Mango face = Happy face
As you already knew, we made it back safely to Zarabanda Saturday afternoon. (Minus the frustration of having to once again repack my life, I was very happy to move out of my house in Ojojona. I have tried not to express ill sentiments about my experience in past writings, but to tell you the truth, the last few weeks have not been the most enjoyable at home. I felt like my host mother was just plain over me. Now, I understand that she was probably preoccupied with her pregnancy and tending to the rest of the family, but unfortunately I did not have the option to leave. Additionally, since the beginning of FBT, my father has continued to mock my speech and ask me about money, specifically about how much PC is giving me and if I receive money from my father on a regular basis. As you can imagine, as FBT came to a close, I was ready to get out of dodge.) After unpacking as little as possible, I went on a walk with the old PCT neighbors, and chatted it up with the old fam until night fell and I crashed hard. Sunday I hit up Valle with the majority of the PCTs to Skype it up, grub on some pupusas, and revel in the completion of 10 weeks of training. That night, I received my first haircut from a mother of a neighboring PCT. Although her combination of more than fifteen years of experience and less than ten minutes of haircutting didn’t seem to add up to me, I came out of it with a smile and a style. Classy.
A solid simulation partner: Rebecca and Me
The majority of the week in Zarabanda went by extremely (and somewhat painfully) slow with bastante administrative sessions, Spanish projects, and final language interviews. Some good times were had in the in between time (and helped such pain subside) such as running in the campo with the ladies, reuniting after class to enjoy my host mother’s paletas (which I never knew that she made on the daily until last week!), and feasting on anafres (which I equate to Honduran fondue: fried tortillas accompanied by a steaming bowl of beans, cheese, and/or meat) at a nearby restaurant. Overall, Friday’s activities took the cake for the week. We met our counterparts for the first time in the morning at the PC office, swore-in mid-day at the Embassy (Did I forget to mention that? I AM OFFICIALLY A PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER! HOLLER H14.), and spent the rest of the afternoon in Zarabanda with our counterparts sharing expectations, developing responsibilities, and creating a work plan for the upcoming month. The evening was spent saying goodbye to friends, host families, and to any fears that remained about living life as a PCV.
Thank you, families!
My host mother and sister: Marina and Gabriela
At it once again: Rebecca and Me
The happy couple: Moses and Rachel
A rad volunteer visit roommate: Me and Reggie
The illest: Iljeen
Good guys and other cribbage fanatics: JP and Harrison
Some Zara ladies relaxin: Rachel, Katherine, Reggie
First homie I encountered in DC: Me and Annie
Honduran fondue ~ Anafre
Bring on the words of wisdom
Over 40 years working for sustainable development
BZ PCTs turned BZ PCVs YAYER!
I had my cake (and ate it, too!)
Saturday marked the first day of the rest of my life. (That may come off as a lame statement, but it probably holds more truth than lie.) Fortunately, my counterpart brought a truck out to Zarabanda, so I was able to take advantage of safely transporting my belongings, shortening my travel time, and avoiding paying hefty bus fares. Unfortunately, that meant leaving at 4AM to travel in a packed truck for six hours on mostly unpaved roads. Upon arrival into Gracias, I met my mom (who seems super nice), entered one of the nicest houses that I have ever encountered in Honduras (rivaling some in the states), and went straight for the outdoor hammock (ahhhh-mazing). After a quick power nap, I met the rest of and lunched with the fam, visited the oldest house in town (now a museum, Casa Galeano) and watched a video on the city’s history, and met the owner of a local shop that sells fruit wine (Hello, long lost friend. I know that you are laughing right now, Hannah.) I came back to the house early evening to unpack and enjoy my first movie sola (Super Bad) on the biggest bed that I have ever owned (a double!!). Needless to say, sweet dreams were had. (I have a cavity. Ja. Lame. )
Sunday was stellar as my bounce off the wall energy returned in full effect. I slept in until 9AM (which is unheard of here as most PCTs were considered ill by their host families if they slept anywhere past 8AM), finished up with unpacking, and went to the local Chinese restaurant to lunch with and meet the other PCVs in town and in the outlying aldeas. Not including the couple that came with me from Wat/San, there are three girls and one guy that all seem to be unique and solid people. I am especially stoked on one girl who played volleyball in college and is currently working on getting a team together at one of the local high schools. (How friggin fun would it be to coach a team IN SPANISH!) She is also down to run with me and may be moving into the house down the street from me. (Tig.) After snagging another paleta (they are addicting) we checked out the local markets, chatted about the life of a PCV, and meet some of the many internationals that are living here. (I am so amazed how many there are yet so friggin excited to meet them all. I think that the majority work in one of the two bilingual schools in Gracias.) As evening fell, I hit up the Hotel Guancasco (a PC fav) to take advantage of their free wireless internet, enjoy the second best view of town (next to atop Fort Saint Christopher), and take a yoga class put on by a yoga instructor from the states (who is working out here with another organization on a two year project). What a day.
View of Gracias from Hotel Guancasco
Today was friggin awesome and gives me so much hope for my next two years here. I met up with my counterpart from the Escuela Taller COLOSUCA in the morning. She introduced me to the employees in the office, the teachers of the current groups of students (albañilería, soldadura, and carpintería), and the mayor of Gracias. We walked around various parts of the city to see what projects the students are currently working on and to show me where the major points of interest are (i.e. post office, police station, health center, telephone company, etc). Afterwards, I ran a few errands in town, returned home to lunch (I am trying out the host family’s grub for a week to see if I want to stick with it before trying out my cooking skills…ya…skills), and brushed up on some Spanish practice. This afternoon I met my other counterpart from the Oficina de Conjuntos Históricos (OCH). She has worked with a PCV before and thus seemed to have a better idea of the information I would initially be seeking as a newbie in town. She explained to me the redevelopment projects that are currently going on in town, what type of support her office provides, and what assistance the Mancomunidad (a collaboration of five of the six surrounding municipalities in Lempira) is hoping that I provide (as mentioned in my last blog). She also explained the link between the Escuela and the OCH: the office sometimes contracts the students to work on the redevelopment projects to promote the success and sustainability of Gracias and its citizens. We walked around town a bit more to check out the three historic churches, to hike up to Fuente San Cristobal, and to give me a little more insight about what this town is really about. We ended the afternoon at the outdoor restaurant at Hotel Guancasco sharing our stories and dreams over a Salva Vida while the sun disappeared behind the mountains. What another fabulous day.
Fort Saint Christopher
From everything that I have learned thus far from host family members, counterparts, and acquaintances, Gracias is a seriously fabulous town. Crime is almost nonexistent. There is a strong mix of local, indigenous, and international cultures. Habitants are pleasant and friendly. There are hot springs to bathe in after a long two-day hike up the tallest mountain in Honduras. Malaria is not a problem here. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes, markets, and internet centers to meet your everyday needs. Best of all, life is tranquil. I don’t think I’ve ever lived such a life. Maybe it will be a challenge for me. Maybe it will be a blessing. Maybe I should just stop worrying about it and just start living it.
View from my window
What dreams may come…