Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nov 12

this is an entry i typed weeks ago but never had a chance to post, so i`m posting it now.

12 november

I haven’t written in a while because I have had much positive to say, but now I have some interesting things to write about.
Last week the kittens were born, and there are 2 males and 1 female. They are so cute and tiny. I’ve never seen kittens right after they were born, they’re like mice. The boys are white with orangish-brown spots and the girl is grey and black striped. I’m going to name mine Mateo Miguel Fernando. They have to stay with their mother for a while still; they haven’t even opened their eyes yet.

More work-related, we finally had the biodigestor latrine workshop this weekend. A volunteer who has built a lot of them traveled here on Saturday to teach us how to do it, and another volunteer who lives near me came to see it. It was nice having them here and showing them where I live. The project is basically a large tunnel of thick plastic lining, of several meters length, to hold the waste, and the gases go up a pvc pipe to the stove. The waste goes into one end of the tunnel, the gas goes up through a tube in the top, and runs to the cook stove. The bacteria dies in the plastic lining, and the remaining waste liquid that comes out can be used to fertilize a garden or a fish pond. It’s pretty simple. To start the gases working, you have to pour in five buckets of a mixture of manure and water every day. It should start producing gas after a month, and produces about 6 hours of gas a day to cook from. The plastic we had was smaller than what they normally use, so ours will only produce about 3 hours a day of gas. It’s a free source of fuel for cooking, and saves a good deal of fire wood.

The next step is to get people interested in the project, write a proposal, and submit for funding. Peace Corps provides funds up to $6,000 to volunteers to do small projects like this, so I’m probably going to apply to that fund. It can take up to 6 months or more to get funding, so this is really something for next year.

The volunteer who came to do the workshop is a really interesting guy. He has already been here over two years, because he extended for a few months, and when he finishes his service at the end of the year, he will stay in Honduras to work with an NGO here. He got married to a Honduran in June, I think she is his counterpart’s daughter. When he got to Honduras, he didn’t know any Spanish, just a few words, and now he speaks like a Honduran. He even tells stories like a Honduran. He has tons of stories, I learned a lot.

Also, he got his Master’s in forest science, and he knows the name of every plant, tree, and fruit in English and Spanish. It’s really amazing. We walked all around the farm and he and my counterpart talked about plants. I’ve never heard so much about plants in my life. I could probably take a semester class in botany and not learn as much as I did from him in two days. The quantity of fruit varieties in just the area behind the house is overwhelming. There are little fruits that look just like tangerines, but they are lemons, and taste just as sour as any yellow lemon. And there are lemons and oranges that are bigger than grapefruits. And there is a huge tree of passion fruit, which grow really big. And a fruit that tastes like a squash, but it grows from a tree, and they hang down almost on vines. And most of the fruit falls to the ground and rots. That just begins the strange fruits growing here. On the property here, there are probably like 10 varieties of oranges growing. No bananas, because it’s not hot enough, but there are platanos (plantains), some of which can be eaten raw, and some which are harder and have to be cooked. There are 50 varieties of platanos in the country.

In other projects, we are supposed to give training to the rural micro banks, sometime this week, hopefully. Last week there was another meeting at the mayor’s office about the women’s bank but only 8 women showed up, and only 2 were the same from the week before. So I don’t know what’s going to happen with that. School is over, so I’m looking for some kind of youth group or something that I can work with and give charlas to. I also want to get some funding to get Christmas presents for really needy kids so we can have a Christmas party for them and hand out presents. That’s about all for now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sorry I haven´t updated in a long time. I´ve had really limited internet access, and then when I do get a chance to use the internet, it`s either extremely slow, or it doesn`t accept my USB memory stick, so I can`t update. I have a couple blogs written, and some pictures, but this computer won`t take my memory stick. Hopefully this weekend I can really update. But things are going alright. For a while I was feeling really discouraged and negative, but now I`m feeling more positive about things. I don`t have much work going on. In the next 2 weeks we are going to do some training sessions for some rural banks. I want to start giving kindergarten classes a couple times a week, so I`m trying to organize that. That`s all for now, I`ll try to post my previous entries soon.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My Week

On Monday I was going to go to the school to give a charla, but as I started to walk it started drizzling and then my host grandpa, a little old man, yelled up the hill at me to turn around, don´t go, you´ll get rained on. So I sighed and walked back down the hill. He gave me a ride in an ox cart, which was interesting. Oxen are kind of scary, they´re so big. Then I sat in their house for a few hours and drank coffee. It rained hard all day so it´s probably good I didn´t walk 40 minutes to the school in the rain. Monday afternoon I read magazines.

Tuesday morning it was raining really hard again. So I painted my bedroom a pretty blue color. It was the most exciting part of my week. It looks really nice. In the afternoon I went with my host family to deliver chicken and cheese to people and to visit some friends.

Wednesday morning we had a meeting at the mayor´s office with a group of woman who make and sell tortillas, bread, and cakes, to talk about forming a group of them. As a group, they could get loans and expand their enterprises. The mayor wants to start sort of a farmer´s market, which would be an outlet for these women to sell thier goods. Unfortuneately, only 5 of the 20 women invited came to the meeting. Of course, the mayor´s office only told them about it the day before, and the meeting was at 9am, which isn´t a good time for women, especially bakers, to leave the house. So we planned a second meeting for this coming Wednesday. Despite the lack of participants, the meeting still lasted 3 hours. Well , really 2 hours, the first hour was just waiting and talking, because people generally come an hour later for community type meetings, so the meetings start 1-2 hours after the set time. But it sounds like the women are interested in forming a group, so hopefully this Wednesday´s meeting will have some results. Wednesday afternoon I took a long walk in the mountains, because it was actually a sunny day, and it was so nice just being able to walk, and it´s a beautiful landscape.

On Thursday we went to Santa Rosa so I could go to the bank. Thursday evening we went to my host mom´s brother´s house for his birthday. Unfortuneately there was no cake. Last week i taught my host family how to make Rice Krispy Treats and they were really amazed at how easy they are to make, and they really liked them. It was one of my bigger successes so far, making Rice Krispy Treats. I would definately reccomend that to other volunteers.

Friday I finally made it to the school. I gave the little kids a talk on values and then we sang ´head, shoulders, knees, and toes´in English. They really liked that. And then Simon says, using the body parts we learned from the song. A few of the kids just didn´t get it though. It didn´t matter if I said Simon or not. Then I worked with the bigger kids, and we reviewed the English I taught them last week, then we sang ´head, shoulders, knees, and toes´ which they loved, we did it like 10 times, and we were going pretty fast by the end. We played Simon Says, and 3 of the kids I couldn´t fake out, so after a while, I called all 3 winners. It was a fun school day, but it was my last charla for the year because next week they have tests and then they are done. Next year I´m going to start charlas on the environment and also civic education.

So that was my week. I also got in contact with the volunteer about the latrines and he is coming next Saturday to do the workshop.