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?

Monday, October 30, 2006

dancing punta in my stomach

That’s how I’ve described my parasites to people in town. Foolishly (and lazily) I didn’t boil the water for my coffee long enough on Sunday and have been paying for it all week with a fun batch of parasites. I’m pretty sure that’s what caused it. I normally boil my water for 4 minutes but I wasn’t really paying attention so I just thought, “Who cares? It’s boiling. It’s probably been boiling for awhile.” Idiot! Sunday night was spent with a fever. Monday was total exhaustion and stomach pains that reminded me why I am so scared about giving birth, considering these are just parasites and not a human being. Tuesday and Wednesday, still tired with little appetite.

Growing up as a chubby-ish girl, I always dreamed of a magical diet that would cause me to lose a few pounds without doing anything. Who knew that that diet was only consisted of drinking untreated water?!

I was stuck in my house for 4 days straight and was starting to go crazy. One of the few benefits was that I didn’t have to answer the door if someone knocked because I put a sign out politely asking that no one knock on my door because I’m sick.

…well, until Williams banged on the door for 10 straight minutes.

“Can’t you read?!”, I say groggily.
“Good, you’re not dead.”, as he barges his way in with Luis, who is holding a bunch of leaves.
“Um…I’m sick and I look like crap.”
“We’re here to make you feel better. We’re going to make you a drink that will kill the parasites.”
“No, really, you don’t….” Too late. The blender is already being filled with the leaves and water (purified this time).

I drink this concoction of what seems to be spearmint and water. They leave. 20 minutes later I’m throwing up.

You can’t say they didn’t try.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

the san ramón cineplex

Yesterday the grade school held a movie fundraiser. Pay 2 lempiras and watch a movie at the school during the afternoon. The movie was supposed to start at 3 pm, but like most things in Honduras, it started much later. Part of the lateness was due to the DVD player not reading the bootleg DVDs and then the other part was that no one could decide on a movie. They ended up showing “Chavo del 8”, which is like a comedy show, with lots of skits. I didn’t watch most of the skits mainly because there was so much yelling going on.

“Juan, move your big fat melon head”
“There’s your ugly girlfriend, Regino”
“Stop sticking tape on me!”
“Would you all just shut up!”
“Look, Regino is holding Yuri’s hand, ooohhhh…..”

In other news, there is another nationwide teacher’s strike going and has been said to be indefinite. School is supposed to end in 3 weeks and I am hoping that the strike will end by Monday. The director of the high school told all the teachers (and me) that if anyone of us teaches any kind of class, we will be fined 500 lempiras ($25), money which goes to the municipality (or so he says). But students aren’t showing up either, so I guess it doesn’t matter if I were to teach a class anyway.

With school ending soon and coffee cutting season starting, I am getting a little worried that time will go by slowly. I am hopeful that I will be able to keep busy and not go too crazy if kids visit me everyday. Maybe I should stop being such a doormat and set some real ground rules.

Who am I kidding? It’s too late for that now!


A month ago, I was having dinner with my friend Connie (also a PCV and my personal lifesaver). We were talking about how life felt after one year and we both felt as though we hadn't accomplished much in PC terms. When a bunch of PCVs are put together, things tend to get a little negative. It's difficult because we are looking at the small scale rather than the big picture, only because our day to day life gives us so much free time that sometimes we have nothing to do but think and ignore the big picture. The statement I remember best from that dinner was when she said, "Maybe we're building character right now even though we feel as though we're doing nothing".

Flash forward to Friday the 13th. There were no classes at the grade school and some of the 6th graders asked me to go to the river with them. (From what I can tell, the river has no name, it is just always referred to as "the river".) There were classes at the colegio but since most of the teachers weren't there and classes were going to end at 11 am....

Williams was supposed to be in classes but he came too. I said my requisite, "Shouldn't you be in school?" But none of his teachers were there anyway, so he'd just be sitting around until 11 am. (have I justified his deliquincey yet? and my acceptance of it?) "How did you get out of colegio?", I ask him. "I'm all that." (that's how I'll translate the phrase, "Soy completo compai")

At the river there is a huge rock that's about 8 ft high and Williams and some of the girls were jumping off the rock into the river. The spot they were jumping into was about 6 feet deep but they were carried to a more shallow part of the river by the current. I wanted to jump was really scared.

Scared of what? The unknown? That I might get hurt? That I may drown? The height?

The unknown? A year ago, Honduras was the unknown, yet I had no problem jumping then. For me, the unknown is the most exciting part. (which is why I am all about the chase but have no idea what to do if I actually get the guy!)

That I might get hurt? For the time being, no amount of physical pain will ever compare to how I felt after Nikolai left me.

That I may drown? A little bit.

The height? Tambien.

Uno, dos, tres....ya!

Williams said after, "See? You need to trust me."

Not a big deal when I look back on it but all the fears that ran through my mind, the terror, the adrenlaine...that made the first one really good. There's nothing like the first time. For everything. That jump was so amazing.

I think I built a little character on that jump too. And if not, it was fun.

say what?

On Tuesday, I gave an HIV/AIDS lecture to some of the 10th grade students. My part was only about 20 minutes but I collaborated with the 11th graders on the lecture to create a 3 hour workshop. Not as bad as it sounds. There's tons to talk about with HIV/AIDS and the time flew.

Like most parents in the states, parents here do not want to talk to their kids about sexuality, HIV, or even puberty. Most kids learn about sex from their friends or media. Reminds me of when I was about 14 and I was given "the talk", which consisted of my parents in the car, turning down the radio on the corner of Ashland and Balmoral and my mom asking, "do you know about sex?" and turning the radio back up after I said "yeah". Awkward.

This led to interesting questions from the 10th graders. Most of them have received HIV/AIDS lectures in the past and definitely have an idea of sexuality, but that didn't prevent them from having lots of questions.

The most interesting question that was asked was, "What's oral sex?"

Even more interesting was the answer. One of the 11th graders said, "Sex represents male or female. Oral means talking."

Wow. I was sitting there thinking, alright, I need to clarify this but my vocabulary is limited on this topic and I was trying to cojugate the verb "to suck" in my head. Luckily, Professor McGuapo was there to explain everything to them. Thank goodness.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

a day in the life

7 am: Watch morning news program based in Mexico City as you eat corn flakes with granola and have coffee with chocolate soy milk.

715 am: Dance to Young MC's "Bust a move" as you get dressed.

730 am: Arrive at colegio to be attacked by students in primer curso who "desperately" need one of the 8 Spanish/English dictionaries.

733 am: Offend several parents with your short skirt (as you forget that there was a meeting with the "PTA") but receive several whistles from the students.

810 am: Let students use the computers because the director won’t say anything due to the PTA meeting. Students use 4 computers and all 4 students use paint and all 4 make cars.

900 am: Wave to Oscar while he's giving class. When he waves back, you give him the finger to make him laugh. (it works)

940 am: Go to the grade school to give English classes. Get attacked by kids asking you about your camera, your computer, your playstation, your toaster oven (weird one).

1050 am: Let the 5th graders put fancy girly gloss on your lips.

1051 am: Embarrass Brayan by kissing him on the cheek in front of said girls with mouth full of sticky girly gloss.

1052 am: He retaliates and bites your face.

1115 am: 6th grade English. You give an exam. Well, you try to give an exam. You know they're going to cheat anyway. It's a battle you've chosen to stop fighting over.

200 pm: You correct those tests. More kids should have cheated. The average is 45 %.

225 pm: Instead of giving classes to the afternoon students, the director decides to hold a teacher's meeting instead. Your cue to get the hell out of there.

340 pm: Put all your garbage in a cardboard box to burn. Put all burnt trash in same box. Put all trash ashes in same box. Burn box.

420 pm: Only about 1/2 of that box actually burned. Now you have more trash than before.

500 pm: Watch Simpsons on DVD with Brayan and Luis. Laugh at all the jokes that you remember in English from the episode "Lisa on Ice", even though you watch the episode in Spanish.

525 pm: Luis combs through your curly head to find a super long lock of hair. You say, "How strange" and he teases you about your accent for the rest of the afternoon.

600 pm: Switch between "La fea mas bella" and "Que dice la gente?"

715 pm: Dance like a maniac to try to burn some calories from those refried beans.

805 pm: Watch "Pasiones Prohibidas" with Williams and make fun of the people. (Yet, you realize that you have become addicted to a terrible novela.)

1020 pm: After spending 10 minutes preparing your English lesson for the next day, try to sleep as you listen to your neighbor's dog bark at a horse.

buen provecho

For those who don't know, I am a cereal fanatic. I could easily eat cereal for breakfast and dinner. I always scanned the aisles for new cereals that came out and was one of those crazies that was excited when Cereality came to Chicago. Unfortunately, the milk here in Honduras, while it is pasturized and homogenized, still carries a funky aftertaste that I can't handle any longer. However, many of the markets/pulperias in Honduras have started carrying this powdered soy milk, Delisoya, which is just about the most amazing thing I've had since coming here. When I was in the states, I drank so much soy milk to make up for what I had missed over the past year. But now soy milk has come here and is available in regular, chocolate, and strawberry.

The other day I was making a licuado (shake) with the chocolate soy milk, bananas and peanut butter. Williams was watching me make it and said, "You add peanut butter to your licuado? That is really disgusting." Peanut butter and chocolate? Seems pretty natural to me. But I grew up in a world of Reese's and dark chocolate mini bars dipped right into the jar, so I guess it may seem gross to him. So to counter him, I listed several foods that I have tried that are flat out gross:

*Chop suey sandwich. The chop suey is just the noodles with a chicken bullion cube added and about 7 pounds of pataste (a vegetable that is a mix of no flavor and starchiness). Put that on bread, add mayo (yuck!), and it's lunch time.

*Rice with tomato sauce and peanut butter. Williams swears to me that is it awesome.

*Fried queso seco. Queso seco is this white salty cheese that is easily found here. Again, Williams idea. It was fried in vegetable oil. Not even close to saganaki.

*Jugo de nance. Travel books describe nance as "cherry's evil twin". It kind of looks like a small, orange cherry but tastes nothing like the wonderful cherry. The smell just reminds me of bathrooms at bus stations.

Is your mouth watering yet?