February 23, 2007

Hello all!

An update on the events of the week…

On Monday morning we walked ½ hour to the Peace Corps training site in Santa Lucia which actually was someone’s giant house at some point. It sits near the top of the town and the house is not visible from the road and there is no sign marking the driveway. After a steep climb up the driveway, there is a giant yellow house. There are at least 4 different bathrooms and plenty of bedrooms turned classrooms with a nice outdoor patio/cafeteria and basketball court. PC Honduras has lots of staff members from office staff, host family liaison, language instructors (all 11 of them), the training specialists, safety and security coordinator, guards, drivers, etc. There are a total of 51 of us volunteers all of us are living with different families (46 different houses because of the married couples) in a town of about 7,000 people. The last week of training has been filled with vaccinations, language training (in groups of about 7 with people of a similar level), and presentations on how to stay safe and healthy while in Honduras. Yesterday we had a presentation on how to safely wash fruits and vegetables with water and chlorine and then actually got to make a vegetable and fruit salad. We’ve talked about dengue and malaria and what to do in certain safety situations. The staff did skits yesterday to address issues that volunteers have had with their host families before such as being served warm milk with their cornflakes, coffee with an absurd amount of sugar, slamming car and house doors, and a few other things I can’t remember. We finally started our tech training yesterday so we are now split into three groups in the afternoon with our project managers learning all sorts of things. I am feeling very overwhelmed by all the health stuff that I know nothing about but certain things seem really exciting and interesting to me. Luke’s group of Water and Sanitation people (engineers and extensionists) have been going over basic water quality stuff which included taking water samples of a pond in the middle of the town. Today my health group had the head doctor of USAID Honduras come and talk to our group about all the statistics on child and maternal health and fertility and mortality rates. Very interesting stuff. My Spanish class is going to be difficult…we will spend 2 days in the community per week working on various projects that we ourselves have to set up (that have to do with health) to eventually present in front of our colleagues.

For those of you interested in what we have been eating…

So far we’ve been eating pretty well in our house and our family is warming up to us and vice versa. So far we’ve eaten a giant plate of fruit each morning (watermelon, cantaloupe, banana, oranges), coffee (not instant Nescafe like a lot of volunteers have been getting – our host dad gets it from some nearby coffee growers), and either bread, French toast, a sandwich (a double-decker ham and cheese sandwich, that is) and today she surprised us with fresh squeezed orange juice. All the volunteers bring their lunches to the training center to eat and some bring them with them when they walk to school in the morning and some host moms walk the lunches up to the school by 11:30 so the food is still hot (this is what our host mom does). We’ve had a variety of food for lunch. We have three separate containers in our lunch box so each day we get three separate food items, sometimes corn tortillas, and usually a freshly squeezed juice drink like strawberry or lime and mandarin orange. We’ve had spaghetti, another pasta dish, rice, stir-fry, roast meat, chicken, cooked broccoli, cabbage, potato salad and regular salad for lunch. It’s always a surprise when you open up your lunchbox! For dinner (we sit down and eat with the family around 6 or 6:30), we have had baleadas (type of burrito with cheese, eggs, and beans), enchiladas (a mixture of cooked veggies, meat, cheese, and hard boiled egg on a fried corn tortilla, nachos with beans and cheese, and beans and tortillas. We’ve also been getting coffee with our dinner.

Fun with the host family...

Usually after dinner Luke and I try to sit at the table and talk with the family for as long as they do. On Wednesday night we brought out the pictures which made for lots of conversation. Luke took quite a few pictures of the farm and the cows and they were very interested in how a farm works in the US. We told them we were about 20 minutes from the nearest city and he asked us how far it was on a horse! We didn’t know how to answer that one. Thurs. after dinner they decided to take us on a "paseo" around the town. Melvin, Gladys, and I sat in the front of the tiny Toyota pickup they have and Luke and Darío got in the back. They drove us to the park and we climbed up to the lookout about the park which is a hill with a giant cross at the top. You can see almost all of Teguc from there. We then walked around a bit more and found out where the health center is, where the town hall is, etc. and then stopped on the way home at a pulpería (tiny store) and they bought Pepsi and snacks which we ate when we got back. We joked around a lot. On the way back home, we stopped and picked up an older women who lives near us who needed a ride and Gladys laughed hard at Luke and Melvin because they each grabbed an arm of the woman and basically launched her into the back of the truck with them. Melvin commented on how strong Luke is. I also asked her about laundry (they do it the old fashioned way here – by hand with a washboard) and if she could show me this weekend and she said she would on Saturday. She then asked if Luke wanted to learn too (very few Honduran men have ever done laundry) to which he replied, "yes, of course" and Gladys just laughed and said that Peace Corps tells the families that both the guy and girl volunteers need to do their own laundry. She told me that she has plans to take us somewhere close by to eat pupusas which are apparently from El Salvador but Honduras claims them as their own and I’m not exactly sure what they are yet…sounds like a tortilla with cheese cooked into it with salsa and other things served inside before being fried. Looking forward to actually getting some time this weekend to study new words and read the material they have given us, plus learn how to do laundry!

3 comments:

Dorianne said...

Wow guys- sounds like you're jumping right into the swing of things. You know I don't envy you for the laundry:) We know all about that, but we were wimps and gave up. You'll get a good arm workout, though!
Not much new here- we have our house to ourselves again ;) and are headed to Bratislava on Wed. We'll definitely send pics afterward. Miss you! love, Dory

simonjh said...

Pupusas are amazing, especially the revueltas (mixed filling). I get them at Slavadoran places here in DC sometimes. Hope you like them!

joshshow said...

Luke and Annie, it sounds as though you had a luck of the draw on your host family, and got a good one! We have been having power outages all weekend and every town (kalona, wellman, riverside, lone tree, parts of ic) are out of power, so naturally we don't have school tomorrow. This storm reminds me of what you saw in Nebraska, with that ice storm. Well anyways i'm glad your addapting well and i'm praying for you every day! keep us posted
Love, Josh