Monday, September 25, 2006

Photo upload stuff

Hi all. The Internet connections I've been on lately have been unable to upload photos with any kind of consistency, but on the theory that text is better than nothing I'm publishing text-only entries with a view to uploading the photos, too, later. Sorry about all this.

First two weeks at site

The past week has been mostly taken up with my sitemate/roommate Leo's imminent departure, which wound up happening Sunday morning. But I've also been preoccupied with the lack of water. Or, rather, the lack of water coming through the tap. In general, we get water every other morning, and have a big tank in which to store it until it comes again. But after 4 days of no water, two residents and a houseguest bathing out of that source, the tank was empty by Wednesday morning. But this is the tail end of the rainy season, and so I decided to put some of that water to good use. So I was very proud of myself when I had filled the tank up about halfway after an hour's rainfall, even if I was pretty wet and cold.

After six days of no water, I finally heard the trickle coming back into the tank on Friday morning, and it was back on Sunday.

One of Leo's projects was out in a village that was about an hour and a half by foot out of San Manuel. I was ready for the hike, but was a bit taken aback with the real, live Indiana Jones-style bridge that awaited us to cross a river, complete (sic) with some missing boards.

But I made it across safely both ways, and from the other side there is a nice vista back over San Manuel. My house is one of the right-most ones in the photo, I think.

Then after five going away parties this week, Leo finally headed out on the 6:00 a.m. bus Sunday morning. And Sunday evening, as I came back to the empty house, there was a really nice sunset.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'm now an officer of the United States!

Since it's been a while since I posted any actual information, I thought I'd bring you all up to date on what's been happening.

I went on a visit to my site, San Manuel de Colohete, the weekend before swearing in, to take part of my luggage and generally just scope the place out. To get there, it was 8 hours on the bus from Tegucigalpa to Santa Rosa de Copan, and then another hour and a half from there to Gracias. But the bus only goes up to San Manuel from Gracias at noon and 1 p.m., so we had to spend the night. Coming back, the only options to start the two-hour bus ride from San Manuel are at 6 and 6:30 a.m., and my return trip was all of 13 hours to get back to Santa Lucia.

The final week was pretty tame in terms of training activities, but I was stressed as my computer died (again). Fortunately it happened when I was but half and hour's ride from Tegucigalpa, rather than in San Manuel. The week was pretty short to begin with, and it flew right by.

By Thursday morning, we were all packed out of our host families' houses, and ready to shuffle between the Peace Corps Office, the U.S. Embassy, the ambassador's house, and our hotel.

We ditched all our luggage at the PC office and headed over to the embassy for the official swearing in. Four of us had brought jackets for the occasion (probably the only time in two years we'll wear them) and happily, there were some Peace Corps lapel pins that we all managed to get a hold of.
The ceremony per se took about an hour and a half, with speeches by our training director (pictured), the (outgoing) director of Peace Corps in Honduras, the U.S. ambassador, and representatives from each project group. Afterwards, we had a catered lunch and posed for pictures by project--you may recognize some of the faces from site announcement day, except this time we're not all wearing our t-shirts.

From there, we had a fun pool party afternoon at the U.S. ambassador's residence, which felt so very un-Peace Corps.
The president of Honduras, Manuel "Mel" Zelaya, had a meeting with the ambassador at his house that afternoon, and we were both leaving about the same time. His caravan loaded up and was heading out while we were waiting on the bus, but as he drove by we made a bunch of noise and so he stopped, got out of the car, and shook hands through the bus windows. It's hard to say how nervous his secret service people were feeling at that point.

From there, we headed to the Tegucigalpa Mariott, which is probably as nice a hotel as any I've ever stayed in. I wound up going back to the Embassy for a going-away party for Ruben Hernandez, the now-former PC country director for Honduras. After that it was one big party all night for the new Volunteers, which had to come to an end the next day when we moved on to our sites.

So I took the bus from Tegucigalpa to Santa Rosa, where there is a Volunteer house where there are apparently get-togethers and parties on a pretty frequent basis. On the way, a snake oil salesman got on to vend his product--a vitamin which, if he is to be believed, will feed your brain, relieve all classes of aches and pains, prevent malaria and dengue fever, and fight cancer. A month's supply is your for only 100 lempiras! (A considerable sum for your average Honduran peasant to cough up.) Here's a snapshot of him hawking his wares.

So I finally get to San Manuel last Sunday afternoon, for the long haul. Because I imagine some of you are anxious to see what kind of accomodation awaits you when you visit, here are some photos. Apologies for the low resolution; upload speeds here aren't the greatest.

1. A welcome sign on the main road.
2. The view over the town from a lookout point.
3. The central park and church fa├žade
4. My house (set down about 4 feet from street level)
5 and 6. The main room of the house.
7. The kitchen.
8. Celebrations in the center of town for Central American Independence Day, Sept. 15.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Big week

It's been a big week for me lately. I got back from my site visit to San Manuel last Sunday, swore in as a real live Volunteer (not just a Trainee) at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa on Thursday, and am in Santa Rosa de Copan for a little while longer before making my way out to San Manuel in earnest tomorrow. I would write more and post some pictures but I've been busy, as you may imagine, and my computer broke (again) and it was out of commission for a while, so I wasn't able to do much offline processing this week. But offline will be the name of the game for a while--my site has one Internet place but only sort of works, and we are out of cell phone service (but please try to call anyway).

Sooner or later I think I'll switch this weblog, rather than email, to my main means of communication, but not for a while. Please email and comment, though, and I'll have pictures and a more thorough explanation for you next time.