Friday, October 12, 2007

Site Visit

A view of Celaque from Nueva Esperanza

Well, I am now officially in my site where I will be for the next two years! Arriving here for the first time was like a blow to my head saying, “Hey do you remember you’re in Honduras?” After getting back to Santa Lucia from Field-Based Training, it seemed like everything was in fast-forward. We got back on a Tuesday and the next day we met our counterparts. Menelio told me my counterpart is a “humble campesino” which was a perfectly worded description. My counterpart’s name is Eleuterio (or Don Terio). Don Terio is about 4 inches taller than me, has a graying moustache, and always carries a smile. My favorite characteristic of him though is that when he reads, he pulls out a pair of silver glasses that sit crookedly on his head. If one of the sides of the glasses goes behind his ear, the other side is sitting halfway between his ear and the top of his head. He can shift them though so that his glasses sit behind his ear on the other side, but then they move up on the other side. I would think that would drive him crazy having them sit so awkwardly on his head and that he would want to get them fixed, but the lenses aren’t crooked and so I guess it works for him.

The day after meeting our counterparts, we headed to our sites! I hadn’t even unpacked yet from getting back from El Suyate/Morocelí and then we were off again. Eleuterio and I took the 5:15 am bus from Santa Lucia to get into Tegucigalpa. In Tegucigalpa, we took the 6 am bus to Santa Rosa de Copán, a 7 hour bus ride. From Santa Rosa, another bus for 1 ½ hours to Gracias and then from Gracias we took a mototaxi (a three-wheeled golf cart practically) for 45 minutes to my site. There are a couple of buses that go to Nueva Esperanza but, unfortunately, they leave between 1-2 pm. Then, the only way to get there is to hitchhike or to take a mototaxi (which is not recommended by me because it’s expensive or by Peace Corps I learned later because it’s unsafe).

I finally entered my host family’s house around 4:30 pm with about 90 pounds of luggage and without having eaten anything except breakfast at 5 am. On the long bus ride between Teguz and Santa Rosa de Copán, the bus only stops once at a place where you can buy an actual meal, but that is only 2 hours into the trip and only for 15 minutes. Along the way, people board to sell small things like cookies, fried banana chips, sweets, and coconut milk; and every time the bus stops there are people standing outside sometimes selling things like fried fish or chicken on long sticks so you can reach it from the windows, but I’m not yet brave enough to try this street food on a bus that has no bathroom. And I didn’t really feel like filling my stomach with snacks.

So, it takes a whole day to travel to my site; 11 ½ hours the first time. But because of bus schedules and such, it takes two days to get from my site back to Teguz. Thus, my site visit was only a couple of days long. Eleuterio took me to various meetings that were going on around the community where I got to introduce myself and get to know some of the people. We also looked at a house that I could possibly live in after my two months with a host family. (Although I have decided the house is too isolated from my community and so I’m not going to live there. Now, everything starts. Training just provided the crossing from the life I was used to to this new reality. I joined the Peace Corps because I wasn’t quite yet ready for a life in the workforce in the US. But now I am here in Honduras more nervous than ever to start this job that I don’t even get paid for, and I don’t even get to work in my native language! Sometimes I can’t help but think, “I joined the Peace Corps, what was I thinking?”

My host family`s house and pulperia.

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