In November, all volunteers from H-18 business were invited to bring their counterparts to Valle de Angeles for a taller (workshop) on planning and administration of projects. Because my official counterpart isn't who I actually work with, I invited our vice-mayor to come with me. She is awesome and works really hard, but doesn't have a university education (though her husband went to comm college in Massachusetts). I was surprised when she readily said yes, even before I told her PC was paying for it. Unfortunate, she has a 10-month-old who is still breast feeding, and needed to bring her too, but volunteered to pay for he mom to come to take care of the baby! How awesome is that? Obviously, she cared a lot about coming with me, and that really meant a lot to me.
We met eachother at the hotel in Valle de Angeles, and attended the two-day taller together. We we super productive because, for all the examples, we used the water-system-improvement project we are working on. At the end of the taller we pretty much had a skeleton project proposal to take home to COSAUN (comite social ambiental de la Unión).
Some interesting things that happened: we did an activity where the PCVs and Honduran counterparts form separate groups and talk about the difficulties of working with one another. One thing we wrote is the prominence of "fijese que" excuses and constantly changing dates/times. "Fijese que" or "fijate que" (in the informal form) is what people say before making an excuse, and it pretty much means the other person can't complain or call them out on a bullshit excuse. However, it is also used to make polite excuses and is socially required when refusing things. For example, the counterparts wrote that PCVs are often rude in situations when they refuse food or drink, because we tend to say "No, gracias" or "A mi no me gusta" (no thank you, or I don't like it). In fact, culturally speaking we should be making up some excuse/lie for why we can't/don't want to eat/drink said item. Like, I'd really like that cup of (over sugared and gross) coffee, but it gives me a stomach ache. "Me gustaría, pero me hace daño". This is something that many of us have issues with since it's pretty much lying, and we feel like no thank you should be good enough. We aren't used to coming up with reasons not to eat things we don't like. However, I'm trying harder to be observant of how what I'm saying appears to people here and mitigate my "rudeness".
Here's some photos from the taller: we went to lunch at a place with a "zoo". There were lots of unsheared sheep, birds, a hedgehog, and the national animal of Honduras, the Cola Blanca. Extra points if you can guess what that is. We also gave presentations of some of the goals and objectives we created for our various projects. Also included: a photo of the other two Olanchanos! Viva Olancho!