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, September 30, 2006

true love

It's 4:30 pm. That knock on the door means that my locos are here to drive me crazy in the most lovable way. As they enter, they tell me, some of the girls from 6th grade are going to come over too, which is fine. The girls enter, sit down on the "couch" and Williams and Luis leave the room to go out back. The girls tell me, "Let's go play soccer at the court", I'm reluctant at first but soon agree to go with them. The girls look for Williams and Luis, can't find them and I just say, "Let's go", thinking that they don't want to go and are hiding from all the girls and chaos.

The girls and I play soccer for a bit until the sky gets dark with storm clouds and I say that I don't want to walk home in a wet skirt. We get back to my house and Luis and Williams are acting strange. They shut themselves in my bedroom, I enter and ask, "What's up?" They don't say anything. I leave, teach the girls how to play dominoes, Williams and Luis come out of my room, slam the door and run into the kitchen. Brayan asks me, "What's wrong with them?" "How am I supposed to know?", I say.

I enter my bedroom, lie on the bed in the dark. I tap the wall which connects to the kitchen and Luis taps back (we used to do that a lot when I lived with his family). Williams and Luis enter my room and lie down next to me. "You're bad", they both say. "Why?" "You know why." I wasn't in the mood for the games of 14 year olds. "I don't know what you're talking about, why don't you just tell me?"


"What's going on?", I yell.

They both storm out of my room and my house.

I don't want to fight with them. I can't afford to lose them. I start crying. By that time everyone except Brayan has left my house. Brayan comes in, "What happened? What did they say to you?"

"I don't know.", in a crying mess.

Brayan brushes the hair out of my face. "Don't cry Cati, please don't cry." Can 11 year olds be this caring? "Let's play Super Mario to get your mind off them." (ahh, there's the 11 year old)

Knock, knock.

"Are you mad at us?", Williams asks as he and Luis stand at my doorway.

Am I?

"No, I just want to know why you're mad at me, why you stormed out of my house and why I'm bad."

"Were you crying?" "Yes."

Williams says, "We were upset with you because you left to play with the girls without telling us. It was rude and not like you at all. We thought you were different. You love them more than us. You're going to forget about us." He starts crying. "You're our best friend here."

And that's it. Even my cynical self can't fight that. I say, "It was a misunderstanding. I didn't mean to leave you, I just thought that you didn't want to play soccer."

"But do you love them more?"

"Do you know that you guys are my world? That if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be here? I have so many problems with my work at the colegio, at the school but my days are always wonderful because of you. I would go home to the states if I didn't have you guys come by to make my days better. Nothing will change that, not Oscar, not the girls, nothing."

Williams and Luis throw their arms around me and start crying harder. I start crying again. "We can't lose you. We still want to be able to visit you everyday."

"And you can still do that."

And just like that, my heart is wide open.

crazy like a fox!

No shoes, tiptoes, slow movement, even better crawling on the floor, make sure there are no shadows, is my bracelet hitting the cement floor and making that sound? I hope my cell phone doesn't ring right now....

This is what pathetic sounds like. School ended early on Friday and I was just enjoying some alone time before the locos came over to make my life wonderful/challenging/crazy all at once. But some other kids came over to my house early wanting to play. Not now. Please not now. I just want to eat my spaghetti, look at photos, listen to English music without explaining the lyrics in Spanish and read a magazine in peace. I heard their footsteps coming. I turned off my music immediately, threw my magazine behind me and dropped to the floor.

Pathetic, no?

I heard, "Cati? Cati? Are you there?" I just kept thinking, "Invisible, invisible, you're invisible". It's a game I used to play in college. I used to think that if I believed hard enough that I was invisible, I could almost be invisible. To quote Seinfeld, "It's not a lie if you believe it." I did it a lot in my Spanish literature classes because my Spanish was horrible then and I wouldn't be able to express myself or what was happening in Borges' poetry. (Not too different that my current situation.) They kept knocking and started hitting the gate. I ran to a corner, stayed there until the voices faded while believing I was invisible. After, I ran to my room and closed the door knowing that I would be safe, at least for a little while.

I'm being selfish, I know. But I am not a free babysitter. I do want some time to myself before I breakup fights over who is the strongest, which movie is the best, who gets to drink the last of my Zuko strawberry punch, and preventing kids from looking under my bed and stealing my stash of Eclipse gum. I can't help but laugh at myself as I think about crawling on the floor in a skirt with no shoes trying to be as silent as possible. It's all part of the adventure.

Monday, September 25, 2006

a year later


Well, alright then.

A little over a year ago, 35 of us arrived to Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa to "change the world" (aka avoid the real world for the time being). And that phrase was one of the first phrases shouted at us when we boarded a school bus with our PB&J sandwiches (or Ham and Cheese, sorry Simon) to live with our host families in Santa Lucia.

I laugh as I think about how I'd never get along with the people in my group. They were too different, they were too driven, they were not my friends from Chicago. Now I wonder how my life will be 13-ish months from now when we will be separated.

I laugh harder when I think about how I thought my life would be back then. I never thought I'd be playing GTA most days, having the most important people in San Ramon be under the age of 15, and my biggest concerns being how to master the art of being invisible.

I still don't know why I really signed up for PC. I know that I wanted to learn Spanish and live somewhere different. But did I think that I was going to make a difference? Not in PC terms. To be honest, what I am doing is not sustainable development. But I do feel like I am making a difference in the lives of my Honduran friends here. Again I wonder if we will still be friends after I leave or if it's one of those friendships that will be wonderful now but won't work when I'm gone, like so many high school friendships.

So one year down, about 13 months to go. I have to say that it has gone by so fast. Let's hope the pace continues this way.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Oscar is a math teacher at the colegio. He's 22 years old and working on getting his degree in teaching of math. He is as big of a sports fanatic as I am. Up until recently, I had a crush on him.

Before I left for the United States, we were kind of talking over text messages, nothing more than "how was your day?" or "don't meetings with the director suck?". The day before I left he sent me this message, "Have a great trip. Enjoy your time with your parents and your friends. I'll be thinking of you while you're gone and I'll be waiting for you when you get back." I was feeling pretty wonderful and thinking that maybe there would be a chance that we could actually date. The problem is that he wasn't waiting for me. In the 2 weeks that I was gone he managed to get a girlfriend. I was a little sad but it wasn't a huge deal because it was a crush and things like this happen to me quite often.

The main problem was that I never deleted those text messages from my phone. Williams and Luis were at my house while I was holding dance class in my living room with some of the girls from my 6th grade class. They read the messages from him, became convinced that he was in love with me, and proceeded to send him text messages under my name. "I love you Oscar" "You are the only one for me" "We should be together".

Naturally, I didn't find this out until later when they came to me and said, "We need your help".

It turns out that along with the messages, they called Oscar, posing as my boyfriend, Fernando, and asked Oscar to stay away from me. Oscar figured out that it was Williams making the calls from my phone and told him that suspension may be in order. That's why they wanted my help. Williams asked me to make up some sort of story for him, saying that some other guy used my phone and not him and that I didn't even see Williams this past weekend. Both he and Luis were thinking up these elaborate lies that I could tell to Oscar and to the director to get them out of possible trouble. I told them that I wasn't responsible for cleaning up their mess, especially because they used my phone without my permission, using up my prepaid minutes, called my friends and put me in a complicated situation. I was pretty mad at them (but especailly with Williams)...and asked Williams why he would do such a stupid thing.

He tried to make it seem as though it were my fault. He tells me that I shouldn't be talking to Oscar at all, that I have enough people that want to date me that I shouldn't waste my time with Oscar, that I need to focus on my work and not on Oscar, that Oscar is a jerk, a player, a moron...and it finally ends with the truth.

"I don't want to lose you, Cati. If you started dating Oscar, you would spend all of your time with him, never be here on the weekends and forget all about me, Brayan and Luis."

I want to tell him not to worry, that they will always be a part of my life, that they are so important to my happiness in San Ramon, but I say nothing. I'm furious that he pulled this prank and will most likely make things really awkward between Oscar and me. Regardless of the crush fading, he was becoming a good friend of mine and am worried that their pendejadas may have messed everything up.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

mr. brightside

I was reprimanded by the director of the colgeio on Friday because I didn't stand outside of the library during the national anthem--this is understandable. It's a respect thing. Later on in the day I was reprimanded by him again because I let the students use the computers in the library. They were practicing with paint and playing cards. I don't think it's a bad idea that they have the opportunity to be creative and get familar with the computers but he said that they are not allowed to use them unless they are for official business. (And the kids weren't missing class either. They just didn't have class and didn't want to be bored.) After that happened, I had a bad hour of "I'm going to request for a transfer, I'm moving to Santa Rosa, this colegio is garbage and I'm wasting my time." I was pretty mad for awhile the thought of selling all my stuff and just quitting crossed my mind, as it does from time to time but this time felt a little more serious.

What cheered me up? First was getting out of the colegio. I just went home because it was too much. Who was waiting for me when I got home? The cable guy. Only 3 months late but I finally have some cable. (Naturally, it was raining pretty heavily which meant no signal....but still CABLE!) Second thing that cheered me up was Williams saying I looked pretty, which made me forget about the fatty comment from before. The third thing was that Luis and Brayan came over and we just chilled. We played Vice City for awhile, watched The Simpsons (they can't believe that Maggie was the one who shot Mr. Burns), Brayan beat me in Simpsons Road Rage (I need to get that win back), Luis tried to convice me that Oscar is crazy about me (which I don't believe at all), and Williams kept bringing up his "plan" (his hope that I'll stay in San Ramon and marry Luis when he's legal....not going to happen!). It was just nice to talk with them and remember that not everything is about the actual work that I do. I have been feeling this way lately because I have to do this 6 month report for PC, trying to show my project manager (and the U.S. government) that I'm doing productive stuff in my sites. I wish their was a section "Number of visa conversations you've held", "How many people have asked you about Pres. Bush?", or "How many kids to you hang out with to help the time go by more quickly?". That's where I'd have some real numbers to put up. But honestly, I don't know how I would make it here without the kids that I have here. In one afternoon I went from "Get me out of here!" to "I could never leave here!"