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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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ian,
I just wanted to let you know how excited I was to see your posting because I was a PC volunteer in San Manuel from 1999-2001; actually I was the first one to live in your house! I'd love to read more (and see more photos) about San Manuel and your experiences there. I haven't kept in touch with really anyone since leaving. My name is Jenny Djupstrom but everyone called me "Anita." I worked for Proyecto Celaque, which I believe is now defunct...anyway I will be looking frequently for new photos and info. I see that you posted this a long time ago so I'll be looking now to see what newer stuff is here. Suerte! HadleyDjupstrom@msn.com

10:46 AM  

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