Monday, August 27, 2007

Photos of El Paraíso

Trip to the café finca

Left- my buddy Brayan holding bananos

Below- my host dad with his café and banano plants


Brayan and my host dad loading bananos onto the truck

Left- central park
Below- a street

Left- view from the finca of El Paraíso

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

El Paraiso is great. I like that it’s a bigger town so there are lots of stores and restaurants and things to do. It has a really big plaza as well as a beautiful central park, so that’s really nice.

Today I was feeling a little down, for no real reason, I was just bored and kind of frustrated and tired of sitting in classes all day. So after training I took a walk around the town and as I was walking some kids were playing soccer in the street and the ball happened to come to me and I kicked it back and then we started to kick back and forth. Then all the kids wanted to know about me and how to say their names and various words in English. One little girl who is 6 talked to me for a long time. She was really cute and just very talkative. It really cheered me up to have all those kids so friendly and interested in me. I told them I would go back and play with them again. It was great timing to cheer me up.

My host family is awesome. I already wrote about them a little. My host mom’s friend, Maria Louise, is really funny and she kind of reminds me of Lois. She comes over every day to eat lunch with me and she’s really nice. My host dad is funny, too and he took me to the finca (coffee farm) on Saturday, which I’ll write more about in a minute. Also, there’s a little boy named Brian who is always at the house. He’s 11 and he’s from a poorer family and his parents aren’t really around. So he’s at our house all the time and my family feeds him and he helps out around the house and on the finca on the weekends. He’s my new best friend. He’s so nice and helpful and curious about the US. We talk alot. He´s really funny. Brian helps me with everything, mopping my room, doing my laundry, washing dishes. Yesterday he shined my shoes. I feel guilty that he does so much. He’s so energetic about it, he seriously won’t let me do anything myself.

The food is awesome here. I get fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh chicken from our chicken farm, bananas from our banana farm, and fresh honey, also from the farm. Also, my family sells paletas, which are like popsicles made of milk, sugar, vanilla, and whatever flavor they are, kind of like a fudgesicle. They’re so good. There are chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and coconut. I’ve only tried strawberry so far. It’s basically frozen strawberry milk. My host mom is a really good cook. Hardly anything is fried, unlike the food in Santa Lucia. The tortillas are also so much better than the tortillas in Santa Lucia. I love pretty much all my meals here.

I had a really good and eventful weekend. Saturday morning I went running with Rachel, my running buddy, at 6. Then I showered and had breakfast. Around 10:30 my host dad, Brian and I left for the finca. A finca is basically a small farm but it looks more like a forest than a farm. There’s really no other word for finca. There are plants growing wild, but the crop is growing along side the other plants. I visited a couple of them in Costa Rica. My family’s finca is in the mountains, about a 20 minute drive from the house. It was really big. There are coffee plants growing all over, and banana trees. Coffee needs lots of shade, so people always plant banana trees to provide shade for the coffee. They grow several species of coffee, including Lempira, which only grows in Honduras. I ate bananas fresh off the tree. They also have several varieties of bananas, including purple ones, which are really good. Banana trees only produce fruit once, so to get the fruit down, they simply cut the tree to get to the fruit. It was pretty cool watching my host dad hack down trees with his machete. We walked all over the finca and then walked through someone else’s finca to visit some people who live on the mountain. They gave us coffee and cookies and we talked a while. It was so beautiful and peaceful being on the finca up in the mountains. It’s definitely one of my favorite experiences here so far. We were gone a little over 4 hours. Brian pointed out all the different types of fruit trees to me, and my host dad explained all about how coffee grows. I got to practice a lot of Spanish and I learned a lot.

Saturday night our families had a welcome dinner for us, which was really nice. We all got to meet each others families. Some high school students performed traditional dances for us and the food was really good. Afterwards, I went with three other trainees to a little café in the park where a guy plays the guitar and sings on weekends. He’s a tenor in the Honduran national symphony, so the music was beautiful.

Sunday I washed my clothes in the pila for the first time. I was lucky in Santa Lucia because my family had a washing machine, most people have pilas. I don’t really know how to describe a pila, I should take a picture of ours. Towns only get running water a few hours a day, so they keep all the water in a big cement container called a pila, and that’s where you do laundry, and where you cook and wash dishes when there’s no water. It has a wash board kind of thing to the side. I don’t know if that’s the best explanation, maybe you can google it. Anyway, it was hard work washing clothes by hand and it took me a while. Sunday afternoon I went to a cultural festival with my host family, including Brian, and my host mom’s friend, Marie Louise. There was traditional food and music. There weren’t that many people there, but it was nice. The guitar player from the café was there, so I talked to him for a while and got to see his adorable little kids.

Every morning we have Spanish class. There are two other people in my class, and they were both in my class before, in Santa Lucia. Our professors are also living with families here, so our class is in the house of the family our professor is living with. It’s a really pretty house with a big garden in the courtyard. We go home for lunch from 11:30-1.
In the afternoons we have technical training. Our first day here we made a map of the community, which was really fun. We’ve had talks about a couple different things. So of our 40 hours a week of training, we have 20 hours of language, and 20 of everything else.

On Thursday we’re going to begin our self-directed projects. We split into 3 groups, 1 of which will do work here, while the other two will go to nearby towns to work. I’m in a group with 4 others, and we’re going to Jacaleapa, which is about 20 mins away. We will have to give talks to students, including talks on civic participation, on leadership, and on HIV/AIDS, all in Spanish, of course. We will also do things with the mayor’s office and with community based organizations. I’m really excited about doing some actual work. This is sort of our practice run before we begin our work as volunteers. We don’t find out our sites for another month. I’d like a medium sized town, with other volunteers nearby, but not too close, and I’d like to work with juntas de agua, environmental clubs, civic education, and I don’t know what else.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

El Paraiso

We`re in FBT now, Field Based Training. It`s in El Paraiso, a town near the Nicaraguan border. I really like it here and I hope I get a similar site. It`s a good size, and not too terribly hot. Honduras is much hotter than I realized in some regions. I`m going to have trouble if I´m sent somewhere where it`s always 100. Anyway, today we made a map of the town, which was a lot of fun.
I love my host family here. They`ve never hosted anyone and they`re really excited about and all are super nice and friendly. I have a 22 year old host brother who goes to school in Teguc but is on vacations now. There are also two older children who don`t live at home. My family has a chicken farm, which my brother took me to see yesterday. I`ve never seen so many chickens in one place. They slaughter them and then sell the chicken out of the house. I´ve never had such good chicken though. And my host mom has this really nice friend who is always over and yesterday we went to her house and she has mango, avocado, and guava trees, so we got some fresh fruit. My host mom`s also a great cook, so I´m really happy about the food situation.
We`ll be having spanish classes in the mornings and will be doing community projects in the afternoons. There are only 14 of us here, so we`ll probably get pretty close in the next month and a half.
I`m so happy we get to do training in a big town and I got lucky with my host family. Hopefully it will continue to be good.
Also, keep sending me text messages! It`s free for you through the website and it`s free for me to recieve. I love to hear from people!

Monday, August 6, 2007

First, if you tried to text me, I did get several texts, but no one signed thier name, so I´m not sure who they were from. So sign your names! :)
Also, my phone died on Sat and won´t turn back on so that´s what happened if you tried to call and it didnt work. But I´m getting a new phone tommorrow so then it should be good.

Wednesday we leave for Field Based Training so I´m pretty excited. I had a really good weekend visiting my volunteer. I got to meet a bunch of current volunteers and see a couple different places in Honduras, so it gave me a good perspective and a better sense of what to expect and what I want in my site. It was awesome seeing other parts of Honduras, the volunteers I met were great, and I had a lot of fun. I can´t wait to find out where I´ll be, it´s really nerveracking wondering where I´ll spend the next two years. Ok, I´ve got to go. More to come soon.