27 February 2011

Hola from Honduras!

So, we made it to Zarabanda, Honduras. It is now 2100 on Friday night (25 Feb) as I write this. We don’t have internet yet, but think we are going to a café this weekend.

Staging in Atlanta (Wed 23 Feb) was a mostly reassuring things. Group work on things like what you’re your fears and aspirations, and hey look! Everyone one else shares them. We also did some paperwork and officially became PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees). We finished about 7pm, and went forth on our last night in America. Well, Jeff went out to Outback with 5 other PCTs for steak and beer while Sam ordered Indian and took a long hot bath.

We were up at 4am the next day to travel to Honduras. We left the hotel at 5, and all 53 PCTs had checked in and cleared security by 0630. It was a close thing, we cleared with only 3 hours 40 minutes to spare before boarding began on our flight. People slept, got food, played games (bringing Bananagrams was a great idea!), or played guitar. The flight was uneventful until landing, which was an exciting approach after circling for 30 minutes for “some weather to clear off the approach.” I’m pretty sure we flew by a tree that was higher than our wing while we were still well short of the runway.

Through the airport, and PC staff met us just after immigration. Gather our bags, through customs, and load luggage into PC vehicles, some more paperwork, and Dominos. Something I’d never seen before were little cardboard pizza plates, sized and shaped like a pizza slice. No wasting that part of the circle that the pizza slice doesn’t need. Then into an old school bus for the 40 minute ride to the training site in Zarabanda.

The training site is in the mountains, and was a good 10 or 15 degrees cooler than Tegus at the airport. It is a really pretty area. The staff welcomed us, talked at us a lot, but I was rather exhausted and really only remember thinking that they could stop selling us on the Peace Corps now and tell us something useful. We were dismissed to our families about 1630, and Sam and I live only about 7-10 minutes walk away. We have a pretty nice place. Indoor bathroom, electroducha, back patio with a great view and papaya trees overhanging. Our family is great, the food has been mostly good so far (nacatamaile? Yes please.) and I don’t understand what other people were complaining about mantequilla for, it is just crema.

Today was our first full training day, which meant up by 0600, breakfast at 0630, at school before 730 when the charlas, or presentation/talks, started. We had welcome, health, and a safety and security. The security guy defiantly did not pull any punches and is a long time pro. (20+ years National Police, deputy-chief INTERPOL in Honduras before joining PC 6 years ago) Some nasty statistics about the murder rate increasing 10-20% a year over the past 5. Really tried to help himself by presenting the stats in a scared straight kind of way. Looking at the numbers though, and I am not concerned much. Most of that is organized crime moving into major cities and setting up transit and as they are squeezed in Mexico and Colombia. More importantly, lunch was delicious! Rice, diced potatoes and carrots, and a bit of ground beef seasoned with cilantro. Que rico!

The afternoon was 4 hours of language class. I’m looking forward to taking my proficiency exam and being placed in an appropriate level. In my class of 9, several were pretty fluent, while one had almost no Spanish. I would get lost, and with not understanding would daydream a bit and have a hard time reengaging. Walked home with a few other PCTs that live near me, one lives directly across the street, and then to la pulperia for Coca-Cola and my first purchase in country. A pulperia is kind of like a small 7-11 or a gas station hut in what they sell.

It is now 2130 and Sam has turned off the light, and I know what that means. We have training Monday-Saturday, so we are up again before 0600 for more.

It is now Sunday afternoon, and we found an internet café in Valle de Angeles, which is a 10 minute bus ride from our house. Jeff bought a chip, (SIM card) so he has a phone now. The number is listed on Jeff´s facebook. If you can´t see it, you can email me. You can send us txts free through Tigo´s website here: http://www2.tigo.com.hn/templates/pop_msn.html

If you want instructions with pictures, read this blog post: http://27monthadventure.blogspot.com/2010/10/send-jill-free-texts-online.html


18 February 2011


If you are getting this by email, it's because we've made a blog post, and I have set it up to automagically email you every time that happens!  If that is annoying, let me know, and I will remove you.

We are making our rounds to see family and friends before we leave for Atlanta Wednesday morning.  We have packing and parties planned for this weekend to see more people and clear out more things from Jeff's parents' basement (thanks parents!). 

On tuesday we drove up to Schenectady to visit my great-uncle on his farm.  It was a lovely time--cold and snowy outside, but warm inside, and full of home-feeling.  The farm is the kind of place that it nearly impossible to leave.  It draws you into its life and it is very hard to believe that any other life is possible.  It is a life that I have often dreamt about.  I told Jeff that I want ten years of career-development and then we can move someplace like the farm and have a family.  I figure that after two years of Peace Corps and eight years of career I can become some kind of consultant and live in the country and take the train to the city a few days a week while mostly working from home.  It's nice to dream, isn't it? 

Anyway, on our way back to Virginia we were able to stop and see a friend in the Bronx for lunch.  We were hoping to see more friends, but it's hard to get on people's last-minute schedules.  We also spent a lovely time walking around Princeton with my uncle, and eating ice cream.  Mother nature (aka, global warming), has decided to get us accustomed to Honduras by giving us a few 60-70 degree days this week.

We've got everything we need except a few last-minute items like hair ties, we just need to pack it and organize it--all while seeing everyone this weekend.  It'll go fast!

08 February 2011

moving on up

Jeff and I have now both stopped working in order to pack up all our stuff, take care of our taxes, insurance, etc. and visit some people.

My last day at fibre space was Friday, and it was a good day.  Lots of people came in and said goodbye, and I was sad to leave them... but so many of them were supportive and amazing.  Jeff's last day teaching was today.  He's been working in a k-2 autism classroom since September as a substitute instructional assistant/babysitter.  While he is pretty sure he'd rather teach high school, he really enjoyed working with his kids, and I know he will miss them.  Hopefully we'll be able to do a penpal thing with one of the classes.

Since we haven't yet addressed this I figure now is a good time to answer the question everyone is asking (in their heads, if not out loud): Why?

Why do I (Jeff will have to answer for himself) want to be in the Peace Corps?  I can sum it up pretty well using a story about one of my customers.  She had been in to the store several times, and after I spent an hour with her winding up a tangled skein of 1000 yards of lace, she was pretty sad to see me go.  What she said, however, was "I'm excited for you.  I know that if I could do it over, I'd do a lot of things differently".  I would like to live my life so that I never have to say that.  There's so much more that goes into my decision to join the Peace Corps, but that, I think, is the simplest answer.

Anyway, we are trying to gather together a few things that we need before we go, mostly multipurpose clothes that will dry quickly and hold up to hand washing and a lot of use.  Peace Corps requires us to dress business casual for training, and while working (unless in the field).  We are moving our things into Jeff's parents basement (thank you!) on Sunday, and then I imagine we will be frantically stocking up on downloaded movies, music, and books.

01 February 2011

Details Details

A bit of timeline.
Sam and I finished our online PC applications 08 June 10.
We interviewed 18 Aug 10 and were given very positive feedback at the interview.
We received our nominations 27 Aug 10.
We received our formal invitation to Honduras on 04 Nov 10.
We received our staging information 24 Jan 11.
We travel to Atlanta 23 Feb 11 for staging.
We leave the US for Honduras 24 Feb 11.
We have training in Honduras 24 Feb - 14 May 11.
We will be back in the US May 2013.

Sam will be a Business Advisor, and Jeff will be doing Health Advising. What that will actually entail will depend on where we are placed in Honduras and the needs of the specific community.

We leave in less than a month now, and are not ready to leave yet. We both work through this week and have been putting off most preparation things until then. Our car is sold, we move out the 15th. Most of the bigger things have been dealt with, there is just a ton of little things that keep cropping up. Where can we park our phone numbers to save them (I've had my number for more than 10 years), finding all our W-2s from last year (I think we will have about 10 between us), who do we want to go visit, when do we go visit who, I'm going to be *30* the year we get back!?
It had occurred to me that our first blog post should be about us--telling you all about what our life together has been like so far, and about why we are joining the Peace Corps.

Instead, I will discuss the name of our blog. First, Jeff wanted our blog name to be catchy. Wittiness is an important thing for him, and this was easy to remember. At the time I kind of just said why not, and let it go. Well, then I started to think about it, and about what it could mean.

¿de qué? de qué [país, estado, lugar]? Possibly. Some of you may know that I studied abroad in the UK. I have long felt that there are both too many and too few places that feel like home, and thus I have a hard time explaining where I come from. Perhaps life is a journey in creating a home, or, in our case many homes. As our parents' homes go through various renovations and look less and less like they did during our childhoods, cities and places we've lived feel more like home. Honduras will be another home for us.