Monday, December 31, 2007

Travels, busyness

I had been hoping to add entries over the course of my vacation but this is the first chance I had, or rather, the first chance I've taken advantage of it. Regardless, it's been a fun if busy time in Philadelphia, Smyrna, Chapel Hill, New Haven, New York, Washington and Smyrna and Chapel Hill again.

And while I am disappointed in the people whom I've called and who have not called me back before I leave United States cell phone coverage, you still have five days left to redeem yourselves!

And who else is excited about the Iowa caucuses?!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Requiescat in pace

Edward Brown Everhart
August 31, A.D. 1915 - December 12, A.D. 2007

Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herrn sterben, von nun an. Ja der Geist spricht, daß sie ruhen von ihrer Arbeit; denn ihre Werke folgen ihnen nach. Off. Joh. 14,13.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Everybody has AIDS awareness!

After only one year-plus of planning (the health center kept falling through on me), I finally gave my chit-chat charla (presentation) on HIV and AIDS to a group of people at the San Manuel health center. These folks are leaders in their communities (outlying villages) and the health center, funded by the Honduran Ministry of Health, regularly uses them as conduits for various information such as what vaccines are available and, in the case of mandatory vaccinations, is able to follow up with parents if their child hasn't received all the required shots.

My camera was running out of battery so I only got two shots of the event but here they are.



The people seemed really receptive and even though it was just about a pessimal space (when they asked me to do this, I had envisioned the nice quasi-auditorium multi-purpose room about 10 feet away, not a windy exterior patio) I think they heard what I said and internalized it. We played a game where six people interpret the role of (a) the human body, (b) white blood cells, (c) the HIV and (d) ordinary sicknesses like diarrhea and the flu. At first the white blood cells are able to act as the body's bodyguards against illnesses (mock fighting each other) but then HIV kills the body's defenses, leaving it vulnerable to banal illnesses such as those and Kaposi's sarcoma. It was fun for everybody to see these older ladies mock pummeling one another and I think it drove home the epidemiological message, too.

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Middle school memory stimulation

One of the benefits of being in the Peace Corps/broader foreigner community here in Honduras is that people will share the different items they have either brought or had sent. We swap around books pretty frequently, and if somebody has come back from a trip to the U.S. with a stack of New Yorkers or Economists, after they've processed them, they will usually pass them on to another sympathetic reader. Likewise with MP3s of podcasts and music and DVDs (the latter of which are just lent, not given away).

After our Thanksgiving get-together two weeks ago, I got a good amount of music, a lot of which I had not heard since circa 1998. Also, someone lent me a DVD of Pay It Forward which concerns the far-reaching effect of a seventh grade project.

Listening to this mid- to late 1990s music last night, I got the feeling that I am just now finally fully putting away the awkwardness which arises in many of us around the middle school years. I had moments where I was sure I had vanquished it intermittently in my last year at Rice but have felt it especially in the last year and a half, and again when I was talking to the "new kids" of Honduras 11, who were just finishing up their eighth week in site. Maybe it's just a matter of sticking around somewhere to hit my stride, which I haven't particularly done anywhere since middle school (starting anew at Schenley, detouring to London, then back to Pittsburgh, then to Rice, but then going to Spain and coming back, and now here in Honduras).

Anyway, nostalgia can be a powerful thing and I look forward to being more permanent (I don't know where, but somewhere) starting in September.

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Groping for a grocery grommet

San Manuel is not the kind of place where you can very easily (er, ever) buy many things. The pulperias (think campo convenience store) unfailingly stock Pepsi, nachos, ramen noodles, candles, soap and other cleaning products, some cheap cookies and crackers and such staples as sugar, rice, beans, cornmeal for tortillas. Beyond that, though, you pretty much have to cart it in yourself from elsewhere. Gracias has some things here and there while Santa Rosa has more products scattered among fewer stores and they have them on a more consistent basis.

So that is the background as I brought up a loaf of bread from Santa Rosa to make toast, sandwiches or whatever it might turn out to be. Unfortunately, after two hours crammed into the overhead luggage racks on the bus, it emerged at my house a little worse for wear.

Say what you will about tortillas (especially the corn tortillas which are more common here than the wheat tortillas I prefer), they do travel better.

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