June 17, 2008

Josh was here!!

As some of you know, Josh, my little brother (well, not so “little” anymore, he just finished his first year at Iowa State on the civil engineering tract) visited Luke and I in Honduras for a week and a half in May. We had a WONDERFUL time with him!

We spent the first few days after Josh’s arrival in Danlí where we went on a hike and bike ride, walked around the city and hung out at our house.

A view of Danli from the mountain we climbed

Luke chatting with our friend Rene's brother

We wanted to do something “work-like” while Josh was here so a few days after Josh got here we caught a bus to Tegus where we met up with another volunteer from our department and caught a bus to Guaimaca (northeast of Tegus about and hour and a half). From there we caught a jalón (a ride) to the small town in the mountains called San Marcos. Getting the “jalón” was an interesting experience! For whatever reason that day, the Danlí bus station was super crowded and we couldn’t get on a bus right away like we normally do. That caused us to miss the 11 o’clock bus in Tegus that we needed to be on to catch the one and only per day 1 o’clock bus in Guaimaca to San Marcos. We waited on a dusty road on the edge of town heading to San Marcos for around 4 hours before a truck headed that direction with room in the paila (truck bed) picked us up. There ended up being 7 adults in the back of the truck (including us 4 gringos), 4 children, a large sack of corn, a tire, several boxes, and our surveying equipment. It was an hour and a half ride on a dirt road through pine forests until we arrived in San Marcos. By then our limbs were asleep and we were thirsty and dusty but happy to have made it. In San Marcos, there is a Protected Areas Management volunteer (pretty much the only PCVs that live without electricity in small rural towns). It was fun for Josh (and for us) to spend a few nights there without electricity.

The next day we did a survey with some of the townsfolk. They have a stream that runs through town and even during dry season there is plenty of water so they want to do a small hydroelectric project and use the water to bring electricity to the school and possibly to the town. The survey needed done to see if this would even be possible and to estimate costs. I had never surveyed with Luke before so it was fun to see how that works and since Josh did lots of surveying last summer, I think he also enjoyed it. We stayed in San Marcos two nights and had fun. In the evenings we cooked with the volunteer’s little gas stove and sat in the hammock on the porch. After the long day of surveying, we went to a little swimming hole near the volunteer’s house and cooled off.

From San Marcos, we headed back to Danlí for just long enough to do a little laundry and repack. We were hoping to get back to Danlí around 1 pm but we’re in Honduras so things never go as planned. There was a national strike going on that day and all major entrances/exists into Tegus were going to be blocked at least until noon. So instead of catching a bus in Guaimaca at 9, we had to wait until about 12:30 before one was available. It was a long day of waiting for and being on public transportation.

The next morning, I gave my sex ed class at the school for street kids and Josh came with.

After that, we had lunch and got on a bus (again) to go to Comayagua, a city between Tegus and San Pedro Sula in the north. We stayed that night with our married PC friends and left early the next morning for Tela, a beach town on the north coast. That afternoon, the boys immediately went down to the beach to swim while I walked around town. The next day we got up early and got a ride to a small town on the beach about 1/2 hour west of Tela (all one way sand roads to get there). It´s the last little Garífuna village on a sandy road before a lagoon.
Baleadas - fresh flour tortillas filled with beans, grated dry cheese, avocado slices and a cream that tastes a little like sour cream. Baleadas are traditionally eaten for breakfast or dinner.

(A little background on the Garífuna…the Garífuna are what the Spanish called “Black Caribs.” For the first two centuries following Columbus, the island of San Vicente was inhabited by an indigenous group from the coast of South America. During this time, black slaves who were either shipwrecked or who had escaped from plantations on nearby islands also came to inhabit the island. These two cultures intermixed and developed a new language. In 1797, the Garífuna were kicked off of San Vicente by the British who had taken control of the island fourteen years earlier. They were moved to the Honduran island of Roatán in the Caribbean and eventually moved on to the mainland and started building their villages as far north as Belize and as far east and south as the Nicaraguan Mosquito Coast.)

Most Garífuna live in traditional huts with dried palm branches for a roof. We hung out on the beach in this small Garífuna village (that has miles of deserted undeveloped sandy beaches in both directions) and arranged to eat lunch at a Garífuna woman´s house. She served us fried fish (you get the whole fish on your plate, typical Honduran style), tajadas (fried plantains - not the sweet kind but the kind that taste like french fries), rice mixed with beans, and cabbage salad. It was yummy. We ended up getting a ride back into Tela with this guy in his truck.

We spent the next day on the beach in front of the nice resort we stayed at when my mom and grandparents were visiting. We rented beach chairs and a little tent for shade and spent the whole day swimming in the ocean, reading, and eating coconut that a young Garífuna boy sold us.

The next day we arranged a tour with one of the guide companies to go kayaking in Wildlife reserve along the coast called Punta Izopo. We spent several hours kayaking in the river and exploring the swamp and mangrove trees. We saw some interesting birds and got a good arm workout. The guide then took us to Triunfo de la Cruz, a little Garífuna village just east of Tela. We stopped and ate the typical Garífuna meal at a restaurant right on the beach and spent several hours swimming in the ocean and relaxing in hammocks. That afternoon we took a bus to San Pedro Sula (about an hour and a half from Tela) so that Josh could get up early and catch his 7:45 am flight the next day. Josh left saying he wanted to come back again and visit and we hope he will!


AngelaVH said...

Hi Annie! Seriously, if Chad & I could afford to come down and visit we so would! I just read some of your latest entries and pictures of Josh's visit. Okay, and you're teaching sex ed to street kids--I would SO love to sit in on that!! Nothing new here, a lot of people popping out kids but we're loving the newly wed life still. Planning a vacation to either Cozumel or Riveria Maya. I'll let you know what we decide to do and I'll be working on my Espaniol! Take care and tell Luke hello from me!

ikaros said...

We definitely need more CEs out there...keep up the good work and thanks for your service...


Josh Showalter said...

Hey Luke and Annie!

I had a great time while hanging out with you guys! I could have spent months helping out. I hope everything is going well!

Josh Showalter said...

I really hope I get another change to come down again!!! It was so much fun. Maybe during Christmas break, me and Katie could come down and hang out on the beach, and help out.

Jesse Mcgraw said...

Surveying for a hydroelectric project can indeed be laborious. I've read about this surveying that was done in Guyana, and it took two years to complete. But if it's going to be for the benefit of thousands of people, everything is worth all the effort. You can always enjoy the beauty of nature after a day's work, anyway, just like what you did there. Good job, Annie!