Sunday, June 27, 2010
The trip through Central America was pretty quick to have more time in South America, but I was able to visit my friend Jessica who is a Peace Corps Volunteer in southern Costa Rica. We had a great time there seeing some of her work, meeting her friends, and seeing what a Peace Corps village was like in another country. It was much smaller than Ocotepeque and I could definitely tell that I was in the land of lush flora and fauna rather than the land of deforestation, but there were a lot of similarities in the way she interacted with community members and the relationships that she had with them. After visiting her it was a quick trip through Panama to see Panama City and the canal before hopping on a sailboat to head through the San Blas Islands to get to Colombia.
The San Blas Islands were beautiful. I definitely paid a price to get there (being on a sailboat is nothing like being in a motorboat) but the swimming and snorkeling were fantastic. It took us five days to get to Cartagena, Colombia and I could not have been more happy to set foot on dry land. Cartagena was a fun, beautiful city, then we took off for a town further up the coast called Santa Marta. From Santa Marta a group of us did a five day hike to some ruins in the jungle, which was absolutely amazing. The hike was beautiful and out in the middle of nowhere. Possibly one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. I loved Colombia and from Santa Marta we went to Medellin, which used to be the homicide capital of the world, which I´m sure many of you already know. Medellin has changed incredibly and become a modern, progressive city whose people are really living life to the fullest. I could actually see myself living there.
From Medellin we went to a tiny valley town called Salento, then to Bogota. I didn´t like Bogota as much as we´d heard some stories that questioned the safety there and it kind of felt like a high altitude Tegucigalpa. That´s not a complement. After just a couple days there we flew to the Colombian Amazon (don´t worry, not where FARC is) and took a boat up to Iquitos, Peru where we did an awesome jungle tour. I have now seen pink river dolphins, many, many sloths, six species of monkeys including a pygmy marmoset, and visited a true Amazon town. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Peru included many amazing experiences as I also visited Machu Picchu! It was incredible. We did a two day Inca Trail hike before arriving to the ruins and once we got there, the ruins did not disappoint. It was unbelievable to walk through the ruins buried deep in the mountains high up on a mountaintop. From Cuzco we headed south to Arequipa to hike in the Colca Canyon, and then to cross into northern Chile. Many of the places I wanted to see in Chile are south of Santiago, where it is probably too cold to visit at this time of year. Because of that, we only stayed in northern Chile where we visited the desert town of San Pedro de Atacama.
We are now in Salta, Argentina and will be heading to Mendoza (wine country) on Mondya. I have a month in Argentina to eat some great food and to explore before coming home. This has been a wonderful trip so far and I´m excited for what is still to come, but I am also looking forward to coming home. I´ll have several weeks in Davis to enjoy time with family and friends before moving to Boston!! I have decided to attend Boston College for their outstanding Global Social Work program and am really excited to go back to school. I think that being in South America for winter is preparing me for the winter back east. Hopefully at least...
One last bit of news from Honduras before wrapping up: I have started a scholarship foundation for the girls in my Yo Merezco group. They are really bright, motivated girls, but I think only one would have the opportunity to attend university. The others simply do not have enough money. I told them before leaving that I was going to work really hard to get money for university scholarships, and that they in return had to work hard in school to earn the scholarship. They and their families are really excited for this opportunity. I am looking for donations and if you are interested please contact me for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I am looking forward to this upcoming year. Although 2009 was my only full year in Honduras (2008 was just a month short), I am happy to leave behind the stresses of still being somewhat new, the political instability as a result of the June coup, and the frustrations of unsuccessful projects. I have my last few months of Peace Corps to look forward to that will be followed by a trip through Central and South America and adjusting back to life in the US. Things are looking up.
My last couple weeks of 2009 were great. My parents came to visit me again and we were able to spend a couple days in Guatemala and spend time with my friends around Ocotepeque. The girls in my Yo Merezco group made them a fancy lunch that was followed by some dancing in the library specially decorated for the occasion. They were able to visit the health center and finally got to meet the doctor I work with, but we were all disappointed not to make it to Polcho to distribute more toothpaste. It had been pouring for 24 hours and we were unable to make the trip due to the mud and growth of the rivers.
After the trip, instead of saying goodbye at the airport, I got to go home with them! I spent eight days in Davis seeing friends and spending Christmas time with my family followed by a couple more days visiting the boyfriend in Henderson, just outside of Las Vegas. I can’t believe I’m going to be done with Peace Corps in just a couple months but am looking forward to being back.
There are some pictures from Lago Atitlan in Guatemala, the lunch in Ocotepeque, and hiking in Nevada. Happy 2010 everyone!!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Since the school year ended early, I have been doing a lot more activities with the girls in my Yo Merezco group. We made and sold bread to fund an excursion we want to take to the nearby cloud forest to go hiking and we also hiked to hot springs in the mountains a few weeks ago. It was about an hour hike each way, but the uphill on the way was not so easy as we were all carrying food for lunch and I had a watermelon in my backpack that one of the girls couldn’t carry anymore, which we are eating in the first picture I posted.
We spent a wonderful afternoon swimming at the hot spring in both the hot and cold pools and I have posted some pictures of this activity and of making the bread. The third picture shows the oven we used to cook the bread, and it is a traditional oven that has to be heated with wood, leña,before the bread could be cooked and in the last picture the girls are greasing the pans before we put in the batter. Enjoy the pictures!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I’ve now had two birthdays in Honduras. The Halloween tradition for volunteers here is to go to the Copan Ruins, which is a cute town by Mayan ruins, to celebrate together. I went for the day before my birthday to see friends who I hadn’t seen in a while and to spend some time in a town where I can feel like I’m living a life of luxury (meaning running water, hot showers even though it was too humid to take them, and a couple restaurant options).
After spending some time with friends I took off before the actual Halloween festivities to attend a graduation ceremony. School here is divided into kindergarten, 6 years of elementary school, and colegio, which encompasses both junior high and high school. There is a graduation ceremony after kindergarten, elementary school, and high school. Graduation from sixth grade, the ceremony I attended, is a big deal since some students cannot afford to go to colegio or are needed to help the family.
After some speeches (fortunately not too many) the students are called up one by one to receive their diplomas. To receive the diploma, they walk up with their families and padrinos. Padrinos, godparents, are usually family members and are chosen especially for this occasion. I was asked by the mother of a family who is like my host family here, to be the madrina, godmother, for her daughter, Daritza. The ceremony was going to be in December but since the school year ended early, it landed on my birthday.
I have posted two pictures: one of Daritza and I with her diploma and the other of the family, one of the kindest and committed families I know here. It was a really big honor to be asked and it meant a lot to Daritza and her family. It was a great way to spend my birthday.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The last couple weeks have been pretty crazy. (Ex?)President Zelaya snuck back into the country at the end of September and has been holed up in the Brazilian Embassy since. As a result the entire country was placed on a 24hr per day curfew that lasted three days. It was awful. No one left their houses and some of my neighbors who actually did leave to go to the emergency clinic were stopped by the police and only let go after explaining their health situation. The airports and borders were closed for a couple days but I was finally able to leave for my vacation after my flight being cancelled three times.
I had a great couple days in DC before getting sick and ended up having to stay two extra weeks until I got better. While I was there five constitutional human rights were suspended in Honduras until after the November elections and when I got back to Honduras last week I found out that the rest of the school year had been cancelled as well. School was supposed to end at the end of November and after already missing two or three months of class due to strikes, students started vacation last Friday. Micheletti decided that every student across the entire nation would pass every class, whether or not they had been passing throughout the year.
This leaves a couple projects on hold until school starts again in February but I’m planning more events with my girls group so they aren’t as bored during vacation. We’re also going to have some more meetings at the health center, which will be coming just in time since we have several pregnant girls, 14 and 15, in our pregnant women’s group. Every time I try to get some new projects going, the political situation escalates so I’m just hopeful that after the elections everything will calm down and we can get back to our normal lives.