A Little Clarity

Hey, again. So nothing new to report here. My health and spirits are in good shape. We, as PCVs, have been on STANDFAST (Phase 2: Stay in site. Pack a bag. Prepare for consolidation.) since noon on Friday. It is supposed to end at noon today but could quickly change. We have also had two nights, Sunday night and Monday night, of country curfew (9PM until 6AM). Classes were canceled yesterday and today, and there are some roadblocks near the presidential palace. There were demonstrations yesterday in the capital city involving riots and police response. Although we currently have two presidents and cabinets in Hondu, Zelaya is supposed to return to the capital this week to regain his position as President. It seems that a majority of the world disagrees with his arrest and is asking for his reinstatement. A lot of the news stations in Honduras have been blocked, so most of the information received here is through commentaries on the radio and through the internet.

As for Gracias, there was a demonstration yesterday by local teachers who are in support of reinstating Mel because of the reforms that he has made in the past in their favor. Today there was supposed to be a meeting of all of the mayors of the department of Lempira in Gracias. I have no idea if it actually happened and, if so, what took place. I have not gone in to work for the past two days and have tried to stay indoors as much as possible. Although I feel safe and haven't experienced any ill sentiments personally, I am keeping a low profile.

Here is an excerpt from an email that our Country Director sent us that will hopefully give a bit more clarity on the encuesta on La Cuarta Urna that was supposed to take place this past Sunday:

"Presidential elections are scheduled to be held in November 2009. Honduras' constitution does not permit a President being elected for a second term.
President Zelaya proposed that there be a national encuesta (survey) to allow the Honduran people to decide whether or not they would like to be able to vote in the November elections for a cuarta urna (fourth urn) that would call for a constitutional assembly to be held at some future date. The purpose of a constitutional assembly would be to change the Honduran constitution, possibly including permitting presidents to be re-elected. This national encuesta and the cuarta urna in the November elections have been ruled as against the law by Honduras' top court."

That's about all I got for ya now. If you would like to get in touch with me, try sending a free text through the Tigo site (and I will respond to you directly if you keep the dialogue box open) or feel free to call my cell phone. I have limited access to the Internet so will send out another update as soon as I can.

Love to all.


Safe for now...

Hey, team. Just wanted to let you know that I am safe in site as the rest of the country figures out its next best move. I understand that there are a lot of countries that are not fans of what happened to the Honduran President. I have no idea what will happen in the days to come, but I just wanted to let you know that I am safe in my tranquil town. I will update you if anything changes. For now, you be well. Safety never takes a day off...


June 24, 2009

Where to start…let’s rewind back to the day I wrote my last blog. Then, let’s fast forward to that night…SCABIES STRIKES AGAIN!! Oh ya, Friday night I woke up in the middle of the night to the same intensive itching that I was experiencing before. (WTF.) Luckily, Saturday afternoon I had an appointment with the doctor. On Saturday, right before I went to my appointment, I was playing with the muchacha’s baby and (wouldn’t you know it) noticed a series of red bumps on one of her arms. Now, I’m no doctor and can’t say that this rash was the effect of…oh, I don’t know…SCABIES (said like Dana Carvey as the Church Lady), but it definitely wasn’t normal. I went to the doctor that day, told him the itching had dissipated on my trip to Comayagua, showed him the damage done to my wrists and ankles the night before, and explained what I saw on the baby’s arms. His response…so deep, so profound, and so true…was, “You need to move out.” (YAY! Glory be to someone who understands!) He recommended telling my family that they should be treated as the bugs seem to live in the house until I recounted to him the last time I tried to explain the sickness to them and that they didn’t believe it was from something in the house but rather a bug that flew in through my window. He prescribed me some more meds (luckily not the burning type) and suggested that I speak to the PC about moving out of the house as soon as possible. So that’s what I did. I called the PC Medical Officer on duty, explained my situation, and inquired about moving into my apartment at the beginning instead of middle of July. My “case” is currently under review, and I should have an answer by Thursday. Another option would be to move me into another host family’s house, but I believe that such a move would severely burn bridges and start rumors in town. I will not have that. I would rather suffer through the discomfort than screw myself over for the next two years. Vamos a ver.

I digress. The rest of my news is jolly and promising for my future here. Saturday I ran with Alex, Jen, and my host mother. (I am proud and surprised by her. She has joined Alex and me to walk while we run in the mornings. So far so good for her.) Afterwards, I washed clothes on the pila (for the last time at the house as the washer is now connected, yes!), met one of the local missionary families in town that lived near Bert and Kalin (Allen and Faith, really nice people from Washington that have been here eight months), and made homemade pizza for Bert’s 28th birthday (we were surprisingly successful). The night was fun celebrating with Bert and Kalin’s host family and local friends.

Made from scratch and love

The always happy couple: Kalin and Bert

Sunday was different than most days but good, none the less. I went to Allen and Faith’s house to join other missionary families in the area for church. (Well, it really wasn’t church. The activities consisted of the families singing psalms and reading a bit from the Bible.) Although I don’t necessarily following their specific practice of faith, It was nice to meet some pleasant people and definitely fabulous to indulge in an American potluck that followed. I even was lucky enough to use Faith and Allen’s wireless internet to Skype with the fam for Father’s Day. It was a good day!

This week has seriously been going well (for serious). I have been working in the Escuela during the mornings, walking around in the afternoons to meet other community leaders (i.e. director of the Gracias youth center, director of a local grade school, doctor at the health center, owner of a local hotel, teacher at a school in an outlying aldea who wants to teach business administration classes, and employee in the Tourism Office who needs help with a business plan), emailing organizations to offer my services as a PCV (i.e. PRAF, EDUCATODOS, etc.), and reading about as well as practicing yoga in my room. In my down time, I am reading the ten-year Strategic Plan of the Mancomunidad and trying to master Spider Solitaire.

This weekend should be AWESOME. Faith and Allen asked me to house sit for them! I will be able to watch movies with Bert and Kalin, cook my own food, make lattes (holy goodness I am so friggin excited for that), and use the internet at their house all weekend! Staying in town this weekend is a perfect idea seeing as we were just told that all Honduras PCVs are on STANDFAST from Friday until Monday. (This is Phase 1 of the PC Emergency Action Plan which basically means that we are to remain in site and prepare for CONSOLIDATION, if necessary. This is the result of the cuarta urna election this weekend.)

I feel like the time will speed up once July hits because there is so much to do/going on. I will be purchasing and moving housing items as well as partaking in the activities of the Feria de Lempira (a conquistador who the department is named after) throughout the month. I will be planning some trips to visit other PCVs, preparing for my brother and Carrie to visit, and hopefully finding my very own puppy (well, it will be both Anna’s and mine). I hope that you all enjoy your celebrations for the 4th! I will be missing the good times back in the day in Tahoe with my girls that day…


June 19, 2009

Heeeyyyooo! So instead of waiting until this weekend to recount the wonderful week away, I am going to stay in on a Friday night (gasps around the world) to recount the goodness. (To be quite honest, at this point in my life a Friday night is equivalent to a Tuesday night. There is no night life in Gracias, and I have to be home by 9pm. When I move into my own place, I won’t have a curfew…but that won’t change the fact that there is no night life in Gracias.) Whatev, let’s get to it.

My trip to Comayagua from Tuesday until today was fulfilling, both figuratively and literally, and enjoyable. Figuratively speaking, I was able to catch up with a friend and fellow Business volunteer, work with the staff of the Escuela Taller in Comayagua to refine the stages/topics/filters of the incubator, and spend the night out of site in my own hotel room. (Unfortunately, I did not have the luxury of a bug-free bed, as I am currently nursing the aftermath of an attack on my arm from a spider…thinking about it more, maybe it really was the mother scaby getting her revenge on me for killing her babies.) I reconnected and reinforced a friendship, progressed with defining my objectives in the Vivero, and accomplished some personal goals (I got all my PC pics up on Facebook and caught up on the news on Aljazeera). Literally speaking, my meals were fabulous and free! (Nothing in this world is free, it seems, as my jeans don’t seem to fit me as well as they did before I left.) Regardless, I am happy to say that my edible indulgences included: a salad bar (even if it was at Pizza Hut), pancakes (ya, Pa), a doughnut (stuck that right in my back pocket, literally), Coronas (I know eyebrows are raised right now, it was a treat alright), Baskin Robbins Gold Medal Ribbon (ya, Bro), Frosted Mini Wheats (NOT cornflakes!), a Fuji apple (ya, Ma), and French toast (“when in Rome”). (I realize that it could be sad that I am even spending time talking about this. I will say what I always say: I am just happy to have food, whatever that may be. There are many who can’t say the same.) What did I enjoy most? (1) The lack of piropos thrown at me in the city (as it is home to a American military base and thus quite accustomed to foreigners); (2) The countless Beatles songs blasted on the car ride out with the director of the Escuela; and last but not least (3) The decision to get a puppy with Anna (the Health PCV in Gracias; she will be moving into a house with a yard) when she gets back from the states at the end of June. Holler.

Comayagua’s central park and cathedral

25 (yes, I counted) bites…1 for every year of my life…how nice

Bring on the weekend. Tomorrow I am running in the morning (needed as noted), checking back in with the doctor (pray for no more cream), and celebrating Bert’s birthday (the husband of the PCV couple in Wat/San from my training group) with pizza and cheesecake (so much for running). I have Sunday Skype dates with the fam, Pops, and Louise (Batman and Robin unite again!) as well as a tutor sesh.

Next week brings some new challenges. I am going to be working on defining the objectives and goals of the stages of the business curriculum, visiting OCH to figure out what happened to those grants I was supposed to review two weeks ago, seeking out the person in charge of the women’s office in the Mancomunidad to hopefully start working with a women’s group, and starting to get prepared to move (ya I know it's early, but I'm excited!). Next Sunday is the fun day…la cuarta urna!! I’ve mentioned that before, right? Ha. Stay tuned, folks. Life in Hondu is about to get real interesting…as if it wasn’t already.


June 15, 2009

What a week!! Let me be the first to tell you that scabies SUCKS. It is super annoying. Because of it, I did not sleep much during the nights and was thus forced to take some time off from work to nap during the days...ah well, I guess naps aren’t so bad. I also spent a solid eight to nine hours on the pila, rediscovered my love/need to practice yoga more frequently to combat internal and external frustrations, and came to appreciate the characteristic/virtue/skill of patience. (W O W. Ya. “And that’s all I have to say about that.” –Thank you, Mr. Gump.) The highlights of the week and weekend included watching the Honduras soccer game with friends while consuming a real cheeseburger, catching up on my Best of YouTube podcasts while the scabies lotion burned the creatures (and crap) out of me, and marking the date one month from now when I will be writing to you from MY VERY OWN apartment. (Thanks be to GOoDness for that last one!)

They knew we were coming

Supportin the locals: Kalin, Bert, and Vanessa

Lovin my sitemate: Me and Kalin

Wow, this is probably the shortest entry I will ever write. There should be some solid activity this week to make up for it. I will be going to Comayagua tomorrow until Friday afternoon to meet with the Escuela Taller (ET) and Vivero de Empresas staff there. We will be sharing the progress made in the Gracias incubator thus far in hopes of soliciting ideas, suggestions, and comments Comayagua incubator (which has supposedly been one of the most successful in the country thus far). Besides that, I will get to stay in a hotel (complete with a TV in-room and pool), not have to pay for anything (saving money is glorious in the life of a PCV), and (hopefully) get to check out the digs of the city c/o my PCV homie working for the Vivero there. Added bonuses: nights not in a bed of terror and another week closer to living in my own apartment. (Can you tell it’s time? Thank you SO MUCH to my family members who have dealt with/consoled/offered support to me throughout this week. It was so very much needed and appreciated!) Bring on the new week!

**A special shout out to Nick Clark for sending me a surprise package full of games and candy!! You rock my socks, man! I got it today. So solid! So appreciated! THANK YOU!**


June 8, 2009

Scabies: 1, Shannon: SOL. Yup, sounds fun, huh? Well, I would start out where I left off last week, but the most immediate thing on my mind seems to be the mites traversing all over my skin. (I seriously wish I could see them because I would kick the crap out of them!) So ya, I haven’t been sleeping that much and thought a lot of it had to do with the fresh air that I was not getting as there aren’t any screens on my windows and I thus don’t leave them open at night. (Ah yes, did I forget to mention that the information booklet was completely wrong about the temperature here? Probably. So the average temperature of Gracias is about 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is always humid. I am thus always sweating in my room and breathing recycled air. I will say that the booklet was right on with the skin infections, though. Well done.) Well, fijase that most of my sleepless nights are instead due to the ridiculous itchy sessions that I have endured for the past week or so. Because last night was the worst of it, I finally went to the doctor today. Fun times when I found out I had some little bed bugs living in my room with me. I came home after my appointment (trying so hard not to be pissed off and upset while trying to maintain my knowledge of Spanish), tried unsuccessfully to explain the infection to my mother (who totally does not believe me and instead blames my bed bugs on the open window during the day), and with the help of the muchacha (the poor woman, she is so petite) moved my bed (reminder: the biggest I have ever had) to one of the spare rooms and switched it out for a twin. (I knew that ish was too good to be true.) I threw the majority of my clothes in my suitcase (as I patiently wait for the washer/dryer to be reconnected) and after a shower applied some of the most uncomfortable lotion I have every come into contact with all over my body. (It burns.) Let’s hope the homies don’t like the scent and feel as much as I don’t and get the off my skin!

Back to last week. Tuesday went well with work at the Escuela and another apartment search. Wednesday was alright but did not end well when I got caught in the heaviest downpour that I have even been in (it was literally raining through my umbrella) and ruined my camera that was stored in my purse. (Why I didn’t wait out the storm to walk home…no idea. Apparently the rain here will take you and your electronics to town.) Thursday morning was a free day for me. I spent the morning at the hotel updating computer software, afternoon at the Termos de Rio (the nicest of the hot spring spots) relaxing with a bunch of PCVs and snacking on chips and salsa (um, can you say complete joy? Hannah, you know what I’m talking about), and night hanging at Dan’s to celebrate his departure (which I hope to live at one day, it’s the cutest house). Friday was uneventful except for a potential appearance of ninjas in my stomach from the Chinese food that I consumed the night before (Bo, I thought I left those guys in SF!).

The weekend was so darn chill; I was proud of myself that I was able to endure it. (Usually I can’t sit still for two minutes let alone two days.) I cracked open my first leisure read book (by David Hunt, I highly recommend him as he writes awesome murder mysteries set in SF!), completed a solid amount of Sudoku puzzles (with the never failing strategy taught to me by the man himself: Pops), and took some naps. (Looking back, what a shitty idea on that last one!) Saturday night I went to a local hotel to watch the soccer game on a big screen with a bunch of norteamericanos (¡ganadores!) while Sunday was spent searching out more places to live with Bert and Kalin (my sitemates).

Tonight, well, here we are. Like they say…sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite…that’s so messed up.


May 31, 2009

Wow…that last email…kind of a drag, huh? Well, that’s what you get when you try to put a two year perspective into less than a two week period. I will not lie; last week was pretty darn tough on me. I am a tough lady, but a lady none the less with all of the emotions and feelings included. There are no substitutions on my menu, only refinements.  ANYWAY, as I sit on my bed listening to Carla Bruni (awesome French artist) I am ready to fill you in with the latest and greatest goodness that has occupied my time since last week. It’s all good…right? Always.

As you can tell from my last posting, Monday was a sad day. The previous night seemed to suddenly uncover the realization that I am not going home for two years. (That seems like a long time now but really isn’t in the perspective of life. I try to keep that in mind often.) The emotions that I had built up from my first week in site seemed to linger through my workdays, morning jump rope workouts, time on the Internet, lunch of fried tilapia at Villa de Ada, yoga, and apartment searching through Wednesday night. I spoke to my mother that night and tried my best not to break down while expressing my disappointment with: not locating a solid Internet connection to use Skype, not securing a running partner, not finding clothes or shoes that fit a visitor twice the size of a normal citizen, and not discovering an apartment to live in as soon as allowed. (Yes, I know these are all complaints. I try not to express them often, but when I do, they are short lived. Attitude is everything.)

Tilapia fishing pond

A water slide what!


Wednesday night I went to bed with tears in my eyes wishing for a change – a change in my decision, a change in my placement, or best, a change in my attitude. Well, a change did come… with force…at about 2am the next day. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about…I hope you do.) I was fast asleep enjoying dreams of floating on the ocean when I awoke to the realization that I was not, in fact, on the ocean but instead in my bed in Honduras rolling with the movements of the earth. It was, without a doubt, a very weird feeling but one that did not really affect me until the following day as I was absolutely exhausted from the previous night’s emotions. The vibrations felt like they lasted about a solid 30 seconds (I believe it was a 40 second quake, right?) before stopping. When they did cease, I was stoked not for a loss of fear but for the sheer fact that I could go back to sleep. Well, wouldn’t you know it that Hondurans are not accustomed to earthquakes. I learned this quick when my mother began banging on my door telling me that we needed to get out of the house immediately. Still in my state of disarray, I reluctantly retreated to the street (with the rest of Gracias, Lempira) to talk about the craziness that just occurred. I tried to explain to my mother that earthquakes were common where I was from and was thus not scared. She explained to me that they were not common in Honduras and thus something to worry about. Needless to say, I was too tired to argue/care and was very appreciative when we were finally able to go back inside and back to sleep. (We apparently received another tremor at about 5am the same day, but I would not be the person to ask about that.)

I awoke Thursday morning actually kind of pissed off. I thought that corruption and crime would be the two greatest dangers that I would have to worry about while in Honduras, not earthquakes! (That was not included in our safety and security training!) After my anger came contentment. I went running for the first time with Jen (the yoga instructor), cleaned my room righteously, and studied some Spanish. (The power was out so I had some time to myself.) The power returned in the late morning, and I made my way back into the office for the rest of the day. I had an awesome meeting with my boss about the Vivero and learned what I had been preparing myself for: the kids in the Escuela Taller have not received much training on business administration and, in reality, may have little desire to start their own companies. My boss believes that a lot of kids are in the program because they know that they are almost guaranteed work. (I call this meeting awesome because I appreciate the honesty and respect that my boss is affording me.) In order to salvage what is left of this year (the Vivero was established at the end of last year and began with its first group of students this year; they are to finish at the end of the year), I told my boss that I thought it best to interview each student in the program (with their respective teacher present as I am sure they will have pena talking to the new gringa in town) to discover their motivations and aspirations for the remaining six months of their program. From there, we are hoping to develop a shortened version of the business training curriculum that we plan to fully and successfully implement in the coming year. (I have been working on the finance and accounting section thus far but will soon focus my efforts on the entire training curriculum.)

Friday I awoke with a better understanding of my work objectives, my personal goals, and my overall situation. (It felt good. I will elaborate more on these as they develop. For now, just take my word on it.) I went running again with Jen and discovered a weekly running partner (SO STOKED!! It is a gentleman that works in OCH. He runs Monday through Saturday mornings at 5:45am. Um, can you say PUUURFECT!?), had a solid workday refining the business curriculum, found a couple internet connections that will support Skype, discovered more vacant apartments, and felt solid knowing that I have clothes and shoes that fit and don’t cost a fortune being sent to me c/o Mom and Dad (thanks guys!). I finished the day picking Dan’s (the PCV who is leaving in 2 weeks) brain for contacts, potential programs, and the best spots of Gracias. It was SOLID. I learned a lot.

Saturday was simply beautiful. I went running with my new running partner, Alex (who will also serve as my daily tutor as he only speaks Spanish!), cleaned some clothes in the pila (waiting and looking forward to a week from now when the washer/dryer will be reconnected as it has been unplugged with the current construction on the expansion of the backyard), and headed out to Santa Rosa de Copan with Dan. We met up with the many other PCVs out there, grubbed on some good ol’ fashion pizza, and had some drinks rooftop while enjoying the view of the city. It was a very uneventful and totally enjoyable day. I made it back to Gracias Saturday evening to attend a Kindergarten beauty pageant. (My mom invited me and really wanted me to go. Ya…it was weird.) Basically the program consisted of three to five year olds walking back and forth on a catwalk dressed in gowns and/or suits as well as dressed up as turtles, seahorses, mermaids, butterflies, fishes, and sailors. (If you can’t tell, it was an ocean themed event.) There were seven young girls selected as the final contestants and one selected as the “queen” of the Kindergartens (there are two in town) for the year. Throughout the parading of small children completely lost and somewhat scared, I tried to figure out how they were to select the winner. Speaking to a friend about it, I soon learned that the winner is the child who receives the most votes before the actual event. Votes come in the form of money, so the child who can successfully solicit the most amount of funding wins. Now…I know I am treading on thin ice here…but does this resemble a somewhat skewed system?? All I can say is that I was completely surprised and shocked to learn about these activities occurring with Kindergarteners. (No further comment is necessary.)

Circled sky on the way to Santa Rosa

View of Santa Rosa from Hotel Elvir

Thankful for my bud: Me and Bryan

Just wrong

Today was fab. I Skyped it up, lunched on some delish rollitos (probably equivalent to two small toasted burritos), and searched out some more apartments. There seems to be a lot opening up now as most of the bilingual school teachers are leaving. (I knew the Irish luck would kick in soon enough!) Tonight has been spent elaborating my week to you, so I hope you enjoy it. These blogs do take a lot of time to write, edit, and finalize. I try my best to make them to make them thoughtful, truthful, and most important of all, enjoyable. I appreciate you taking the time to read them and also leaving your comments or sending email. You are the reasons that they keep on coming, so thank you. They keep me sane while your love keeps me alive.