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?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

here chicky chicky

Lucy's last day went out with a bang. I was at my new kitchen table (finally) and reading a Glamour magazine in peace (yes, that exists in the developing world) when I heard Lucy barking like a maniac. I go out into the yard and see that 2 of my neighbor's baby chicks have entered my yard (not unusual) and she is chasing them down the hill (my yard is on an incline). I don't think too much of it at the time until the barking gets crazier and I hear a lot of chirping. I go down and see Lucy's fur all wet and a chick hiding underneath a rock. I was freaking out because I didn't see the head of this chick or its feet so all I could think was, "How am I going to explain to Simon and Crystal that I let their dog kill a chick?" But the chirping started up again and I grabbed Lucy and kept her in the house until my neighbor came over and got the chick out of the mess. I was glad because the last thing I needed to see was a dead baby chick in my lawn and a puppy covered in blood. It would be right out of an aralen dream.
Lucy and I traveled to Santa Rosa to meet up with Crystal and Simon. We ate pizza, we went to a good grocery store, and we ate cake (a must when I meet up with them). I loved having Lucy for the past 10 days but was glad to give her back to them. It is tough training a puppy and I give them credit for having the patience to put up with it.
In other news, there was a nasty car crash in a town close to mine, Mercedes that involved 4 students that attend the colegio. One of the girls in the car is a girl that my brother Luis has a crush on and he was crushed to find out that she was in the accident. All the students should be alright but one of them is still in intensive care and classes were cancelled today so that the teachers could go to Gracias, Lempira (the capital of my department) to visit them. When I heard the news, it was one of those stories that really hit me because I was just taking pictures of these kids on Thursday at that talent show and now they are in the hospital. But thank goodness that all of them should recover just fine.

Friday, March 24, 2006

la señorita aniversario

I attended a San Ramón beauty pagent. Honestly! The colegio held "la señorita aniversario" pagent, similar to homecoming queen elections in front of the school. (Yes, classes were cancelled for it.) There was one female representative from each class, which meant there were 8 candidates. They first came out in what I could only describe as "club wear", halter tops, mini skirts, hooker boots, lots of jewelry and introduced themselves, where they were from, and how they felt about being a candidate for Ms. Anniversary. After their "interviews", they changed into the evening wear (I swear, I wouldn't had been surprised if there were a swimsuit competiton!) and soon after la señorita aniversario was crowned.

Yesterday, she led the school in a parade along the main street. It was actually pretty fun. We just marched along the main street while the marching band played. After the parade, there was a "talent show", which meant lip synching along to Spanish songs or scandelous dancing on stage to reggaeton. The former director of the colegio was there and was flirting with Ms. Anniversary the whole time with his wife at his side. Pretty creepy. After lunch the teachers played against the San Ramón soccer team. Lucky for me, I didn't have soccer shoes so I couldn't play. It was a good game with a large part of the town coming out for the match. My brother Brayan was rooting for San Ramón, since he's not in colegio yet and was coming up with all these crazy cheers and making fun of all the players. It's nice to know that heckling (sp?) players is universal. The game ended in a 2-2 tie (everyone is a winner?) and la fresa (the director's son) pulled a fainting act during the game to try and get a penalty shot in his favor. Supposedly someone tried to trip him and he screamed, "Where's the call?" Didn't get the call, so he put his head between his legs and then kneeled to the ground. It was an Oscar worthy performance. Brayan knew that it was a farce so he shouted, "Red Cross! We need the Red Cross right now!" After some colegio girls rushed to La Fresa's side, he was immediately "cured".

After all that excitement, they cancelled classes today which means free day in Santa Rosa! Lucy is still at my house and all is going well. However, I have decided that I am not ready for a dog at this time. I love dogs but my decision was finalized yesterday when a group of kids that finally had stopped coming to my house started coming to my house again to play with Lucy. If I had my own dog that would mean non-stop kids. I was just starting to appreciate the die down of kids and now it has started up again, which means endless cups of water, dirty hands, dusty shoes, begging for candy, wanting to wash their hands constantly because I have a Justice League soap dispenser, and not leaving ever because they don't want me to be "lonely" (which is sweet, but unnecessary).

I have to admit though that having a dog is nice company. Maybe after a year...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

juicy lucy

Internet has finally returned to San Ramón which means if you want to read about my crazy Superbowl weekend, you can click on Feb. 2006, then click on the story "the power of three".

Anyway, the dog sitting so far has been going very well. Lucy loves my back yard and really loves the kids. And the kids LOVE her. I took her to the soccer field yesterday and the kids played with her for a good 2 hours. She tired them out and they tired her out. Basically a win-win situation. I'm still not sure if I want a dog but I really do enjoy having her company in the house, as an added bonus, she loves to kill the beetles that enter my house (hope she doesn't get sick, Crystal and Simon). In addition, since Lucy understands English, the kids want to learn more English to speak to her (they were amazed that she understood the command "sit", since dogs here are not known for listening), however they have been yelling, "Shut up!" "Go to hell!" and "I love you!", which really doesn't mean much to Lucy.

In other news, the focus this week is on celebrating the anniversary of the colegio, which will end with a teacher vs. students soccer game and yours truly was suckered into playing for the teachers. Yesterday, I purchased a soccer ball to try and get some practice and was scooled by 9 year olds playing barefoot on a dirt field. Outlook not so good.

In the chisme (gossip) department, a woman came into the health center last week because she took half a pill that was meant for cows to increase their sex drive and get them to reproduce, and now we may have an Honduran edition of "Who´s the baby daddy?" Is it true? Who knows? But the whole town knows because I have heard the story several times, including my kid neighbors running over to the house to tell me.

Fun, fun, fun!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

the true test

I am thinking about getting a dog but am not sure that I am responsible enough to care for one full time so instead I am going to dog sit for Crystal and Simon's dog, Lucy, while they go meet some other volunteers. She's a Doberman/Pitbull mix and a handful because she's just a puppy. But she is fun and so cute and after this week, I'll know if I really want a dog full time.

In other news, I worked on the census again on Thursday in Matasano (or "kill the sane") and met a 76 year old man married to a 30 year old woman. She just gave birth to their 3 month old son. Truly a miracle of science. Yesterday, I taught English to 5th and 6th graders. It was my first class for the 5th graders so I asked them, "What English words to you already know?" A little boy stands up and shouts "Son of a bitch!" and points. I know that he had no idea what he was saying which made it so freaking cute. I ended up teaching them "hello, goodbye" by the Beatles with hand gestures, which they loved. I don't really know how much English they'll actually end up learning, but it's nice to teach them songs.

I have to get back to the Santa Rosa house and get back to Lucy before she tears up the whole house.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I'm in Santa Rosa again because the internet center in San Ramón is still out. Today I went with the students from the "senior class" (more or less) to Pinabetal, a neighboring aldea where we worked on a census again. My friend Bessy and I walked up the mountain and through tons of coffee farms until we reached a group of 3 houses. We walked for almost 2 hours and I was exhausted (not to mention filthy). When we finished, I walked with one of the teachers, who I will refer to as Professor McGuapo, down the main road towards Santa Rosa until a jalón felt pity for us and took us the rest of the way...and here I am.

The main reason I'm here? To print out the list of books that are in the library of San Ramón and make copies for the teachers.

The real reason I'm here?
1. To take a shower. I have no water in site and because it is the dry season and time to conserve water. I don't like to keep my pila filled because it is a breeding ground for dengue mosquitos. Instead, I am constantly walking around like PigPen, from Charlie Brown's crew, with a layer of dust caking my body.
2. To eat fried chicken. Honduran fried chicken is really, really good.
3. To use electricity. I think I blew out the power of my house yesterday when I was trying to boil water, so I have light but can't cook, my fridge is useless (not to mention that I will have to throw out a bunch of cheese now), and I can't listen to the radio.
4. To get away from my neighbors. They are pounding on the door begging to use my camera and end up taking pictures of pigs, doors, and antennas.
5. To fill out the NCAA tournament bracket. You can take the girl away from sports but you can't take away sports from the girl.

Now you know the truth. I have to catch a jalón back to site tomorrow morning at 6 am so I can work on the census all over again.

For those of you that have mailed things...I got a postcard from Greg sent all the way from Ireland in 10 days and a package from Kim and Kitch (love you!) in 9 weeks. You have to love the postal system.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

sweet dragon

It was a good night. There were about 30 volunteers present--representing from Hondu3 all the way to Hondu7--and a huge group of students from the University of Maine who were here doing an alternative spring break. We broke up into 3 groups and tried our best to hit all nine bars on the list, but because we started late, we couldn't get too far and stopped after the 6th.
Here's how scoring went down:
1 point for shots
2 points mixed drinks
3 points beer/wine
5 if you skip drinking the hole
(5 if you throw up)
The lower, the better.
As a tie breaker there were trivia questions but most people ended up tied anyway. My score was good because I ate 2 baleadas with just about everything, which also meant that I did not get sick or wake up with a hangover (thank goodness because I am going back to San Ramón today on a crazy bus).

Our 6th bar was a Mexican restaurant called Cuates that was nice enough to move tables out of the way so we could dance. They also stayed open extra late for us until we left. My friend Connie and I were talking to another gringo visiting here named Tim, which he said in Japanese meant sweet dragon...of course that meant that we called him sweet dragon the rest of the night. After we left, we went to a club, Luna Jaguar which wasn't all that and danced until 3am. It was one of those moments that I felt as though I was in the states again because I was out late (and past 8 pm is late for me now). We got back to the PC House and just chilled until everyone fell asleep...and the true miracle was that no one got sick.

So back to site today, back to work, back to my brothers, back to Spanish. It's not a bad thing though considering the pub crawl went really well and I am ready to go back to site so I can get some sleep!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

crawling in the dark

Tonight will be the first ever Santa Rosa Pub Crawl. The house members planned this get together of about 20ish people and now it has exploded into about 50 people. Some people have mentioned "golf rules" "scavenger hunt" "point system", but being that I went to a commuter school, I have no idea what they are talking about. Hopefully, it will be good and not too many people will shout "We're volunteers damnit!" in a crowded bar. And no, there will be no passing out on my part, I promise you that.

Last night, I ate at this fabulous Italian restaurant in Santa Rosa and it wasn't too expensive. I had chicken parmesan. Yum. Who knew that I could find such quality Italian food here???

Friday, March 10, 2006

you sound happy!

Things have been going really well this week due to my brothers coming by every night after dinner to visit me. Wednesday night they took my cell phone and called the radio station in Santa Rosa and requested a song for me on the air! (It was Daddy Yankee...but it's the thought that counts, right?) After that, my brother Luis called my parents for me (I didn't know how to dial out--I know, I know, pathetic) and they all sat with me while I talked to my dad because they wanted to hear what "fluent English sounded like". It was strange because I was talking about them to my dad in front of them but they didn't know because they don't speak English. It's hard to explain the strangeness of the situation. But my dad said, "You sound happy!" and maybe because I am. Some of the little kids drive me nuts with their constant questions and always wanting to play and things at the colegio are backwards but everytime my brothers come by, everything bad about the day is erased because they are just so adorable.

I taught my first English class yesterday to sixth graders, which went much better than expected. It turns out that they have a good vocabulary already (and of course the boys already know, "I love you", what did you expect?) and they sang "Old McDonald Had a Farm" for me, which was pretty cute. The good thing for me is that they only need me to teach once a week, which means that I have plenty of time to think up really interesting lessons. I know that I would go crazy if I had to teach it more than that.

Supposedly, baseball will be starting next week...when colegio officially starts (finally!).

One more thing, Happy Birthday Kitch! I know it's a day late but I didn't forget. I miss you tons!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

its the little things that make up life

Here are some little things that don't really fit into a themed blog about life in general:
-When playing Monopoly with kids younger than 10, you will make it around the board once before they start throwing houses at each other and want to buy St. James Place for 10 dollars
-I was on a packed Sunday bus a few weeks ago. My buses are school buses that in the U.S. would seat two, in Honduras, they seat 3-6 (kids sitting on laps of laps). The aisle was packed so a drunk on the bus decided to lie down in the aisle to "make space".
-Living alone in Honduras is "sad and pathetic" and people make it a point to be at my house as much as possible.
-Telling kids that they have to leave my house because I have work to do doesn't mean anything to them. I have to say that I'm studying otherwise they won't leave.
-Even then, only 40% of the time do they acutally get up and leave. Usually I have to ignore them when they run and hide (because they think it's cute) before they get the idea.
-Only when kids hands are dirty do they feel the need to touch my walls.
-Roosters like to crow at 12:40 am because it's fun.
-The idea of a library in San Ramon works better than the actual library. A lot of the teachers are claiming that the books belong to them so they should check them out "pemanently".
-Being an only child never prepared me for how much I would actually miss my host brothers. They don't come over often because they get annoyed by the kids that are always at my house.
-My Aralen dreams are so vivid and crazy that I wake up more tired than when I first went to sleep.
-It is considered strange that a 25 year old likes cartoons-because I have a dancing Homer, a Simpsons calendar and a Justice League bathroom set

Thursday, March 02, 2006

siempre está trabajando

...is a phrase I get a lot at the colegio (you're always working!). Yeah right! I started at the colegio on Monday after coming back from a pig roast in La Esperanza (more later). I think that I have mentioned before that the previous volunteer bulit a library before he left. The library is now the teachers lounge and the old teachers lounge is now the library. Arrrggghhh. It's pretty frustrating. I spent the first half of the week organizing all the books trying to make sections and alphabetize (working at Borders really came in handy here). I did a complete inventory mainly because it gave me something to do so I appeared busy. The teachers (or "profes" in Honduras) kept telling me, "You don't have to do an inventory. We did one last year and have the list....somewhere." Exactly. Somewhere. That's been work at the colegio. To give you an idea of how the system is here, I'll tell you these little facts:
-while school has officially started, the colegio hasn't made a master schedule for 2006 so the kids are attending classes from last year, doing work from last year and will be expected to change their routine once the master schedule is finalized
-three teachers have yet to show up to teach, which means that some classes are just 25 kids sitting in a room for 35 minutes waiting to see if they will be taught
-the teachers have held impromtu (sp?) teachers meetings in the middle of class-the director will say "teachers meeting" and all the teachers stop teaching in the middle of their class and go to the teachers lounge--they just walk right out
-bells ring for no real reason, usually a bell signals the end of a period or start of one, here they are used for audial pleasure???

Last week I worked in another town about a 15 min. jalón away, Las Lajitas, which translates to, small town with hilly and complicated roads that gringos can't walk on. I was with the head nurse at the health center and we were doing a census. It was pretty interesting and sad at times. We would to to a house made of mud, stones, and sticks to find a 26 year old mother with 4 kids living in a single room. The kids can't attend school because the family can't afford unifors. Moments like that made me feel stupid for ever complaining about "the cell". Some of the people we visited insisted that we eat something or have coffee with them. Usually they offered ice cream, pepsi, cookies, or lollipops (the major food groups here), but one woman said, "Take these cucumbers. They are fresh and delicious." It was just strange that she handed us a bunch of cucumbers, really sweet, but strange. I took them home and showed some girls in San Ramón the benefit of putting the slices over their eyes.

On to the pig roast! It was fellow Hondu 7 Qalim's birthday and he wanted to throw a pig roast/keg party. It was too hard to get a keg to La Esperanza so he had a fridge full of beer instead. Unlike my last visit, I caught jalons right away and made it there in about 5 hours. Almost everyone from Hondu 7 attended and it was really nice to see everyone and talk about our sites/adjustment period. As for the party, the pig (which was slaughtered that morning after its final meal of cookies and Honduran Doritios) was tasty and the company was great, but a lot of people were sick when they came to La Esperanza so not many people drank or danced. I was a downer too because I had to catch a 4 am bus to San Pedro to get back to my site right away (boo). I slept at my friend Melissa's apartment, along with 15 other people, which made it a wall-to-wall sleepover. As I was walking to the bus station, another bus saw me and offered me a ride to the station.

"You can't walk alone at this time--you could get murdered!"
Just what I wanted to hear at 350 in the morning.