Archive for September, 2011

This month we had a chance to get to know some of the other married volunteers in Honduras at our bi-annual MARV (MARried Volunteers) meeting.  Peace Corps worldwide sponsors various “support groups” therefore we receive a small amount of funds to meet twice a year.  About this time last year I inherited the MARV coordinator position so the meeting planning was all up to me.  A last minute security incident required us to change the location of our meeting from Trujillo to Tela (both cities on the North Coast) which was a bit stressful for me but it all worked out fine in the end.

Beach serenade in Tela

David and I ended up being the only couple there from our training group (H16) with the other participants being three couples from H18.  We had a great time getting to know everyone, eating out, swimming in the pool, and of course watching cable TV.

Our hotel at left and views of the bay

Our hotel had seen better days but the pool was great and we were also in walking distance of the hotel Maya Vista which has the best views of the bay.  The whole group tackled the many stairs up to the restaurant for a sunset meeting on the first night and the views were so incredible that David and I went back every evening for a sunset cocktail!

Panorama of Tela from atop the Maya Vista

We're on the roof!

We had a very productive meeting and compiled a list of suggestions for PC Honduras training staff and administration on how to better serve married couples.  We’ll see if they take any of our advice!

The sun sets over Punto Sal


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Based on our blog it would appear that we’ve adopted the “Cuerpo de Pasear” lifestyle.  In Spanish, Peace Corps is translated to Cuerpo de Paz.  A common saying among some PCVs is Cuerpo de Pasear which basically means the Backpacker Corps.  This would be a dig at volunteers that are routinely traveling, rarely in their site, and doing little work.


While it is true that Kristi and I have been on the move a lot lately (USA in June, Honduran vacation with the Lees in August, and two PC meetings in September) we are still plugging away at our community development work.  In this post I’d like to update those of you that are interested on what we’ve been working on lately.


Recently, Kristi wrapped up a water filter project with her counterpart, Red Cross Honduras and a medical brigade out of Arizona.  In all, about 12 micro-pore water filters (similar to the filters used in kidney dialysis procedures) were distributed to schools in surrounding communities.  Mostly Kristi, and a little I, trained Red Cross health promoters in the operation and maintenance of these filters who, in turn, distributed them to community schools and trained the teachers and other adults in their use and maintenance.


With another counterpart, the Honduran NGO, Agua y Desarrollo Comunitario (ADEC), we are installing more than 50 ceramic water filters in the mountain communities around Trinidad.  The filters will be delivered this week.  In addition, a Combined Treatment Unit (a mini drinking water treatment plant) will be installed in a community school as part of this project the following week.


We are still pushing forward on a permanent water system project in the community of La Fragosa where we achieved much success with an earlier ceramic water filter project last year.  The Engineers without Borders (EWB) Lehigh University chapter has taken on the design, financing and implementation of the project.  They are in the design and fund-raising phase of the project currently and will be visiting Honduras in January 2012 (and several other times next year) to begin implementation.  Kristi and I would like to facilitate the construction of latrines in La Fragosa before or during the construction of the water system to create a full water and sanitation project in the community.  We are currently looking for ways to fund the construction of about 35 pour-flush style latrines.


Three new water and sanitation volunteers arrived in the department of Santa Bárbara in May.  Since their arrival we have been working together on several water system designs.  Each new volunteer has little technical experience with respect to hydraulic design so I’ve been helping out.  One of the three is an environmental engineering graduate.  I hope to train her very well in the proper design of water systems before the end of my service.  Since their arrival we’ve been working to improve their topographic surveying, design, and technical reporting skills.


Since concluding a water system study for the community of Tulito in the municipality of Chinda, Santa Bárbara, Kristi and I have been searching for means to fund the construction of several much needed improvements to their existing system.  We started the project working together with the NGO Water for People (WFP).  WFP has since been forced to withdraw from that municipality due to budget cuts leaving the community to find funding for the project on its own.  This should prove difficult since their municipal government has shown very little interest in supporting the small, isolated community.  We hope to help them along in the process of soliciting funds to complete their water system improvements.


This is the majority of what we have completed (or nearly completed) recently.  We’ve got several great projects in the works involving various governmental and non-governmental agencies that we will be developing over the next few months.  Check in later for more details!


Sorry for the lack of photos!  We’ll get some pictures up from recent adventures next week!


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We ended our fabulous week with the parents in Utila, one of the 3 Caribbean islands that make up Honduras’ Bay Islands.  If you are the cruising type then perhaps you have heard of Roatan, the biggest and most developed of the 3 islands, where several major cruise lines dock.  Utila is smaller, less developed, and more budget friendly but no less beautiful I’m sure!  The Bay Islands are known for great snorkeling and affordable scuba thanks to the world’s 2nd largest barrier reef which is located here.  Utila is also famous for the whale sharks that hang around off the coasts.

Before we could watch the sunset over the Caribbean with our margaritas we had to actually get to the island which was no small feat.  The ferry ride from La Ceiba to Utila lasts a mere hour but if you are prone to motion sickness (like me and David’s mom) it just may be the most miserable hour of your life!  Somehow we all made it to the island without losing our lunch like many of the other passengers.

Here are some of the highlights –

Sunrise from our deck

Waking up to clear skies on the first morning with the view of the mountains on the mainland across the ocean.  Wow!

Seeing the reef a mere 30 feet offshore from our deck; kayaking around said reef.

David and Dad kayaking (mountains of Ceiba in the background)


Among other things, we saw barracuda and parrot fish

A crazy boat trip to Water Cay which is a tiny, uninhabited island surrounded by crystal clear water.  Captain Rolando took us out in his 30+ year old carved, single piece, mahogany lancha.  It was really cool to see the rest of the island that is not accessible by land as well as the tiny cays spotting the water.  One of the cays consists of a bustling little town that took up every square inch of visible land – I’d hate to be out there in a storm!  We enjoyed the day on what felt like our own private island, until a rather loud group from NY threatened to ruin the mood; luckily they got bored quickly and took off.

El Capitan on our private yacht

View from Water Cay

Cooling off in the Caribbean

Reading Congo in the shade

When it was time to head back to the main island we were expecting the same relatively calm ride we experienced on the way out, but it was not to be!  Obviously that journey is notorious for the waves and the spray because we saw several women on other boats desperately clutching umbrellas to prevent getting soaked.  With zero ocean boating experience I was convinced we were caught in the Caribbean version of The Perfect Storm but Rolando didn’t even bat an eye as our tiny little boat got slammed by wave after wave.  Eventually we made it through the rough patch and although we were thoroughly soaked we were not swimming for land which was the important part.

The calm before the storm

Private house on one of the cays...

We also had a wonderful moment with Jean, a local restaurant owner who was born in the Congo and later became an American citizen.  When we told Jean we were Peace Corps volunteers he told us how impressed he was as a child by the volunteers he saw in the Congo (these would have been some of the very first classes of PCVs, in the early 60’s).  Jean also said that seeing those volunteers in the middle of the jungle, trying to better the lives of others, showed him the power of democracy and made him want to live in America.  After the civil war in Rwanda he was admitted to the States as a refugee and later gained his citizenship.  A few years ago he fell in love with a woman and followed her back to her native Utila and began the restaurant El Picante, which has great food and is one of the only restaurants actually ON the water.  To top it off Jean threw in a round of Imperials (our Honduran beer of choice) on the house, what a guy!

El Picante

Our island getaway ended too soon, as vacations usually do, and soon we were heading back to the mainland.  Reluctantly we took the parents to the airport and said our goodbyes.  It was great to have visitors and show them a little bit of what our life is like here in Honduras!

Local wildlife. We also saw a group of rays feeding near the reef in front of our house.

Sunset over the lagoon

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