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.)