Friday, August 14, 2009

Barrio Cincinnati

A lot of the people who come to Santa Lucia on brigades are from Cincinnati, as the organization began there. So yesterday, when Doris was asking me where I was from and I answered that I was originally from Cincinnati, she said, ‘Oh, did you know that this area of town is called Barrio Cincinnati?’ I didn’t know. Apparently since so many people who come to the clinic are from Cincinnati, they just called this whole area Cincinnati, from Linda’s Salon de Belleza to the Clínica Hombro a Hombro. And they abbreviate it by saying ‘Cinci,’ which is also a popular abbreviation for Cincinnati in Ohio.
So I just wanted to share that, as I thought it was absolutely hilarious.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Geckos and Orange Juice

The other day, a bat flew by me and I barely flinched, and it made me realize how much I’ve unknowingly adapted to the differences in life here.
It’s like the geckos. They’re all over the walls in the houses, including the clinic. They make an almost clicking sound at night, which, with the sound of roosters, replaces for me the sound of dogs barking at the bears and cars passing by.
I’ve gotten used to the fresh orange juice every morning, too. It’s one of the highlights of my day, because it’s consistent and something I can count on. There may not be internet, power, or enough doctors to see all the patients in the clinic, but there’s always fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning. On Monday, there’s the plato típico for breakfast, which is beans, eggs, and tortillas. They also put out fruit and sometimes avocados or fried plantains. On Tuesday, there are pancakes, and Wednesday is my favorite because it’s the day for porridge. That’s another difference—I never would have eaten porridge before getting here, but now I really look forward to Wednesdays because of the breakfast. It’s nice and hot, and I add lots of cinnamon and sugar. Thursdays and Fridays change with food, but there’s always French toast and Saturday is usually cereal day. Also, for about half the people here, Saturday is a day off, so I usually sleep in an extra hour or two and make my own cereal.
I’ve gotten used to pilas. I love pilas. They’re these big outdoor sink type things. They fill them with water and then use a small container to pour water from the pila to another attached surface, where they wash dishes and sometimes clothes. This weekend I was in Camsasca, a neighboring town, staying with some friends, and they had a small outside space with a drain where they showered, pouring the water from the pila over themselves to bathe. It was freezing, but I actually preferred it to normal showers, which are cold anyway. Again, that used to be strange, but now I feel like it would be just weird to take a warm shower, much less a hot one, especially in this climate. Any temperature less than 90 feels pretty cool to me now.
Every Sunday, I wash my clothes by hand using the pila. There’s a washer and dryer here, but they’re always being used, and I like the hour or so it takes to wash it all myself, using powdered detergent that you can buy in some of the nearby pulperías, small stores that people set up from their homes. It’s 50 cents for enough detergent to last about two months. After my clothes are clean, I hang them outside of the apartment to dry, which just takes a few hours in this sun.
I’ve gotten used to hearing Spanish most of the day. It’s now almost a form of comfort to be surrounded by it, as I love its rhythm and consistency more and more, especially now that I speak and understand it better now than when I came.
So those have been my recent thoughts, as it’s just been striking me how things are seeming more and more normal. It’s pretty beautiful how that happens.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Yesterday, Maria told me that by the time I left, I would be Honduran.
I thought that sounded pretty good.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Really Bad at Updating This

Well Hey!
Sorry about my failure at updating the blog. I think it's my tendency to get so caught up in what I'm doing at the moment that I forget to write and send updates. So my apologies.
On Friday, we went to a feria, like a small fair, in Camasca. It was really fun--we met a bunch of Peace Corps workers and there was dancing, which was a blast. That was our big night out, and we've been talking about how fun it was ever since.
I guess today I'll just write about some more basic information...
I stay in the apartments upstairs, at least for the next few weeks. I'm a big fan of the AC at night, which does not exist in the dorms. I work at a desk right by Yani, which is nice because it's quiet, and because there's a fan right by the desk that blows right on me when I work.
Essentially, life here is pretty constant, which is nice--there's a definite rythm.
Well it's time for dinner now, so I'll brainstorm good topics. But I'm safe, the politics aren't affecting anything here, and life's good!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Daily Life

Well hey everyone,
Sorry, I fail at keeping up with this...
So I was thinking, today I’ll just write about my everyday routine, at least as it’s been the past week.
I wake up around 7:20, do the typical morning routine, like tooth-brushing, that type of thing. Then I go downstairs, eat breakfast, which is always either eggs, beans, and tortillas, French toast, pancakes, or cereal, and there’s always fruit. I love breakfast because of the orange juice—there’s always fresh squeezed orange juice at breakfast.
After breakfast, I put on better clothes, do my hair, put on makeup, and all that. And sometimes before that, I pretend to be a monster and talk in a really weird voice and chase Fani, one of the cook’s daughters, all over the dorm area. She loves that game, and every time I see her, she pretends to call the monster to see if he’s coming. And if I don’t want to play the game, I just pretend to call him back and say he’s not answering his phone, so he must be busy. It’s a fun game though, and people always laugh when they see us, a huge American girl and a four-year-old Honduran, running all over, her screaming and laughing and me talking in a Louis Armstrong voice, saying things like, “Aquí viene el monstruo!!” and “no puede escapar, Fani!!”
So after I’m ready for the day, I work until about 10 or so, then I go down to El Chadai, the store by the gate to the clinic, and buy a Pepsi. I drink that while I work until lunch, which is at 12. I’ve been working upstairs, but Fani likes it when I work downstairs because I play music on the computer and let her take one of the earphones and listen, so sometimes I do that, although I get a lot less done when she sits beside me and talks endlessly. It’s fun, though. When I don’t have much to do, when I finish, I either play with Fani, read, or visit Mina, this wonderful 70-something year old seamstress, or Elias.
Lunch is always a big and yummy meal, with meat, fruit, and usually beans and tortillas. Yesterday, lunch was barbeque chicken with mashed potatoes and coleslaw. It was amazing...
After lunch, if there’s nothing going on, I take a nap until about 2. Then I get up, and this past week I’ve had meetings every day at 3:30 for the education project, so I’ve been preparing for those and then going. After the meetings, I have English class at 5, and that’s been happening every day. Those finish at 6, which is when dinner starts. Dinner is a good meal too, and the same types of food as lunch.
After dinner, it’s rest time for pretty much everyone. I’ve been reading for awhile, and the past few days we’ve been projecting movies onto a wall and watching them at night. So I usually watch when there’s a movie, but last night I just read until bed, pretty much, because it was a scary movie. The nights are calm, social, and fun. I really enjoy them.
During the weekends, people generally don’t work much Saturday, so this weekend we went to the market and the waterfall in Concepción. We had dinner here—Maria cooks on Saturday.
Sundays are rest days for everyone. No one comes to cook or clean, so usually Alex makes a big dinner for everyone, which is always delicious and American. This past Sunday we had baked ziti. There’s church on Sunday, and it’s usually pretty late, so it’s the one day to really sleep in.
So that’s the schedule!
Love you all, and email me any time!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


When I was in 10th grade, I got a 92 on my first semester English exam. I had studied hard for the exam, and I was upset by getting an A- in a class where I always got an A+. I went to talk to Mr. Jolly, my English teacher. He told me he was expecting the conversation--he knew I'd be disappointed. He listened to me talk about how I had prepared and I believed I deserved a better grade. His response left me even more frustrated. It was something along the lines of, yes, you studied, and yes, you did well, but you can do better. He said that his standards weren't the typical view of objective--he was comparing my performance on that exam not with what the average performance was, but with what I was capable of.
I never really understood the importance of that conversation until now.
There have been a lot of problems here with some apparent laziness on behalf of the nurses. They tend to reject change and extra work, making things much harder for administrators and the doctors, who often pick up some of the extra responsibilities. They don't complain, but the situation is frustrating for the Americans, who are accostomed to much different habits in the States. But I think it's similar to my problem in 10th grade. I saw my English effort within the context of my 10th grade class--standards that allowed me to get good grades easily were high enough for me. I didn't really think about what good writing skills could do for me later on--I wasn't going to be an author, and if I was, I'd learn more in college, so why try so hard now? I had to be good at it if I was getting the grades I got, so that seemed to be all that there was.
The nurses aren't researchers, they don't use the database with coding systems, so why make that transition? If it's really that important, they'll get more reminders. They must be good nurses because they genuinely help the patients, so that seems to be all there is. The concept of research is somewhat foreign.
So how do you teach that? How do raise personal standards? Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a Mr. Jolly use something as inconsequential as a 92 to illustrate such a concept.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mmmm... Ants....

Lunch today was pretty funny--yesterday we had strawberry cake with dinner, and sugary food is so scarce that we were all devouring it. So today we got it out to have as dessert after lunch, only to discover that the fridge was apparently not cold enough, as ants were crawling all over the pan. Upon a closer look, though, the ants were just on the edges and not actually in the cake, and then one of the Honduran nurses said that that type of ants really was pretty harmless. Several of us were still hoping to be able to salvage some, so I cut off the edges of a piece and put the part in the middle on my plate. No ants. So I ate it. Inspired, Yanire did the same, and someone asked Ruben, one of the Honduran doctors, if he thought it was okay to eat. In response, he took a piece and ate a bite. Within a few minutes, the cake was gone.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Well hey!
The past few days have been pretty interesting--I've continued with the English classes, and those have definitely been something to look forward to each day. I've been in the clinic a lot of the time, trying to figure out the database and such, but I've also been able to get out from time to time. This morning, a group of us walked to the market in Magdalena, where I made an exciting purchase of socks. I only packed two pairs, and one of them has been converted into puppets for English class dialogues. Needless to say, Joe and Susan now don't offer much comfort for my feet. They do converse quite well, though. After the market, we walked back, showered and went to a 2 1/2 hour long church service. I couldn't get in touch with Alba, so I went to the Catholic church with Dr. Ruben, Yanire, Jill, and Alex, all of whom work here at the clinic. The service was good, but then the priest, definitely pro-Zelaya, launched into a discussion of politics, saying that this was a war of rich versus poor and that we needed to fight for human rights and justice. The clinic group was pretty angry about this use of time in the service. I think I'll keep going with them, though. I liked all the people there, and the pastor, despite his strong political views, seemed to be a very good man.
I'm about to have some pizza for dinner, but sometime soon I will fill this blog with all types of philosophical thoughts, but right now, the pizza is hot.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


English classes were fantastic! Four people showed up today, but then Kelvin, who kind of manages the library, said he'd join in too. We were there for an hour and then I just went over time and asked Alba what time it was, and she said 5:30. So then I said we should probably finish up for the day and asked when they could meet again. They were like, "what about tomorrow?" So that's the plan. They all spoke up, asked a lot of questions, and were great about letting me know when I was talking too fast.
I kept nervously saying, "So..." and then one of the girls, Doris, asked what that meant. I said it was like "entonces" and she, in a perfect imitation of my voice, said, "So..."
Her brother then explained that she's "very funny." She's 18 and the rest are 20, and it's a great group. I'm excited to get to know them more.
So now that I'm pretty settled, I'm pumped to get working more on everything! It's hard to keep track of politics from here as they don't allow news sites because the internet connection isn't strong enough to handle all the pictures. So without my, I'm a bit stuck.
However, things are very calm here. As Father says, no adventures.

First Few Days

Hello, everyone!
So it's been about five days, and it's been going well so far.
It's a bit ironic, though, because I initially thought that it would take so much self-control to keep focused and do my work and everything. But instead, I've been itching to have more to do. I've been working at least 4 or 5 hours every day, but I love the work so much that I would be thrilled to be doing as much as possible. I love this kind of thing--some people are more suited to go out to schools and all that, but I really enjoy just talking to people and figuring out the best way to do something, and then writing all those ideas down. That's mostly what my job for the research project is now.
Things are starting to pick up, though. Next week I have three meetings about both the UNCA project and the CDS project. Those are not things that I love, but I'm starting not to mind them either. I can't wait to see the teachers from last year again.
My first English class is today at 4:30. Alba, who I absolutely love, is bringing a couple people to start learning. I think that will be fun, and I spent about an hour this morning making sock puppets for dialogues.
And Father, I'm saving you so much money! Today I went to make copies of flashcards, and 12 front and back copies, two pens and a pair of scissors cost 30 lempiras, about $1.50. And I only buy 1 or 2 sodas a day.
I used to hang out a lot when I was here with a girl named Daisy--she's the daughter of Maria, the cook. Yesterday Maria introduced me to Daisy's 3-month-old twins, Jackson Ariel and Johnson Alejandro. Daisy's just a year or so older than me, so my initial reaction was sadness at how Daisy was suddenly pushed into motherhood at such a young age. But I sat and talked with her awhile, and she just obviously delighted in her hansome little guys and was so proud of them, dealing with their occaisonal bouts of crying with a great deal of patience. The experience made me wonder if there's really no tragedy to it at all--maybe the tragedy would be in treating it as such when in reality it was a situation that made both mother and grandmother smile and be more outgoing than I'd ever seen either of them be.
So that's my update for today. I'm really loving it here--I thought maybe the restlessness I'd been feeling was something I couldn't shake, but I just feel settled here--not necessarily cheerful all the time, but solidly content. It's a nice feeling.
Love you all, and I'll be in touch!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 1

So I decided to give in, and here I am writing a blog. I hope it will be interesting enough to merit the attention of all you dear friends and family.
The trip down was bereft of any real adventures. We got stopped at one roadblock, but just long enough for the policeman to say, “So you’re Americans?” as if he couldn’t tell by the comparatively bleached white skin and the way we were clutching onto every surface around us to avoid the jostling that came with the roads. He knew of Shoulder to Shoulder, and instead of my expected searches and fear for my life in the barren roads of Intibucá, we just got an “Ok, God bless!” and were sent on our way.
The car ride was actually quite fun, as Art and Brett kept us all entertained with stories of past brigades and adventures. My favourite was about Ricardo, a man who worked with Shoulder to Shoulder a long time ago. So this American doctor was complaining about all the dogs, if they can be called dogs, running around the clinic. Exasperated, he threw up his hands and said, “Can’t someone just take care of these dogs?!” Ricardo smiled pleasantly and replied, “sure, I’ll do it.” He went to the car and came back with a pistol. He walked in, then stuck his head back outside and said to the doctor, “Wheech one do I keel first?”
I liked this story because not only did it distract me from the beating I was taking from the car ride, but I felt it also illustrated one of those just fundamental differences here. We get so caught up in how things should be, in comfort level, in security and hygiene, that we just can’t go on with what we’re doing until someone like Ricardo finds a humorous way to point out that sometimes you just have to go on.
Yesterday we went to Camasca to play basketball against a girls’ team and a guys’ team. All of us girls brought matching scrubs and were warming up with the guys, who played first. We looked over and saw the men doing the same, wearing nice uniforms, but there were no women. We asked someone where they were and he replied, “oh, they’re cooking now, but don’t worry, they’ll be here in time.” They then came out wearing their cute jeans and tank tops and threw elbows and outright fists all over the place. It was an awesome game.
That night, we got back to the clinic, and since it was a Sunday, the cooks weren’t working. So the men just went right to the kitchen and made some fantastic pasta.
I’m loving it here so far, just trying to keep busy and meet as many people as I can. My best to everyone,
Love Jody