Monday, June 23, 2008

Birthdays and the Feria

My host sister’s 15th birthday was on the 8th and my host parents had a big party for her. They spent over a month preparing. There were 5 big cakes, all different flavors, and one of the cakes was shaped liked a princess. My host mom and my host sister crocheted thier dresses. For the table centers, they hand-made flowers and in the middle of some of the flowers were barbies, which they crocheted little dresses for to match my host sister’s. It was a really nice party. They set up so much, I can´t even describe it all, but it was a very big deal. We ate chicken, pork, rice, tortillas, vegetables, cake, and lots of Coke.About 50 people came and it was fun seeing everyone all dressed up.

My birthday was the 10th and it was really nice. My friend Becky was here from the US so it was great that she could be here for my birtday. Some of my neighbors gave me gifts and I recieved some cards and packages and phone calls from the US. I had lunch at a friend´s restaurant with a few other volunteers who are in the area. It was a really good birthday. I can´t believe it´s been almost a year since I left for Honduras. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here a long time, but it’s also been going pretty quickly. About 15 months more in Honduras.

Our town feria (fair) has been starting up for a while but this week is the final, big week. Saturday night there was an event for the Queen of the Feria, which was kind of like a beauty pagent with the high school girls. They elected one Madrina (godmother) of the Feria, a Madrina of Café, a Madrina of Ganaderia (cattle), a Madrina of Deportes (sports), and a few others I don’t remember. They also elected juinor madrinas, which are little girls, like between 5 and 8. Sunday was a parade with all the madrinas. The car float for the Madrina of Café was decorated with coffee plants and bags of coffee beans. I liked the float for ganaderia, it was pulling a cart with two baby cows in it. It was a fun parade. All the mothers who had daughters in the parade were excited and nervous and they all wanted me to take a hundred pictures of their daughters.

There are more booths set up now, selling more food, like pizza, french fries, tajadas, candy, and they set up a couple small rides, like a carasol and a tiny roller coaster. The whole fair is about two blocks long, on just one street, it doens’t have a whole fair grounds. This week, there are events planned every day. There will be dances, another parade, bull riding, an art exhibit, a cow show, and a horse race. And it’s good timing because all next week is school vacation, either for all the schools in the department or in the country, I’m not sure.

This morning the high school students I’ve been working with in the next town over sold the bottles they’ve collected. Since they have so many, I arranged for the buyer to go to them, so they don’t have to worry about transportation. They got almost 3,000 Lempiras which is like $150, which is about what most people here make in a month. We spent all morning classifying the bottles.
Although they’ve been having lots of success, I’m not having as much luck recycling in my town. Last week was really frustrating because, long story short, no one wanted to help with the project or offer support. So I’ve decided to drop the recycling project in my town and just focus on working with the high school kids in thier recycling project. It’s disapointing because I’ve been working really hard on this for a while, but it’s just not feasible here. So now I’m looking for new projects and to involve myself more with the munincipality. I have a bunch of small project ideas but I’d like to start something long-term. That’s about all that’s going on right now. We will be celebrating our town feria all week, it’s the most exciting time of the year for San Pedro!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Parades and Parties

I´ve had an exciting couple weeks. The 23rd and 24th of May I went to La Ceiba, on the North Coast, for Carnaval, probably one of the biggest events in Central America. It´s similar to Mardi Gras, but Honduran style, and near the beach. My friend from my training group is a volunteer there, so those of us who went stayed at her apartment. On Saturday there was a really big parade with horses and fire trucks and lots of floats. On the floats there was music and dancing and people throwing bead necklaces. I thought it was really well put together, I really enjoyed it, even though I often don´t like parades. We stood in the central park to watch the parade. The park is beautiful with lots of big old trees, and there were tons of people selling food, jewelry, clothes, and other things. All along the streets people were selling things too.

Toward the end of the parade, we were walking along the sidewalk to meet some other friends, and walking down the sidewalk toward us was the president, Mel Zelaya, and he paused and shook our hands! I shook hands with the president of Honduras! I lived in DC for four years and never even saw the US president or anyone important.

Saturday night was a big street party. There were a bunch of band stands set up with music and dancing. It was a lot of fun. I really like La Ceiba as a city, it´s the third biggest city, but it´s not as dangerous, dirty and crowded as Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. It was a really great cultural event to go to.

The following Wednesday, we had our regional safety and security meeting, so we got to meet all the new volunteers in the area. They all seem really nice. And we got to stay at a nice hotel in Santa Rosa.

Sunday was my towns feria inauguration, so they had a little parade. The people in the munincipal office told me I could ride a horse in the parade if I could find a horse. So I borrowed my neighbor´s horse Sunday morning and rode down to the park. The park was full of people waiting for the parade and the other people on horses were lined up and the school band was waiting, and they all thought it was really funny I was riding a horse. But, as we were waiting, the horse got really scared because of all the noise and motorcycles and other horses, and was beign really skittish and not doing what it was supposed to. So people were laughing and I decided there was no way I could ride that horse in a parade, it could be dangerous. I rode the horse back to my neighbors and walked back to the parade. I did have fun riding the horse, but I just couldn´t in the parade.