Kathryn's Peace Corps Adventure

The opinions expressed and experiences described in this blog are mine personally. Any musings that you read here are not affiliated or endorsed by Peace Corps or U.S. government. Or Starbucks. And I'm not making any money from any of this, so don't send a lawsuit my way. Got it?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

styrofoam parties and garbage bonfires

I officially moved into my house on Wednesday when my bed and fridge arrived. I was really sad to leave my host family....I know that I've made jokes about being stuck in "the cell" (which I won't miss) but I really began to like my family once we actually became friendly. However, not even 15 minutes after arriving to the house, I hear a knock on the door and there are my brothers and sister! They helped me set up my stove, move my fridge, they brought up my huge table from "the cell" (up the mountain no less!), and cleaned out my pila (it was full of mosquitos). After all that work (and me just standing around like a clueless northamerican), they picked up the pieces of styrofoam that were on the floor, that came from the packaging of the fridge, and they began to joust with it, do karate chops, and beat each other in the head. Within minutes there were pieces of styrofoam everywhere and the whole house was a mess...it was pretty fun though.

They grabbed a broom and started cleaning up right away and said, "We'll burn your trash for you!" (I know, I know, it is horrible for the environment but it is what you do here). They made a huge pile of the styrofoam mixed with my trash, started the fire, started dancing and screaming around the fire. Minus the fumes and health hazards it was a good time. I wish I had been smart enough to grab my camera and take pictures.

They came over the next day to reclean the pila, pick oranges, and plant flowers for me (it was soooo cute). However, a bunch of kids decided to join them and my house became a mess again. I don't mind my brothers coming over because I know them and they know me ("confianza" wink, wink) but these other kids don't know me, love to dig through my stuff, always want to play, and don't understand the meaning of the word "no" (as I had to throw them out of the house two days ago for dunking their heads into my pila and spitting in it).

Yesterday, they spilled juice all over the floor which I only found out about this morning when I saw a family of ants having a party. My brothers didn't come over yesterday because I think they knew that I was mad about the mess the other kids made, so I really love them for that. I threw the other kids out again yesterday but even after I told them that they had to leave, they kept banging on the door, throwing rocks at the house, and jumping over the fence to look into the house from the back. (I don't have a back wall exactly, I have a gate...I'm sure this doesn't make much sense without a visual aid but let's just say that if I'm in the "dining room", I can look out and see my backyard because all I have is an iron fence).

Right now, I'm pretty upset, especially since I found out that they stole my bathroom lightbulb and I don't plan on opening the door if they come knocking. I was so excited about getting my own house, which I am still happy about, but I am really mad about the behavior of these neighborhood kids.

Monday, February 13, 2006

sweetest thing

I've received a few emails asking: What can I send you?
So here are some ideas:
-Fruit Roll Ups
-Trident Tropical Twist gum
-Orbit Bubblemint gum
-New York Times Sunday Magazine or any articles from NYT
-New York Times Crossword Puzzles (from the paper is fine)
-Kraft Mac and Cheese (pricy here!)
-Self/Fitness/People/Latina/US Weekly Magazine
-Photos/Postcards/Cards from home
-Orange Gatorade Powder
-Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Thank you to everyone who already sent stuff and to those who are planning to send stuff. This is NOT a list begging for things. It's just some ideas for those who asked for them.

splish splash

Drum roll please.....
My house is ready!!!!!

I spent most of yesterday having neighborhood kids help me move my stuff up to the new house. I didn't have too much stuff but because I had so many manuals and only 1 large backpack, it took several trips to bring stuff up the mountain. After moving the stuff up, we played hide and seek in my "backyard" (not exactly a yard but I do have several fruit trees) and tag in the empty house, which lasted just long enough for dirty kids to put their dirty handprints all over my freshly painted walls. (Just part of the experience.)

I am not living there officially because I have no bed and no table top stove (to boil my water..a necessity) so I am still sleeping in the cell and having my meals with my host family. After lunch, I went back to the new house to try and arrange some of my things. I went into the bathroom to turn on the faucet to the sink to see what water pressure was like and I hear a loud burst. I run outside to the back of the house and see that a pipe has burst and there is water gushing everywhere. Being the nutcase that I am, the first thing I do is grab a bucket and pace it under the pipe to collect the water (why? I didn't know what else to do so I figured I would try to at least not waste water) then I tried to fuse the pipes back together and ended up drenched.

So I'm standing in my house, soaking wet, feeling like a total idiot, listening to water overflowing everywhere in the back. After a few minutes of serious contemplation (do I try to fix it again and end up even more wet? do I admit defeat and go get my host family to help me? do I just ignore the problem and hope it go away?), I go out to the back of the house and try to fuse the pipes again. I grab the pipes, cover the one with the water coming out with my thumb, end up spraying water directly into my face (great a bunch of unpurified water in my mouth? hello parasites!) After a minute or two of fighting with the pipes I eventually get them reconnected. I also manage to:
1. cut my finger badly in the process (now I'm not only drenched, but blood is oozing out of my finger)
2. look like I just came off a water ride from Six Flags
3. really feel like an idiot

But it's fixed. I changed my clothes because there was no way that I was going to go back to my host family looking like I took a shower in my clothes and I did not want to explain the story to them (that would be a clear indicator that I am for sure a gringa). I started to laugh and couldn't stop because I was so embarassed/confused/overwhelmed/soaked that there was nothing else I could do.

I am also afraid to turn on the water to the bathroom sink now in fear that it could happen again. Isn't it pathetic that I'm afraid of a sink?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the power of three

Why is it when Crystal, Delfo and I get together, we have to get into some interesting situation? (Only this time Simon had a guest appearance.)

After my Vegas Vacation, the four of us go to Santa Bárbara, Santa Bárbara, (a cute city) with Crystal and Simon’s sitemate, Syd and his girlfriend, Susan, to watch the superbowl. We take 3 buses and a flatbed truck jalón to get there (technically, it is only 25 km away, but you have to travel over 150 km to get there because in this country, there just wouldn’t be any other way). We meet up with some business volunteers and health volunteers there and get together in a bar that has a projection TV. Naturally the TV is not set up when we get there and it’s about 50 minutes until kickoff (but who’s counting, right?). Instead of showing all the pre-game insanity before the game on the smaller TV, the bar decides to show Eagles and Michael Jackson videos. The TV gets set up after 3 minutes of the game had been played (not important, really…but being the tomboy that I can be, it mattered to me). We were served a nice steak dinner, which was even nicer when I found out that it was all paid for by one of the business volunteers. Sadly, I did not get to enjoy it though. I either had some bad water or bad ice in my licuado (from San Pedro) because I was sick with some fun parasite/amoeba/bacterial infection that had my stomach hurting in all kinds of ways.

Have you ever seen “Faces of Death”? The producers document one scene in Asia where a group of men shove swords into their stomachs as some sort of rite of passage. That’s what I could imagine the pain in my stomach was like. (Not that I had ever shoved swords into my stomach…) It hurt a lot and it was hard to walk, talk, or even sit. Only by lying down did the pain subside.

Anyway, after the poorly called game, the four of us decided to stay in the same hotel where Syd and Susan were staying. Hotel Santa Lucia.

Santa Lucia, Francisco Morazán, is where I lived for the majority of my training. It is a beautiful mountain town with clean, crisp air and pine tree covered mountains. Hotel Santa Lucia, Santa Bárbara, is the place where life long memories are made.

The plan was that the four of us were going to get a room with 3 beds for 150 lps. That was agreed upon before we even got to the hotel by Syd and the manager. We are taken to a room with 2 beds, for Crystal and Simon, and are told that if Delfo and I plan on staying there, we have to pay 150 lps. extra or we could take another room for 150 lps. We decide on taking another room which was the one that had 3 beds. No less than 2 minutes pass when Crystal comes charging into the room stating, “Check you beds before you do anything because ours are covered in bugs.” We check and Delfo says, “The only things I see are the California Raisins” (in reference to the bedsheets with those charming little 80s commercial characters) The manager comes up to our room and asks for our names and a long process begins where Crystal and Delfo try to talk her into letting the 4 of us share the room for 200 lps. because of the bedbugs. It takes awhile but she agrees in the end.

“I have to pee and there’s no bathroom door.”, Crystal says. “Look the sink drains right into the shower”, I state. “The TV brand is Panda”, Simon says. “There’s no way I’m going to get to see porn on a black and white TV, is there?”, Delfo states. That kind of describes the room. The walls are covered in a fun mystery stain and smells kind of like sewage…only mixed in with the smell of dirty foam mattress. I think the song “Thriller” by Michael Jackson describes it best when the voiceover says, “The funk of 40,000 years”. That was the smell. Crystal takes a picture of me lying in bed and with the background I look like one of those “For only $25 a month, you can give this girl a place to call home”, kind of ads. All we could do was laugh about the situation. You could get mad about the whole thing, but what would be the point? Besides, if I got mad I would feel like an insensitive traveler from the states who isn’t willing to take an adventure and adjust culturally. I also wouldn’t be able to share the story now if I wasn’t able to look back and laugh on it.

It was hard to sleep because it was really cold in the room (I foolishly and unknowingly took the only bed sheet, which didn’t help much) and it was just uncomfortable. We got out of there early the next morning and went to a restaurant famous for foot long baleadas, only to find that they didn’t have any (fine with me because my stomach was still hurting like crazy). I just got on the next bus that left for Santa Rosa, spent the night in the PC House and got back to site Tuesday afternoon.

It was interesting getting back to site because I got off the bus and my brother Ramón came running up to me and said, “You were gone a long time!” When I got in the house, my other brothers came right into my room, grabbed the Monopoly board and said, “Finally! Let’s play.” This started a marathon monopoly session that didn’t end until the next day. Maybe I am creating little capitalist monsters...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

a las Vegas

I took the bus from Tegucigalpa to San Pedro Sula at 2 pm and was supposed to get off at "La Guama" to catch another bus to get to Las Vegas. I ask the ticket taker to let me know when we reach La Guama because I had never been there before. He agrees but only lets me know that the bus had passed La Guama by the time I had asked him. I end up taking the bus all the way to San Pedro Sula and spend the night in a really gorgeous hotel, which was located a block away from the new mall, City Mall. Of course I had to go and it was excellent. Clean tiled floors, perfect window displays, no one bothering me, an awesome food court...it was a nice escape.

The next morning (after having a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast!), I get on the bus that is headed towards Las Vegas, meet Crystal, Simon, and Delfo in town. Crystal makes raspberry pancakes for us and then later in the afternoon they hold a baseball practice. I get to play Mark Prior again and pitch to some really good ball players. Some of them can really throw a ball...maybe I should meet my team to see if they are ready for the competition in a month. It was fun but it was HOT. I was sweating like crazy because my body just isn't used to that temperature any longer.

Today we had lunch at this place called "D&D Brewery"where the owner, who's from Oregon, makes all his own beers (Mango Ale, Apricot Ale) and sodas (blueberry, vanilla, and ROOTBEER!!!). I had a rootbeer and fresh fish and it was fabulous. The owner is a little crazy...crazier than me which means he's pretty nutty. He spent most of the time with us complaining about how Hondurans aren't educated, how they are unsanitary, etc. We caught a jalón back to Vegas and are planning to go to Santa Bárbara tomorrow to watch the Superbowl.

Sorry this isn't too funny but I'm kind of tired.