So ya, last Friday’s HIV/AIDS Training of Trainers (TOTs) went relatively well. All of the PCTs were split into groups of four to five people to deliver charlas to middle school classes of about twenty students. The morning’s presentation lasted about two and a half hours (and as a reminder was completely in Spanish) which is truly not enough time to 1) break the ice between the students and trainers, 2) build trust between the students and the trainers, 3) identify street words of the various body parts that are involved, 4) discuss myths and facts surrounding sexual relations and the transmission of HIV/AIDS, 5) explain the difference between HIV and AIDS, 6) have a merienda (we have been advised that this is a requirement of any charla as it tends to be the reason for most in attendance), and 7) (lucky number 7) teach each student how to put on a condom with the help of a plátano. (I definitely don’t remember learning this in sixth grade but do contest that this is essential for the youth of Honduras to learn as half – yes, half –of the population is under the age of 18.)
Three letters will help describe Saturday’s situation and sentiments: D-M-V. (I know we all just felt a chill run down our spines. My bad.) All of the PCTs from each of the three groups bussed it out to the Immigration Office in Teguc bright and early on Saturday morning to get our Honduran identification cards. Well, fijase que one of the two processing computers broke the day before so what was to last until about noon ended up lasting until 4pm. After waiting out the first three hours of processing, we had to call a lunch break. Lucky for us, we were in Teguc and had the opportunity to once again indulge in major grubbage…at Pizza Hut. (Who would have imagined the day when that would be a treat? I know all of the Friscans are shaking their heads in disdain. Sorry, Gaspares!) I actually was all over the salad bar and was stoked to fill my belly with the colors of the rainbow. (So yum.) After lunch we had the pleasure of learning about each aspirante’s life story for about another four hours before departure. (Patience really is a virtue.)
Sunday was an improvement (to say the least). My entire family went with their church to the beach and thus left the house to me. (Holy crap, it was awesome.) I busted out some hardcore Pilates in the room, blasted music while I took a shower, and watched CNN (in English yayer) as I ate breakfast and lunch. (Soooo nice.) The rest of the day was spent at the Internet getting ish done and at Richard’s relaxing. It was a good day.
I don’t have much to report on this week except for that we had our third and final technical interviews yesterday and today. Everyone’s seemed to go well and had a similar theme: verifying the information that we expressed in our questionnaires and describing three possible sites of placement. I am pretty much set to work in a Business Incubation program (Google it, kinda hard to explain) and have the potential to couple that with tourism, a marketing project for a NGO, and eco-tourism. I have no idea where any of these sites are located and thus am very much looking forward to Monday. We are all. It has been quite an emotionally charged past few weeks, and I think it has taken a lot out of us. Most of us have been getting sick with the cold or flu. (Great timing on the flu symptoms.)
On that note, I wanted to let you know that the PC is very aware of and taking necessary precautions to protect PCVs and staff against this new swine flu. From talking to my host sister this afternoon, I only know of one case reported in Honduras to date (although that number could be drastically different now). The PC recently released correspondence informing us that there have not been any reports of any PCVs affected. We are told that there is a plan of action in place if the situation escalates. I will keep you updated if anything changes, and please do the same for me as I don’t come by national news frequently. (The text message service works most of the time, so please let me know if there is something that I am majorly missing! Although, I did want to give a shot out to Manders as I didn’t get your text but did get your email. Miss you and love you! Also, holler to Fred as your text message was the first one that I received!! Hope that DT is still treating you well!)
I think I am out of updates so will instead leave you with some random thoughts (I miss Jack Handy):
It has been cooling down here and even raining on occasion. I woke up a couple nights ago to the rain beating on my tin roof, and it made me smile. This town doesn’t do so well in the rain, however, as there is a massive amount of dust on the roads which quickly turns into mud. There are plans to pave the roads, but they are a long way off. The rain is good for Teguc, however. Apparently there are a massive amount of locals getting seriously sick from the amount of pollution and contamination there. It is a very sad situation as many of the residents don’t have the financial ability to leave the city and are thus stuck in the smog.
Another cause of sickness and another needed change in this country
The mangos here are money and are pretty much the only other fruit besides plátanos that are consumed daily. They are not like the mangos in the states as they are smaller and much easier to consume by hand. (They are also insanely cheap as compared to the states.) The mangos in Ojojona come from all around the area although the best are rumored to be from Perspire. I have tried a slice of a huge mango from Comayagua (c/o my rad neighbor and DC roommate) and thus beg to differ. (Insert Homer drooling here.) The mangos from Perspire, however, are delicious and do make the skin worth eating. The skins of the other mangos, mostly the rosados, are bitter and sometimes not worth eating as they tend to make the trips the toilet a little more frequent. (‘Tis the life of a PCV.)
I have never eaten so many baked goods than I have during my time in Honduras. Coffee is a necessity here and is normally accompanied by a sweet bread or cookie that really isn’t worth eating (/has no taste) without the coffee. Thus, each of my breakfasts and most of our breaks are accompanied by a different shape and the same taste of flour. (I now want to thank my parents for sending me a box filled with all types of candy and snacks from the states as they bring variation to my life and my digestion system. THANK YOU.)
Also, I have never had so many mosquito bites than I have on me now. When I first came to Ojojona I was seriously petrified of the large amount of bugs flying and crawling around my room as well as in the outside shower and bathroom. After these past seven weeks, however, I have become accustomed to scars on my legs, cockroaches in my walls, and fruit flies on my mangos. (I am finally a Honduran. I have my ID card to prove it.)