Four Months in one Blog Entry, Que Barbaridad!
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!