The Dreaming Continues

It is amazing to me what you can learn about yourself
When you open up to the turmoil inside your head,
When you realize that you really live but only once,
And own up to the realities that many let go unsaid.

You learn that your dreams are to be chased to extremes
For fear of your life coming to an end potentially unsatisfied.
Conversely you learn that life is filled with unexpected results
And that fulfillment may only come from those dreams being tried.

What is a dream then if not completely realized as imagined
And so seriously prepared and considerably sacrificed for?
Is it awareness, understanding, disappointment, acceptance,
Or simply the closing of one and opening of another door?

My experience has taught me that pursuing your dreams –
Regardless of the outcome, the impact, or the change made –
Is an act worthwhile, though probably difficult and frightening at first,
Whose lessons and understandings should never be allowed to fade.

Life is short. It is true and something that you already knew,
But have you ever drastically changed your situation
To leave behind what you find comfortable and real
To risk gaining a broader and more defined realization?

I have.

I realize that fulfillment comes in forms that may be unrecognizable
And in ways that both distress and pacify the head and heart.
It is how we value such fulfillment and its impact on our being
That allow us to adequately determine a future start.

I have risked my life, in various aspects of the term, in 2009
To become a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras.
I now realize and appreciate that it is my time to move on,
Finally admitting to myself that I have reached allí, no más.

My departing wish is that all will hear my plea sounding until I die:
Be true to yourself, and follow your heart wherever your dreams may lie.
You may say that it is “easier said than done” and be scared to try,
But there is no need to be afraid to fall when you have so much hope to fly.


November 19, 2009

As you can imagine, my emotions have been running amuck (Honestly is that really a word?…I guess it must be…I see no squiggly red line underneath it screaming at me to change it…Who decided those letters make sense together? Who is this Webster guy? Must have been Britannica…with a name like that… haha, just kidding, B-man…) since my grandfather passed, since I saw my parents after eight months of being separated, and since I returned to Gracias with luckily only one of my buses breaking down on the trip back...at dusk. (Those of you that saw my COWPRINT luggage before I left can imagine the pain in my chest as I stood next to the highway calling every PCV and Honduran I know in the West for a ride before it got dark.) Hello, Honduras…

The trip home to the states was (*thankfully*) uneventful from the bus ride out to San Pedro to the flight transfer in Miami. The culture shock hit me when I got into the airport in Miami. All signs and announcements turned into English, I could (successfully) flush my toilet paper down the toilet…and I spotted a sign for a Sam Adams brewery seconds after debarking from the plane. Now I know that may seem cheap to some, but it brought a huge smile to my face! Although I never actually found the brewery (trust me…I looked), my smile continued through the immigration line as the immigration officer flirted with me and I wasn’t offended, as I ran into countless Starbuck stands not minding the overabundance of coffee options, and as I sat and watched an American baseball game while consuming a grilled shrimp, mixed leaf, balsamic vinaigrette salad. (The PCVs get me on this.)

My time in LA was absolutely precious as I was able to be with immediate and extended family for my grandfather’s services as well as spend time at my grandparents’ house, visit several friends from college and from the city I adore, and spend quality time with the Broham frequenting the old spots together. The drive back and time in Roseville were also fabulous. I got to run some *very* looked forward to errands and spend quality time with the mom, hang out with the crew at one of my fav restaurant (BJ’s) and cause some old-school (no one got hurt) ruckus, and sleep in my tiny, twin bed that I have missed since the day I left it (with my blanky…not ashamed to admit it). After the home time came the soul time: a trip to Sea Ranch. Although short, the trip allowed me to visit my heaven/haven in 2009, spend quality time with the dad, run without ruthless shouts or dogs attacking me, and consume as much food and beverage that I possibly could in three days before heading back to Honduras. The trip, though less than two weeks, really brought to light some strong realizations and a big question that I don’t think that I have properly addressed yet. (This is about to get real.)

The first realization that I had while I was at home was how poorly I was unable to answer the question of “What are you doing in Honduras?” or “Do you like it?” Although better answers came with time, most of my responses seemed to always come to the conclusion that “I am trying” but don’t seem to be achieving my desired results in the midst of my struggle. I never had a “yes” or “no” answer to if I actually liked where I was at as a PCV but mostly responded with “It’s a lot harder than I thought/than it needs to be.”

I went into the Peace Corps, like most volunteers, assuming that the next two years of my life would be dedicated to living the daily life, adapting to the culture, and appreciating the value system of a country in need of the transfer of my intellectual capacities and professional skills. After three months of training, living with three Honduran host families, experiencing a 7.+ earthquake, and most notably living through a coup, I made the decision that I am here doing what I came here to do – engaging in sustainable development projects and participating in cross-cultural exchanges – to the best of my abilities for as long as warranted, two years or not. I have encountered many volunteers that want to “stick it out” (complete two full years of service) for fear of returning to a weakened U.S. economy without job opportunities or health insurance, of facing the potential disapproving or disappointed commentaries from family and friends, and/or of not knowing what their next career move would be if they left the PC. Others continue in their service because they enjoy the free time, the travel opportunities, and/or the friendships that they are developing with other volunteers. There are also others that are accomplishing both PC and personal goals by creating sustainable opportunities for their communities, making local and life-long friendships, and/or truly flourishing as an individual in a foreign land. I think I can fit into each one of those categories in some respect, thus exposing the reason for my discontentment.

In the first category, I exemplify she who has no idea what her next career move would be upon departure from Honduras and return to the states. I had hoped that my volunteer experience and cultural insights here would open my mind and heart to where my future is leading me. Well, I can’t honestly say that it has, but I can assuredly, without a doubt, say that my professional and personal goals continue to be service focused and volunteer driven. (I have always had the dream of working half the week in a “normal” job earning money to give my future children all the opportunities that my parents afforded me and volunteering the other half of the week for services ranging from environmental management to nutrition education to suicide prevention to tutoring. Anyone have any ideas how to combine all those?) In the second category, I am so very thankful for the friendships that I am continuing to develop with other volunteers both inside and outside of my training group. I have met individuals that possess the courage to live outside their national and personal borders with the dedication to improve the overall health of humanity. That may sound a bit extreme and/or far-fetched and probably does not apply to all volunteers, but it does to some. In the third category, I (again) would have to choose the last factor: I am doing my best to improve my personhood (with reading everything that I can get my hands on, practicing yoga regularly, and praying on the daily), my understanding and appreciation of diversity (by engaging in discussion with Honduran friends, coworkers, and strangers), and my clarity on where and in what capacity my skills would be best utilized (Honduras, PC, USA, NFP, etc.).

The second realization that I had came from an inquiry to my mother. (Like I said, this is the real deal.) I asked her if I had changed in some way since she last saw me. She hesitated before replying honestly (and I thank her for being honest) that I had become more cynical since the last time I saw her. (WHAT!? ¿¡CÓMO¡?) Ok, wait a tick. Last time I checked, I left the states the jolliest little lady from the Ville trying to bring a smile to any and all in my path with the intention to continue doing so in Honduras. (I did have a non-fan of my positive disposition and really tried to convert him…until I realized that you can’t mate a pessimist with an optimist. You only create indifference.) I don’t know what has caused my attitude to take a nose dive since I left. I mean, I have been through some trials and tribulations, but none that have left me grief stricken. (I scratched most of my skin off so the scabies would have no place to live. I fully enjoyed the earthquake dreaming that my bed was a boogie board riding the ocean waves. I could do no more than laugh as I received my five shots in the rear to completely shut down my E.Coli. I even thought for a moment that Honduras was so cool that it had to have two presidents instead of one!) Maybe it was caused by internal factors: my digestion isn’t always the best and my faith has been tested more than once. Maybe it was caused by external factors: there continues to be a lack of interest as focus here continues on survival and a return to normalcy can seem to only come, in my mind, from internal reform.

My third, final, and most important realization is probably something that I could have figured out before setting out on this journey, without the passing of Pops, and without a friend reminding me how short life really is: I am only at my best when I am surrounded in the company of my heroes. It’s true (and in no way corny). I feel that I am truly at my highest spirits, with a sharp wit and hungry mind, and striving to be the best daughter, sister, friend, and stranger when near those that I love. Maybe it’s my time away that is pulling me back home…Maybe it’s the recent passing and reality check on life’s certainty…Maybe it’s the simplest thing I never had to figure out: Home is where the heart is.

So these realizations beg the obvious question…I’m sure you have figured it out by now. I just don’t want to feel like I am a wasted resource here, not being taken advantage of to the fullest. I believe I have so much to give...I know the PC experience is generally comprised of a series of small project (or non-project) successes and unforgettable personal relationships…but I don’t know that I am realizing my full potential in either of those areas in Honduras. I don’t have an answer to the question of when I will be coming home, but it’s something that’s weighing on my mind a little more heavily than before, and I thought it was time to be honest about it.


October 27, 2009

Oh what a night! (Oh man, how I miss those Jersey Boys performances in the city with Pa…) Well, not a night exactly, but instead a series of weeks (three to be exact) since we have last “touched base” (Where did that phrase actually come from? Do you think it has something to do with the guy who stands at third base? I miss baseball games. Go A’s!) that has continued to test my resilience as a PCV in Honduras.

The first week was much like the many leading up to my vacation to Utila: uneventful at work, busy at home, and with little time spent out in the community out of a sheer lack of desire. (I am still frustrated to this day at how ambiguous my feelings are about my town. Sometimes I feel so happy to be here in a safe, relatively intimate community where I can run into someone I know and encounter what I need with ease. Sometimes I feel so sad to be here, in an unstable political environment that divides my city where I run into countless strangers, adults and children, who give me unwanted attention and where I can find no escape but in my own apartment. Maybe this is every PC’s trial. Maybe it’s just mine.) I did a lot of reading, fixing up my computer (oh ya, it’s on its seventh life or something…), practicing yoga, jumping rope, watching movies, and cooking. I was also very stressed out not being at home with my family while my grandfather’s health rapidly deteriorated and while the country proved yet again that there is no end in sight for the current political crisis. (10-day ultimatum? Not so much.)

Proud of my vegetable samosas, Italian green beans, and pickled beets…Top Chef, pick me!

The second week and third weeks contained more volunteer activities but unfortunately much disappointment. Two different women from previous visit from the coffee group came to the city seeking my assistance in selling their products, 50 bags of café puro, but without any of the client information that had been gathered with the previous group: contact information, quantity purchased, preferred flavor, etc. This experience was QUITE frustrating as we found ourselves returning to current clients who were already overstocked with bags of puro, returning to potential clients that had previously requested bags con pimiento, and finally forced with leaving all remaining product on consignment so that the women wouldn’t have to carry the bags back to their community. I know that the learning curve is different here, but it would help me, as a volunteer, to at least see some effort made at updating knowledge and skills when I continue to devote my time and efforts to this group for that purpose. Continuing with news on the PRAF groups, I recently accompanied the women who will be making cleaning products on a marketing survey. I brought small candies for them to hand out to those that participated and which they, once given, quickly shared among themselves for personal consumption. (You can imagine my face right now.) Upon recently analyzing the results of the survey, most of the recorded responses were incomplete, did not answer the question asked, or nonexistent. It appeared (and I saw it myself as I accompanied one of the groups on the survey) that the study was done in a slap shod manner with little interest and intent on caring about the results. Needless to say, this experience was also QUITE frustrating. In addition, the ETC trainings on business administration FINALLY (yes, finally…they were supposed to start when I arrived in May) began with a programmed schedule of Tuesday and Thursday night trainings. The turnout needs no explanation: 5 on Day 1 (introduction to the schedule), 3 on Day 2, 3 on Day 3, 1 on Day 4…The trainings will not begin again until mid-November, so we will have to wait and see what happens there.

The hardest part of this month (and definitely one of the hardest times here) occurred when I received news of my grandfather’s passing. I know he was “getting old” and it could have been “his time,” but that doesn’t make it any easier. It sucked to be here throughout the whole experience: not being able to visit him before, not being with my family when it happened, and being completely swallowed by the circular stress of being away from one another since. Pops was a dedicated soldier, brilliant accountant, adoring husband, loving father, and admirable grandfather, and I will miss him dearly.

On a better note (and I’m sorry my notes have been pretty melancholy until now…such is life), in the in between time these past couple weeks I assisted Jen (the girl I used to do yoga with) with a project that Plan Honduras is currently undertaking. I helped to evaluate potential surveyors that will be conducting a study of living standards of about 75 communities around the department of Lempira in the upcoming months. I also translated the survey from Spanish to English. I don’t know if I would say that type of work is appealing, but it was nice to practice. Tomorrow I have a day-long meeting with the leaders of CONEANFO (the organization that took over direction of ETC) to hopefully set up a training schedule for some microenterprises around the area. Thursday I have a workshop with Unidad Técnica to work on local economic development for the Mancomunidad. Then Friday through Sunday I will be traveling to Copan to celebrate Halloween with fellow Hondu PCVs. (I guarantee the number one costume worldwide this year will be Michael Jackson. I learned of his death from Hondurans MOMENTS after it happened! I have not gone a week since without hearing one of his songs.)

The following week will bring me back to where my heart remains: home. I will be traveling to Los Angeles to attend my grandfather’s services and then back home to Northern California to spend some time with the fam. When I first came to Honduras, I had no plans of coming home because I thought such a trip would be harder on my emotions than not. I basically thought it would ruin me rather than rejuvenate me. I stressed out a lot last week with this same thought when deciding to come home…I think I finally realized that it was time to come home when my mother told me so. I think she’s right...I miss home, and I need to be there. As such, this is my sign-off until my return to Hondu. Hopefully it can withstand until my return, and I think it will. (Elections aren’t until the end of November. No doubt something’s gonna happen.) Until then, be good to yourselves and each other (Jerry Springer...gotta love him.)


October 7, 2009

YAY for the 10-day ultimatum starting and ending when I left for and returned from vacation! What is that you may ask? Oh, just a little threat that the new president (Micheletti) gave the Brazilian Embassy when the old president (Zelaya) secretly returned to Hondu and set up shop there. The current government is demanding that the Brazilian Embassy “hand over” Zelaya to the authorities, but the Brazilian Embassy is contesting that he cannot be harmed as he is on diplomatic ground, a “safe haven” cannot be breached. The 10-day ultimatum was issued two Sundays ago, the day that I left for Utila, and ends…well…TODAY (if I counted right). That’s some irony for you. (All of the above information is based on local and international news articles.)

Before I go on with all the political b…happenings…I want to let you in on one of the BEST vacation spots that I have been yet: Utila, Bay Islands. What a little spot! (And I say that because it really is a little island, about eight or so miles long with about six thousand or so inhabitants.) We arrived on a Sunday to get settled and oriented, spent the following Monday through Wednesday attending classes and being tested on scuba diving knowledge and safety as well as underwater and surface skills tests, and finished out the week on Thursday and Friday diving around the island checking out the many fish, eels, rays, lobsters, turtles (although I personally didn’t get to see one, I still have my memories from Hawaii) and coral. The visibility was average because it was the end of the dive season but the experience was top notch. I am now a certified open water diver who fully plans on taking advantage of that fact in future vacation spots. (Roatan maybe, Dad?) Between all these scuba related activities, there was some definite fun had with the other twelve volunteers that accompanied me to the island. We feasted on amazing seafood (barracuda, king fish, amber jack, snapper, and tuna), hit the local night spots to dance on the docks and under the stars, and took walks and runs next to the gorgeous white sand beaches and light blue ocean water. The people on the island amplified the experience. Most are travelers (mostly divers coming through for months to a year at a time) from England, Australia, and the states. The rest are locals with a rich island accent (not Spanish) who have never been to the mainland and with a pleasant contentment with life. Utila, to me and many of the other volunteers, was not comparable to Honduras in the slightest. For example, I had no pena walking around the island in my bathing suit, and I actually got another favorite nickname from it: Roxy. (It has the brand name on the back of my suit.) The only downside about being on the island was the plague of sand flies that roam the beaches by day and the mosquitoes that roam the land by night. They were VICIOUS, and I am in no way exaggerating! I mean, they were incomparable to anywhere else I have ever been in the world.

I and Bry

The U-T Crew

Me and Kat P

Make sense?

Flyin on the ferry

Utila at day

Our dive instructor: Niv

Troublemakers: Hillary and Me

Cali lovers: Liz and Me

Utila at dusk

Since I have been back to Gracias, I have been welcomed by the ever annoying piropos, further postponements of meetings and/or trainings, and never ending discussion about the political crisis of the country. Needless to say, I miss Utila already.

On a better note, I went back out to Santa Rosa this past Monday to catch the Monday Night Football game on ESPN. (How friggin RAD that they play the game at Zots!!) VIKINGS WON AGAINST THE PACKERS! How ironic that Favre stepped all over the green while reppin the purple?

As I mentioned previously, the 10-day ultimatum ends today. Micheletti attempted to ban constitutional rights last week and was quickly overruled by Congress. The states continue to call for the reinstatement of Zelaya before the November elections. Micheletti refuses to accept the San Jose Accord...(again, all based on news articles)...I wonder what this month is gonna be like…


September 24, 2009

What is the greatest lesson that I have learned to date? Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Hope…well…I have a lot of it. (I think it’s probably an intrinsic character trait of any PCV.) On a volunteer level, I hope that the ETC kids will be willing and able to participate in some basic business administration training as their program will terminate in December. For that reason, I spent several weeks at the beginning of the month preparing a lesson plan, charla papers (basically a flip chart), and activities
covering various requested topics as well as meeting with those in the Vivero to solicit their participation. I hope that the PRAF women’s groups will be successful in their microenterprises as funding for their program is currently frozen and may be cut indefinitely with a new government. For that reason, I walked two groups—organic paper and coffee—around Gracias and introduced them to business owners I know as well as prepared a marketing survey with the PRAF promoter for a group of women that are going to start to make cleaning products. I hope that the support group for those individuals living with HIV/AIDS will follow up on the business plan that they started to create at the workshop in Santa Rosa as this group is one in most need for income generation. For that reason, I sent several emails/text messages/calls and am prepared to continue to push for a meeting with the individuals that attended the workshop to ensure that the progress on the plan continues.

On a personal level, I hope that my computer will continue to survive and thrive as it encountered MASSIVE issues the past several weeks which required it be to returned to factory settings (thus losing all programs and updates) four times…that’s right. (It is amazing how dependent I am on this little guy. It’s an Acer, by the by, in case I forgot to mention it. I never knew a machine could control my emotions so much…and then I realized how dependent I really am on it for preparing lesson plans, writing blogs, saving pictures, playing music, doing podcast exercises, looking up recipes, watching movies, saving contact information, etc.) For that reason, I spent (and this is a fair guess) about fifty hours más o menos constantly adding and updating, adding and updating, adding and updating files and programs while all the while trying to combat the evil viruses that roam the networks in Gracias. I don’t know if I will ever win that battle and/or be fully protected, but I am sure going to try. (My dad is sending me a computer protection package. Cross your fingers! In the meantime, I am just going to cafes with a thumb drive.) I hope that I am able to go on my scuba diving certification trip that has been planned for months with about fifteen other PCVs as Zelaya returned to Hondu this week thereby inciting demonstrations, causing the closure of all international airports, and prompting day and night curfews in the entire country. For that reason, I…sigh…just pray.
So, as I said, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Be realistic but never afraid to dream. (A butterfly just flew up to my window. That’s pretty neat.)

Random thoughts: My butt hurts from sitting on it so much from trying to revive my computer and watching movies while being restricted to my house during curfew. I will never be able to get rid of the ants in my apartment nor the scabies in my bed and so we thus live in harmony together. How does it make any sense that my apartment floods when it’s ON THE SECOND FLOOR?! (Someone had too much guaro.) I’m so happy to have a futon where I can sit to read or offer as a bed to visitors. Whoever informed me about the temperature in Gracias lied: it is always hot and sticky a.k.a. I never go a day without profusely sweating. The women in the coffee group gave me the best nickname I have ever heard: Shanito. Write that down. It’s money.

I hope that my sitemates liked my Gazpacho and peanut sauce...

…in the event they didn’t, I prepared piña coladas…


September 2, 2009


Roses for the place I miss the most…Roseville

SO MUCH happened this past month that has left me with radtastic PCV memories (/incriminating photos), a dent in the PCV account (/personal checking account), and the panza of a Honduran man (/nalgas of a Honduran woman).

Strawberries, fudge, cab sav…fancy

Gouda cheese, Ritz crackers, sav blanc…shmancy!

Homemade appetizer of marinated cucumbers and tomatoes with ricotta cheese, homemade dinner of French onion soup, and homemade dessert of caramel brownies…all for my loved sitemates!

To start off strong on the first weekend in August, I wanted ya’ll to know that, yes, I successfully baked my Nana’s famous caramel brownies (they should be illegal they’re so good) and that they were much enjoyed by host family, Hondu friends, and PCV homies per the comments that I received. (I would also like to note that no one suffered from E. Coli after their brownie experience.)

The first week of August days were spent in Santa Rosa attending an income generation workshop for persons living with HIV/AIDS with other PCVs, patients, and leaders from organizations that support such individuals. The taller went very well and covered the basic business concepts that we, as PCVs, learned in PST. At the end of the workshop, each PCV worked with his or her respective attendees to formulate a business plan for a microenterprise to hopefully launch once back in site. (Unfortunately, I have not been able to work with my group since the workshop but hope to meet with them next week to re-motivate the participants and develop their business plan further.) The first week of August nights were spent playing (or rather dominating) ping pong games on the roof of the hotel (holler to Walton Way tournaments!), sipping on Hoegaarden and Stella (Broham and Biggy would be so proud!), and rocking the mic at karaoke at a local Mexican restaurant/bar. (A fellow BZ PCV beat a Honduran in the final round! That’s right…we were all business that night.)

Stunning Santa Rosa sunset, take 1

Liz and I trying to capture air on our volleyball approaches

Some H14ers rockin it rooftop: Erika, Liz, Me, Fortunato, José, and Jen

Made sure to get my diploma

Being as silly as we should be: Hannah, Kathryn, and Me

Stunning Santa Rosa sunset, take 2

The weekend after the workshop (second weekend) I was finally able to move into my new apartment, and I could not be happier with it. It has green walls (instead of pink), a classier ceramic floor and bathroom décor (sometimes I am shocked at how American it seems…and then the water or electricity goes out and I remember where I am), WAY more sunlight (Sunshine Shannon! I doubt anyone reading knows this reference…Mom?), and a lack of my favorite neighbors (riiiiight). It’s hotter than heck most of the time up here, but I am so willing to pay the price!

Living room #2, camera 1

Living room #2, camera 2

Living room #2, camera 3

Kitchen #2, camera 1

Kitchen #2, camera 2

Bedroom #5, camera 1

Bedroom #5, camera 2

Bedroom #5, camera 3

Bathroom #3, camera 1

Bathroom #3, camera 2

The first half of the second week of August I traveled to a conference center on the border of La Tigra National Park (so beautiful) to get trained as a VOS member. The training went well and taught the same listening skills that I had learned from my training on the hotline in SF. It was relaxing to meet other PCVs with similar personalities and to spend some time in a gorgeous location.

The second half of the second week of August and third weekend (confused yet?) I traveled by bus from Santa Rosa to San Salvador to meet up with my brother and his girlfriend, Carrie. The reunion was AWESOME (minus the stress of being out of contact during the trip and an hour late arriving to the bus station)! After hugging it out for days (six months, dude!), we were taken by our driver (Right! When they arrived at the San Salvador airport the night before, Chris and Carrie met a personal driver that worked for the Marriott that offered to assist them throughout their time in El Salvador. This guy was the ish of a driver: he waited with them for an hour at the bus terminal, picked us up from the coast to drive to the capital on his day off, and picked them up from the hotel to take them to the airport at 4:45am!), to the chilliest little hotel in El Tunco complete with bamboo showers, infinity and waterfall pools, beachside hammocks, and one of the most impressive restaurants that I have ever been to both in quantity and in quality (complete with quail, rabbit, and iguana). That first day we enjoyed a fabulous lunner (Well, alright. I tried the iguana, and it sucked because it was overcooked, but Chris’ snapper stuffed with shrimp in a rich cream sauce was just absurdly fabulous.), a delightful dessert (crepes with Nutella, the richest chocolate ice cream I have ever tried, and a Mayan cocoa drink…not all mine, gez!), and good times playing cards in the room while the ocean roared and sky sparked during some redonk hurricane weather. The second day we rolled down the black sand beach to pick up some surf lessons (I stood up three times, YAYER!), delighted (I don’t know if Chris agrees with me here) in an indigenous sweat hut experience at the hotel, and hung out at the local cave bar (Trip, this reminded me of you!!). The third day we made our way back to the capital to stay in the Marriott (holy crap, this was the best culture shock I have had yet), feast on Benihana surf & turf (soooo yummmmy), and see a movie in a movie theater (it’s a big deal to me alright). We hit the local pub after (how sad that they were out of Guinness because it apparently unheard of in Hondu per our PST) and tried to stay up all night chatting over Spanish tele and local brews in the hotel. Chris and Carrie left before the sun came up the following morning while I snoozed all over (you heard me) my queen-size bed, hit the nearby malls to buy some cheap clothes (cheaper than Ross!? ¡Que barbaridad!), and fully took advantage of the free internet at the Marriott. All in all, the trip was so friggin fun and bien memorable but completely surreal. (I have yet to see the pictures, Carrie!) I never would have imagined that my brother and me would vacation to Central America together and then not return home to the same country…que raro.

My temporary site

Crash landing site

Cave bar site (just like in Spain!)

Extensive eats site

Sweat hut site

Free at last!

Split decision?

I-guana order something else

El Tunco surf spot

Nothing like lazy dazin on a hammock

After returning from San Salvador (we are now in the third week in August), I spent the night in Santa Rosa, made my way back to Gracias the following day, and then spent the rest of the week visiting five different PRAF microenterprises: condimentos (seasonings), asistines (disinfectants), café (coffee), encurtidos (pickled foods), and ropa interior (undergarments). There is an organization called PILARH in Santa Rosa that has partnered with PRAF to assist the coffee group. The women seem to be very motivated and understanding of what it takes to run a business. The two organizations and I are going to work together to reinforce the areas of production and commercialization to hopefully develop a profitable and sustainable business with the women. (The group gifted me a packet of coffee which I will taste in the very near future to see how/if we are rocking it.)

The Café Crew makin coffee…

The fourth weekend (don’t judge the accountant who counts) was spent in Gracias attending a PCV REF (Religious Equality Forum) meeting with about 17 other people. This group is unique in that it is the only of its kind in the PCV community worldwide (from what I was told). The meeting is to serve as a round-table where PCVs can comfortably disclose their religious/spiritual beliefs and experiences or lack thereof with other volunteers while avoiding proselytizing. (The point is basically to create a safe place to share.) The first half of the event was spent sharing upbringings and family belief systems while the second half was spent in smaller groups with similar belief systems discussing similarities and differences. The event closed with a group discussion and Q&A session. I must say that I was very surprised at the diversity of belief systems represented – including Atheist, Buddhist, Catholic, Congregational, Jew, Mennonite, Quaker, and more – and at the high level of respect that was maintained throughout the event. (I would expect nothing less on that second point but had heard that the past event was lacking a bit in that area.)

PCV Hondu REF 2009

Holdin it down as hosts to the event: Anna and Me

Rollin with Reb always

The morning after the meeting ended and for a third of the fourth week, I traveled with a friend, Rebecca, to the town of Copan. (Holy shnikees, it was so adorable!!) We hit the town hard buying some of the cutest souvenirs I have ever seen in Hondu and thus spent more than our share of our monthly living allowance on presents for family and friends. We delighted our hunger on bagels, pita sandwiches, and filet mignon (which cost about $8 and was better than most that I have tried in the states) and disappointed our thirst on a sour mojito and half orange juice tainted sangria (both worse than anything I have ever tried in the states). We wrapped our quick trip with a stop at the Mayan Ruins (so dope and crazy to think how old they are) and then made our way to Santa Rosa to park for the night before Reconnect.

Wishin we could rock this site: Rebecca and Me

Seriously!? A restaurant called “We will see…?” Who does that?

We can rock the shades, though: Rebecca and Me

A sangria gone wrong

Starteth the Ruins

Endeth the Ruins

Now cometh the two thirdths of the fourth week (I am just humoring myself now. I’m sorry I’m being annoying). All of the BZ PCVs from H12 and H14 went to Siguatepeque for most of the week to share site experiences (Our group, namely my training group consisting of three projects, is called H14. Three projects form a training group that comes to Honduras every six months. Business, Health, and Water and Sanitation come at the same time and represent the even H numbers while Municipal Development, Youth Development, and Protected Areas Management come at the same time and thus represent the odd H numbers. The groups used to be labeled like randomly generated passwords are – 8675309KWOW – but then someone decided to KISS – keep it simple, silly – and change it to H whatever. Clever.), participated in some random training sessions, and played some stellar volleyball and ping pong matches. I ran in the mornings and kicked it with the homies in the nights thus closing out my week without much sleep. (Mi modo…just like the good ol’ days in SF.)

The biz kids makin some jalapeño encurtido (gotta wear protection because it stings the nostrils)

Numbers men: Kyle and José

Very cute: Rebecca and Erika

The lumberjack and the sage: Harrison and Reggie

My first friend in PCV before I even left Cali: Erika and Me

The last weekend and probably most overdone weekend in August was the last…the fifth (…like the element). On Friday night, about 70 (ya, that many) went to Santa Rosa to celebrate La Noche de los Fumadores. (There is a cigar factory in Santa Rosa that hosts this classy event every year during the city’s fería.) The night included music and dancing, appetizers and cheeses, wine and rum tasting, and cigar rolling demonstrations. The event didn’t meet my expectations with such a rad description, but I cannot say that I was disappointed hanging out with so many volunteers sippin on wine and smokin cigars. The celebration did not end at Noche but instead moved to the club that I mentioned in a past blog, Flamingo, where a massive amount of dancing was had with massive men. (You heard me right.) For some reason the Honduras national basketball team was at Flamingo that night and was all about shaking it. I even had some seven foot plus dude lift me off the ground with my arms over my head! (Random but notable: these gents were the most respectable Honduran men that I have yet encountered in Hondu. It was very refreshing to hang with them.) The next day brought laziness before continued movement. During the day we hit Zots for brunch, rolled to the central park for some coffee tasting, and then went back to the hotel to nap before round two. We hit Cuates for a despedida (goodbye party) for some departing PCVs and then made yet another appearance at Flamingo to shake our groove thang. (Oh no, the month isn’t over yet.) To close “Awesome August” out right, a huge group of PCVs came back to Gracias to enjoy the hot springs and bonfire sessions that are so commonly had in my site. We made s’mores and hot dogs as well as made sure to stay up until the sun came up (for the third night in a row!) enjoying Mountain Dews (I should have had licorice in hand, too), garlic popcorn (you should really try it), and watching The Best of Will Ferrell (More cowbell!).

Night to be smokin...hot

(Catching my breath...)

So now here we are in September, and I think I have a whole new round of ish to work on that will be unrelated to PCV activities. Don’t get me wrong, I had a whole ton of fun this month with volunteers but really did miss my site and trying to develop activities in which I could support. Lucky for me, I came back to requests from five different sources (including the Escuela) asking that I assist in some regard. I am stoked to get these inquiries but a little nervous and stressed because each project is asking that the activities be wrapped by the end of this year. I am happy to help but a little worried that I am going to spread myself thin trying to help out everyone. I don’t want to say no to one and give all to another as I really am uncertain as to which, if any, will be available for my participation next year. On the other hand, I don’t want to get involved in so many projects that I can only give what a half-asser would.

I would like to end the blog by saying this: I’m tired but content, excited but nervous, and born a blonde but now a redhead. Funny what drinking the water here will do to you…