lunes, 21 de febrero de 2011

Mi casa es mi casa

So finally after 9 months of living with a host family (I really did enjoyed it) and searching for a place to live I found a house! It is plenty big for just me, I have a kitchen/living room, a bathroom, two bedrooms and a backyard, all this and I only pay $100 a month for rent, not too shabby. I took a trip with my host family to San Pedro to buy a fridge, electric stove, table, bed, fan, and dresser (it took 12 hours because of a car accident (not us though)). I’ve now been in my house for a little over two weeks and it is almost all set up the way I want it. It’s definitely a big switch having to do all my cooking and cleaning of an entire house by myself but it’s been a lot of fun, I’ve already used an entire roll of duct tape doing repairs, building makeshift shelves and whatnot. I have been surprisingly not lonely because whenever I walk by my old host family’s house, which is a lot because I only live ½ block away, they always invite me in for coffee or try to feed me because they don’t believe that a young man could possibly be able to cook for himself, it’s great having them be so welcoming and supportive of me.

Dia de San Valentine

I took a little trip to Tegus to spend Valentine’s Day with Katherine, it was a lot of fun, hanging out in Tegus for the weekend with her and the family, and I even got to go with her to the University where she is studying on Monday. It was a little difficult trying to plan Valentines activities for us in Tegus when I was in San Marcos and because I don’t know much about what to do in Tegus. We ended up having a nice/romantic dinner that I prepared for her, good pasta, chicken, French bread, and tres leche cake for dessert. Although it wasn’t over the top fancy it was really fun and in my opinion a success.

SPA Grant

One of the projects that I have been working on recently is what is called a SPA grant (small Project assistance) a program with the Peace Corps working with USAID (United States Agency for International Development). You are able to ask for funds up to $5,000 USD for a project in your community, the project needs to have a sustainable aspect, educational aspect, and be supported by the community too. We will be helping with the materials and construction as well as giving health talks on hygiene, water sanitation, diarrheic and parasitic diseases, as well as how to properly use and maintain a latrine. In San Marcos we have decided to write a SPA grant for a latrine project in 3 of the poorest villages, our goal, if approved is to build 80 latrines, 45 in Bella Vista, 20 in Panales, and 15 in Pimienta. We are just finishing up the grant and we will hopefully be submitting it today, I’m really excited about this project because it should make a lasting impact on the health of these villages. Keep this project in your thoughts and prayers and I’ll let you know when I know how it is going to progress.

domingo, 16 de enero de 2011

Komo say deece?

Back in November I promised to help translate for a Medical Brigade from the States in Trinidad, Santa Barbara, back in November I was excited about it, but as the beginning of January rolled around my mood wasn’t quite the same, all I wanted to do was focus on stuff in San Marcos. Unfortunately for me I try to be true to my word, so at 7:00 on Saturday morning I found myself rolling out of bed and jumping on a 2 hour bus ride to meet a bunch of gringos from Louisiana. When I got there however, my attitude changed quickly, they were all really friendly and amazingly streamlined and organized with their equipment and personnel, they also fed us and put us up in a hotel…with hot water showers and air-conditioning! It turns out that they have been coming down to the same region for the past 12 years, what impressed me the most was the way that they have really worked with the locals working for change according to the needs and desires of the community. Along with me there were 3 other Peace Corps volunteers from the area, our job was to translate for the doctors and patients that came in, we were each paired up with a doctor and we acted as their mouth and ears. The first day we only worked a half day in the main city of Trinidad, it was mostly healthy people that came through, but it was a good warm-up for everyone. It was great timing for them to come down because me and another of the volunteers are from Seattle, and the Seahawks just happened to be playing the Saints in the first round of the playoffs, through a miraculous win the Louisianans were stunned, but remained in relatively good spirits, I tried not to rub it in too much. For the next three days we went out to the aldeas (small villages) and set up shop in schools or churches, we gave checkups, gave out medicine that the doctors prescribed, toothbrushes, and they had an eye clinic where they gave eye tests and gave out glasses. I was paired up with Dr. Melanie, she had been on this trip 5 times previously and she knew what she was doing, we were able to go very quickly through the patients because she knew what questions to ask with my translation and she knew what medicine they had and how much we could actually do for the patients, she was realistic with the treatment and also encouraged them to visit the local doctors for stuff that we couldn’t treat or needed continued attention. Together we probably saw over 250 patients in the 3 days with the whole group seeing about 700. I would say that it was a great time and time well spent, without translators they would have been in trouble and without their expertise and medicine many communities would be without attention. It was nice to see some American efficiency, see tangible results, speak English but still feel useful, I also took about 2 weeks’ worth of showers in 4 days.

Cumpleaños de Doña Dalila

January 3rd turned out to be the biggest of all the celebrations down here, bigger than Christmas, Día de Inocentes (like April fool’s day but on Dec 28th), New Year’s, or Kings Day. What would make January 3rd so important? My host grandma’s 65th birthday party of course. After everyone recovered from staying up to late on New Year’s, relaxed for a day, it was time to get back to the grindstone. Invitations were passed out, more family came down, the whole house had to be cleaned, re-cleaned and then decorated with balloons and streamers. Tables and chairs were rented, food prepared and even a marimba band was hired to play. All day we were preparing food, sandwiches, salads, drinks, and prepping the meat for the grill. At seven the party got started with the band starting to play, there were 4 guys with a combined age of probably 300 that were playing the big xylophone like instrument, by far my favorite part of the band. I got roped into grilling the meat with my host dad and uncles, tons of carne asada in great spices and amazingly chicken in a orange juice marinade. Because we had to cook the meat for so many people it took a long time, but we made sure to quality control test the meat frequently, chowing down on almost as much as we served to the rest of the party. After everyone had eaten plenty there was dancing and cake eating that lasted well into the early morning. It ended up being an unexpected but great way to finish up the holiday season,

El Año Nuevo

If there were a lot of fireworks for Christmas than you can probably guess what New Years is like. It is much more of family event than in the US, but just about everything here has more of a family aspect to it. There was lots more food and family all night, very similar to Christmas in fact. One tradition down here is that you make an effigy (I think that’s right) a big lifelike version of a person in clothes, stuffed with sawdust and fireworks that you burn at midnight in the streets. I think usually it is supposed to represent someone in your family that has passed away in the last year, but almost all houses do it. It’s pretty creepy because in the days leading up to New Year’s you will find people sitting along the street, or against a house, only to find out that they are fake, kind of like scarecrows.

La Navidad

So Christmas was a little different than usual this year, but it was still good, just a little hotter than normal. Usually for me Christmas is spent with family, having dinners, going to church, and then opening presents on the 25th in the morning, pretty chill and relaxing. This year I traveled to Yarumela to spend Christmas with my host family down there and my gf. At first it looked like it was going to be a pretty downer of a Christmas because my host grandma from Yarumela was in the hospital and it looked like we were going to have to spend Christmas in the Hospital with her, luckily she got better on the 23rd and was released meaning that it would be a “normal” Christmas. All of the 24th was spent readying the house for the massive amounts of family/guests that would be coming and making food, nacatamales are the most common Christmas time food down here. Down here Christmas is celebrate at midnight the night of the 24th/25th, fireworks are a big deal down here too so all day and especially right at midnight people light off fireworks in the streets…not the most relaxing way to celebrate Christmas, but it’s fun. I’m still not sure when/how Santa Clause visits because everyone is awake at midnight and nobody has chimneys. After the fireworks and lots of hugs and saying “feliz navidad” to everyone presents are exchanged, I got to sleep around 3:30. Christmas day is a low key day of eating and recovering from Christmas Eve, lots of food. The 26th we roasted a 25 pound pork roast, it took about 6 hours but it was worth every second. Hondurans are also big on making nativities, usually depicting the birth of Jesus and then also showing all of the major events in Honduras for the year, these scenes are amazingly elaborate and beautifully done (see the pictures).