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?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

pump it up, a little more...get your body goin' on the dance floor

I spent Christmas in San Ramón with my host family. They threw a party that, in my opinion, was much more enjoyable than last year’s party. This is most likely due to me knowing more people in San Ramón and now that I have a better control of the language (no, I am nowhere near fluent) I am better at saying, “No, I don’t want to dance with you because you are too drunk to stand on your own” or “No, I don’t want to be your girlfriend because, well, we’ve just met and I bet you don’t know my first name…and ‘gringa’ is not it.”

But really, it was just so much fun. My host sister, Rosa, had some great music and everyone just wanted to dance. Surprisingly, she had a CD filled with early 90s music. (I need to pay a visit to my bootlegger in Santa Rosa pronto!) When ‘Pump up the Jam’ came up, ghetto k made her appearance and danced like a crazy girl. And suddenly I was in 5th grade again at my first dance. Cognitive dissonance. Fo’sho…

And I didn’t have to dance with any drunks (or Evers) because the locos wanted to dance with me. It’s fun dancing with kids because you can make an ass out of yourself, but because people just think that you are trying to get the kids involved and have fun with them. Not a bad thing for a youth development volunteer.

Their party ended at midnight and Rosa invited me to come with her to another party which sounded like a great idea at the time because I was so high from the 90s music and still wanted to dance. But the walk to the party killed me. It was pitch black and we had to walk though a coffee field uphill to get to the house. Because I’m a semi-shortie, I rocked some platform sandals, which were fine for dancing, but for walking in a muddy, rocky coffee field…not so much. My feet were killing by the time we got to the other party. I danced to three punta songs (with success, hooray!) and when the romántica started, I booked. (No straight up hug dancing for me, especially since I was super sweaty from dancing…gross.) I found the locos and asked them to take me home. If going uphill was difficult, going downhill was a nightmare. I was tempted to take off my shoes but walking barefoot sounded like an invitation for ringworm (no thanks). Luis helped me down the hill and piggy backed me for some parts (he’s a team player like that). We got back to my house around 2. My feet were in excruciating pain. The price I pay to be taller.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

ours is a stormy kind of love

My friend Adam came to visit me about 2 weeks ago in San Ramón. I was super excited because he was the first person outside of my boss to come and see where I live…but then again, I just started formally inviting people up to come and visit me. We arrived at my house around 2 pm. Adam was looking at my photo wall when someone knocked.

“Is he here?!”
“Yeah, come in.”

Two of the boys, Heltón and Ramón came running in to see Adam said hello and immediately ran out of my house. A minute later the knocking returned and there were Williams and Brayan.

“So he’s here right…?”

Again with the introductions. Again with the running out of the house.

They all came back as a group a few minutes later and the cold war started. Adam watched TV while they would stare at him, then me, then come over to me and whisper nonsense in my ear…basically everyday conversation that could have been said out loud but wasn’t because they were shy or overly protective of me. Adam did try to talk to them but all they did was give him dirty looks or say something under their breath in Spanish, which was ridiculous because Adam is a bilingual teacher in Honduras so he understood exactly what they were saying.

Later, I gave Adam the grand tour of San Ramón…the church, the grade school, the colegio, the ‘social center’ and the health center (all of which took 15 minutes), then we went back to my house to chill because it was too rainy and muddy to stay out for long.

The boys come by again, this time yelling at me and saying, “Out with the old. In with the new, huh? Once you have new friends, you forget all about us. You don’t love us anymore. We’re not coming over anymore so you can have all the gringos you want come over.”

That fight went on for quite awhile with them (mostly Williams) saying pretty horrible things to me. “You’ll probably sleep in the same bed with him tonight because that’s what all American sluts do.”, topped the list of mean statements.

Jeez guys, I just wanted my friend to visit. Calm down. Seriously.

It really wasn’t worth fighting over because I knew how hard headed they could be and there would be no convincing them otherwise. Besides, do I need to defend myself to 13 year olds?

A few hours pass and they come by again, apologizing and start talking to Adam. (How quickly teenage emotions change at times…) He wrestles and jokes around with them. They all enjoy play fighting with him and he was really great with them. When they left, they kept saying, “He’s so cool. Way cooler than you Cati.” (naturally they’d think that…)

The next day though Adam wasn’t feeling well so I told the kids that they couldn’t come over because all he wanted to do was rest. Then the fighting started all over again. Williams was the most vocal. “I’m never coming back here. You only care about yourself and don’t care about me anymore.” Again it was a fight that wasn’t worth putting my energy into. I sat out on my front porch with them listening to them speak poorly of me while Adam rested and I stayed outside with them until they left, just to try to prove to them that even though I may have other friends besides them doesn’t mean that I’ll love them any less.

It’s a hard concept to explain in any language.

It’s alright now though I am worried to bring other friends over because I don’t want to fight with them every time someone comes to visit nor do I want to put my friends in an awkward position.

I give credit to single parents out there…it must be so difficult putting your personal happiness aside for the happiness of your children. Or it could be that I’m too selfish to understand that kind of unconditional love.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

just kickin' it

My house has been more of a drop off point the past month than an actual home. I’ve been traveling among San Ramón, Santa Rosa, San Marcos, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. There were times when I came to San Ramón for an afternoon simply to do laundry, burn trash, say hello to my locos and leave the next morning. Needless to say, my house was a mess. Papers and manuals everywhere and just a general disorganization.

This week has been good because there is no school, coffee season is in full force and the holidays are here, so there is little work right now. I’ve spent my days doing tons of laundry, reorganizing the house, visiting neighbors, listening to music, chillin’ with my kids and just relaxing. It’s nice.

It’s funny because there were times during the school year when I felt as though I wasn’t doing much work, but now that it is out, I really know what light work feels like. It is different than last year though because time is moving quickly. Most of January is filled with plans and school will start again late in February. I remember this time last year I was making clothesline with dental floss and re-reading the same Newsweeks to pass the time…now I have a list of books and magazines that I would like read, classes to plan for next year, Christmas parties to attend…it’s nice to know that things can change in a year and it’s nice to feel positive about it.


He is the most challenging puzzle I’ve ever met. He’s hilarious, intelligent, energetic, and frustrating. His father denies paternity, though Williams still refers to him as his dad. His sisters deny it too, like he was a mistake that was never meant to occur. His mom left for San Pedro Sula 5 weeks ago to work and he doesn’t know when (or if she’s coming back). The rest of his family is in San Pedro also, working in factories there. He now lives with a guardian who was nice enough to take him. He makes me so crazy sometimes that I wonder if I am being a total pushover when it comes to him but then I think… life is not supposed to be this difficult for someone who is only 13 years old.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

nothing left for me to do but dance

“That is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard”, said my friend (and PCV) Joe, after I told him that not only was I throwing a party for my 6th graders, but that I was the one who suggested it in the first place.

I talked to some of the girls about 2 weeks ago and casually mentioned having a dance party at my house one afternoon before they graduated and the immediately agreed. But school was out by then and I hadn’t seen them much because of Thanksgiving and seeing the doctor and since no one mentioned it, I thought that I wasn’t going to have it until….

“Cati, is it true that you are having a huge party at your house on the 1st?” Williams actually called me while I was in San Pedro Sula to ask if the rumor was true.

When I came back to San Ramón, kids kept coming by my house confirming the date and the time for the party. I freaked out a little because by then it was the 30th and I had tossed the idea of throwing the party away. Friday morning I went to Santa Rosa to buy balloons, white lights (useful for my Christmas decorating as well), candy and chips (the staples of the 12 year old diet), made it back to my house to clean up and hide all the stuff I didn’t want destroyed and made a few CDs for the party.

I said, “Come by at 4 pm” that way, we could dance for about 2 hours and then everyone would leave around 6 pm because it would be dark and no one wants to walk back in the dark.

4 pm comes along and the only people that are there are my locos. 530 pm, we’re watching “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” (just like a year ago…funny how things haven’t changed). 630 pm, knock knock. 25 kids pour into my house at once and suddenly we’re dancing, taking pictures, and having a decent time in a chaotic (but controlled) manner. Most of them leave by 730 simply because it is dark and parents have come by looking for their kids (hooray for responsibility!).

The locos stay and we dance until 1030.

Friday, December 01, 2006

town meeting

I spent yesterday afternoon hanging up Christmas lights around my living room and trying to figure out how to hang 9 ft of fake pine. The locos came over and were listening to music while I was hanging up the lights. My stomach began to hurt so I went to my bed for a short time to lie down. I went back to hanging up my lights and then all of them storm out of the house and slam the door.


I decide not to sweat over it, maybe they were fighting with each other and left to take care of it outside. I continue to work on the lights and they come back. As I’m on the ladder, I see them carrying all the chairs in my house and placing them in a circle around my “couch” (it’s hard to explain). They ask me to sit down. I sit.

-Cati, you have changed since coming back from the U.S. in August.
-You used to play with us, you used to talk to us and now it’s different.
-You’re more stand-offish.
-Funny, because I feel like we have more trust now than before.
-That’s true…but we still feel like you don’t like as much anymore. Has anyone said anything to you?
-People always say things to me about you guys but those things never really mattered to me.
-Is that why you’re different?

This goes on for another minute or two.

-Have you guys thought about the big things that have changed since I came back from the states?
-Like what?
-Well, the Playstation is here now, I got cable, I brought back a computer. You guys would come here and play those things, so you can’t say to me that I have changed because you have too.


-She’s right, Williams says.

Then Williams goes on this rant to Brayan about how all he does is sit and stare in front of the television, which made me laugh because Williams’ Spanish is pretty hilarious when he’s mad.

I was so satisfied that I finally outsmarted them that I continued ranting about the things that made me crazy. I went into them stealing my food, going through my stuff, making calls on my phone…it was just so great to get it all out in the open and let them know that I am going to be less of a pushover this following year.

In the end, we “hugged it out” like Jermey Piven’s character on Entourage would say.

hey, joey-joe-joe!

The past week has been busy in a social sense. Last Thursday was Thanksgiving, which was a fun celebration in the Santa Rosa house involving 2 20 lb. turkeys and lots of “American-style” side dishes. Friday night was a salsa party as one of the volunteers was celebrating his birthday and Sunday was spent doing tons of laundry on the pila (what a downer).

Monday I left for San Pedro Sula to receive my one year medical checkup with 8 other volunteers from my group. I thought the checkup would be a little more extensive than,

-What diseases have you had in the past year?
-Ok, now get on the scale, good.
-Have you received a flu shot?
-No, the one from last year isn’t good anymore so we’re going to give you another one.”
-Do you need any medications? Any condoms?

Then we went to the dentist where it was the same procedure. The dentist was fast and got through all of us in about 4 hours. Later, I was told by one of the volunteers that he saw a cockroach on the cleaning equipment.

After, we received our results and it was kind of exciting when someone would come out any say, “I have giardia!” or “I have ringworm!” because they felt perfectly normal while a bacteria with fangs was dancing around in their intestines the entire time. Since I just got over parasites, I came out clean.

But we had 3-ish free days in San Pedro, which has the largest mall in Central America which we fully enjoyed. I ate way too much food and spent an inordinate amount of my living allowance just to indulge in rocky road ice cream, sandwiches, and cinnabon.

The best part though was being able to chill with the volunteers and talk about the past year, our successes and failures, plans for the next year, complain about Honduras, complain about the U.S. (easy for me when news from the U.S. was shown on cable), quote the Simpsons like crazy with my friend Simon, and being able to speak sweet, sweet English.

My travels won’t stop for the time being as I have to go to Tegucigalpa next week for a seminar and I will get to enjoy more sandwiches and rice krispy treats. Yum.