August 26, 2008

Campo-style living

So lately I've had a good share of "campo" and "aldea" time. "Campo" means anything not in a city and "aldea" is any small community. You'll find thousands of these tiny aldeas - some as few as a dozen families - scattered around the countryside and mountains of Honduras.

Last week I spent two days in a row in a community about a half hour from Danli. I am starting a class there with young girls that focuses on good decision-making skills with regards to life planning (avoid teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and STI prevention, thinking about what to look for in a mate, etc.). (You can read more about the course called "Yo Merezco" in my Aug 8 blog). Anyway, last week over the course of two days the young Honduran woman who's helping me with the class and I visited 16 different houses to drop off formal invitations for the girls we chose to be in the class (determined by their teachers to be "at risk"). It was really fun to show up at people's houses with no warning or phonecall ahead of time and see how Hondurans treat unexpected guests. Because this community is in a valley, there is a lot going on agriculturally...lots of corn (see pic below), beans, tomatoes, and green peppers as well as lots of cows. Therefore everyone has a fence surrounding their house. I followed Nohemy's lead and walked right into the fenced area. As we approach the house, we would wait for someone to "saludarnos" - greet us - and for them to say "pasen adelante" - "come on in." They would then, without fail, produce two plastic chairs for us to sit on. Everyone has an outdoor porch and each time this is where we would sit to discuss the class that we plan to start and ask the mother's permission for their daughter's participation. We would stay about 5-10 minutes, thank them and then take off for the next house. Many times we were offered food to eat. During the course of the two days, I was offered and ate the following things at various houses:

- Tamales (like Mexican tamales but without any filling or sauce)
- LOTS of sugary coffee
- A hard boiled egg with tortillas
- Boiled jilote (the field corn before it is mature - tiny cobs that they boil with a few of the inner husks left on -
you eat the whole thing)
- Rosquillas (corn and cheese biscuit type things)
- Horchata (a drink made from ground rice)
- Boiled pastaste (a vegetable sort of like a potato)
- Chicken and rice
- Red beans
- Sweet bread
- Coca-Cola

As you can see, I definitely did not starve during my visits! Because the teachers chose the girls and we visited girls from two different schools, the houses really were scattered all over the valley so we did lots of walking. I enjoyed it very much and realize how living in a big city in Honduras really is very different than living in the "campo."

This pic was taken not on my last trip but the trip before to Linaca so the corn is much bigger now!

Yesterday and today I spent time in another small community (where the well is being drilled currently - they still haven't found water yet). I stayed overnight and gave a 4-hour workshop (2 hours yesterday and 2 today) on HIV/AIDS prevention to the women of the community with the help of my PCV sitemate, Ann Marie, who also came. It went very well and was very fun to stay overnight in the community. They don't have electricity and because it gets dark around 6:30, everyone is usually in bed by 8. We ate our beans, tortillas and fresh cuajada (a soft cheese - made that very day) by candlelight in the kitchen for dinner. They have to haul all their water from a creek or lagoon so there is no "shower" to speak of. Most people bathe (half-clothed) in the creek. I bathed after it got dark with a bucket of water under a tree near the house. I ate LOTS of corn products because right now is harvest time. I had tamales twice, elote (boiled field corn), and corn tortillas twice in less than 24 hours. We also had delicious fresh red beans from the recent harvest and chicken for lunch today that I saw running around in the morning! The woman (she's 28 too) I stayed with butchered it about 8:30 this morning and after plucking the feathers, put it in a pot on her "fogon" (brick/adobe stove that uses small sticks and pieces of wood to keep lit) to boil. She then later cut up the chicken into pieces and fried them in some oil in a saucepan. I think that was the freshest chicken I've ever eaten! The workshop went very well and we had a great time hanging out in the "campo".

1 comment:

Lora said...

Just want to say Hi to you and Luke. I read your blog when I get a chance. I'm so glad you take the time to post!
Aunt Lora