We then both realized we had entered some sort of prostitute bar to go dancing. Opps!! But as the environment was nothing of the dangerous type, we decided to stay and dance the night away anyway.

After my trip to the D.R. it was Christmas time in Honduras. I spent Christmas night with my counterpart Don Andres and his family. I ate so many tamales it was ridiculous! I ate so much food that night, that the two or three cups of wine I had had no affect on me whatsoever. At midnight everyone stood up and said Merry Christmas to each other and started hugging one another. At first I thought everyone was going home! But apparently it’s just tradition to do so at midnight on Christmas Eve. Last Christmas I had retired before the clock struck 12.

Then for New Years a group from the University of Vermont came on their AWB (Alternative Winter Break) to do various small projects in and around the area. Alba asked me to tag along and translate where needed. It was a cool group of kids. I enjoyed talking pop culture and politics with them. A few of them will be back in May. Alba took the whole group to her house for New Years Eve for a dinner at her house and afterwards we went to the disco where we were pretty much the only people there to dance. We gave them a few crash course lessons in dancing to prepare them for the disco. And it went well! We danced until midnight, then set off fire crackers at Alba’s cousin’s house to ring in 2008. Again, there was hugging and “happy new years” at midnight.

From there I worked on a biodigestor project here in Santa Elena. It’s basically a big trench where we set a big long plastic bag. We then fill the bag with water, leaving space in the top for gas to rise. From there we put in pig feces, coffee pulp, and other wastes that produce gas. From the bag to the house is a long tube. In the house we put a small stove. The idea is to produce gas for cooking. The effort reduces deforestation by lessoning the need for firewood for cooking. Most people in rural Honduras cook using a wood burning stove. So I told the NGO who was funding the project about Dona Blanca, the lady in my community known for her plethora of nasty pigs in her backyard. I could write all day long about this project, but in the end, after much drama, work, stress, strange smelling food and coffee, we made the project a success, and now Dona Blanca has a steady blue flame in the morning to get her coffee and tortillas going before she has to light up the stove.

Luego, in February, the local missionaries from Savannah hosted a medical brigade. I helped out with this med brigade in the previous year, so I knew a lot of them already and was ready for their group dynamic. As I had remembered they were incredibly organized. It’s a brigade who has years of experience in Honduras. They have a wireless network they set up for triage to communicate to the doctors, and then for the doctors to send the prescriptions to the pharmacy. Very cool. I translated for the same doctor I translated for last year, Dr. Gil and his wife Shari. We had various interesting cases and we sewed up a few kids who needed stitches.

Now I have arrived at a point in my service where I have to start thinking about my next chapter of life. What am I going to do now? I have a lot of options and ideas. Most of which include staying in Honduras for another year. I applied for an internship with USAID (United States Agency of International Development), got an interview, and then proceeded to blow the interview. They told me very nicely in an email that I had many various qualities but they only had two positions to offer and that they had elected two other volunteers for these said positions. It was my first time in my life where I got an interview and didn’t get the position I was applying for. I had heard that there were many applications and they only gave four interviews, so at least I looked good on paper (Thanks Dad for proofreading my English, and Claudia for my Spanish!). It was a good experience to sharpen my application and interview skills, I was incredibly rusty after two years in rural Honduras doing nothing along the lines of professional job applications.

Lots of my friends have already gotten accepted to various prestigious universities for a masters program. So I feel a little behind as far as starting a masters study after my time here.

My latest option of interest is a position called Regional Volunteer Leader (RVL). This is a position within the Peace Corps. I would remain a volunteer for one more year, only in a more leadership sort of role. I would be moved to a more central and big site. Probably a larger city. I would be the focal point for volunteers in my area who needed things (resources, contacts, assistance) from Peace Corps HQ, and PC HQ would use me to communicate various things to the volunteers in my area. Other responsibilities would include scouting out sites for new volunteers, preparing sites for training groups, securing home stay families for trainees, etc. And then on top of all that I would still be a normal volunteer, working in my community, doing the same thing I’ve grown to love during the past year and a half. The only downside to this position as compared to the USAID internship is the pay. The USAID internship offered a healthy salary, whereas the RVL position is a volunteer food/lodging/transportation sort of just-enough-to-get-by sort of income. But since when has material wealth meant much to me, right?

I guess the biggest news is that I’ll be in the states VERY soon! And I’m not coming by myself. I’m bringing Alba! After visiting the states twice with the Univ. of Vermont, the U.S. Embassy finally gave her a 10 year visa. Another thing I could write pages about is the visa application process for Hondurans. Wow, what a pain in the pa-toot. Alba was a pro though, she arrived with everything prepared and impressed them so much they gave her a free pass for 10 years. SO, Alba and I will be in ATL from the 9th thru the 16th of April. The weekend of the 12th and 13th I plan on driving up to Louisville with her to see my brother and his family. So she’ll get to know all sorts of family and my southern roots. She also has a half sister and a few cousins that live in Acworth that will get to visit with. I’m extremely excited to share Hotlanta with Alba! We’ve been together for about 6 months now, and I’ve learned sooo much about her family. Now it’s my turn to share where I come from, and I couldn’t be prouder. I’m also really happy that my family can finally get to know Alba as well, something I’m also very proud and excited to share.

Then in May Katie Bess and my Dad are coming down south to get to know Honduras and my life here! Which will probably be my most significant week of Peace Corps service, sharing with my family the people/food/culture/places/way of life here in Honduras. I’m thrilled, realmente no hay palabras.

Okay, that’s it from my end. Please write and let me know what’s up stateside! And come by and visit when I’m in ATL!

Miss you all terribly!

Con respeto,
P.S. The picture is of the group from the University of Vermont. Cool kids.

13 November 2007

Culture Junky

Hey Folks!

So what’s new stateside? I want to hear from you guys! My email box has been a little dry lately. As well as my snail mail, a little void of envelopes/boxes with U.S. stamps!

Speaking of snail mail boxes, here’s what I’ve been needing/craving lately…
-The Egetter’s Famous Fudge Pie. (I think it’s cold enough here to transport semi-safely).
-Colgate Total Advanced Clean with Whitening. Good/Fancy toothpaste in general.
-Fancy toothbrush
-Winter cap/beenie
-Old Navy/Gap blue jeans/pants. Size W30 L30. An imposible size to find in Honduras.
-Cookies, chocolate chip.
-Gillete Mach 3 razor refils
-Movies! DVD’s! Send me good ones! Send me what you like, because I like you and I’ll probably like what you like!
-Music! CD’s! Again, send me what you like, because brillant minds think alike.
-Pictures. It’s so much fun getting to see you and I love sharing with my friends here in Honduras who my friends are in the states.
-Drink mixes, crystal lite, gatorade. They come in small “on the go” boxes with individual packets for one bottle. Perfect for keeping me hydrated.
-Canned cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving is approaching! And I friggin’ love the stuff. It makes such a horrible presentation on the Thanksgiving table, with the can ripples still visible on the perfectly cylindrical maroon loaf. Oh wow, I can’t get enough! Yes, I am being serious.

If you’d be so kind to send any of these items you’d absolutely make my day. Here’s my address again in case ya’ll forgot…
Davíd Egetter
Voluntario del Cuerpo de Paz
Santa Cruz de Yojoa, Cortés
America Central

and my email... egetter@gmail.com

Okay, so what’s new in Honduras…

It’s stinkin’ cold! Yeah, COLD! I remember when I was in Montana it was a dry harsh cold, and in Georgia it’s a wet miserable cold. Well in Honduras it’s a wetter miserable cold. And there’s no form of heating my cement block house with wooden doors and windows. I just got to cuddle close to Gringo for warmth, and he’s always filthy muddy from playing outside.

I went to Copan, probably the most popular tourist spot in Honduras for a Peace Corps Halloween party. It was a lot of fun! It was a costume party so I dressed up as a cyclist. Yeah, I know, kinda lame considering it’s something I normally wear anyway, but I didn’t have a lot of time to think/plan out a costume. Plus I can’t just cruise down to town and find a costume store. The cyclist getup wound up being a big hit, because spandex is always an attention winner. The JICA group was there in Copan as well and celebrated with us. JICA is the Japanese equivalent of Peace Corps. They send volunteers for two years and have training in the same little town near Tegucigalpa. It’s fun hanging out with the JICA kids because they are experiencing the same things we are, but from a different vector. And it’s fun talking to them in Spanish, they don’t speak English nor do we speak Japanese so we’re forced to communicate in our second tongue and it’s fun! JICA had a Japanese cultural day that weekend with free sushi and dance exhibitions. Very cool dances with drums and traditional garments. And the cool dragon dance of course. While watching all of this I turned to a Peace Corps friend and was like “what would we present if we were presenting American Culture?” And he was like, “we’d need a whole week at least, we’d present jazz, rock n’ roll, motown, etc.” But when it comes to ancient culture, like what the JICA crew presented, we don’t have anything. We could present some Native American dances, but that wouldn’t exactly feel right. So I was sort of bummed out, but on the other hand that’s what’s so cool about America right? That we’re still young as a nation. And that we’re kind of a conglomerate of many many different ancient cultures. I’m realizing that I’m a culture junky, I love learning about people and their culture, their music, their food, their language, their dances, their beliefs, etc. And for a culture junky I guess I couldn’t be from a better country than the U.S. of A where we’ve got a good mixture of everything. And at the same time I’m proud of our own new and developing culture we call our own in the U.S.

Obviously one of my favorite cultures would have to be anything Latino. So I’m super excited about my next adventure to come in December. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is the capital of Bachata and Merengue, two of my favorite latin music/dance styles. And two weeks ago Alba and I bought tickets to fly there for my birthday! We fly out December 6th and return on the 13th. We plan on passing the weekend of my bday (the 9th) on the beaches of Punta Cana, a popular tourist destination of the D.R. I’m extremely excited, we plan on dancing the nights away, and sleeping and eating all day long. Alba and I share one very common and binding characteristic, we love to dance. I can’t wait!

Here in Santa Elena things have slowed down due to the ugly weather. People just stay boarded up in their houses and sit close to the wood burning stoves drinking lots of coffee. Coffee is in season and lots of people are out in the coffee farms picking the ripe coffee beans.

The Canadian NGO “Global Village” that runs the park I work in recently received a grant to build “biodigestors” for two families in Santa Elena. Biodigestors use coffee pulp, human feces, pig feces, etc. to make gas for cooking. The idea is to eliminate diseases that would be laying around the yard (pig/human feces) and to provide an alternative energy source other than fire wood (thus lessening the deforestation in the park). So I went straight to the house in town where everyone in town knows there’s pigs to see if they had interest in the project. I was nervous that the lady who lived there would be sort of “stand offish” because I had never visited her or talked to her in my 15 months here in Santa Elena. But I was welcomed by a “Hi David, come on in!” She seems very interested in the project and we plan on getting things rolling on Wednesday! She has 6 or 7 pigs and her case is a perfect fit for the biodigestor project. I’m still working on finding the other prospect at home, he’s got 3 pigs. And it’s been really tough to catch him while he’s at home.

The pineapple cooperative is slowly starting to divide and fall apart I’m afraid. There’s lots of politics involved. I won’t get into it, but to put it simply, I think the guys like drama and we are having trouble putting the “cooperate” part into “cooperative.” I’m not sure if we’ll ever see a pineapple jelly product from Santa Elena. It’s sad. But I’m still working with the group, and we’ll see what we can do. I’m not giving up.

Okay, that’s a good healthy journal entry, right? Again, emails please, snail mail please! I miss you all terribly! Hasta la proxima…

Much love,

18 October 2007

Just Getting Started!

Hey Everyone!

Many apologies for the two months with no word! I've written two or three updates but never had the chance to publish them to the web. And if I published them now they'd be obsolete. So I'll try and hack one out here and now!

(BIG DEEP BREATH) Shhhhhhhhhoooooo. Well, where to begin? Everything is going excellent. I've been in Santa Elena for over a year now, and I believe I finally have got a hold of things. I can speak Spanish with ease (well, somedays are better than others), I have respect with the leaders and people in general in Santa Elena, I have ideas and ways to see them out. I told my Project Manager that I feel like I'm sort of just getting started. Because it really has taken a solid year to really get my feet planted here in Honduland. But here lies the, what I call, "Peace Corps Secret." If you go to the Peace Corps website you'll see people, more or less, "changing the world." But the reality is, Peaec Corps develops its Volunteers. I'll take more from Santa Elena/Honduras (in knowledge and experience) than I'll ever be able to give.

Toni had his birthday at my house about a month ago. It was a big success! I invited our closest friends and his older brother. We hung out and talked about guy things. Then Alba came by with cheesecake from the restaraunt she works with. The cheesecake made a perfect birthday cake and went great with coffee. I was really happy with how things turned out, because until the day of, I had done very little to plan anything. I'll post a picture from the get together birthday here in this journal entry.

Gringo is doing well! He's definitely full grown now. He comes up to just a little above my knee. My landlord has proposed to build a fence around my house to keep Gringo in and I wish he would hurry up with getting it set up, because Gringo has started to get a little "promiscuous." He spends about 50% of the day in and around my house, and the other half of the day he's "out and about." People around town always comment on my "vagabond" son. About a week ago I went for a long run and took a shower afterwards. When I got out of the shower Gringo was, well, "getting lucky" with a nieghboring lady dog. I would really like to get him fixed as well, but it's impossible to transport him in the buses here. And very difficult to find a friend willing to take me and him in their car to the big city of San Pedro Sula (where the vet is located). I'll keep you all updated.

My plans? This Monday I'll be traveling to a village about a day away to give a class on self-esteem with my friend Alba. A friend of hers called her up and asked if she'd be willing to give a class to her 60 highschool seniors. So I called up my "Youth Development" Volunteers and asked them for ideas. They certainly came through, and I've got a list of activities and ice breakers that are perfect for the class. I also picked up some really nice diplomas in the Peace Corps HQ. Diplomas definitely hold serious Honduran cultural significance. Whenever you give a small class or capacitation you better have a nice looking diploma to hand out. These Peace Corps diplomas have the logo and the state seal. Their perfect. I'm excited, it should be a good time. It'll also be nice to have a native Spanish speaker sharing the stage.

I have to jet now. I'm here in Los Pinos where Alba works, and she finally has a free minute to plan the self-esteem class with me. I have to act now or else I'll wait another two hours until she's not busy again. There's LOTS more to write about, I'll try and make another post very soon.


15 August 2007

Laboratory News and My Friend Alba


What’s shakin’ stateside? Shoot me an email if you haven’t recently! egetter@gmail.com I miss you all very much!

Aqui en Honduras todo esta cheque, osea... todo macanudo. (Here in Honduras everything is fine, or like… everthing’s cool). Gringo has gotten pretty big and is shaping up to be a pretty nice companion. I read an article about happiness in “Newsweek” and it said that the joy of having a kid doesn’t pay off until they’re out of the house and in college. And I tried to relate that to having a dog, but you can’t really do that I suppose. Gringo has been such a pain in the butt I often wonder whether he’s worth all the headache, but I’m starting to think, yeah, he’s worth it. He can be pretty cool, and I can’t imagine what life around this house would be without the little fella (cleaner? haha).

So, we have planned to do our first “experiment” in the new science laboratory. We are going to make pineapple jelly! I’m working on a “Peace Corps Partnership” form to try and see if I can bring some money to town to make the laboratory something really nice for the kids. I’ve been chasing down local electricians, welders, and construction workers to give me estimates for all the fixing up we’d like to do. I’d like to bring in enough money for a secure roof (the current roof is easy to break into and theives have already broken in and stole all the electrical wires and lightbulbs), electricity (to replace what the theives took), to make one room a little larger (it’s currently a degree away from tiny), new chairs and tables (currently not enough), and finally I’d like to get some good science laboratory equipment (test tubes, balances, bunsen burners, goggles, lab coats, etc). But meanwhile, as I dream and prepare the grant proposal, we’re going to make pineapple jelly with the few materials that we already have. “Peace Corps Partners” is a way in which Volunteers can solicit funds for projects over the internet. Donors can donate from the Peace Corps website (www.peacecorps.gov) with their credit cards. But with any grant proposal or any government project, I got lots of paperwork. Don’t worry though, I’m not losing my easy going country livin’ lifestyle here, just got a few hours here and there during the week of sorting out paperwork.

Yesterday my friend Alba called me up and invited me to dinner with her family and I had a blast! Alba is a good friend who’s the manager of the cabins and educational center in the park I work in (45 minute walk from my house). We drove to her hometown, a little less than an hour away, ate clam soup (wow, it was soooo good), danced a bit, and hung out. I’ve known Alba pretty much since I got here to Santa Elena almost a year ago, and I’ve always heard so much about her legendary family. Especially her Dad, who certainly is one of a kind. When I met the guy he was stepping out of the shower and was only wearing a towel. The 60ish year old man wasn’t bashful in the least bit. He said “Hey you, get over here” and put his hand out to shake. Then asked me, and it’s hard to translate to english, but something along the lines of “Uh huh, and you… who you think you are?” For those of you who know Spanish, here’s his famous line, “Uh huh, y vos, quien sos?” Alba’s mother was the complete opposite, very humble and quiet. Then her sisters were a riot, very loud and noisy, always laughing or telling a story with lots of emotion in their faces and tones of voice. Definitely a very happy and healthy latin family. Really a lot of fun to spend time with. The next morning, Alba, who’s learning English and preparing for a trip to Vermont in September, told me in English, “It’s a pleasure to have you in my life.” “What a nice thing to say,” I thought. Alba has definitely become a really close friend. I told her “It’s a pleasure to have you in my life as well Alba.”

Alright, I suppose that’s all for now. Brazos y besos a todos!


31 July 2007

Eek-E-Lee-Bree-O means Equilibrium in Spanish...

Howdy Folks!

So here’s a quick (oops, lets go with not so quick now that I’ve finished) journal entry to catch you guys up!

I just got back from my 11 day trip to the United States about 2 weeks ago (okay, it’s taken me a while to get this up on the web, more like a month ago now). Right off the bat I had to give my first class (in spanish) on ecosystems to a group of forestry and protected areas workers. It went pretty well, I was able to use a Powerpoint presentation, so it looked nice and profesional. I kept messing up the word “equilibrium” in spanish which is “equilibrio” (eek-ee-lee-bree-o). (Update: I just got an invite by another local NGO to give the same class at a different conference! Positive feedback, hooray!)

My time stateside was quick and is still kind of a whirlwind in my memory. My cousin Jamie’s wedding was a blast, we definitely “threw down” on the dance floor and had a good time! I caught the garder (spelling?), and was sure to explain that I was in no hurry to get married next. I was just happy to beat my 17 year old cousin Anthony’s streak of 4 garders in a row. Before that we also got down at the bowling alley. Bowling shoes and slick bowling floor make for great dancing and fun, we had a blast. It was really good to see a lot of my family from N. Carolina and California who I hadn’t seen in so long. Even after so much time apart we could still stinkin’ party! And party late!

I got to spend a lot of time with my brother and his beautiful family. We went swimming and just chilled out. Daniel and I also went for a good mountain bike ride. Went for a mountain bike ride with my friend Matt as well, who had just returned from an long tour of South America, it was neat to trade cultural experiences. Got to hang out with his cool family as well and see his girlfriend Katie who had been traveling with him as well in S. America. It was like ol’ times riding bikes w/ Stewie again, good for the soul.

I am so very proud of my little sister. I’ve been away for a year and when I came home and got to see her it was interesting to see how grown up she had become. She was talking about her “deductables” on her helath insurance and such! I thought to myself, “gee, she’s more grown up than I am!” I still feel like I’m on an extended college tour or something. Katie Bess is renting a really nice apartment and working a cool job as a dental assistant. I got to visit the office and see the cool (and not so cool haha) people she works with and got to probe and see what she does. She’s definitely matured substantially and it was so very encouraging to see her. My little sister is all grown up (sniffle)!

And of course it was great to see Mom and Dad. Laying around the house, running errands, road tripping to the wedding, it was all good quality time with them. And their new child, Elvis, the yorky who’s making sure the house isn’t an “empty nest.”

Culture shock? Sure, it was there. But I think I was ready for it. The culture shock wasn’t the whole cake. It was tough coming back to where I was a year ago and being somebody very different; Honduras has made me somebody very different from who I was a year ago. I couldn’t help but feel like I didn’t fit in completely where I was a year ago. That was the more strange thing, I think I’d call it “character regression shock.” Maybe that’s a sub-category of culture shock.

So now I’m back in Honduland. Back in Santa Elena. Things were pretty much the same when I got back. A few new bricks had been added to the houses that have been under construction here for the past year. Gringo was thrilled to see his “Dad” come home. He about tackled me over. I’d never seen him jump so high! White dog CAN jump.

I’ve been picking things back up with the pineapple farmer’s co-op and the science lab. We’re working on getting the science lab to actually function as a place where kids can do experiments. Right now it’s sort of just sitting there with very little materials inside. It might require some money and I started to look into finding funds today. The pineapple farmer’s co-op have their mini-super market up and running. They decided they’d start a mini-supermarket to pay back the money the government lended them to make a jelly factory instead of actually making jelly and paying back the loan in the proper manner. I told them it didn’t sound like a good idea. At a big meeting, they asked me for my insight, and I stood up and told them I thought they were making a mistake. But they went ahead with this project anyway, and I’m going to go along for the ride as well. I hope to help Isaias get the inventory off of paper and onto the computer he has in the store. He’s got a version of Microsoft Works that should be able to do it. We’ll see what we can do. He still has miles to go to learn how to work a computer properly. I’m also working with Isaias to make a powerpoint presentation that he wants to present on Wednesday. We got a data projector from a local NGO lended to us for that day.

Okay, I suppose that’s all for now. Please write me emails or if you feel even more motivated snail mail! I miss everyone already, and everyone I didn’t get a chance to visit (my Athens crew!) very much as well! I’ll write again soon.


P.S. Here’s the email; egetter@gmail.com
And here’s the snail mail;
Davíd Egetter, Voluntario del Cuerpo de Paz
Santa Elena, Santa Cruz de Yojoa, Cortés
HondurasAmerica Central

30 May 2007

11 months in Honduland!

Hey to all you folks! (“all you folks” meaning the three or four of you left that actually check this online journal, that’s okay though, it’s my fault for not writing more frequently),

I just hit the 11 month mark a few days ago here in Honduras. June 21st will be my one year anniversary here in Honduland. According to the Peace Corps chart of depression during service I should be entering my deepest trough. I don’t know about that though, I feel pretty good about being here. When I went to Belize for a week I couldn’t help but feel homesick for my place in Santa Elena.

My latest and newest project has been a science laboratory project. One of the teachers at the elementary school here has a requirement at her university to complete a project in the school and she approached me to see if I could help. I told her that sounded like a great idea and that I’d support her in every way I could. So we got quite a bit of stuff done in just a week or so. We’ve already transformed what use to be a cockroach ridden shed full of trash, scrap wood, and metal, into a clean and freshly painted laboratory space. The unusual fast pace of this project has been aided by the fact that the teacher’s professors are coming to town to check on her progress. So she’s been paying for it all out of her pocket and has been eager to see the project progress. We’ll see how things go from here, it’s widely known among Volunteers in Honduras that projects often start “con mucho gusto,” but often fizzle out quick (i.e. the women’s co-op bakery from November). I’ll see what I can do to keep the enthusiasm high. I will be attending a Peace Corps workshop with my counterpart Isaias in the first week of June to learn how to write project grants and how to plan out projects in general. I’m hoping this will enable Isaias to learn how to write and ask for funds himself. I’d really like to see this happen so I don’t have to be the paternal gringo that Honduras is so use to. Ideally, the project planning conference will enable Isaias to petition his own funds and I’ll just cheer from the sidelines.

I had an interesting cultural lesson recently. You know how sometimes we say things such as, “Hey, did you steal my sweater?” to friends we know well. Or “Hey, did you take my hammer from the shed last week?” Not meaning that the person we’re talking to actually stole the item with malice or intent to keep the item. Well, my razor and shaving cream turned up missing from my shower stall outside. So, naturally, I thought, Toni probably took it to shave up. Toni is my barber, he trims and shaves the edges after I cut my hair, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he came over when I was out of town to borrow my razor and shaving cream. He’s welcome to it. Anyway, I encountered him in the park with a group of guys from town, and I said “Hey man, you steal my razor and shaving cream this weekend?” All the guys sort of laughed and he smiled and said “What are you talking about loco?” And that was it, I didn’t really think much of it. He obviously hadn’t taken it, so I just supposed somebody really stole it or maybe my landlord put it away somewhere. Later on that night when he visited he was acting extremely strange. My friend Erin was visiting me from the states and she could tell something was up as well. It’s hard to explain, but something wasn’t right with him. So a few days ago, I was like “Hey what the heck was up with you that night Erin was here?” “You were acting really strange.” He then told me that I really offended him when I asked him if he robbed me of my razor. He told me that to accuse someone of robbery was extremely offensive and that after I left the guys he was hanging out with were like “why’d he accuse you of stealing?” So, I apologized and told him that I’d never actually accuse him of actually robbing me. I told him that we were good friends and that he’s welcome to borrow my stuff and that in English sometimes we say “hey did you steal my cd last week from my car?” without actually meaning that you actually took the cd for good. It’s all good now, but I’m glad I got that out of him, because I could’ve easily made the mistake again. Ah, the lessons I learn here in Honduras.

BIG NEWS! I’m coming back to the states for a quick 11 day visit! June 28th – July 8th. My cousin Jamie is gettin’ hitched in Charlotte and I’ve got an itch to tear up the dance floor at the reception! My family likes to throw down at wedding receptions. An aspect of us Egetters/Montgomerys/Engles of which I am extremely proud. So I’ll be in Charlotte for that weekend and then back to HOTlanta for July 4th etc. I’m so looking forward to seeing you all! I miss everyone soooo very much.

Okay, enough from me for now. I’ll write again soon! Nos vemos y cuidenses.


P.S. Toni and I are pictured above. Thanks Erin! It was so very nice to show you my way of life here. I had a blast, I hope you don’t think I’m too pro-coorperate now! Explanation for all; when Erin was here we visited a mall in Tegus and ate breakfast at a McDonalds. I was embarased, but the truth is, I kind of miss those sort of conveniences. You want what you can’t have I suppose. I also confessed to her that I missed Taco Bell. She told me I shouldn’t repeat that to anyone.

12 April 2007

Lots to say! Semana Santa Adventures and Stories!

Howdy All!


Ouosh! Long time and no journal entry! My bad. Well, here we go…

With the beginning of Summer (yes, Summer, there’s little Spring here) means the dry season here in Honduras. So I’ve been helping the Junta de Agua. The Junta de Agua are the guys who maintain the pipes that deliver water to Santa Elena. Our water source is up in the protected area of Parque Nacional Cerro Azul Meambar, so I get to be a dutiful “Protected Areas Management” Peace Corps Volunteer and make sure that we take the water in an eco-friendly manner. But in all honesty, and listen up Peace Corps Volunteer wannabes, I hardly contribute a thing other than normal manual labor. Yeah, I’ve got a bachelors degree from a state university, but on the mountain here in Honduras it’s experience that matters, and my bachelors degree has the value of balogna. So I dig ditches, listen, and watch. That’s about it. So you can erase anything in your mind of the stereotypical Peace Corps Volunteer saving the world, because that just isn’t the reality. I’m learning. I’ll certainly take more from my community (in knowledge and experience) than I’ll actually contribute, for sure. Luckily I knew this much before I came to Honduras. I had a good mentor who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Samoa who was kind enough to tell it like it is. So thankfully I’m not in complete depression and shock. But I feel it’s my turn to pass on the knowledge, tell it like it is, and paint a more realistic portrait of what the Peace Corps is all about. And there are exceptions, sure, but don’t bank on it Volunteer wannabes!

Okay, I thought it would be a good idea to list a few habits I’ve picked up here in Honduras, before they become so much a part of me that I don’t even notice them. So when I return to the United States don’t be surprised if I…
- point at things with my lips.
- point at things with my lips while I’m talking (yes, seriously).
- pick my nose blatantly in public (although I did a little of this before I came to Honduras).
- cook with lots of oil.
- drink coffee no matter how late or hot it is outside.
- wonder where the tortillas are at the dinner table.
- scrunch my nose when I don’t understand what you’re saying.
- speak in Spanish.
- show up late.
- pull my shirt up over my belly to cool off.
- am very hospitable and offer you coffee and/or food upon your arrival in my house/apartment.
- walk at an absurdly slow pace.
- make a very loud noise to get your attention from a distance.
- neglect my silverware.
- spend way too much time talking about the weather.
- gossip.
- throw my used toilet paper in the waste basket rather than in the toilet bowl.
- always wear flip flops when laying around the house.
- drink lots of Coca-Cola.
- don’t shower for three or four days.

I’ve done way to good of a job of integrating I’m afraid.

What’s on the horizon? Well, I’ll be heading down to a town called “Sabanagrande” (Big sheet, in English) this week to give a training session to new Peace Corps Trainees on building wood burning stoves. Wood burning stoves that burn wood more efficiently than the traditional stoves used by Hondurans to cut back on firewood needed and thus deforestation. We make the stoves a little more efficient by adding ash and roof tiles (the ones you see on traditional hispanic homes and on Taco Bells) to the walls of the stove to increase insulation and thus more heat allocated to actually cooking. This is a very “Peace Corps” like project.

I’ll also be hanging out with friends for Semana Santa (Holy Week). Which in Honduras it is a week full of eating, visiting with family, and swimming/bathing in rivers/lakes/waterfalls. Elana, Dan, and a new non-Peace Corps friend of mine who’s volunteering with a church up in Puerto Cortes Adam have plans of celebrating Passover together. Elana and Dan will be sharing their Jewish traditions with us.

----------------------one week later---------------------

Training with the new group of Volunteers was a lot of fun. They were a good group. Lots of engineers and smarty pants. I also had a great homestay while I was there, awesome food. It was really nice to have someone cooking for me again. I think I might have taken that for granite a little during training. Rain and I showed the new trainees how to make stoves and how to get nice and filthy. Good time.

Passover was a really good time as well. Elana, Dan, Adam, Gringo and I all went out for an adventure on the mountain. We went into the park to find a hidden waterfall I had found a month earlier with the Junta de Agua (see one of the previous journal entries). We eventually found the waterfall after thoroughly getting every inch of our body completely filthy and wet from hiking through the thick rain forest. Gringo was a big wimp, he’s still much to small to tackle many of the rocks we were scaling, so we had to work hard to keep him along with us, carrying and passing him through difficult sections. He’ll definitely stay home for the next expedition.

After our adventure, once we got back and showered up, Elana made pollo sudado, “sweaty chicken,” which was absolutely delicious! With lots of veggies and she brought two boxes of traditional passover matzo bread which had been sent to her from the states. Dan made Adam and I wear hats and he pretended to be an old Jewish man who bossed us through all the passover traditions. I took advantage of the candle light atmosphere to deliver a little mini cello concert after our dinner, and Adam delivered a bit of his own art; poertry – fabulous might I add. It made for a lovely evening of sharing culture, creativity, and art.

I then spent the remainder of Semana Santa helping out Isaias with a youth camp he had planned out since November. I went along and took pictures and ran the projector and all things techinical. Oh, and I played a little cello. Definitely a foriegn object here in Honduras, the cello. I made lots of enemies with the teenagers there because I made slide shows each night from all the pictures we took and I had two of the teenage guys instructed to take pictures of embarrasing things. So every time someone fell asleep during a lecture or started to stuff their face with food there was someone taking a picture of it. Isaias and a few guys from the directiva would go through the photos each night and put in quote bubbles and it made for a hillarious slide show. I also gave my tribute to the King of Pop by putting the slide shows to Michael Jackson songs each night.

I’m now here in Santa Elena with not a whole lot to do. I have a long list of things I could do, but it’s tough to decide which one I want to start. I still need to go to the school and offer myself as a teacher for environmental education. I’d also like to talk to the coffee benificiary about a few things concerning eco-tourism, they’ve got great potential to make an extra buck here in Santa Elena.

In other news… I ran into my best friend Toni a few days ago. He was headed out of town with a batman backpack. “Where ya going?” I asked. He just made a thumb jesture as if to say “eh, just over there.” So I asked “Santa Cruz?” He gave me the thumb jesture again. “San Pedro?” Again the thumb jesture. “La Paz?” Thumb jesture. “Vas mojado?” (Which means “Are you going wet?” Which is a way of asking “Are you going to the States illegally.”) He smiled in a mischevious manner as if to say “I know you don’t like it, but yeah.” “Are you serious?” I asked, “You’ll die trying to get across loco.” I said. It was too late to persuade and he went ahead. He had already heard all my thoughts on going mojado before. I asked him if he had my number, and he pulled out a little slip of paper he had in his pocket which was obviously his contacts book, chalked full of names and phone numbers in tiny little print, and my name was in there. We’ll see what happens. I hope the best for him. His safety is what concerns me the most, I know a handful of guys around here who have permenant injuries that they incurred while trying to jump the border. It’s a really dangerous journey. Toni certainly has an adventure ahead of him.

Things coming up… I might be headed to Costa Rica with Adam. He’s got a contact down there who works on the beach, so if we hear back from the guy we’ll be spending a week down there helping out with their school there, and taking some beach time ofcourse. Then in mid-May, Erin is coming to visit me! My good friend from my Summer in Glacier National Park will be coming for 10 days to get to know Santa Elena and all the great hiking and adventuring around here. I’m pumped!

I’d like to throw out an apology to all those who I owe emails to and haven’t been emailing. I haven’t had a lot of time for internet cafes lately, and when I do finally make it around to getting to one it’s unplanned and I never have my thumbdrive on me. So bad luck and neglect has led to a big gap in communication with many of you, and for this I apologize.

Aight, until next time!

P.S. The pics are of 1) Me playing the cello at Isaias's Youth Retreat, and 2) Me, Adam, and Elana after our adventure in the rainforest. The picture doesn't do justice to how filthy we were.(And my expression; I'm not really mad, I just thought I'd do something other than the good ol' fashion smile.)